The Voice

Song by song grades for the Top 4 on The Voice


The Top 4 on The Voice will each take the stage three times during tonight’s performance finale.

Each will perform a new cover. Each will perform a new single.

And each contestant will take the stage with his or her coach for a duet.

Streams of the solo performances will count as votes; the coach duet will not.

Here are the song by song grades.

New covers

Ricky Duran (Team Blake), “Running Down a Dream” by Tom Petty — Like this song. Not sure it’s the best for creating a statement performance, though. Great start for Ricky, but as I suspected, this isn’t a song well suited to vocal “wow” moments. That said, Ricky’s playing with the song enough to make it his own, and he’s turning in a very solid performance. Yep, and it does offer the chance for another Ricky guitar solo. Nice start to the show, Ricky Duran. Grade: B+

Jake Hoot (Team Kelly), “Amazed” by Lonestar — Interesting, the singer who performs last on the performance show normally wins. Jake is the heavy favorite, but he’s not closing the show. This song is overdone on shows like this, but Jake’s going to nail it, and it’s going to be one of the top-performing songs this week on iTunes. At least that’s my prediction. Jake certainly held up his part with that vocal. Oddly, I felt more of an emotional connection from Jake to that song too. Grade: A–

Katie Kadan (Team Legend), “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith — To me, this song choice is tonight’s most baffling. But John thinks it will make the perfect final statement. My response: No. Katie’s oversinging too much for my taste. She is delivering plenty of passion. It’s all just a bit too much for my taste. And, sorry, but that big ending missed the mark. Grade: C+

Rose Short (Team Gwen), “Border Song” by Elton John — Rose says she wants to end the show with her heart and soul on the stage. So she’s doing an Aretha version of an Elton John song. Don’t know what’s going on with my streaming, but the audio isn’t matching the visual here. But Rose is delivering another great vocal. I’m a little thrown off because my audio and visual isn’t even anywhere close. I’ve ranked Rose at #1 the last two weeks, and this vocal is another example of why. Clearly, one of the best vocals of the night. Grade: A.

New singles

Jake Hoot (Team Kelly), “Better Off Without You” — Very nice, Jake co-wrote this original. It’s a song he wrote while going through his divorce. Is Jake a little up tight tonight? This performance just seems a bit stiff. Especially for a song that’s supposed to be so performance. His vocal’s fine, I would have just hoped for a little more emotion. He did pick up the energy level as the song drew to a close. It’ll be interesting to see whether this or his cover does better on iTunes. Grade: B

Rose Short (Team Gwen), “Steamroller” — Rose says this song fits the story of her life nicely because she’s had to bulldoze her way through difficult times, including when she quit her prison job. I really love the richness of Rose’s voice; it’s my favorite of the finalists. And it soars so darn effortlessly. This is the best vocal we’ve heard yet tonight, and it isn’t even close. Wow, and check out that smile at the end of the performance. Grade: A–

Katie Kadan (Team Legend), “All Better” — Katie likes this song because it taps into both vulnerability and strength. John likes it because it’s old school with a contemporary edge. I had a heck of a hard time understanding Katiee on that opening verse. But the chorus is all power and sass, which suits her nicely. Well, this certainly isn’t a song I’m going to have on repeat, but it’s doing a nice job of showing off Katie’s attitude and the power in her vocals. Grade: B

Ricky Duran (Team Blake), “A Woman Like Her” — Ricky calls this an “amazing” representation of what he wants to be as an artist. And Ricky says he’ll be thinking of his girlfriend when he performs the song. This is easily my favorite of the originals we’re hearing tonight. I’d only be more impressed if Ricky had a hand in writing it. Very nicely done. And that’s Ricky’s final performance on an impressive night of performances. I still would have liked a third solo from him tonight. Grade: A–

Artist/Coach duets

Katie Kadan and John Legend (Team Legend), “Merry Christmas Baby” — Katie sounded brilliant on that only verse. I think I like her best as a sassy blues singer. But if the goal was to showcase her vocal abilities, that song choice didn’t accomplish much because she was accompanied by John most of the time, including for that big ending. It’s no secret that I believe these performances belonged on tomorrow’s show, not tonight’s. Grade: A–

Ricky Duran and Blake Shelton (Team Blake), “Run, Run Rudolph” — So, Ricky’s been surging on The Voice lately. And instead of giving him a third chance to close the deal, we get this throw-away performance. Nice guitar solo, but this song is not going to win him The Voice. A third chance to deliver a “Let It Be” type performance would have served him much, much better. On the one verse Ricky got to sing solo, he sounded just fine. Grade: B+

Jake Hoot and Kelly Clarkson (Team Kelly), “Wintersong” by Sarah McLachlan — Surprise, Jake says he’s a huge fan of the opera. If The Voice was going to force holiday duets, this was the route to do. This is a really beautiful duet. The opening was especially superb. I’ll be shocked if this isn’t the best performing of the holiday duets on iTunes. Very nicely done, Kate or Jelly or whatever you want to call that duo. Grade: A

Rose Short and Gwen Stefani (Team Gwen), “My Gift is You” — Oh, look, they’re going to sing a Gwen song. How cute. As if the coaches don’t get enough plugs on this show. Let’s see if Gwen hogs the spotlight or let’s Rose shine, as should happen in these cases. I’m pretty sure there would have been holiday classics better suited to Rose’s big, rich voice. Grade: B–

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