The Voice Season 3 Finale Recap: Did the Right Person Win It All? [Updated]

voice season 3 top 3You knew it was an Important Night on The Voice because not once did social-media dingbat Christina Milian begin one of her excruciating interview segments by screeching her go-to salutation, “Hey-ey, what’s UP, Carrr-son?”

But that wasn’t the only holiday miracle on the Season 3 finale: With a two-hour running time for an announcement that could’ve/should’ve been handled in 15 seconds, odds were that the telecast would wind up feeling interminable. To my surprise and delight, however, the producers packed the proverbial stocking with so many musical goodies that I was forced to let go of my Grinchiest tendencies and just enjoy it. Okay, so my fantasy collaboration of Amanda Brown, De’Borah and Nicole Nelson never materialized, but as the Stones once told us, “you can’t always get what you want.”

PHOTOS | The Voice: 25 Best Performances of Season 3

What we did get was a pretty darn satisfying conclusion to three months of intense, sometimes thrilling, sometimes infuriating competition. Without further ado…the envelope please…

Third Place: Nicholas David
Second Place: Terry McDermott
Season 3 Champ: ¡Cassadee Pope!

RELATED | The Voice Season 3 Performance Finale Recap: May the Best Woman Win

I’ve got to admit that while Cassadee’s early-season hype-to-performance ratio often left me with the sinking feeling that the show’s producers were trying to force-feed me government cheese with an artisanal label, the former Hey Monday frontwoman improved so rapidly and so markedly over the last seven or eight weeks that all I can do now is wish her sincere congratulations and root for her to become (along with Amanda) The Voice‘s first post-show chart-topper. In both the semifinal and final performance-show telecasts, she took more risks, sounded more current and hit just as many big notes as any of her competitors. And having that charming bastard Blake Shelton as her coach didn’t hurt a bit, either.

But let’s press pause on the larger Season 3 picture for a moment and do a quick review of the 13 performances from the finale:

Rihanna: “Diamonds” | Is it weird that I get all conspiracy-theory crazy when Rihanna sings on pitch? Yeah, she used a backing track instead of background vocalists on the chorus, but she actually sounded really good. And I don’t think it was a ventriloquist’s trick, either! Grade: B+

Terry McDermott (joined by Amanda Brown, Michaela Paige, Bryan Keith and Rudy Parris): Kiss’s “Rock and Roll All Nite” | I could be nitpicky and complain that the stage manager had the backlighting cranked up so high that there were moments where keeping my eye on the TV screen felt like looking directly into the sun. But that aside, Terry showed excellent taste in collaborators, and while it’s almost impossible to make Kiss’ party anthem much more than fun karaoke, Amanda’s incredible solos on the verse left me squee-ing. Grade: A-

Nicholas David and Smokey Robinson: “Cruisin'” | I was really hoping the show’s producers would pair Nicholas with a current radio artist (but not Ke$ha) or have him sing a current-ish radio hit (but not anything by Ke$ha), but it’s hard to complain too much about Smokey. I just wish the sound mix hadn’t put the background singers front and center on the chorus. Grade: B

The Killers and Cassadee Pope: “Here With Me” | For what was billed as a duet, it was kind of weird that Cassadee only got to come out for the final chorus. (On a shallow note: How come I don’t recall Brandon Flowers ever being quite so hot? Adam Levine beware!) Grade: B-

Mackenzie Bourg, Diego Val, Julio Cesar Castillo, Cody Belew, and Dez Duron: “Stacy’s Mom” | The old-fashioned diner set, the dancing waitresses, the sound mix that had whole chunks of the melody disappearing? And, oh, the utter randomness of the quintet itself, which was low on chemistry and high on awkward choreography? A total mess. Sigh. Grade: C-

Kelly Clarkson (with Cassadee Pope and Terry McDermott): “Catch My Breath” | Kelly’s atrocious Golden Girls-collection bathrobe notwithstanding, this was a musical delight that allowed for Team Blake’s Top 2 to shine as well. Also: Isn’t it great that the original American Idol is such a success, she transcends reality-show boundaries? (Although it had to sting Simon Fuller when Kelly called The Voice the biggest show out there right now. Then again, at least she didn’t try to convince us that title belonged to Duets.) Grade: A-

Cassadee Pope (joined by De’Borah, Liz David, and Melanie Martinez): “It’s Time” | Love her or not, there’s no denying Cassadee has great taste in collaborators — or that the quartet’s voices blended rather nicely on this pop-rock ditty. Here’s hoping Cassadee’s new label loves the idea of a De’Borah duet on her solo debut album! Grade: A-

