The Voice Season 10 finale kicked off on a note stranger than Justin Bieber attempting to cover Aretha Franklin.
Country quartet Little Big Town opened the two-hour telecast with a Gospel-tinged jam produced by pop-R&B mastermind Pharrell Williams. CeeLo Green and finalist Hannah Huston recreated “Crazy” — with backing from a mariachi band. There was an entire segment devoted to Christina Aguilera’s love of Snapchat. (Shouldn’t advertorial segments be labeled accordingly?) And wackier still, over the course of 120 minutes, nobody made any mention of fallen standouts Tamar Davis, Emily Keener or Joe Maye. (Ugh.)
Eventually, though, things settled into a more predictable groove – especially a “Voice Confessional” segment midway through the show that felt like it was designed to narrow the audience’s expectations of who might win from four finalists down to two. Consider the coaches’ last comments about their respective artists:
Blake on Adam Wakefield: “He’s done everything he can do to survive and still be a musician, and to see this happen for him at this point in his life, it would just be extra special.” (Alrighty, that sounded pretty optimistic!)
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Christina on Alisan Porter: “I truly believe that she is the definition of The Voice. I want to imagine her taking the title and being able to celebrate that with her kids.” (Yep, sounds like Alisan’s still got a shot at the whole enchilada!)
Adam on Laith Al-Saadi: “Laith, I’m proud of you. Congratulations, we’re in the finale. As far as what happens from now on, I think this would just be a bonus if you were to win.” (Ummm… wasn’t it a bit premature to hand the bearded dude a box of Rice-a-Roni as consolation prize?)
Pharrell on Hannah Huston: “I love Hannah. It’s been amazing to watch her go from the Blind Audition all the way to the finale. I hope she wins. But she already won.” (Uff da… that was lovely, right up to the “It was an honor just to be nominated” denouement!)
Was executive producer Mark Burnett throwing us a curveball? Nope — dude doesn’t play that way!
Let’s get to the results —followed by your regularly scheduled Season 10 Finale Awards!
Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam)
Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell)
Adam Wakefield (Team Blake)
The Voice Season 10 Winner
Alisan Porter (Team Xtina)
Yes, as it was written by Mark Burnett in the season premiere, so it came to pass in the season’s final moments. Which is not to say Alisan didn’t deserve it: Hers was the strongest overall body of work in Season 10, and her win is a rare triumph for a genre-leaping artist who could just as easily go country as she could wind up belting show tunes.
Now, let’s hand out some prizes from one of the more underwhelming season-enders in Voice history…
BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE
I’ll admit it: I never have high hopes for anybody tackling Adele songs in any context. But Hannah Huston’s “Bring Back” performance of “When We Were Young” — along with Bryan Bautista, Caity Peters and Brian Nhira — was stunning, stirring and all the other positive adjectives starting with “s” and ending with “ing.” If the solo thing doesn’t work out for these four, maybe they should consider going the Fifth Harmony route and seeing what they can do together?
CELEBRITY PERFORMANCE THAT COULD’VE USED SOME SEASON 10 FINALISTS
Was anyone really jonesing so hard for a faithful rendition of Little Big Town’s “One of Those Days” that the backup chorus couldn’t have been replaced by the bulk of Season 10’s Top 24?
MOST GENEROUS FINALIST
I loved how Alisan didn’t hog the big, showy notes during her excellent “Bring Back” performance of Heart’s “Straight On,” allowing Ryan Quinn, Paxton Ingram and Kata Hay to have their own moments in the sun.
Look, I’ve grown rather fond of Blake Shelton over the past 10 seasons… but the lyrics to “She’s Got a Way With Words” were less eloquent than Christina Milian reporting from the Sprint Skybox.
MOST UNEXPECTED PROMO FOR A RIVAL NETWORK’S SERIES
Sia’s performance of the delectable “Cheap Thrills” was a spectacular showcase for her frequent collaborator, Dance Moms‘ Maddie Ziegler. I just wonder if the suits at NBC realized the teenager is about to make her debut as a judge on Fox’s upcoming juniors-oriented edition of So You Think You Can Dance.
MOST QUESTIONABLE HUMOR
Yikes. That “goofy” package about Adam Levine “failing upwards in the music business” — in which his father questioned his intelligence and Blake Shelton mocked the Maroon 5 frontman’s back tattoo — felt a little too vicious given the lack of LOLs it produced, no?
BIGGEST BURNING QUESTION
How ill was Owen Danoff feeling that he couldn’t join Laith Al-Saadi, Katie Basden and Shalyah Fearing for their pretty rendition of “Georgia on My Mind”? (And how come the powers that be couldn’t have edited Owen from the pre-performance package to make the whole thing less awkward?)
MOST MELODIOUS — YET LEAST CONNECTED — MATCHUP
Jennifer Nettles (remember when she judged ABC’s Duets!) and Alisan Porter blended beautifully on “Unlove You,” but I wish the show’s producers had pushed them to occasionally glance each other’s way to bring a little warmth to their enviable technical proficiency.
MOST QUESTIONABLE HYPE-TO-PAYOFF RATIO
All night long, we were promised a duet between “two of the biggest voices of this generation,” but Ariana Grande’s half-backing-track “Into You” left Christina Aguilera silently waiting in the wings. “Dangerous Woman” finally delivered a little bit of holleration-off, but it ended just as it was starting to get good.