I want to start off with an apology: I was in a funk last night. That’s my only explanation for my sourness and apathy while gathering my thoughts after last night’s penultimate episode of The Voice’s second season. But the flipside of realizing that you don’t really care who wins one of these things is that you can sit back and appreciate all the over-the-top silliness that got us to this, yes, somewhat anticlimactic resolution. Coming in just about a month shy of American Idol’s season duration, The Voice doesn’t run nearly the risk of overstaying its welcome—in fact, as I perused Twitter during tonight’s finale the reigning sentiment seemed to be “I can’t believe it’s already over.” Seeing as the final results are completely voter-determined (finally,) all the producers could do was make sure these last two hours left a positive memory of the show in people’s minds. And I think it’s safe to say that mission was accomplished, questionable results aside.
Refreshingly, tonight’s finale didn’t even try to pretend to be about the competition until the last fifteen minutes, instead opting to be a showcase of pressure-free performances from the finalists as well as other also-rans from this season. Yes, Justin Bieber was in the house, but he was easily upstaged by some of the finer moments from the Final Four. We start off with Jermaine’s group performance—the top four were allowed to choose who they’d collaborate with from the wide-ranging stable of ousted contestants, and Jermaine chose Jamar, Pip, and James Massone. Staging-wise, this was one of the most cheerful and simple setups we’ve seen on the show thus far—the boys were all in matching gold suits a la The Four Tops, but still came off as surprisingly modern. I didn’t even begrudge James his one or two sour notes—it was clear from this point on that the show would be about fun, fun, fun. It would also not be the first time I was reminded what a star Jamar is – can we get a Miss Congeniality crown for him, already?
After a blooper reel that reminds us, in case we somehow forgot, that the judges are drunk about 80% of the time they’re on camera, it’s Flo Rida time. I got very excited as soon as I realized that Juliet would be joining him on his David-Guetta-cannibalizing track “Wild One.” (For more on my sliding scale of taste and enthusiasm regarding Top 40 pop, see my America’s Best Dance Crew recaps.) My excitement was dampened somewhat when I remembered, oh yeah, Juliet still has pneumonia, and for some reason they’re letting Flo lipsync the entire song, making her look especially bad. Still, it was fun to see Jules (I can call her Jules at this point, right?) in such a high-energy setting, surrounded by jumping fans.
Chris Mann tries to retroactively win back my favor with the help of “Bittersweet Symphony” and Katrina Parker, but seeing as it’s almost impossible for him to do the mid-nineties heroin-chic British yowl, it wasn’t gonna work. Lindsey Pavao was also on hand, still sounding as weird and shaky, which puts her in the minority—with the pressure off, most of the runners up delivered some of their best performances of the season tonight. At least there was a sense of cooperation between the three of them, though—the inexplicable return of diva supergroup CheesyBaby & The Forgettables singing “Superstitious” felt like a screaming contest, and one that I couldn’t tell nor particularly cared about who won.
Also inexplicable, but far more welcome, was the appearance of Hall & Oates, who, as far as I could tell don’t have an album or single to plug, and must have just be stopping by to thank Carson for giving them their start on TRL. Singing backup on “Rich Girl” are Tony, Chris, and (oh, the irony!) Jermaine.
Juliet came out next with her group number, “With A Little Help From My Friends,” with a little help from Erin Willett, Jamar, and (sigh) RaeLynn. I had been pleasantly surprised by Jermaine’s group number, but really felt Juliet rallying with hers, and it was a great burst of energy heading into the show’s second half. Again, Jamar’s presence was integral to the group, and Erin also had some lovely moments, but after spreading the love more or less equally among, Juliet came roaring back in the song’s final moments. It was hard to believe this was the same girl who had just sung backup on that Flo Rida song—but it was definitely the same girl who sang “Roxanne,” and it was nice to have her back again.
Tony chooses to bring back Jordis Unga for “Go Your Own Way.” Once she hits the stage, I am struck by how familiar she looks, then realize that since her elimination we’ve spent a lot more time with Tony’s wife, and the two could be sisters. So that’s weird! Jordis sounds great—better vocally than Tony if you ask me—but I still find her to be an energy suck on stage, where as Tony’s stage-kid genes make him a natural at using the stage and selling a song, even when his voice fails him.
The final performance before the winner is announced goes to Justin Bieber (the true winner of The Voice, as far as getting ratings up.) I’m not sure if the sound was weird on my TV or what, but did this seem a little… off to anyone? Part of it might have had to do with the fact that “Boyfriend” is such a low-impact song, especially after the vocal gymnastics we’ve gone through up until this point. Bieber’s dance moves are as polished as one would expect, but he doesn’t seem terribly present, not that it matters to anyone this matters to.
And then, finally, the party comes to a close, and it’s results time. And while I wasn’t necessarily expecting Jermaine to win it all, I came to terms with it almost instantly. Like I wrote last night, this has been a hard fought victory for him, and he never really made a serious misstep throughout the competition (other than kind of coming off as a dick during his audition.) Did I like any of his performances? No, but he’s no Chris Mann either, and I’m at peace with the winner of The Voice being merely okay. Besides, this means that Juliet is the next Dia, and the optimist in me thinks she’ll use that position to even better effect.
Sure, the outcome is unlikely to really matter to any of us in the long run, but the reason we hitch on to The Voice or any of these vocal gladiatorial tournaments is the temporary sense of ownership we have over the hopefuls and their futures. It’s not a life sentence; it doesn’t mean any more or less if you forget who you voted for a month from now. A song well sung is one of the easiest things to get excited about, and isn’t it just fun to try to care about things?
Goddammit. So much for not ending this on a dark note.
- I feel like this is kind of a given at this point, but no, Christina Aguilera was not wearing pants tonight.
- Zero addressing of the Adam/Christina feud in these judges outtakes and would-be DVD bonuses, even though it was all the gossip blogs could talk about today.
- I follow Christina Milian on Twitter so you don’t have to, and tonight she would not shut up about how she and Flo Rida were both wearing leather jackets.
- “Will Leslie Knope get elected? I Knope so!” Gotta love the delicious weirdness of a Parks and Recreation plug delivered by Carson Daly.
- In fact, between the Kenan Thompson SNL clip and the Thursday night comedy plugs, tonight's finale kinda made me nostalgic for the NBC heyday of my youth.
- Thanks to everyone who stuck with me and this show this season – I loved reading your comments week to week, if only for the reassurance that I wasn’t crazy for my great appreciation of Adam Levine as a judge.