Peter Frampton and Terry McDermott: “Baby I Love Your Way” | I can’t help but feel like this was Frampton’s (or Mark Burnett’s) scathing response to Emblem3’s awful cover on last week’s X Factor. And while I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Terry’s musical choices this season, this stripped down rendition was really sublime. Grade: A

Sylvia Yacoub, Joselyn Rivera, Adriana Louise, Devyn Deloera and Loren Allred: “Best of My Love” | This quintet of talented but inconsistent contestants barely missed a note while breathing new life into a disco classic. They might seriously want to consider joining forces to break through the public consciousness in their post-Voice careers, though I’m not sure who’d be the Beyoncé: Sylvia or Joselyn. (Side note: How jacked-up was the opening shot of Devyn’s shimmying back while Adriana was the person actually singing the start of the verse?) Grade: B+

Bruno Mars: “When I Was Your Man” | I always feel like big stars who show up for reality-show finales should share the spotlight with a contestant (like, say, Amanda Brown). But Bruno was in such fine voice — and the song was such a winner — that I’ll make the rare exception here. Grade: A

Nicholas David (joined by Amanda Brown, Trevin Hunte, and Dez Duron): “End of the Road” | I can’t lie and say that a Boyz II Men ballad would’ve made a list of the top 5,000 songs I’d want to hear, but this quartet made me borderline enjoy it. Still, someone needs to have a talk with Trevin already about the dangers of acid-wash denim. Grade: B+

Avril Lavigne and Cassadee Pope: “I’m With You” | I’d have preferred the duo chose a duet that Cassadee hadn’t already covered this season — maybe “Girlfriend” or “Keep Holding On”? — but it was cool to see the Season 3 champ get a chance to sing with her idol. Did anyone else think Cassadee was really generous handing off almost every one of the big, showy notes to Avril? Grade: B+

Blake, Xtina, Cee Lo and Adam: “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” | Here’s something Simon, L.A., Britney and Demi would never be able to pull off on X Factor, that’s for sure. Oh, and Xtina’s super-high harmonies at the end were a real treat: She may be a bit of a hot-mess as a TV personality, but damn she’s talented. Grade: A-

Oh, and before I turn things over to you, I’ve got to give Blake the MVP award for bringing tons of cheeky humor to the season finale. I was howling over his “Damn, boy. You’re hot.” remark in the segment about how he has no problems telling other men when he thinks they’re good-looking. And his eyebrow raise during his “I have a special package for you” birthday wish to Xtina is just further proof that he needs to host SNL before that show’s Season 38 comes to an end.

Anyhow, now it’s time for your take: Did the right contestant take home the big enchilada? What was your favorite results-night collaboration? Sound off below, and for all my Voice-related news, contestant interviews, recaps and video, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. wingeyes says:

    In my dream world Deborah, Aquile, Mackenzie, the girl who sang evanescence, Sylvia Jacoub, Dez Duron, Nicholas, Amanda Brown would all have made it longer than terry and casadeee. They just sound better especially Amanda Brown, Nicholas and Deborah. ( Deborah is the biggest crime… she was awesome in what little clips we saw of her) . The mini cristina group I could barely distinguish between them. They need oriignality, but they also need someone who has a good record label to promote them. I bet adam will get that for melanie. I have no idea why he hasn’t signed amanda yet, but in the end she isn’t as quirky or original as melanie. Yes, the girl can sing but hse needs find a good song for that voice.

  2. Karen says:

    Sorry I think Nicolas was so original we don’t hear enough of that style anymore and please next year don’t let people choose while the heck do we have you coaches big disappoint Pope is nothing special not To Be The Voice really people hope Nicolas puts an album out I will buy it immediately!!!!!!!

  3. Karen says:

    Amanda Brown is the rightful winner of the show. I’m ready to buy her album today!

  4. Me says:

    Simple answer to the headline question: NO. We don’t need another generic pop star on the radio. I’m hoping she goes country so I’ll never hear of her again.

    Terry should have won. Best part of the show was Terry and Peter Frampton singing Baby I Love Your Way. It was awesome!!!

    Terry Fan for Life!

  5. Mary says:

    Did not watch because I knew who the winner would be – no suspense. I did catch some of the acts online this morning, Wow Peter Frampton still has it. Kelly should of sung by herself the two added nothing to the performance. Well Cassadee is not my cup of tea but I wish her success.

  6. Michelle says:

    “…just further proof that he needs to host SNL before that show’s Season 38 comes to an end.”

    This. NBC Make it happen.

  7. KSM says:

    I think it is so weird on the Voice that people that already had careers can be on the show. I have Hey Monday songs on my ipod. Glee has covered Hey Monday. It just seems so odd to me.

