the voice recap performance finale season 12

The Voice Season 12 Performance Finale Recap: This… Means… Four

Going by your voting in the poll that followed last week’s recap of The Voice, Chris Blue should have this contest in the bag. Going by the most recent iTunes rankings, it’s Lauren Duski’s to lose. Either way, we should get a winner we can all be happy with (even if their winning means we’ll only ever hear of them again if they return to the show to plug a new single). There was, of course, a chance that Jesse Larson, whose spot Hunter Plake probably should have, or Aliyah Moulden, whose spot Brennley Brown probably should have, could pull off an upset. But that chance was so slim that we could just sit back and enjoy Monday’s finals performances. And how were they? Read on…

Original Single
Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake), “Never Be Lonely” — Grade: C | The youngest contestant ever to make it to the finale sounded a bit off as she began her retro-pop-tinged toe-tapper, then struggled anytime she was called upon to use her lower register (which, on this number, was rather a lot). Catchy as hell — I’ll be downloading the studio-sweetened version — but neither her best, nor a winning, live performance.

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Jesse Larson (Team Adam), “Takin’ It to the Streets” — Grade: B | There was really nothing wrong with Jesse’s performance of the Doobie Brothers classic. But, aside from his guitar-playing, there also wasn’t anything especially remarkable or memorable about it. I kept finding myself distracted by the glorious background vocals, which is obviously the last thing a singer could possibly want during what he hopes will be a starmaking performance.

Duet With Coach
Chris Blue (Team Alicia), “Diamonds and Pearls” — Grade: B | At first, as Chris and Alicia sang sweetly to one another, listening to this team-up felt like the sonic equivalent of opening a treasure chest. Then, good God, Coach Keys kinda went off the rails, and the two of them never quite synched up again. And what was that screechy note she hit in the middle of the song? She seemed so off to me that she actually managed to take away from her artist’s performance.

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Lauren Duski (Team Blake), “The Dance” — Grade: A- | Performances don’t get a whole lot more poised and polished than Lauren’s rendition of the Garth Brooks ballad. Blake made a point of saying what an important song his artist was doing, and America is likely to make a point of saying via their votes that she more than did it, she did it justice. As Adam said to Lauren, “It’s getting boring how great you are.” She just brings it, time and again.

Duet With Coach
Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake), “Dancing in the Street” — Grade: B | Jeez, the show was really having trouble with its sound mix Monday, wasn’t it? (Maybe that was what threw Alicia off?) Blake certainly sings loudly enough to be audible over the band, yet both he and Aliyah seemed to be fighting to be heard. What I could make out sounded pretty good, though — and live, this golden oldie played more to the teen’s strengths than did her original single.

the voice recap performance finale season 12Original Single
Chris Blue (Team Alicia), “Money on You” — Grade: A+ | During Chris’ recording session for his Bruno Mars-meets-the-Bee Gees hit-to-be, Alicia told him, “You are ready!” And on stage, he replied via his performance, “Damn right I am!” Like, he was so very on, I had the urge to turn my chair around from the first line, as if it was a Blind Audition and I was a would-be coach. One-hundred percent awesomesauce!

Duet With Coach
Jesse Larson (Team Adam), “Let’s Go Crazy” — Grade: B | It was ballsy enough for Adam to tackle Prince’s epic, but to stick Jesse with it, after his so-so-at-best Time cover? That was just mean. Mind you, this was no train wreck of a performance by Jesse. He acquitted himself nicely. But “nicely” is sorta damning with faint praise when you’ve just covered a Prince scorcher like this. Again, Jesse was more impressive as a guitarist than a vocalist.

Duet With Coach
Lauren Duski (Team Blake), “There’s a Tear in My Beer” — Grade: A | Would it be sacrilege if I admitted that I actually liked Lauren’s vocal better on this number than on the much-ballyhooed “The Dance”? Yeah, Lauren kills on a ballad — this is not news. But here, she not only sounded flawless, she was as much fun as a six-pack without that nasty hangover.

the voice recap performance finale season 12Original Single
Jesse Larson (Team Adam), “Woman” — Grade: A | On his bluesy Chris Stapleton-penned single, Jesse sounded laid-back and in his element. As the song built, he rose to the occasion, turning in a restrained but highly effective performance. He still didn’t have the charisma of a Chris or the purity of voice of a Lauren, but he was so in the zone here that he made me think perhaps I’d been too stingy in my praise throughout the season.

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Aliyah Moulden (Team Blake), “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” — Grade: B+ | Hmm… was it mic/sound issues that made Aliyah sound off early on? Given that this kinda retro soul is her sweet spot vocally, and she sounded growly and great on the rest of the number, I’m gonna guess it was mic/sound issues. But was it just me, or was she straining so hard that it seems inevitable she’s gonna wake up tomorrow with a sore throat?

Original Single
Lauren Duski (Team Blake), “Deja Vu” — Grade: A+ | Wowza… From the first note, brilliantly set apart by a spare arrangement, Lauren reminded us — as if we’d forget! — what a world-class voice she has. Not just a pitch-perfect performance but one that revealed what a promising songwriter she is, too. Gorgeous and haunting.

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Chris Blue (Team Alicia), “Rhythm Nation” — Grade: A | Nobody in the contest this season puts on a show that can touch what Chris does — he’s not only the most kickass of singers, he moves like he was born on stage. (Which maybe in a way, he was — it’s certainly where he comes alive.) Yes, vocally, he suffered a little here, owing to all that dancing. But he wasn’t just the episode’s ender, he was a total showstopper.

So, who did you think gave the night’s best performance? Who’s your pick to win The Voice Season 12? Vote in the poll below, then hit the… oh, you’re already in the comments. Carry on, then.