As it's done all season, The Voice dragged out its results show to a degree that was at best arduous and at worst excruciating. So, after two hours of performances from bus-loads of people -- including Rihanna (who had actual clothes on, miraculously), Smokey Robinson, Kelly Clarkson, The Killers, Peter Frampton, Bruno Mars, Avril Lavigne (bleugh), and about a billion of this season's contestants (including a few we can't even remember) -- the winner was announced: Cassadee Pope.
On the one hand, this isn't an enormous surprise -- Pope already had a fan base in place thanks to her relative success with old band Hey Monday, and she topped the iTunes singles chart repeatedly this season. It's also worth noting that she was the only finalist who turned all four coaches' chairs around in the blind auditions. But Pope's win last night was by no means a done deal. Pope's Season 1 equivalent, Dia Frampton, was knocked into second place by a singer far less memorable. In fact, the first two seasons of The Voice failed to find winners with truly broad appeal or, frankly, much in the way of charisma (which is why Season 1's Javier Colon and Season 2's Jermaine Paul basically disappeared after their wins).
Cassadee Pope is the first winner of The Voice who has a chance at a real career in the spotlight. Her potential audience is enormous, such is the scope of her appeal. She's a tattooed girl who fronted a rock band full of boys and has already faced her fair share of grueling tour schedules (her band, Hey Monday, did Warped Tour -- probably the hardest festival tour on Earth). Pope's boyfriend, Rian Dawson, is the drummer of All Time Low -- one of the biggest pop-punk bands on the scene today. As such, this girl has built-in emo cred. The Hot Topic kids have loved her for a long time and will continue to do so, but her astounding voice and guitar-playing abilities mean she appeals to an older crowd, too.
Pope is also relatively unique in that, despite all of the above, her image is ultimately squeaky-clean. She's polite. She smiles sweetly when complimented. She seems slightly insecure despite her obvious beauty and sizable talent. She might not be mainstream, but she's not threatening either -- no parents are ever going to be worried about their kids listening to Cassadee Pope. Like her hero, Avril Lavigne, Pope is rock-light, with plenty of pop appeal.
Pope's scope is even wider than that now, however, thanks to her coach, Blake Shelton, repeatedly giving her country songs to sing this season. Not only did she embrace the challenge, she nailed it every time, taking emotional country ballads and turning them into searing heartbreak with her extraordinary vocal power. You can be sure that Shelton's giant audience will be backing her, too, now that they've heard what she can do with Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, and Keith Urban songs.
While the other finalists -- Scot-rocker Terry McDermott and eccentric soul guy Nicholas David -- worked fantastically in the context of the competition, there's no doubt that, had either of them won, they would have gone the way of Javier Colon and Jermaine Paul. Despite being obviously talented, they're just not quite appealing enough to have huge careers. Cassadee Pope is. Plus she's more memorable, blessed with an uncanny ability to take other people's lyrics and sing them as if they were about her own life.
Finally, Cassadee clearly knows what it takes to engage with -- and keep -- her fans. A few weeks ago, we Tweeted our view that she should win this competition and she responded directly, to say thanks, within 10 minutes. The girl is on top of things.
So congratulations, Cassadee Pope. We think you're going to have a long and successful career. Congratulations, Blake Shelton too, for guiding this young vocalist in a new direction with more mass appeal, without ever trying to change the core of who she is. Finally congratulations to The Voice -- the show finally found a true star.