    • vincent dante says:

      The difference is that The Voice doesn’t try and hide its origins. Idol and the others tend to downplay any previous entertainment connection while The Voice will talk about someone who was once in an r/b group or someone whose daddy is famous or someone in a one-hit wonder pop group. So? So what? It’s not against the rules– I just wish Dia Frampton had won her season.

  8. hmr says:

    Terry’s and Peter Frampton’s duet was sublime indeed, best of the evening! Terry should have won. The show was very anticlimactic, however, I enjoyed most of the performances.
    I don’t understand the Pope appeal.
    Thank you for keeping the inner Grinch in check Michael Slezak.

  9. Volcfom says:

    Can we please talk about the amazing, heartbreaking performance that Bruno Mars gave? I was welling up, as was Xtina and Blake. That my friend, is how to connect to an audience.

  10. ck says:

    You knew how the numbers ranked even before they told you at the end. Think about it Cassadee sang 4 songs, Terry 3, and Nicholas only 2.

  11. gailer says:

    How does everyone think Cassadee would have done on Idol?

    • Danny says:

      That’s a pretty good question. I think about how these people compare to Idol sometimes too. Idol seems to be biased towards the guys, so I don’t think she would have won it. Last year on Idol I thought the top 7 were all pretty close. I’d put Cassadee in that mix. Had she been on Idol, it would have made for a pretty dang good top 8. I still think Pillip would have won though.

    • teatime says:

      JLo never would have supported her.

  12. GMom100 says:

    Even tho Cassadee was last on my list, I do think she will sell CDs, etc well because her fans are the little girls who buy them. (was a big fan of Terry’s).. It was funny to see Kelly and Avril on the same show. I remember in season 1 of A.I. When Kelly and some other A.I. Contestants presented an award to Avril at a Teen Choice award, she YANKED the award out of Kelly’s hands very rudely. Who’s the big star now? LOL!

    It was great to me to see country singer Liz sing last night. She has an awesome voice and I don’t even LIKE country music!! I agree that Amanda should AT LEAST have been in the top 3!!!

  13. avoicefan says:

    First of all i have to say congrats CASSADEE .. Weather you think she deserved to win or not ..all three finalist are great artists ..i wouldn’t have been sad if either had win really .. and not having my favorite win doesn’t mean I have to hate on the winner and keep griping and calling it a scam , a rigged show or whatever … it is all about personal tastes.. Millions of Americans have voted .. and I bet it must have been a close call too.. but in the end it is a competition.. the one with the most votes wins.. that’s how these things work… and that made cassasdee the winner this time .. millions loved her.. voted for her Bought her iTunes songs and have repeatedly put her #1 on the top 10 charts!! That in itself tells you she is already a success!! why would people pay money to get a song 10 times if all they think she is only a pretty face?? having said that i am finding it really weird how everyone keeps crying over how amanda brown got voted off.. and how cassadee undeservedly won what should have been a shoe in for amanda .. ppl ppl if you were such amanda brown die-hard fans.. why didn’t you buy her songs on itunes?? why didn’t you get her on the top 10 chart and get her the coveted 10X bonus that had been the main reason why who ever got charted was a definite save for that week .. isn’t music today all about who would sell the most?? Weather cassadee already had a fan base or had a previous album — btw nicholas already had 5 albums on itunes – i am sure not all of those voters -including me- knew about her or even about hey monday .. and after i became a fan and started looking up her previous work.. I discovered that the voice has def added alot to her .. and i can’t say she is now the same person that she was on hey monday .. i know amanda brown has a great voice , she was one of my favs too and i was really sad to see her go .. But let’s face it at that point they were all great! They all have great voices and great fan bases and supporters…The itunes rule yes might seem silly and unfair to some but the fact is the previous two winners of the voice though they did have great voices but not much in commercial success .. to me I kinda felt that amanda brown was the female version of Jermaine paul… they are both amazing powerhouses with great vocal ranges and outstanding talent (let’s not forget they were both background singers) .. but we all have seen how Jermaine wasn’t the expected success we thought he would be after the show was done //In my opinion the itunes rule was added to see who would still be a success with the audience even after the show .. Who would people actually go out of their way to get their albums and songs .. And cassadee being in the top 10 all those weeks says something right?? They all have great voices and I am sure no matter who won it would have left a big part of the fans sad and angry .. in my opinion they are all winners .. Feel sad that your favorite lost but please don’t bash the others … and well I am thinking that this season was the best of all three and showcased a lot of really excellent talents and I am expecting that unlike the previous seasons a lot of those amazing artists will find big success after the show … just you all wait and see …

    • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

      Amanda was way up there on itunes for some songs, such as Dream On. One thing is that her itunes tended to be over-processed and the studio people took all the life out of her, they took out the rock and soul and tried to make it all pop production while some of the others struggled more live but then got cleaned up for itunes (like say Melanie and some others). I still got them anyway but it is possible that some hit preview and were like this is all stripped off everything it was live so I’ll just go back and listen to the live recording instead. Who knows. Cassadee certainly built up a lot of fans.

