Season 2 Finals, The Voice

The Voice finals: Song by song grades


Can a singer-songwriter named Tony Lucca pull off a third straight, high-energy, crowd-pleasing performance?

Can opera-trained Chris Mann, no longer interesting in shrinking his voice, deliver a performance that will appeal to the masses?

Can former background singer Jermaine Paul and mentor Blake Shelton finally find the right match of singer and song?

And will any of it matter if Juliet Simms shows up on stage and delivers another of those semi-possessed, passion-filled performances, like the one that stole the show a week ago?

The answer to those questions will probably determine who winds up as the Season 2 winner of The Voice.

But between now and then, we’ll hear eight performances, a solo from each of the four finalists and a duet featuring each finalist with his or her mentor.

If you missed any of the Idol Chatter previews leading up to tonight’s show, here’s a breakdown of the four finalists, a blog featuring their pre-Voice music and a blog featuring their performances from The Voice.

At this point, three words: Go, Juliet Simms!

And it’s entirely in our control, folks.  No mentors’ voting.  No mentors’ saves.

Jermaine Paul:   “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” might be the best vocal we’ve heard from Jermaine.  Most weeks, his vocals have been solid, not sensational.  He’s going to sing, “I Believe I Can Fly.”  Yep, the Whitney tune.  He starts off OK.  But this isn’t exactly the upbeat opening to the show I had hoped for.  OK, about halfway through the song, Jermaine kicks it into high gear and salvages that performance.  I was about to fall asleep during the first two-thirds of it.  But the ending was pretty special.  Grade: B-

Juliet Simms:  The 26-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., has played the black-winged rocker throughout the show.  But her last album with Automatic Loveletter, “The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On,” features great acoustic songwriter material.  Check it out if you haven’t.  Juliet’s singing “Crazy” in honor of Cee Lo Green.  Apparently, each of the singers will also sing one of their mentors’ songs tonight.  Another solid vocal from Juliet.  That was not her critiqued solo number, but I’ll grade these too because … why not?  Grade: B

Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera:  They will sing “The Prayer” together.  Check out those eyelashes on Christina.  Well, Chris wasn’t joking about not wanting to shrink his voice.  Interesting song choice.  You have to wonder whether or not this will pick up votes.  Was it my imagination, or was Christina trying to outsing Chris in spots?  Or maybe just trying to keep up?  I think I would rather have heard Chris sing that solo.  Grade: C

Tony Lucca:   This guy has been special the last two weeks because he’s ditched the singer-songwriter vibe.  He’ll sing “99 Problems” by Jay-Z.  Adam says Tony needs “a moment” to win.   Interesting opening.  Great song choice, Adam and Tony.  Of course, it would be better if he didn’t have to skip a key word in the verse every time.  But that was is a crowd-pleasing performance.  Very original.  That’s what this show should be about.  I just went back and revised some of the previous grades to accommodate what was a great effort by Tony.  Grade: B+

Chris Mann:  He’ll sing “The Voice Within” as a tribute to Christina.  I’ve said it before, if this were strictly about the voice, Chris would win.  But we all know that’s not the case.  Performance and broad appeal matter, too.  And, sorry, but this performance lacks broad appeal.  And Christina calls Chris “a real man who respects woman.”  Huh?  Is that a shot at Tony Lucca, whose song she called derogatory toward women.  Thing is, I’d download “99 Problems” in a heartbeat.  I don’t care to hear that version of “The Voice Within” again.  Grade: C

Juliet Simms and Cee Lo Green:  They’ll sing “Born to Be Wild.”  Yeah, this should be glorious.  Juliet calls it the “Juliet and Cee Lo anthem.”  I’m pretty sure this will be my favorite duet of the night.  Big. Audacious. Motorcyles.  Fire.  Dancers climbing cages.  Juliet’s growl.  Cee Lo’s bellow.  I just wish the house band weren’t so loud.  They nearly drowned out Juliet.  And that ain’t easy.  Grade: B+

Tony Lucca and Adam Levine:   They’ll perform “Yesterday.”  This could be special, too.  Simple.  Nice.  They didn’t try to out-sing one another.  Not a moment. But a nice singer-songwriter moment.  Grade: B-

Jermaine Paul:   He’s going to sing “God Gave Me You” as his tribute to Blake.  I’m glad Jermaine gets to take the stage again tonight, because I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be the vocal he’ll want to end the night on.  This was just off kilter from the word go.  Once again, it would help if the backing musicians weren’t too loud.  And that flourish at the end came off as an empty attempt to make something of nothing.  Grade: C-

 Chris Mann:  He’s going to sing “You Raised Me Up.”  He wants to bring classical music back and says he’s thrilled for the opportunity given him by the show.  Well, this will be Chris Mann’s best performance of the night.  He sounds great on the inspirational song.  And he has Christina in tears before he ever hits the final glorious note.  Very, very well done.  Cee Lo wants him to sing at his wedding if he ever falls in love again.  Grade: A-

Jermaine Paul and Blake Shelton:  They’re going to sing “Soul Man.”  Blake jokes that he’s known as “shuffling Shelton.”  More seriously, he predicts that Jermaine’s career as a background singer is over forever.  OK, this is sorta fun, too.  Actually, I think Blake sounded every bit as good as Jermaine on that.  Well, except for some of those whoops.  Grade: B

Tony Lucca:  As a tribute to Adam, Tony will sing “Harder to Breathe.”  Another very nice performance by Tony, who jokes that there “are an awful lot of words in that one.”  Tell you what, if Juliet Simms weren’t in the finals, I think I’d be pulling for Tony Lucca.  Grade: B.

 Juliet Simms:   The black-winged rocker gets to close the show again.  And she’ll sing “Freebird.”   Really?  Interesting song choice.  OK, she’s gone to that Juliet possessed place.  Wearing a long red cape.  You just knew she was building to that big finish.  Honestly, at the opening, I wasn’t overthrilled by that performance.  But she sure pulled it out at the end, didn’t she.  She just sings with a passion that’s unmatched.  Grade: B+

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