The Voice Season 4 'Live Finals' Recap: Who Should (and Will) Win It All? [Updated]
The battle lines have all been drawn and the fandoms have been essentially locked in for several weeks now on Season 4 of The Voice. So the question entering tonight’s Live Finals was this: Would (or could) any voters be swayed to switch allegiance?
The question exiting it, though, was quite different: Why did one of the three competing acts get a hefty advantage by scoring two out of the last three solo performance slots on the telecast? (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t The Swon Brothers or a member of Team Usher.)
Look, I know Danielle Bradbery is as easy a sell to country radio as
sauvignon blanc to a reality TV recapper warm milk to a hungry 1-year-old, but the Live Finals were so imbalanced, I swear my TV tilted four inches to the right by the time the telecast came to an end. You think I’m exaggerating? Chew on this: The Swon Brothers’ final competitive performance tonight ended with a full 42 minutes left of airtime. Mark Burnett & Co. might as well have introduced ‘em with a dismissive, “Hey, America, it’s the opening act for tonight’s main event…put your hands together for Zach and Colton…whatever their names are!”
OK, OK, I’ll quit with the conspiracy theorizing now. Because, ultimately, the final night of Season 4 voting comes down to a choice among apples, oranges and kiwis. Or, rather, a fast-food burger joint, a backyard barbeque and an avant garde urban trattoria.
Danielle allows Blake and his country fans to have it their way — midtempo, twangy love songs made with a quarter pound of lean beef and cooked the same exact way every time. She’s a monument to consistency, to assembly-line efficiency and to the American dream. (Hey, if Blake can call her “without a doubt, one of the strongest vocalists on Earth, surely I’m allowed such a flight of fancy.)
The Swons’ performances may sometimes come out a little undercooked or occasionally overcharred, but the food’s not really the point. They’re about beers and bonfires and laughter with friends and family — and their understanding of their own limitations and broad appeal has allowed them to ingratiate themselves into the hearts and minds of the voting public. They’re the ultimate answer to the question, “Which act would I want to join me on the couch to watch The Voice?”
And then there’s Michelle: All Chilean sea bass with avocado foam, wasabi mashed potatoes and haricot vert with a soy demi-glaze. She’s a rarity, an aquired taste, a special (and expensive) night out — but with Usher lending his name to the joint, it’s become the place to be for
lights, psychos, Furbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sunburnt drifters with soapsuds beards voters who want something out of the ordinary.
Me? I’m #TeamMichelle, but I understand the appeal of her rivals — even if, deep down, I know it’s Danielle Bradbery’s Powerball ticket, and the rest of us just have to hope she stimulates the economy and it trickles down to us.
Can we pause for my favorite exchange of the night?
Usher: We’re humans being, not just humans doing.
Carson Daly: That should be on a cocktail napkin.
With that, let’s cut to my letter grades for tonight’s performances (I’ll update this recap with more detailed reviews overnight):
The Swon Brothers (New Song): The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why” | Yeah, maybe it’s a little odd that The Swon Brothers tackled their second Eagles track this season, but if you’re gonna ping ‘em on those grounds, then you’d have to do the same to Michelle (two Cyndi Lauper and two Pink covers apiece) and Danielle (two each by Carrie Underwood, Pam Tillis and Sara Evans). And the truth of the matter is, “I Can’t Tell You Why” is a terrific piece of ear candy that stretched Zach’s muscular instrument into falsetto territory and allowed the guys to show off their seriously improved harmonies. My only complaint is that considering Zach declared his intent to infuse the tune with “an extra little spark of special” — not to mention that both Colton and Zach play instruments — I’d hoped they’d try to do something (anything, really) to color outside the lines, move the song away from the karaoke bar and toward a future as risk-taking artists with a real point of view. Yeah, I know, I’m tragicomically optimistic. “I Can’t Tell You Why” was pretty solid in spite of all that, though. Grade: B+