Last night was the last opportunity for final three on Season Three of The Voice to sing their way into America’s heart, and they each went at it from a different angle. They were showcased with one song for voting consideration, one duet with their respective coaches and a reprise of the song that was considered their “breakthrough.” While both Terry McDermott and Nicholas David made valiant efforts, only Cassadee Pope’s performance of Faith Hill’s “Cry,” seemed to be finals-grade. Pope went for what she knows works: grandiose country-pop balladry, a gown and a smidge of defiance. David, on the other hand, went for irreverence: a medley of “Great Balls of Fire” into Hendrix’s “Fire,” replete with flaming piano. McDermott did Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings,” which started out shaky due to some technical issues, but then finished strong.
The night started on a somber note, with the coaches singing “Hallelujah” in tribute to the victims of the shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut. Backed by returning members of their teams as a chorus, each of them held placards with the names and, rather unnecessarily, ages of those who lost their lives. Nevertheless, on a show with manufactured set-ups aimed to jerk tears and rile sentiment, it was real.
On to the power rankings.
Coach: Blake Shelton
Seeing as chances are good that Pope will bring home the gold, making for Team Blake’s second-straight winning season, his power rank is cemented at Number One – despite the atrocity that was tonight’s duet with Pope on Sheryl Crow’s “Steve McQueen.” The classic Crow-style rap-sung funky bridge went to Pope and it was painful. Though country tunes really seem to be her bag now, it was a bridge too far. Her reprise of her Number One iTunes chart hit “Over You,” which was co-written by Shelton and his wife Miranda Lambert, was way less intense than her original, with a softer setting with strings. Her coach mused that it is a song of healing at a time when America needs it.
Teammate McDermott fared better in his duet with Shelton, Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” which had the country crooner practically squeaking his way to the high notes. If McDermott is so facile with Steven Tyler’s insane range, why did they wait this long, and use this pedestrian hit, to show that? He could have performed every single off of Pump by now! His votable song, Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings,” which is his young son’s favorite song, makes you wonder if McDermott is just playing old Eighties break-up tapes in the car on the way to kindergarten. McDermott overcame initial trouble with his in-ear monitor to deliver an especially solid rendition of the cheese-hit.
Coach: Cee Lo Green
It’s unfortunate that the reason Cee Lo is leaving The Voice for the next season isn’t to go have his own variety show, between his costumes and things like his duet with Kermit the Frog a few weeks back. Last night, he sang “Play That Funky Music” with David, and it was at once spot-on and WTF. The finale featured a breakdancing interlude performed by a toddler, who was dressed as a miniature Cee Lo in a bedazzled zebra-print shorts outfit and fat suit padding. More, more! Again, again! While Green has sometimes handed David some real schlocky Seventies wedding-reception ham, this was a perfect song choice and sounded the perfect tongue-in-cheek note. Meanwhile, there was the matter of David’s show-opening medley, which made it seem like maybe he knew there was no catching up to Pope at this point, and so why not have fun with a flaming piano and some chicken dancing. The camera cut to his pregnant wife with their infant son strapped to her front in an Ergo Carrier, cracking up. It was fun, but it would have been awesome if he had just brought the house own with some tender ballad. But that’s what you are supposed to do to win these shows, which kind of made it that much more awesome.
Coach: Adam Levine
All of his comments about everyone’s performance seemed especially genuine.
Coach: Christina Aguilera
She wore a strangely proportioned sequined top hat; it was very Willy Wonka-goes-Varsity-danceline. The hat gets an honorary fifth place tonight.
Best compliment of the night: Adam Levine on Nicholas David’s woolen patterned vest: “You look like a principal.”
Most distracting shiny outfitting, in order: 1. Cassadee Pope’s floor length mirrored gown with actual mirrors on it. 2. Cee Lo’s sequined jungle-print safari suit. 3. Xtina’s rakishly angled micro-hat.
Most WTF judge-moment of the season: Adam Levine, in a qua-Axl Rose costume, shirtless and in nerd glasses, showing off his Pilates-bod while playing the solo to “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” on the sidestage. What was that even about?
Previously: Trevin Hunte Eliminated on ‘The Voice’