After weeks and weeks of competition, shocking eliminations and some terribly uncomfortable moments, the finale of The Voice season seven finally arrived on Monday night (Dec. 15). Teams Adam Levine and Blake Shelton were the lone wolves represented, as Damien, Chris Jamison, Matt McAndrew and Craig Wayne Boyd performed three songs apiece to try and become "the Voice."
The show didn't work in rounds, but each man was tasked with a solo cover, a duet with his coach and an original song, which was completed with a studio recording and music video.
At this point in the competition, each performer brought his A-game (more or less). Damien and Chris Jamison played to their strong suits, performing ballads and cool, high noted R&B pop tunes (respectively) while Craig Wayne Boyd and Matt McAndrew took to showing their diversity as performers and singers. The latter strategy seemed to work for the best, with Craig giving favorite Matt a good run for his money.
But, how did each single performance stack up? Take a play-by-play look at each song to see what was good, what was bad and what was just OK below. And tune in to Music Times and NBC tomorrow to find out who will win The Voice.
Chris Jamison, "Lost Without U" (with Coach Adam): There's something to be said for a clean, seamless duet. Out of all four pair-ups this week - three off which came courtesy of Adam Levine - this one was far and away the best. The song choice was very much in both singers' wheelhouses, and neither really outshone the other. Yes, Levine was far more comfortable on stage than his protégé, but there was no real reason for Chris to fear the Maroon 5 singer; they were both vocally more than capable. And to be able to stand next to one of the more interesting and different voices in pop is no small feat.
Craig Wayne Boyd, "In Pictures": Oh no. It was time for a real tearjerker. Besides his toned-down performance of "Walk the Line," Craig Wayne Boyd has kept things fairly upbeat on The Voice, but this is the finale and you have got to get those emotional votes in. And what better way to do that than to bring your son into the picture. Right as Craig feels on the brink of stardom, he sings a song about missing one's son growing up. And the tears were a-flowing. He looked teary, his girlfriend in the audience was choked up and perpetual coach crier Gwen Stefani was obviously crying. Craig's vocal here was decent; we've heard better from him and far worse from many other contestants, but the key to this choice was the sob vote. And we're still wiping away all those tears.
Craig Wayne Boyd, "My Baby's Got a Smile on Her Face": This season, The Voice is throwing yet another wrench into its mix by giving each finalist an original song to perform. Country crooner and the lone contestant not on Team Adam Craig Wayne Boyd was the first to go with his new song, a Blake Shelton throwaway, "My Baby's Got a Smile on Her Face." Shelton claims he passed on the song because it was just too hard to sing, and there may actually be a little something to that - studio footage proved that Shelton's voice cracked while trying to get to the high notes in the verse. Though the lyrical content of this song was beyond generic and the melody felt a little familiar too, "My Baby's Got a Smile on Her Face" is a real country hit. Boyd sold the vocals here, too, even if his performance was lacking.
Chris Jamison, "Cry Me A River": Mmm, yes. We needed a little Justin Timberlake for Chris Jamison, and this was a good one to start with (and end with). The soft falsetto in "Cry Me A River" is so genius and so in line with what Chris Jamison can do as a performer, it's shocking to think it took until the finale for someone to realize this. As should have been expected, Chris absolutely nailed this performance, getting the emotions, the vocals and the movements to this song down to a T. Given the chance, this could have been the big moment of the show, had The Voice been a little more confident in Chris's ability to win, but alas, the editors seem to have someone else in mind...
Matt McAndrew, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow": And that would be Matt McAndrew. Yes, the tattooed teacher, the fluffy haired favorite was the close out performance of season seven, with the classic The Wizard of Oz song "Over the Rainbow." Now, for as cheesy as this song choice was, I would have reveled in this rotting, but well, Matt pulled it out. The song isn't too terribly difficult, allowing Matt to show his little-seen soft side all while giving him the ability to showcase his range. This was pretty, simple and a lovely way to end the show.
