There really won’t be much drama on tonight’s finale of “The Voice.”
Danielle Bradbery, the 16-year-old country singer from Texas who made her first public performance at the show’s blind auditions, will, barring some sort of miracle, win the season. She deserves it – in that way that any artist so obviously instilled with natural talent deserves their successes. The other two finalists – Massachusetts indie-leaning rocker Michelle Chamuel and Oklahoman country duo the Swon Brothers – both worked harder to chip away at Danielle’s clear talent-and-likability advantage throughout their three performances last night, but it just wasn’t enough.
The coaches were calling this “The Voice”’s best season yet and that’s true, considering the talent that they discovered. When all 16 of the finalists took the stage to sing Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “Home,” it was clear that Season 4 had many more memorable singers.
But will Danielle end up being the superstar “The Voice” needs to completely displace “American Idol”? She could be.
“You’re one of the most important people to walk across this stage,” her coach Blake Shelton told her. We’ll see if he ends up being right.
Here’s how the finale performances stacked up:
1. Michelle Chamuel, “I Knew You Were Trouble” (Team Usher): This was just as effective as the first time – maybe even more so, with all the flashing lights and steam cannons. She has a way of adding drama and passion to every song she sings and it works to perfection here, when there’s a song with a strong enough melody to support it. “You’re needed out there as an artist,” Shakira said. Blake Shelton said, “You’re a rock star happening right in front of our eyes.”
2. Danielle Bradbery, “Born to Fly” (Team Blake): In case there were any questions left about her ability to sell a contemporary country song, she answered them with her spirited take on the Sara Evans song. “I just thank God that you came to ‘The Voice’ to debut yourself,” Blake Shelton said. I bet “Voice” producers said the same thing.
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3. Michelle Chamuel, “Why” (Team Usher): When Annie Lennox does this song in concert, it’s always breathtaking, especially when she declares, “This is how I feel. Do you know how I feel?” Michelle was a little more timid in that declaration, which was a bit of a letdown, even after the cool mirror/taped piece trick where her “reflection” stopped reflecting her actions. This was good, but not great. So she’s not Annie Lennox. Who is?
4. Danielle Bradbery & Blake Shelton, “Timber! I’m Falling in Love” (Team Blake): They sounded so good together on the Patty Loveless hit from the ‘80s that you could almost imagine them on some variety show doing this duet. It was just right for the teenager, something light and fun that still has something she can dominate.
5. The Swon Brothers, “I Can’t Tell You Why” (Team Blake): The mainstreaming of the Swons is right on schedule, picking another Eagles song that can show off their harmonies without being too country. Shelton said they were constantly evolving, which seems true enough. “I think all that’s missing is the third Bee Gee,” Usher said.
6. Danielle Bradbery, “Maybe It Was Memphis” (Team Blake): The Pam Tillis song is still not age-appropriate for Danielle and her tentative performance of it this time showed that maybe she understands that now. Her vocals were good, especially on the key change near the end, but she didn’t seem to connect as well with the song this time. “I think Danielle is the winner of this thing,” Adam Levine says. He is probably right.
7. The Swon Brothers, “Danny’s Song” (Team Blake): This “defining moment” wasn’t as good as the first time, with Colton’s opening harmonies slightly off and the ending coming across a bit wonky. There was even a bad camera shot where another crew member got caught running off the stage.
8. Michelle Chamuel & Usher, “One” (Team Usher): So here’s another case of Michelle getting one of rock’s biggest lines and not hammering it home. The bridge of the U2 classic builds to the lines “Love is a temple, love a higher law” and she approached them a little too timidly. It’s great that she looked like she was having fun singing with Usher, but she wasn’t really selling this song. This looked like a runner-up's performance.
9. The Swon Brothers & Blake Shelton, “Celebrity” (Team Blake): This was a bad idea. The Brad Paisley song may play well with the country crowd, but it doesn’t let the Swons do what they do best and it’s kind of off-putting to see guys on a reality show complain about people on reality shows. If the contest was closer, this would have been the song that cost them the win.
WILL WIN: Danielle
SHOULD WIN: Danielle
ACTUALLY WON: Danielle