‘The Voice’ Season Three Awards – Rolling Stone
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‘The Voice’ Season Three Awards

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Mark Seliger/NBC

The most epic season of The Voice draws to an end after all the highs and lows and the OMGs and WTFs of 63 eliminated contestants and one valiant winner. All the new twists of knock-out rounds, steals and coaches ceding their power to voting viewers made for a truly competitive show. Cee Lo Green is so often fond of telling the soon-to-be-eliminated that they are winners simply by virtue of making it "this far," and now some of them are – though some of these awards we’ve bestowed are for slightly more dubious honors.

By Jessica Hopper

'The Voice': Complete Coverage

voice awards christina aguilera

Trae Patton/NBC

Best Judge Outfits: Christina Aguilera

While Cee Lo really ratcheted up his ridiculousness with some Chico’s sale-rack-grade silken blousery, Xtina’s neon punky outfitting was not to be outshined. Her clothes were not merely ripped; her t-shirt looked like a wolverine had gone at it. Her end-of-season look was kind Cabaret meets A Clockwork Orange, kind of Nicki Minaj garage sale – all neon and corsetry. Her perpetually too-tiny hats (including the little record she wore like a beret) looked like they were part of a purse dog's Halloween costume. All of these things mashed up early in the elimination rounds when for a week she looked like a shipless Tyrolean pirate. She should have borrowed Cee Lo’s parrot and gone full bore.

adam levine voice awards mary j. blige

Tyler Golden/NBC

Most Valuable Assistant Coach: Mary J. Blige for Team Adam

MJB was the MVP on Team Adam, which prior to this season had a bit of a rep for laissez-faire coaching. Blige was not afraid to talk real, stopping young divas mid-verse to correct their delivery or diagnose a deeper problem. She acted somewhere between therapist and vocal coach. Other coaches, like gee-shucks ham Michael Buble (Team Blake) and Billy Joe Armstrong (Team Xtina) were mostly just pep-talking platitudes rather than helping fine-tune performances. Blige would have been a great choice to replace Cee Lo or Xtina for this coming season, though it's easy to imagine she might not have the patience or stamina required to slog through 64 contestants.

voice awards cassadee pope

Tyler Golden/NBC

Most Egregious Idea of ‘A Second Chance’: Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope’s early b-rolls featured a lot of her talking about how she just wanted a second chance after her band went on hiatus (not even broke up!), to see if she could make it on her own. Pope, more than any contestant on the three seasons, had the closest thing approximating traditional record label success: a major-label record deal, years of international touring, a mentor and friend in Pete Wentz, playing stadiums, singing with Cobra Starship. To frame her as an underdog is to obfuscate the career she has already managed to build.

voice awards suzanna choffel

Tyler Golden/NBC

Most Graceful Song Suicide: Suzanna Choffel

There was something about Suzanna Choffel that was different than everyone else this year. A decade older than the college-age kids who dominate the competition, she sang quietly yet was much more powerful than even some of the top-notch pop belters. She sang like a woman who knew her own voice, and you could see that there was some discomfort there about fitting into a stylistic niche – she was more of a Stevie or an Emmylou on a show where you are goaded towards an Adele or a Florence model of torrential soulful bluster. So it came as little surprise when Choffel went into a battle round with a sweet, understated take on Bob Marley’s "Could You Be Loved," opting to stay true to her vibe in lieu of contorting to be something she wasn't.

adam levine voice awards

Trae Patton/NBC

Most Improved Coach: Adam Levine

Last season, Adam picked his finals round entry by virtue of the fact that he had fostered a "bromance," and he wanted to "explore." During semi-finals, he expressed surprise at some of the artist’s staging – he was so uninvolved, it was new to him. He seemed to have clear favorites, was a little dismissive, a little checked out. This season, with Mary J. Blige at his side early on, he was an astute coach, goading singers into less obvious directions with smart or curious song choices. As a result, Team Adam had some of the most dynamic performances of the season.

christina milian voice awards

Trae Patton/NBC

Most Unbearable Presence: Christina Milian

Granted, The Voice social media correspondent Christina Milian’s job description is basically to stand in the Sprint-sponsored skybox and flirt and giggle while contestants palm their oversized Sprint smartphones and hug. When she is good, she seems like she might be a little drunk (her quip about having a little hobbit in her). When she is bad she is like an overexcited Pomeranian.

de'borah voice awards

Trae Patton/NBC

Best Showing By an Early Elimination: De’Borah

Perhaps De'Borah's butchness was confounding (plenty of homophobic tweets followed her performances), but the out and proud Chicago gospel girl was the first half of the season's most exciting contestant; her underdog status was as real as her tears. Even with middling Top 40 song choices, she devastated, throwing herself into the songs. While she dropped toward the bottom of Xtina’s ranks once America started voting, it was still surprising that Xtina opted to drop De'Borah for more cookie-cutter divas and Xtina wannabes. It's easy to imagine that if she'd managed to move forward she might have made it to the semi-finals with her chill-inducing voice.

Amanda Brown, The Voice

Tyler Golden/NBC

Best Performance: Amanda Brown

Amanda Brown's "Dream On" was the season's snap-your-neck musical moment, demonstrative of her ready-made star quality and an aggressive reclamation of the song from cock rock classic to new school diva. She stomped the stage in bitch heels like it was a catwalk, dragging the mic stand like a weapon and hitting the song's highest notes with impossible ferocity. It was the performance where a star was born, and it made Brown seem in league with the pop superstars who cameo on the show rather than one of the competitors aspiring to join those ranks. While Cassadee Pope's "Over You" inspired a tearful vote avalanche, it traded on sentiment as much as performance, whereas with Brown, it was truly about her Voice.

Runner up: Cody Belew’s "Crazy In Love," wherein the cocksure cowboy showed us all who the real diva was, complete with mic drop.

Trevin Hunte, The Voice

Tyler Golden/NBC

Worst Performance: Trevin Hunte

Every week, as Trevin Hunte chewed his way through some of the stalest hits of the Nineties diva catalog (God, no! Not the Bolton!), the coaches called his voice a "gift from God," encouraging him to mine further into the most familiar territory known to singing shows. He was shown the door on account of an exceptionally boring "Wind Beneath My Wings," and rightly so. While other performances were more painful and technically bad, Hunte failed by applying his talent with a pernicious dullness time and again. Runner-up: Grandpa bluesman Rudy Parris’ attempt to appeal to a teen demographic found him doing a Chris Brown song, to the mortification of everyone.

Cee Lo Green, Kermit the Frog, The Voice

Tyler Golden/NBC

Best Music Performance by a Coach: Cee Lo

While it was thrilling to see Xtina hold it down with her over-the-top Lotus-launch performances, no coach brought as much earnest artistry to the stage as Cee Lo did with his duet with Kermit the Frog on "Being Green." In the parlance of the coaches, he really made it his own.

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