By Sara Toth
11:14 AM EDT, May 8, 2012
Whew! The final four contestants on “The Voice” were busy-sy-sy last night, performing three times each. It’s getting down to the wire for Jermaine Paul, Juliet Simms, Chris Mann and Tony Lucca, and Monday was their last shot at wooing America before the season finale tonight.
For some of them, it worked.
Now, since each finalist performed three times — once in tribute to their coach, once with their coach, and once solo — America can only vote on their solo performance. Tricky, no? Yes. But, for the first time, coaches input has zero impact on contestant rankings. (Which means: NO MORE MATH!) It’s all on you, America, so let’s get to the performances that counted last night.
Team Blake — Jermaine Paul: “I Believe I Can Fly”
Jermaine took the stage, opened his mouth, and we were all immediately transported back to elementary school when “Space Jam” was the best thing to happen to children’s cinema since “The Little Mermaid.” His voice was flying with him, and emotions were soaring, too: Jermaine broke down in tears. Almost too choked up to talk later, Jermaine said “I tried to leave my heart on stage.”
Team Adam — Tony Lucca: “99 Problems”
I was so jazzed for this; I know every word to this song and I’ve made my poor boyfriend suffer too many times to count with my car-ride renditions. I couldn’t wait to hear Tony’s take on it, but sadly, I was disappointed. This was his last-ditch effort to prove his voice? It proved his versatility, and showmanship, with the re-working’s twangy, country tones, but I don’t think this will resonate with America. Please, voters, prove me wrong.
Team Christina — Chris Mann: “You Raise Me Up”
And with this, I finally figured out why I love Chris Mann. It’s the transitive property, really: I friggin’ love Josh Groban, and thus, I friggin’ love Chris Mann. It’s good to see Chris fully in his element still, going all-out with his opera swag, and his singing, again, had everyone in tears. “You are cool,” Cee Lo said, simply. “If I ever fall in love, sing at my wedding.”
Team Cee Lo — Juliet Simms: “Free Bird”
I hate(d) this song. Always have. I have held it in severe, inexplicable contempt. But with Juliet singing it, with her raw, raspy earnestness and grit, I finally get it. It was mournful and triumphant, it was powerful and sincere, and just, I get it now. Juliet has blown everyone away this season — Cee Lo called her the breakout star, and I agree.
Contestants also got a chance to pay homage to their coaches by performing one of the coaches songs for them; kinda seems like a self-aggrandizing thing on the coaches’ parts, but these performances had some pleasant surprises. Some brief observations:
Juliet Simms: Cee Lo’s “Crazy”
Who’d of thought: you don’t need a crazy-high voice to do this song justice?
Chris Mann: Christina’s “The Voice Within”
I mean, if anyone can sing Christina Aguilera songs better than Christina herself, it’s Chris Mann.
Jermaine Paul: Blake’s “God Gave Me You”
When R&B goes country, good things happen.
Tony Lucca: Maroon 5’s “Harder To Breathe”
Well, this was just a good, fun time. Tony should be the mega-pop-star, not Adam.
Also Interspersed Through Tonight’s Performances: Duets!
In which we realize that the coaches and their finalists are all matches made in musical heaven, even if they’re odd couples.
Chris Mann & Christina: “The Prayer”
Again, Chris, KILLING it with the opera-swag. This was earth-shatteringly powerful because no matter how much Christina irks me, she has a set of pipes — the likes of which are only matched by Chris Mann.
Juliet Simms & Cee Lo: “Born to be Wild”
Yes! Perfect for the two of them, and Juliet more than held her own with her coach — we were watching two friends — not coach and contestant — sing their hearts out. “This song is for misfits,” Juliet said, so it suits her and Cee Lo.
Tony Lucca & Adam: “Yesterday”
These two are kindred spirits. “It’s two fervent fans of the Beatles coming together and singing one of the best songs ever written,” Tony said, and it was certainly one of the best performances of the night: beautiful, stripped-down and intimate.
Jermaine Paul & Blake: “Soul Man”
AWESOME. After Jermaine went country for his coach, Blake went soul for his contestant, and it was every kind of perfect. Blake’s got swagger!
Leftover Ruminations of the Evening, Mostly Fashion-Related:
Juliet’s red cape/dress for “Free Bird” made her look like a glorious Messiah.
Christina’s dress for “The Prayer” reminded everyone yet again that motherhood has been very, very good to her … and her boobs.
Adam’s t-shirt, which read “Team XTina” came as a final playful nudge (emblazoned in red glitter, too!) to his fellow coach, or maybe as a final middle finger of irony, since he revealed it right after the …
Christina, Give-it-a-rest-moment of the night: Everyone knows you don’t like Tony Lucca. But dismissing his performance because you found the lyrics offensive and derogatory? We all know what isn’t one of Jay-Z’s problems, and you’re sure acting like one.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun