The Voice Performance Finale: Is the Title Still Chloe Kohanski's to Lose?


Looking back at Season 13 of The Voice, there are so many decisions that just did not compute. Miley Cyrus dropping not only Chloe Kohanski — after “Landslide,” no less! — but also Addison Agen. Adam Levine letting Emily Luther go. Jennifer Hudson keeping Shi’Ann Jones over Chris Weaver. Blake Shelton — or anyone, ever, at any time, for any reason — allowing Esera Tuaolo to slaughter “How Do I Live?” But after Monday’s performances by the Top 4, it was all over but the voting (and, of course, Tuesday’s two hours and 59 minutes of filler until the announcement of the winner). How did Chloe, Addison, Red Marlow and Brooke Simpson do? Read on. (Oh, and fair warning: Since a) this is the Top 4, therefore theoretically the best of the best, and b) I’ve had a well-documented tendency to grade, shall we say, “generously,” I’m going to attempt to grade extra hard. Perfection or bust!)

Addison Agen (Team Adam), “Humble and Kind” — Grade: B+ |
Boy, if ever there was a song that 2017 needed, this Tim McGraw one (from a coupla years ago) was it; props to Addison for picking it. Her vocal — sincerity underlining every note — only added sweet, youthful urgency to the beautiful lyrics’ entreaty not to steal, cheat, lie. I know the Cult of Chloe will have a hard time admitting it, but come on — this wasn’t just, as Coach Adam advised Addison to keep it, “super simple and super classy,” it was super magic. The fact that she was feeling it so much that she broke down before she could finish the song only made it more special.

Original Single
Chloe Kohanski (Team Blake), “Wish I Didn’t Love You” — Grade: B | Chloe’s original song was a revelation — intimate, moving and powerful. At times, it even brought out of her her best vocal since “Landslide.” At other times… er, there were glitches, including a biggie in verse 1. (Blake called them “cracks,” and maybe that’s all they were; to my ear, though, they were flaws, which you’ll note are smoothed out in the studio-produced iTunes version.) Anyway, the number took great advantage of Chloe’s raspy voice — occasionally calling to mind Melissa Etheridge — and at last lifted her out of the ’80s-karaoke lane (which I’m pretty sure no one ever intended to be an actual lane in the first place).

Duet With Coach
Red Marlow (Team Blake) and Blake Shelton, “I’m Gonna Miss Her” — Red’s grade: B- | There was a total of zilch wrong with this performance. Red sounded as confident as his coach, and I’m 99 percent sure I came away with a twang just from hearing it, it was that to-the-marrow country. But was this Brad Paisley cover the kinda knockout, holy-crap-I-didn’t-know-he-could-sing-like-that performance that was gonna steal away votes from Chloe (which, let’s be real, was what was needed)? Nah. I love Red. Like Addison, he never really hits a bum note. But this was just “polished” and “fun,” not “amazing” and “mind-blowing.”

the-voice-recap-top-4-performances-finale-chloe-kohanski-addison-agenOriginal Single
Brooke Simpson (Team Miley), “What Is Beautiful” — Grade: B | Smart, using Brooke’s single to play up the fact that she doesn’t fit the ultra-skinny glamour-girl mold that we so often think of when we think of the pop goddesses we worship (Rihanna, Katy, Ariana, etc.) and instead refocus our attention on her voice. Ordinarily, it’s a force of nature that’s so packed with emotion, it makes brick walls seem flimsy by comparison. Here, Brooke seemed to struggle a bit out of the gate. But by the time, she got to the big notes — and there were a lot of ’em — she had mostly regained her footing. Not her most all-over controlled vocal; still, she made it easy to get swept away by the passion of her performance.

Duet With Coach
Addison Agen (Team Adam) and Adam Levine, “Falling Slowly” — Addison’s grade: C+ | Although Addison and Adam’s voices blend like milk and honey in the iTunes mix of this song, on stage, they blended more like syrup and hot sauce. The performance wasn’t a disaster or anything — there were no Esera Tuaolo flashbacks — but it also wasn’t nearly as good as I’ve come to expect from Addison (and you’d think Adam, of all people, would have known better what they could kill as a duo).

