It’s finale week on “The Voice.” The Season 7 finalists — Matt McAndrew, Chris Jamison and “wild-card” pick Damien, all from Team Adam, and Craig Wayne Boyd, from Team Blake — took the stage Monday to make a final play for the title and the recording contract that comes with it. On Tuesday night, we’ll have our winner.
Each contestant sang three (count ‘em) songs apiece: one tune picked by his coach, one coach/artist duet and then — in a “Voice” first — an original song that will be released as his debut single; “official” music video and all. The latter was a canny move, not only for the singers, but for the show itself — a smart way to position the finalists for viable post-show careers, something “The Voice,” despite its other successes, has not always done all that well.
So who’s going to win it? While all four singers are supremely talented and the American public doesn’t always vote the way one might expect, I’m tapping Matt McAndrew for the win.
On Monday night’s show, he again proved he could send a song soaring — and perhaps make it a hit. His duet with coach Adam Levine, ";Lost Stars,” was a crowd pleaser, and his version of “Over the Rainbow,” which was given the show’s coveted final slot, was positioned by his coach as a moment for “the whole universe” to pause and appreciate the purity of McAndrew’s vocals.
But it was McAndrew’s ferociously delivered original, “Wasted Love,” that probably sealed the deal for him. Clad in a frighteningly flammable-looking shirt, the bespectacled, tatted singer strolled down a ramp flanked with flames to a stage awash in smoke, pounded the stage floor and dropped to his knees, imbuing his performance with the kind of urgency, danger and drama that seems to captivate “Voice” voters.
At the very least, the performance deeply impressed McAndrew’s coach. Levine called it “one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life,” proclaiming that he was “on the verge of tears” and a “huge fan” of McAndrew’s. “And he’s not even done winning yet,” the Maroon 5 singer added.
Later, Levine expressed regret for seeming to favor one of his contestants over the others, saying he wished all three could win. Unarguably, the other two members of Team Adam proved themselves to be worthy of consideration as well.
Damien, who squeaked into the finals as the wild-card pick determined by audience vote, delivered Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” with strength and elegance, eliciting a compliment from rival coach Blake Shelton about the way he “just float[s] through a melody with … so much power.” The former TSA agent seemed to truly enjoy dueting with Levine on Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” And he delivered a solid, even fist-in-the-air rousing “original” song, “Soldier,” prompting Levine to declare himself to be “the happiest coach” he could possibly be, “win or lose.”
Meanwhile, Jamison continued along his recent explicitly sexy trajectory with his original song, “Velvet,” a blush-worthy tune Levine said was redolent of both Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars. Jamison’s take on Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” showed off his gorgeous falsetto as well. But the young man who had until recently been working his way through college as a campus mail carrier, as we are often reminded, hit his highest mark of the night while dueting with Levine on Robin Thicke’s “Lost Without U,” showing off his appealingly earnest, remarkably unsmarmy, blend of seductive and sweet.
The competition’s sole remaining country boy and representative of a team other than Levine’s, Team Blake’s Craig Wayne Boyd, courted his key constituency each time he took the stage on Monday night. He and Shelton seemed like two good old boys having a good old time when they teamed up for their coach/artist duet, “Boots On,” and he appeared to sing Alabama’s “In Pictures” from the heart, delivering the lyrics to both his truck-driving father and the son he hasn’t been able to spend enough time with while competing on the show.
Boyd’s upbeat original song, “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” a tribute to sexual satisfaction originally written for Shelton, who said, perhaps strategically, that he hadn’t recorded it because of its vocal difficulty, probably hit a bull's-eye with Boyd’s target audience. In fact, it may have scored with both of his target audiences: country music fans and women who like rugged men with pretty hair and (possibly) troubled pasts. In the second category you can apparently include Gwen Stefani, who seemed to please Boyd by telling him he was “ripe” and “ready to pick.”
Speaking of picking, the winner will soon be selected.
Who do you think it should be?