Chris Jamison, "Velvet": There are a lot of things that Chris Jamison is... a student in Ohio, a shaved haired man, a decent singer with a killer falsetto, but he is not the lead singer of Maroon 5, no matter how much they ay try and deceive you. For his original song, Chris took on a sexually-charged anthem "Velvet," with lyrics that liken a lady's parts to velvet... which is uncomfortable. Though the songwriting here was solid, the performance was laughable, from the butt wiggle at the top to the mirrors surrounding the stage to those blue pants and Chris's total inability to sell this song's sexuality. He's also not ever been deemed the "Sexiest Man Alive" and never will, so this whole shtick just did not work.
Damien, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (with Coach Adam): The match up of Adam Levine and Damien was always going to be a little bit weird; their genres just do not line up. So, they opted for Elton John, who can somehow marry their two worlds. Of course, Levine was on point. Actually, if you ever want him to look like the most amazing artist of all time, just throw him next to someone from The Voice. Though Damien could hold his own, Levine actually was the real star here, which is not what you want when you're trying to win a TV show and become a star of your own.
Damien, "Soldier": Though Chris Jamison's personality may be missing a little bit for his original song, at least it wasn't bad, like Damien's "Soldier." Maybe, once again, the show is stuffing Damien too much into the ballad box. And when compared to amazing songs from Adele, Michael Jackson and The Hollies, this track "Soldier" just feels soft by comparison. Yes, Damien is good on it, as all of the men are at this stage in the competition. His voice broke a few times and that's never a good sign, but one could chalk it up to passion (if need be). But the actual song choice is so key, and "Soldier" just does not feel like 2014.
Matt McAndrew, "Wasted Love": Matt McAndrew has been the relatively clear frontrunner all season on The Voice. He's had more singles hit the iTunes chart than any other performer, and his covers have all gotten massive praise from fans of the show. So, what does an original song from Matt sound like? The answer is... eh. Matt shines the most when he goes full Monty, 110 percent throughout every song. His solo, original single however was a bit more subdued, showing the quieter, weaker side of his range. The song itself is in the vein of Hozier, with a lot of soul and R&B injected into it. On its own, it's a hit. And maybe the studio version is better than the live one.
Craig Wayne Boyd, "Boots On" (with Coach Blake): Randy Houser's "Boots On" is a gritty, dirty Southern rock song and totally in Craig Wayne Boyd's wheelhouse. For the lone duet not with Adam Levine, Coach Blake Shelton teamed up with Craig, and while the performance was one of the best of the night, the vocal actually got a little lost in the crazy guitar staging and the loud band stage. If this show were about finding a bandleader or a performer, sure, this would be more than a solid showing. But this is about raw voice talent, at least in name, and this was a little lacking in that.
Damien, "A Song for You": Damien is really good at singing classic, pretty ballads and doing them strongly. So, after getting The Voice's wildcard save earlier this week, it makes sense that he would play into his hand to open up the show. Wearing a snazzy suit, Damien broke out this standard pop/R&B ballad with all the power one would expect. The runs were beautiful and perfectly timed, the emotion was palpable, but once again, there was a lack of excitement for this performance. We've seen Damien stun on songs like these, and even his coach Adam Levine commented that "A Song For You" was an obvious choice. So, like, why do it? This is the finale, for goodness' sake!
Matt McAndrew, "Lost Stars" (with Coach Adam): Adam Levine would be remiss to have three contestants in the finale and not have one of the men sing one of his songs (think of the money!). So, for this year's finale, we got Matt McAndrew taking on Levine's solo single "Lost Stars" alongside the original singer... Adam Levine! This was the third best coach pairing of the night, behind Levine/Chris Jamison and Blake Shelton/Craig Wayne Boyd, but that didn't mean that this performance didn't work on some level. McAndrew is a true artist, but he feels like a solo guy, and putting him next to someone who is just different enough felt a little odd. Their voices didn't meld perfectly together either, giving this song just a so-so feeling when there's so much more that could have been done here.