The Voice

Song by song grades for The Voice Season 12 finals

The Voice Season 12 Top 4 includes Aliyah Moulden, Chris Blue, Lauren Duski and Jesse Larson. (NBC Photo)

The Voice Season 12 Top 4 includes Aliyah Moulden, Chris Blue, Lauren Duski and Jesse Larson. (NBC Photo)


The song choices for tonight’s show are out and, I have to say, I’m a bit surprised.

Aliyah Moulden’s breakthrough moment came when she broke down in tears during a performance of “Jealous” during Top 10 night.

Chris Blue’s best received performances have been ballads — “Take Me to the King” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

The last time he went up tempo, for a cover of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic, he finished behind all three other finalists on iTunes.

But tonight, Chris and Aliyah seem to be shying away from emotional ballads, leaving that lane wide open for front-runner Lauren Duski.

And she’s ready to accommodate on her two solos, including the original “Deja Vu,” which she co-wrote.

That said, the song choice for her duet with Blake Shelton is a head-scratcher: Hank Williams’ “Tear in My Beer.” Really? In 2017? I understand why Blake and Lauren would want something more fun after two emotional solos, but they couldn’t find something better than this song form 1950. Heck, even the re-release by Hank’s son was nearly 30 years ago.

Check back at 8 p.m. I’ll be live blogging tonight’s performance finale and, as usual, doling out song by song grades.

See also
Ranking the Top 4 on The Voice
What you need to know about voting tonight
Star duets planned for Tuesday’s Season 12 finale
Will The Voice allow Lauren Duski to win?
Season 12: Another failing grade for The Voice

1. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake): Her original is “Never Be Lonely” about having a crush on someone who only wants to be a friend. Blake says it’s got the vintage sound Aliyah loves. This is a tough task for a 15-year-old. She has to open the show with what amounts to a song and dance number. It’s a cute song and a decent vocal performance from Aliyah. She was singing live, wasn’t she? Hope so. There were a couple of moments when unseen background singers chimed in that had me wondering. Grade: B

2. Jesse Larson (Team Adam): This is a smart song choice. Jesse will sing “Takin’ It to the Streets” by The Doobie Brothers. The vocal was a little more subdued than I expected. Until Jesse walked away from the band, really started grooving and cut loose on a rousing guitar solo. A fun performance. Grade: B+

3. Chris Blue and Alicia Keys: Their duet is “Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince. Remember, the duets don’t count for voting purposes. The opening was a bit mumbled; I could barely understand Chris. But as soon as the shroud lifted, his vocals soared. Very strong performance, complete with nice chemistry between Chris and Alicia. Grade: A–

4. Lauren Duski (Team Blake): Her cover tonight is “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. Lauren says the chorus perfectly describes The Voice experience. Lauren’s delivering another strong performance. She hasn’t had an off one yet on The Voice. That said, I’m not sure that had the impact of last week’s “Ghost in This House.” Grade: B+

5. Aliyah Moulden and Blake Shelton: Their duet will be “Dancing in the Streets.” Wonder if Blake ever performed this before? Okay, that was fun, but I think it’s safe to say that didn’t fall in Blake’s wheelhouse. Aliyah, on the other hand, she turned in another fun performance and fine vocal. Grade: B.

6. Chris Blue (Team Alicia): His original is “Money On You.” It’s an upbeat tune, which suits Chris fine. He says he wants to get everybody dancing to his music. Chris is showing off his great range. Are the vocals on these originals live? Just wondering. They sound too produced. Especially from Chris, who ab libs ad nauseam when he has the chance. Not loving the song, but a solid vocal from Chris. Grade: B+

7. Jesse Larson and Adam Levine: They’re going to perform “Let’s Go Crazy,” also by Prince. The guys are having fun, but their vocals are being swallowed up by the background music. Jesse gets to do another guitar solo. Adam joins in too. Another fun performance, but the guitar solos — not the vocals — were the highlight. Grade: B–

8. Lauren Duski and Blake Shelton: They’re singing “There’s a Tear in My Beer.” Don’t get this song choice. But, remember, duets don’t count as votes. Blake clearly feels more at home on this song than “Dancing in the Streets.” Lauren takes over after the first verse and chorus and sounds find singing classic country. I can’t help thinking Miranda Lambert would have been more fun to watch tearing into that cover. Grade: B

9. Jesse Larson (Team Adam): He’s performing a song co-written by Chris Stapleton and says he’ll be thinking of his own supportive wife when he sings “Woman.” I can already tell, this is going to be Jesse’s best performance of the night. He, of course, manages to work in another guitar solo. Yep, Jesse just delivered one of the night’s best vocals. Grade: A–

10. Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake): Her cover song is “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder. Carson says Aliyah is the youngest to ever make The Voice finale. Hmm. Didn’t realize that. Blake says this song choice brings Aliyah full circle. Rough start on this vocally for Aliyah. This whole production seems a little off. And given the situation, I don’t like the song choice. And they couldn’t change the lyrics to keep Aliyah from singing about being a man. That was a bit of a mess. Grade: C

And here it comes: The Voice manipulations.

Lauren Duski hasn’t gotten to close a show yet, but has earned the honor by scoring this season’s only number one and by being the only singer to land in the Top 200 in every single round.

But The Voice is giving the pimp spot to Chris Blue, who’s never finished ahead of Lauren on iTunes. And it’s the second time he’ll get to close the show.

I’m sick and tired of The Voice shenanigans. I’ll be voting Lauren. And I’m pretty sure she’s about to show us why she deserves to win.

11. Lauren Duski (Team Blake): Her single is “Deja Vu.” She co-wrote the song and says it’s one of her favorites among the songs she’s written. Hey, this is a really good song, and Lauren’s delivering a great vocal on it. Lover the way she built the emotion in the song, too. Great job. Probably the best of the night and a fine example of why Lauren deserves to win. Grade: A

12. Chris Blue (Team Alicia): Chris’ cover is Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” Alicia says viewers should get ready to “have a ball.” I’m going to try to watch this objectively, but The Voice’s attempts to create the outcome it wants is really driving me crazy. Chris does have a great voice. As I said earlier, I’m surprised he didn’t slow it down to really showcase that voice during one of his performances tonight. This is more about dancing than singing. Grade: B+

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