Another installment of The Voice has come to its feel-good conclusion — and all that’s left are the inevitable debates about whether Season 5′s champ will finally be the one to achieve breakout, Clarkson- or Underwood-level success and if Mark Burnett will come to his senses and go all Michonne on those blasted SwayBots between now and next spring. (Forgive them, Father, for they know not how to keep time with the music.)
Regarding the former question, of course, it’s encouraging that The Voice enlisted ubiquitous hitmaker Ryan Tedder to pen a coronation single for the champ. Instead of doing “the ‘standing-on-a-mountaintop, I’ve-won-everything’ kind of song, I wanted to do a real song about love and heartbreak,” Tedder told Carson, throwing more shade than the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree at tragic Idol victory anthems like “No Boundaries,” “Do I Make You Proud” and “Flying Without Wings.”
The Tedder development — along with a semi-finals results show last week that found room for performances by Season 3 champ Cassadee Pope, plus Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery and her runners-up Michelle Chamuel and The Swon Brothers — makes me feel like NBC is finally realizing that even the most sensational songbirds need a little support to successfully navigate a music industry that would prefer to Auto-Tune Britney Spears’ morning phlegm-clearing sounds into a Top 10 single than support the kind of raw talent showcased by Jacquie Lee, Tessanne Chin and Will Champlin — plus the dozens of other top-notch singers who helped make Season 5 so addictive.
Speaking of those dozens of vocalists, let’s hand out some awards involving tonight’s roster of performances:
Tessanne & Pals (Preston Pohl, Olivia Henken, James Wolpert and Grey): “Hold On, I’m Coming” — If there was a single missed note among the quintet, I didn’t hear it. Maybe because I was too busy grooving out to the extended vocal riffs, killer horn section and Preston’s enthusiastic dancing. (Oh, Preston, I wish you’d stuck around a little longer this season!)
BEST OUTFIT (MALE)
Cee-Lo’s glittery, self-described “disco balls” jumpsuit.
BEST OUTFIT (FEMALE)
Jacquie’s flirty blue lace dress with the black band across the top during her duet with Paramore.
Celine Dion’s exposed bra/torn-open jacket thingie. (There’s probably a technical term, but I can’t bear to ponder the awfulness of said frock for another second.)
Jacquie & Pals (Matthew Schuler, Caroline Pennell, Cole Vosbury and James Wolpert): “Bohemian Rhapsody” — OK, so the vocals were occasionally spotty and the sound- and camera-work a wee bit flawed, but Jacquie and Caroline’s giddy expressions on the “let me go!” portions, Cole’s crazy falsetto moment and James’ “Hi! I’m in the middle of the audience!” staging made me positively gleeful.
MOST EMOTIONAL MOMENT
Tessanne’s emotional, elated breakdown — caught on cameraphone, maybe? — after she found out she’d be dueting with Celine Dion.
MOST JAW-DROPPING MOMENT
Celine’s incredibly scatting toward the end of “Love Can Move Mountains.” And props to Tessanne for matching the Canadian powerhouse in pitch, power and phrasing every step of the way.
BEST PERFORMANCE NOT FEATURING A SEASON 5 CONTESTANT
Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera, “Do What You Want” — Dressed like extras at a Dynasty cocktail party, the blonde divas (who’d never met before tonight) trilled and growled and flirtted their way through Gaga’s delicious piece of ear candy — almost looking at one point like they might go in for a smooch! I just wish they’d mashed it up with Xtina’s wildly underrated “Your Body,” which could’ve been the peanut butter to the chocolate of “Do What You Want.” (Side note: I wonder if the recent renewed interest in allegations of sexual assault made against R. Kelly might’ve been the reason Xtina stepped in place of the “I Believe I Can Fly” vocalist.)
WORST PERFORMANCE NOT FEATURING A SEASON 5 CONTESTANT
One Republic, “I Lived” — Yes, Ryan Tedder, you did, but your falsetto was D.O.A.
BEST ACCESSORY (FEMALE)
Tessanne’s shiny, steel-gray earrings during “Hold On, I’m Coming.”
BEST ACCESSORY (MALE)
Ray Boudreaux’s sexy new facial hair stole the show in his performance of “Treasure” with Matt, Preston, Nick Hawk and Josh Logan.
Caroline Pennell sounded absolutely sensational providing lilting harmonies during Will Champlin & Friends (Cole, Austin Jenckes and Jonny Gray) rock-solid rendition of “Wagon Wheel.”
MOST SURPRISINGLY EFFECTIVE EXPLORATION OF A NEW GENRE
Jacquie Lee & Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” — All season, Jacquie’s been scorching the stage with bluesy interpretations of tracks like “Back to Black,” “I Put a Spell on You” and “Love Is Blindness.” But she was equally compelling tonight on an upbeat rock jam — aided by lead singer Hayley Williams’ willingness to step back and let the 16-year-old protégé take command.
SINGER WHO LEFT ME WONDERING WHAT MIGHT’VE BEEN
Amber Nicole showcased enormous poise and range with a few solo lines on a ladies’ group performance of “My Life Would Suck Without U.” Don’t you wonder if she’d have gone further if Cee Lo hadn’t blatantly sabotaged her with a country tune during the Live Playoffs?
ODDEST CHOICE OF CONTESTANT-CELEB DUET
Will Champlin and Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up” — Don’t get me wrong, these guys sounded good together, but Caroline already covered the song earlier in the season, and Will already tackled an Avicii tune in Top 6 week, too. Doesn’t it seem like Mark Burnett & Co. could’ve dug deeper to find a fresher jam for one of its Final 3 acts?
And with those awards handed out, let’s get to the ones that really count!
Tessanne reacted with genuine shock, followed by a steady stream of joyous tears. Said emotional rush made it hard for her to get through her coronation single, “Tumbling Down,” and subsequently made it hard for me to glean if there’s real radio potential in the cards. So while I head over to iTunes to download it — hey, we’ve got to support these artists after the competition is over, at least if we want the process to mean something, no? — I’m gonna turn things over to you.
What did you think of the Season 5 finale? What were your favorite performances? Did anyone surprise you? Did the right person win? Sound off below, and for all my Voice-related interviews, recaps, news and videos — including a video Q&A with the Season 5 champ! — follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!