"This is my childhood dream and I'm standing here now," Juliet Simms says, just before the moment of truth on The Voice. Who among us has never dreamt of standing amid giant stone-carved peace-sign hands like the alien foot monument from Lost, awaiting judgment? Sadly for us all, Juliet is about young enough to have witnessed Kelly Clarkson winning American Idol in childhood and dreamt of a moment like this. Will she be as disappointed with the results as everyone was with the ending of Lost?
It seems as though people who don't love opera singing are about to be disappointed; Chris Mann dwarfs the other finalists on audience applause when they're introduced. When the judges are trotted out, Blake continues the pointing-at-his-own-head thing that has served him in good stead all season. Why fix it if it ain't broken?
"I thought Tony's song was fire," Adam says of his contestant's controversial "99 Problems" during an appraisal of the previous night's show. This being the most literal-minded show ever, the statement itself is supplemented by actual fire. A quick survey of Jermaine Paul's staggering rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly" reveals that he was indeed better than Juliet in this final round. Could that be enough to put him over the top?
When the camera finds Cee Lo in this scene, he's wearing a shirt listing the names of all his original team members (Shields Brothers, what uppppp?). There will be many more blasts from the past tonight, though, as each finalist welcomes back some recently dismissed brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Jermaine brings out Pip, Jamar Rogers and James Massone in shiny gold smokers' jackets to sing "I Want You Back." They all turn toward each other and shake hands upon stepping onstage, and it's kind of adorable. James fills the Michael role in this Jackson 5 setup nicely (although Pip nails a true falsetto toward the end.) There's a reason these dudes all made it so far.
Chris Mann has Lindsey Pavao and Katrina Parker assist him on "Bittersweet Symphony." The song seems a little crowded with three people at first, but toward the end they start harmonizing, and it sounds lovely. Later, you can literally see Juliet's tonsils quivering when she wails "I need somebody to love" at the climax of "With a Little Help From My Friends." She also has a little help from her friends, Jamar, Erin Willett and RaeLynn. Also, Tony Lucca tears into "Go Your Own Way" with Jordis Unga, and I legit do not one have thing to say about the performance.
Of course, past contestants weren't the only ones hauled out for the finale. There are nearly two hours to kill before the ten-minute results portion of this results show, so inevitably there will be guests. Juliet does the hook for a Flo Rida song, and it's a side of her we've never heard. Who knew that on a dance-rap track, she'd sound like the best possible version of Katy Perry? Although it's a bit jarring to hear her express a lyrical desire to "shut down the club," she's a great counterpoint to Flo Rida's high-NRG "Wild Ones." Later, Lady Antebellum plays "I Wanted You More" with soaring strings and the crowd goes nuts for it. Hall and Oates pop in for a moment too, because sure, why not. And then there was Biebs.
The long ago prophesied visit from Justin Bieber begins as our boy crosses dual streams of lightsabers to emerge at the top of a staircase with his new single, "Boyfriend." Here, he reassures young ladies who may have assumed otherwise that he could, in fact, be their boyfriend. (In fact, you should check your boyfriend to make sure he isn't actually Justin Bieber already.) There's more of a hip-hoppish flavor to his delivery here than the Bieber of yore, but the crowd doesn't seem to mind. And when he finally lets loose and dances with a crew toward the end, it turns out he can move as well as he can sing, appropriating choice bits from the Thriller dance.
What would a Voice finale be without one last awkward-as-all-hell visit to the Sprint Lounge? The only moment worth noting here is Pip's response when Professor Twitters a.k.a. Christina Milian asks if he's excited to see who wins: "I think we've all gotten so close that I feel as much nervous for them as they are for themselves. Well, obviously not as much. You kind of feel it as much, with being there like in the moment, and putting yourself in their shoes, so . . . " Don't you worry about convincing us that you're nervous, Pip! You are the most nervous, and we love you for it.
Speaking of things we love, the finale features some fun, vertically integrated marketing for NBC. (Let's just call a spade a spade.) Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson dresses up as Cee Lo and reveals that this look is similar to "the villain in a Bond movie directed by Tyler Perry." Even more successful is the visit to Parks & Rec's set. Nic Offerman's Ron Swanson (who kind of resembles a bloated, mustachioed Blake Shelton) has apparently stolen a Voice chair from Cee Lo, which he keeps spinning around in to avoid Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope. Of course, the fun here is immediately defused when we get back to the set and Carson Daly officially plugs the show's season finale. "Will Leslie Knope get elected?" he asks. "I Knope so." Wocka wocka.
Let's do a brief inventory of some of the night's other filler. The Voice bloopers blooped. There's a mutual lovefest between the judges, which is actually kind of cute, but it's preceded by a bit on the relationship between Blake and Adam, which uses the word bromance at least one thousand times, and is therefore not cute. "The brains behind Team Cee Lo has got to be Purrfect," Christina eventually says during a tribute to Cee Lo's cat, in case you worried the producers might run out of ideas.
It's odd they didn't parcel the eliminations out, but as a result it's even tenser when we finally get to see three people hear the bad news all at once, more or less. Only a quarter of a percentage point separates fourth and third place, Carson informs, and then all the contestants wrap their arms around each other.
Chris Mann takes fourth. He looks gut-punched, going pale as a ghost, and saying his goodbyes in a daze. Tony Lucca takes third, and takes it marginally better. This is when Juliet Simms starts to cry. Blake looks like he feels it as much as Jermaine does, his eyes scrunched tight in deep concentration. Only four percentage points separate second and first place, says Carson, but the winner is . . . (epic pause) . . . Jermaine!
Nobody has ever looked simultaneously happier and sadder than former background singer Jermaine Paul, having risen to the top of his competitors to earn the deserved recognition he's fought for his entire career. Although handed a microphone and informed he must sing "I Believe I Can Fly" again, Jermaine has trouble getting through the song; he's overcome with emotions and he keeps getting interrupted by familial hugs and so much confetti.
Finally, closing the season out on the perfect note, Christina Aguilera emerges from her chair wearing a shirt and jacket on top but a bathing suit bottom instead of pants, thrusting her body into the spotlight to steal it one final time. Amen.
Last episode: No Problems
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