  14. scrutinizer says:

    melinda, you hit the nail on the head in your last statement on this week’s reality check when you said the final 3 should’ve been amanda, de’borah and casadee in that order.
    what a great finale that would’ve been. 3 totally different musical heffas duking it out ;)

  15. Claudel says:

    I wouldn’t walk across the street to see Cassadee Pope for free.

  16. Juan says:

    I don’t understand why people are so annoying about who won, or get mad at the show over who won America picks and if you don’t believe that just go look at iTunes, Cassadee was always at the top of the charts, so obviously she would win, people are so annoying, anyway the performances were great

    • Danny says:

      Because human nature is more apt to complain about perceived injustices than to celebrate what ya felt should have happened in the first place. Amanda was my #1 this year, but I have not one qualm w/ the results. Had I tunes sales been a part of AI’s voting process a few years ago, Haley would have won in a landslide. Then it would have been Scott’s following bellyaching instead of Haley’s.

      • teatime says:

        So we know Haley sold more ITunes than Haley? I would guess all of the AI winners either sold the most in their season or were at least neck and neck with anyone that might have sold more.

      • Kray0n says:

        Ummm Scotty outsold Haley on the Walmart EP deal. I find it hard to believe that Haley would outsell Scotty on iTunes if it was counted as votes — rabid fans of all contestants would try to buy more iTunes and get their favorite to chart, not just Haley’s fans. Also, Jimmy Iovine said that Scotty dominated the voting from the get-go — Haley won’t be able to sell millions more of iTunes singles to offset the unlimited FREE voting by phone and text by the powervoters.

  17. Debbie says:

    Not surprised that Cassadee won but now I am going to have find room in the Pop Princess section of my ipod. Sorry, Gaga and Kesha and Christina and Brittany and Katy… ect. We already have so many pop singers, why do we need one more. I understand why people didn’t like Terry but you should give a listen to his Driveblind and Lotus Crush music, it is not 80’s ish at all. As for Nicholas, he was so different and soulful… shame, one of those should have won

  18. syb says:

    Not a big Cassadee fan. She has a good voice, but there’s just nothing special about her to me. Very vanilla, forgettable, Sheryl Crowish. However, at least we finally have a reality show winner of the female flavor (who isn’t on X Factor.). I can’t help but think though that half the voting audience is voting for a coach, like they do on X Factor, instead of a contestant. Nicholas was my pick. I hope he can make something of this chance. Lovin’ the whole Leon Russell sound he’s brought back, and it was great fun to see him rockin Monday night.

  19. teatime says:

    I find it curious that negative comments about Cassadee tend to either say she has no chance of commercial success. . . or. . . she is bland and sounds like any number of (extremely successful) pop princesses on the radio.

  20. NoVoice says:

    Cassadee shouldn’t have been allowed to compete let alone win this competition. She already has an established musical career. I have her albums. I’ve seen her in concert several times. I used to like this show but its proving more and more to be just like the others. The blind audition thing only works in the beginning. the rest is just a popularity contest which (I know) is what the show is supposed to be. It just pisses me off that not only an extremely hot girl won, but the girl won and she is already a musician. It seems like she came on with a huge fanbase that propelled her throughout this competition and it gave her an unfair advantage. Amanda should have won this one. That would have been fair instead of letting Cass audition because her band is on a “break”. If thats the case then can all established musicians who dont like where there careers are audition? Christina’s not a judge next season and Lotus bombed. Will we see her in the blind auditions? Either way, they kinda lost a viewer in me. I would have loved to see someone who never had a shot before this show take home the win.

  21. Marla says:

    Of the final 3 contestants–and this is based only on their final performances–Nicholas should have won. I thought from the start Casadee was bland, loved Terry and liked Nicholas. But Terry and Casadee were off pitch and Terry was downright boring on Monday. Nicholas sounded great on every number and his voice is so distinctive. I’ve always thought these shows are rigged, and I have to believe this is no exception. Casadee seems sweet, but hers cannot be called “the voice.” Adam always says he’s not the best singer, but you always know it’s him singing when you hear him. This will never be true for Cassadee.