Duet With Coach
Brooke Simpson (Team Miley) and Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball” — Brooke’s grade: C- | On paper, this looked like a gamble. Singing such a recent Miley hit with Miley, could Brooke seem like anything but a glorified backing vocalist? Not so much. It seemed to me that on the choruses Brooke mostly sang in support of her coach rather than jumping out in front as the lead vocalist. And while Brooke slayed the showstopper notes, she faltered anytime she wasn’t belting.

the voice recap top 4 performances finale chloe kohanski addison agenOriginal Single
Red Marlow (Team Blake), “I Pray” — Grade: B- | Strategically, I see the sense in making Red’s single (which he co-wrote) highly religious. It’ll get him that vote on top of the country vote. (The song’s actual inspiration aside, it might as well be called “I Pray… I Have a Chance of Beating Chloe.”) But, especially in an evening that found him doing two other slowish songs, I would’ve loved to have heard him tackle more of a toe-tapper. Nonetheless, his vocal was as solid as the side of a barn. Was this a revelation, something new or different from Red? No. But perhaps part of his appeal is that he’s reliable — you know what you’re gonna get from him, and you know it’s gonna be at very least pretty good.

Duet With Coach
Chloe Kohanski (Team Blake) and Blake Shelton, “You Got It” — Chloe’s grade: C | The country-tinged Roy Orbison hit seemed like a curious song selection for Chloe (although, again it was released in the ’80s — ’89 to be specific — so maybe not sooo curious). But what was the show to do when she had to sing with her coach? It wasn’t like Blake would fit in on a “Tainted Love” cover. (Then again, I’d kinda pay to hear him try. A country-fried Soft Cell would be fascinating!) On stage, the pair’s voices gelled about as well as Adam and Addison’s had on their duet, and Chloe, at times, sang in such a low register that, honestly, I had to strain to hear her. Not horrific, but also nothing I’d ever want to hear again.

Red Marlow (Team Blake), “To Make You Feel My Love” — Grade: A | Kinda a perfect song choice for Red: Understated, yes, but the intimacy of the Dylan-by-way-of-Garth-Brooks classic spectacularly played to Mr. Country as a Cowpoke’s strengths, allowing him to pull us in deeper with every line. And, while he was never the competitor who the judges fawned over as a sex symbol (a la his fellow country boy Mitchell Lee), you’d have had to be pretty hard-hearted not to have swooned over this, at least a little bit. For my money, his strongest performance of the night.

Brooke Simpson (Team Miley), “O Holy Night” — Grade: A | Shrewd, shrewd move on Coach Miley’s part, going with not only a religious song (especially after the success of Brooke’s “Amazing Grace”) but a Christmas one to boot. And obviously, it didn’t hurt that Brooke could and did sing the hell out of it. Those last notes… da-amn! (Did she just baptize my ears?) I still don’t think Brooke will be able to overcome the Cult of Chloe to win, but the underdog has already gone further than I expected: Earlier in the season, I imagined Noah Mac would have this spot in the finals.

Original Single
Addison Agen (Team Adam), “Tennessee Rain” — Grade: A | You guys go ahead and review this one, because I’m pretty much out of superlatives to point in Addison’s direction. I think I’m as big a fan of hers as the Cult of Chloe is of Chloe. This was flat-out gorgeous. Dunno if I can imagine it turning up on Top 40 radio, it’s so bare, but that may just mean that I need a wilder imagination. The teen’s vocal was lovely enough to break the hearts of even the heartless. Stunning.

Chloe Kohanski (Team Blake), “Bette Davis Eyes” — Grade: C | I’ll admit it: Chloe confounds me. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear she wants to be an ’80s cover artist. And don’t get me wrong — no one loves the ’80s more than I do. Yet, in a contest like this, is it really smart for her to do so many ’80s covers (“Time After Time,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Call Me” and now this) without even reinventing them particularly? I question the logic, although I guess I can’t argue with the results. Her legion of fans is sure to strenuously disagree when I dare to suggest that this was a majorly karaoke performance and kinda a waste of her unique voice.

So, now that all is said and done, who do you think will win Season 13? Who do you hope will win? Vote in the polls below, then hit the comments.