Final four also perform with their judges before the winner is chosen Tuesday night.
By John Mitchell
The final night of competition proved intense and tough to call Monday night (May 7) on “The Voice” as rocker Juliet Simms, singer/songwriter Tony Lucca, former R&B backup singer Jermaine Paul and classically trained Chris Mann brought everything they had to the stage hoping to land enough votes to take home the title in Tuesday’s live grand finale.
But it wasn’t all business, as each of the final four also took the stage with their respective coach for a series of powerhouse performances that showcased the onstage chemistry born from both compatibility — looking at you, chill rocker boys Adam Levine and Lucca and vocal dynamos Christina Aguilera and Mann — and unlikely pairings (think country crooner Blake Shelton and Paul and funky soul man Cee Lo and Simms).
First up was Team Blake’s Jermaine, who wasn’t taking any chances with his song choice, going straight for a mid-’90s jam that has practically become an R&B standard, R. Kelly’s inspirational “I Believe I Can Fly.”
His simple, clean and emotional performance — Adam called it “elegant” — earned plenty of praise, with Christina admitting, “That song was made for you. You came out classy and positive.” Blake couldn’t have been more pleased, adding, “My heart is in my throat right now. I’ve heard that song a million times, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever really heard it before tonight.”
As a surprise thank you to their coaches, the final four also hit the stage to sing one of their mentor’s biggest hits. Juliet Simms, looking great with newly raven locks and powering through throat issues that Cee Lo revealed at the top of the show, was up first with a rocking take on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” She was followed later in the show by Chris Mann singing Christina’s emotional ballad “The Voice Within,” Paul’s clean take on Shelton’s country hit “God Gave Me You” and Tony’s faithful rendition of Maroon 5′s “Harder to Breathe.”
When it came time for the first coach/contestant pairing, Christina and Chris found a song that was so clearly recorded specifically for them to sing live on “The Voice” tonight, we wonder if Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion had a crystal ball with them when they hit the studio. That song was “The Prayer,” and Xtina hit it on the nose during the rehearsal montage, saying, “We connected so perfectly together, it was effortless.”
And they did, of course; the two were meant to perform together.
The next competitive performance came from Team Adam’s Tony Lucca, who Adam admitted needed “another moment” (like his rock remix of Britney Spears’ ” … Baby One More Time” a few weeks ago) to increase his shot at winning the competition. He found it in a rockabilly reimagining of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” complete with a harmonica and washboard (like you’d use for laundry) for accompaniment.
Unsurprisingly, Christina, who has taken issue with her former “Mickey Mouse Club” co-star often in the past, found fault in Lucca’s song choice, saying the B-word that Lucca muted from the song (but which we all know is there) was disrespectful to women. Adam was smartly ready for Christina to slag on Lucca, explaining that the term was more of a metaphor for all the things that drag you down.
Indeed, Christina’s criticism of Lucca was so anticipated by Adam that while explaining the song choice, he ripped off his flannel to reveal a sparkling “Team Xtina” T-shirt that forced even the temperamental Aguilera to laugh off the obviously good-natured snarking.
(Also, we’ll be needing one of those T-shirts. As a superstar musician, Adam, we have a feeling you know how to find us at MTV HQ in New York City.)
Like Xtina and Chris, Cee Lo and Juliet managed to find a perfect song for their coach/contender performance, Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” Their take on it, despite an abundance of studded leather and onstage motorcycles, however, fell kind of flat. (Lucky for Juliet, this wasn’t the performance that really counted for her.)
We’re starting to wonder if Blake is getting jealous of Lucca, because it seems his bromance with coach Adam blossoms more and more each week, coming to a chemistry-filled fruition when the two hit the stage together to sing the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” Tony plucked the guitar, both crooned and, in all seriousness, the pair delivered a simple, clean take on the classic that left both grinningly pleased when they reached those key final chords.
For his competitive performance, Mann went for his nearest peer in popular music, Josh Groban. It’s no surprise that Mann nailed “You Raise Me Up,” bringing his coach Christina to tears. Cee Lo called his voice “incomparable,” and it’s a fact that no one can argue.
For their joint performance, Blake, who throughout the show has always proven a little more willing than the other judges (save maybe music Renaissance man Cee Lo) to step outside his comfort zone, leapt off the deep end and joined Jermaine for a funky, horn-filled “Soul Man” that was anything but country.
It was a joyous and lively performance that makes us wonder if Adam is the one who should be jealous. There was definite onstage chemistry between Blake and Jermaine — and so another “Voice” bromance (we know, they hate that word, but we don’t care) is born.
The night ended on a high note: Juliet Simms’ blistering tear into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” The only woman in the final four, Simms stunned in a Florence Welch-esque gown and cape that Christina Aguilera gave props to. From one diva to another, Xtina also offered Juliet words of encouragement, as she was also under the weather — though you might not know it from her performance.
Juliet tore the song up, and along with an amazing accompanying guitar riff, it was a performance that simply screamed “rock star.” She earned a standing ovation from her judge Cee Lo, but it was Adam that perhaps gave the most astute observation, saying, “I have no grit in my voice and you have all of it.”
Don’t knock yourself down, Adam, but you are right &8212; Juliet’s voice is one of a kind.
With a Universal Republic Records contract on the line, we’ll learn Tuesday who America has chosen as “The Voice.”
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