  22. Rod says:

    Something that I really noticed, is that when Cassedee sings with a real singer, her weak voice is ultra obvious. She stank with Blake singing Steve McQueen. She was noticeably weak with the Killers. With Avril, I have to say she was clearly put in her place as a wannabe. She may have promise, but right now, she is not a superstar voice. To me she just has no command. But she won, so, I wish her all the best.
    Amanda however!!!

  23. Lara says:

    May i point out that Cassadee had 4 performances, Terry 3 and Nicholas 2? I know she won and i am ok with it but that unevenness bothers me really…

    • Kray0n says:

      For non-finalists, Dez and Amanda performed twice while the rest of the top 20 performed only once, even Trevin. That bothers me a bit — I thing Trevin deserved to perform more than Dez and Amanda since he finished 4th.

    • scootermcgavin says:

      I really do not think there was anything underhanded here. Each contestant got to sing with a legend (or Avril) and a bring back some friends. The Killer’s performance was taped weeks ago, why they waited until the finale to air it I do not know, maybe they just could not fit it in before and it is not like they were not going to air it. And Cassadee and Terry probably only got to perform with Kelly Clarkson because is friends with their coach Blake. Sure it may look bad on the surface, but I do not think there was anything nefarious going on. Plus there are much worse things to be bothered by than a silly televised karaoke contest.

  24. MoonAngelwings says:

    Nicholas,from the 3 was the best. Amanda was robbed

  25. MoonAngelwings says:

    I believe Producers thought a woman needed to win, other seasons won by men..sold out!

  26. Lara says:

    Another thing i just picked up… of those 20 competitors who were invited to perform along the finalists, only 2 members of Team Xtina actually were invited: Deborah and Dez. They had to meshed the other into a number.

    • Kray0n says:

      The 3 girls – Sylvia, Adrianna, Devyn – performed with Joselyn and Loren, singing that disco number – or the “girls’ group”. Cody, Diego, Julio and McKenzie didn’t get to perform with the finalists, but sang with Dez — the “boys’ group”. Not everyone can perform with a finalist or the stage would be too crowded. Dez and Amanda got to sing 2x.

  27. Peter Frampton & Terry….wow. What a brilliant version of a classic.

    Did anyone else try closing their eyes for the Cass & Avril duet & try spotting who was singing when?
    I’m sure she’s a lovely girl, but I still say Cassadee Pope is just an Avril Levigne wannabe – if Avril retires then she’s sorted.
    The show was clearly backing her from pretty early on for the win though, so the outcome wasn’t surprising in the slightest when you combine that with her existing fanbase and all the talk of her boyfriend asking his bands fans to vote for her as well.

    I do agree with others that folk who are already established are taking opportunities away from people just starting out.

    Really hope to hear more from Terry, Nicholas & Amanda Brown soon though, all very very talented folks.

    Still not sure about season 4 with Usher (why?) and Shakira (eye candy?) – I wouldn’t have thought either of them were anywhere near as big or as bankable as Cee-Lo & Xtina.

    Also, was it just me, or was Xtina VERY quiet on these last two episodes, we didn’t hear much from her at all.

    Thought the performances on the finale showed that Dez really would shine if he was in a boy/man band, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the girls are forming a group after that performance as well (despite Sylvia trying her best to take over).

    Fingers crossed season 4 ditches Christina Milian as well & her grating voice of doom.

    Lastly, hat is off to the show for that very tasteful tribute performance of Hallelujah on Monday’s show.

    • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

      Yeah Frampton really brought it. That was a good one there.

      Whether we see that group of girls as a group of girls, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some again.

      Shakira is a lot more than eye candy. Check out some of her live performance concert video disks. She really commands a stage well and does everything from quiet delicate stuff to totally rocking it out. She is NOT some pretty little auto-tuned studio pop thing at all. She can move, dance, sing, work a crowd like nobody’s business. She sounds 100% as good, and maybe even better since it is less loudness wars and all processed-up, live than on CD.

  28. Jesse says:

    Nicholas was robbed. Cassadees voice truly hurt my ears. The i tunes thing ruined the show . Nick is something out of the ordinary and I am really upset of the finale. I won’t be watching next season since Ceelo is gone!

  29. mangocdn says:

    I’m late to post anything but just reading through the comments and notice that so many commented on Cassadee’s voice being similar to Avril…I agree! But did anyone else notice that Nicholas David sounds eerily like Aaron Neville? I just couldn’t get past that! Just wanted to add my two cents to those who thought Nicholas David was so different that he was just as clone-like as Cassadee in my opinion. On a side note, I was rooting for Terry who sounded just like any number of classic rockers so maybe finding an original voice is harder than it seems!!

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