‘The Voice’ Live Finale: Emily Ann Roberts Stands Out With Cover Of Cam’s “Burning House”
Twelve weeks of getting to know Jordan Smith, Barrett Baber, Emily Ann Roberts and Jeffrey Austin on The Voice has all led up to this: surprisingly mediocre finale performances. To be fair, every technically fine performance would have been passable for Knockout Rounds, or even week one of the Live Rounds, but for the finale? They were mostly anticlimactic after last week’s mic drops.
Each contestant sang one duet with a coach, one holiday song and a new song of their choice. Out of the twelve total performances from Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine’s finalists (sorry, contestant-less Pharrell Williams), there were maybe a few that actually warranted the coaches’ unconditional raves. This surprising showing leaves the door way open for an upset of frontrunner Jordan Smith.
This couldn’t be better news for ratings, as these performances made tonight’s results one big question mark:
Team Adam: Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith sings “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys with Adam. They are in perfect harmony, but it’s not the best showcase of what Jordan can do. Though decent, it’s not a show stealer.
The audience goes crazy for Jordan’s rendition of “Mary, Did you Know?” He pours his heart into the somber Christmas song, and has the coaches (and audience) on their feet.
“The people are just ready for you to make a record,” says Pharrell. “My greatest hope for you is that that dream is realized, but in a proper way.”
“This song was a last minute change,” explains Adam. “This guy’s an artist, and he has a vision.”
Going into the night, it seemed like all that can get in between Jordan and sure victory was a bad song choice. The other contestants must be silently cheering, then, when his last big statement song is “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound Of Music. A heavenly stage of fog ups the cheese factor, as if that is needed. Although Jordan gives the song a bit of an R&B treatment and hits his typical huge notes, it’s just an odd pick to end with.
“To be sitting here at the end of this year and year you sing that, I had to hold back everything,” says a tearful Gwen. “Thank you so much.”
“Jordan’s belief in himself and the humble nature with which he projects that into the world is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” says Adam.
Team Blake: Barrett Baber
It’s pretty adorable when the camera pans to Barret Baber’s wife and sleeping baby in the audience after he sings “Silent Night.” Non-screaming children, in general, are vote earners, and paired with a sweet rendition of a holiday classic, it’s a moment.
“I love you dude, I always have,” says Adam. “I wish I had something more interesting to say.” Don’t we all.
“Everything that you perform, you put your own spin on it,” says Blake. “There’s nobody out there like you.”
How fun would it have been if Blake Shelton had picked a non-country song to duet with Barrett? He doesn’t, of course, so old school country in the form of Glen Campbell’s “Rhinstone Cowboy” it is. Barrett is pitchy, Blake is flat and the song seems to go on forever.
Moving out of ’70s country for a moment (thank gawd), Barrett finishes his bid for Voice champion with Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man.” It’s better than “Rhinestone Cowboy,” but it’s also completely unmemorable. May his fourth place trophy (if there is such a thing) read, “Death by song choice.”
“I feel like I was on another planet through that whole thing,” says a (still) tearful Gwen. “Tonight, for me, it all came together because I feel like you were just so calm.”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever worked with anybody that puts more heart into their performances than you,” says Adam. “You just lay your heart out there for everybody to see.”
Team Blake: Emily Ann Roberts
Despite the inherent gross factor of a 17-year-old girl singing a love duet with her 39-year-old coach, Emily Ann Roberts’ rendition of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands In The Stream” is a karaoke dream. She even brings out the best in Blake! Just pretend they’re singing about the father daughter sort of love to get through it.
Elvis would have left the building for Emily’s sleepy performance of “Blue Christmas.” It’s technically fine, but could not be blander.
“When someone is so incredible as far as country music is concerned, we can tell what the real deal is,” says Adam. “You are the real deal.”
“You possess this vocal power this range,” says Blake. “The best thing about your performances is that you ramp it up.”
Here’s where the competition really starts getting interesting. Departing from her classic country choices, Emily sings a song on the radio now. She puts a lot of emotion and hairspray into Cam’s “Burning House,” and it’s the most engaging song of the night.
“Flawless. That was flawless,” says Pharrell.
“If anybody in this competition could have pulled an upset, it was that right there.” says Blake.
Team Gwen: Jeffrey Austin
In Gwen’s first appearance in the finale with a contestant, she sings Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather And Lace” with Jeffrey Austin. She kind of steals the show from her contestant — a hazard of the trade of being fabulous — but it’s certainly the best duet of the night.
Do you think it came to fisticuffs between the typically gentle Jordan Smith and Jeffrey Austin when it came time to decide who got to belt out “O Holy Night?” It had to have, right? It’s the most “look at me” vocal in the non-Mariah Carey Christmas catalog. Jeffrey gets everyone in the spirit — and on their feet –—with his raspy take on the classic Christmas song.
“There’s this sweet spot of your voice that just shakes the rafters,” says Adam.
“You look so cute tonight,” says Gwen, getting one last appearance comment in before the season wraps. “That was so beautiful and I’m so happy for you.”
It’s lights out when Jeffrey performs Sugarland’s “Stay.” His take on the emotional country song is dynamic, and shows the extremes of his range. It puts his dark horse in the race for this un-solidified winner’s slot.
“I can’t imagine that you’re not inspiring somebody who’s put the microphone down for a bit,” says Pharrell. “You’re going to inspire someone to pick it back up.”
“You’ve grown so much before all of our eyes,” says Gwen, who emphatically encourages everyone to vote for Jeffrey.
There are just two hours left in Season 9 of The Voice, but, oh, so much excitement to come. Yes – the champ will be crowned and shipped off to wherever they store Voice winners until they make their “homecoming” performances, but it’s really all about the guest performances. Justin Bieber! Missy Elliott! The Weeknd! Coldplay! Sam Hunt! The confetti cannon!
Will that confetti cannon shoot out victory glitter for Jordan Smith, or do any of the others have a chance?