After 23 seasons in a red swivel chair, The Voice’s Blake Shelton took a load off Monday night to watch his last bunch of finale performances as a coach. He was sitting pretty, too, considering that the members his team, whittled down to just showman NOIVAS and country singer Grace West, were the likeliest to win the title. Did anyone from Team Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper or Niall Horan deliver such a knockout that they might pull off an upset? Did NOIVAS and/or Grace stumble? Read on, and we’ll discuss.
Grace West (Team Blake), “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” — Grade: C+ | Miss Vicki Lawrence might have something to say about the fact that Blake and Grace kept calling this classic a Reba McEntire number. Sure, she did it, too, but c’mon, give credit where it’s due. That quibble notwithstanding, it just wasn’t a great selection for the 19-year-old. The talk-singy verse didn’t adequately show her off her vocal abilities, and the chorus here just felt… leaden, like no one had ever plugged in the lights for them to have gone out.
D.Smooth (Team Kelly), “My, My, My” — Grade: B+ | Satisfying his coach’s craving for ’90s R&B, the only Playoff Pass recipient in the finale D-livered a rendition of Johnny Gill’s hit that was even smoother than the moves that his backup dancers were pulling off. I do wish he’d opened his eyes more often during his performance, but big whoop. He didn’t have to see anything to hear from the crowd’s reaction that they were lapping up what he was dishing out (and lining up for seconds).
Sorelle (Team Chance), “Million Reasons” — Grade: B- | As usual, the siblings’ harmonies were hella dreamy. But their individual vocals, led by baby sis Bella, weren’t quite as flawless. Plus, toward the end of the trio’s Lady Gaga cover, they got a little shouty. By that time, I may have been a little distracted, though, wondering why the light show made it look like the young women were being engulfed in flames. That’s not the way to convince us that a performance was fire, gang.
NOIVAS (Team Blake), “Cold” — Grade: A | Welcome to Goosebump City! From the start of his Chris Stapleton number, Season 23’s frontrunner absolutely owned the stage — without ever moving, even. His presence was cranked up to 11, and when he was able to fully unleash his massive voice, the combination of charisma and talent was nothing short of thrilling. Dude sang with such raw intensity, he coulda cracked a rib.
Gina Miles (Team Niall), “Style” — Grade: B- | I didn’t have high hopes for Gina’s rendition of Taylor Swift’s smash; “Style” just didn’t seem as dark or moody as the kinda number on which the 19-year-old typically shines. But she proved me wrong… mostly. Her unique voice made me feel like I was listening to Florence + the Machine cover Tay Tay, which isn’t a bad thing, just… an odd one. Wish Gina and Niall had rejiggered the production a little bit to better suit her style.
Grace West (Team Blake), “She’s Got You” — Grade: A- | Ahhh! Now this was the sorta Grace performance that could actually win her the title. She was as comfortable with the Patsy Cline classic as a cowgirl would be riding a horse. Her vocals were brimming over with emotion and just dazzlingly beautiful. If there’s anything to nitpick here, it’s just that it would’ve been nice to have seen some of the feeling that we heard in her voice… on her face.
NOIVAS (Team Blake), “Fly Away” — Grade: D | Uh-oh. The energy was certainly there on NOIVAS’ rendition of Lenny Kravitz’s raucous rocker, but the vocal? Not so much. “Fly Away” is a song that gets roared as much as sung, granted. But even still, it would’ve been cool if it hadn’t been painfully pitchy. This was, in an unfortunate word, a disaster — especially what with it being NOIVAS’ last performance before viewers started voting.
D.Smooth (Team Kelly), “What You Won’t Do for Love” — Grade: C+ | There was nothing really wrong with D’s rendition of Bobby Caldwell’s golden oldie. And it had a cool arrangement (his idea, his coach told us). But the number never really took off. Instead, it kinda hovered at pretty much the same altitude throughout. Exceptional singer but not an exceptionally memorable performance.
Sorelle (Team Chance), “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” — Grade: B | Tackling Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s hit, the sister act again sounded mostly divine when singing together but were less impressive on their solo vocals. (The living embodiment of “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?) And I really appreciate that the sibs move on stage, but I’m not 100-percent-sure that their high-school-talent-show choreography doesn’t hurt them more than help.
Gina Miles (Team Niall), “Nothing Compares 2 U” — Grade: A | Perfect, perfect song choice. Sinead O’Connor’s Prince-penned No. 1 allowed Gina to give us a stunning reminder of how special her voice is. And she packed so much ache into her vocal… it might’ve even made my cold, dead heart beat a little. Dunno if even a performance that magnificent could steal the win from Blake, but if one possibly could… this was it.
It all comes down to this. Who do you think will win Season 23… and who do you think should win? Vote in the polls below, then rank the Top 5 in the comments.