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Monday night’s final round of The Voice – where do I even begin? It’s hard to believe this is the end of the season, and all the epic moments that are going to happen, have happened. Or not happened, as the case may be. All I know is last night COMPLETELY shook up the order in which I thought everyone would place. My top runner slipped down in the standings and a surprise leader emerged! But ultimately, everything will be decided by America, so we’ll see how in sync I am with the rest of the country’s musical preferences.

Each contestant was given three opportunities to show their stuff—a solo performance (the only one that counts for votes on iTunes), a tribute performance of a song originally sung by their coach, and a duet with their coach. Let the finals’ breakdown commence!

Jermaine Paul

Jermaine’s solo song, “I Believe I Can Fly” as performed by R. Kelly, was incredibly predictable and safe as a song choice. I thought the overall look of the production was a bit cheesy, and I wish there had been something more memorable about the entire thing. But that’s about where my criticisms end. So what if it was just an excuse for Jermaine to riff his face off— I will never complain about that. He could not possibly have given any more of himself in that performance, I’m a sucker for a gospel choir, and I have to admit I had goosebumps by the end of it. Solid performance all around.

I thought Jermaine’s tribute performance of Blake’s song, “God Gave Me You,” was freaking ADORABLE. He really found a way to make a country song work with his R&B flavor, and most of all, the lyrical content was about as big of a “thank you” as any of these contestants could hope to give their coaches. He had one money note that really sealed the deal, but I really enjoyed this overall. Especially the bro-shake in the middle of the song. Simply adorbz.

And I think the duet between Jermaine and Blake was one of the best glimpses into Jermaine’s personality we’ve see all season, and what better time to let it show than during the finale? Blake has this great way of letting his team members shine, and this was no exception. Selecting “Soulman” by Ben L’Oncle for their duet was THE most perfect choice, really playing up and enjoying their self-proclaimed “Odd Couple” status. I guess soul music is the place where country and R&B meet, and it is an awesome place to be. They were charismatic, they were having fun, they sounded awesome and they perfectly toed the line between emotionally touching and upbeat and fun.

Whatever the outcome, I hope Jermaine finds success in this biz. He is one über talented dude.

Dena’s Prediction: 3rd place finish

Juliet Simms

Overall, this was a really unfortunate night for Juliet Simms. I had been converted from my original dislike of Juliet during her performances on the live shows, specifically “Roxanne” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” but I felt all of my old hatred surging back Monday night. She started the night off with her tribute performance of Cee-Lo’s, or rather, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” It was like she was over the song before it even started. It was strange, abrupt and rather disconnected. Not to mention she went flat a few times, perhaps in an effort to infuse personality or energy? Either way, it didn’t work for me.

Next up was Juliet’s metal-spiked and leathery duet with Cee-Lo, of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Now by all accounts this should’ve been amazing, but once again, Juliet was checked out and seemed like she couldn’t be bothered with this performance. This was also the moment when it dawned on me that Juliet was, in fact, losing her voice. She played it really safe with a lot of those notes and it became a little too clear that she was saving all her juice for her solo number at the end of the show. Now, I can’t really blame her, since that’s the one that counts, but it does call into question her vocal endurance in the long run. Juliet’s is a voice that cannot withstand a life of constant performing. She’s always going to be losing her voice—just a price she’ll have to pay for all that rasp and grit. But the one cool thing about that performance was Cee-Lo himself. He manipulated his voice in a way I found incredibly interesting and appealing, and once again proved what a musical genius he is. Love my little raisin.

Considering all the gas she’d been saving in the tank, I had VERY high expectations for Juliet’s last solo performance. Similar to Jermaine’s choice, I thought choosing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” was about as predictable as you could get, but at the same time I can understand wanting to play to your strengths. And in the end, I thought this performance was pretty great. Not the most stellar thing she’s done on the show, but at least it showed a glimpse into why she made it this far. But I have to say that the guitarist standing in the wind tunnel totally stole the performance—that man was having the time of his LIFE.

All in all, I think Juliet had a lot of momentum coming into this finale, and it might give her a little extra juice, but I don’t think she did enough to win the whole thing.

Dena’s Prediction: 2nd place finish

Tony Lucca

Tony, Tony Tony. This was such an interesting night for Tony Lucca. As much as I liked most of his numbers, and I REALLY liked some of them, it just became abundantly clear that he’s not nearly as vocally talented as the other competitors. Tony started off the night with his solo performance, a bluegrassy rendition of Jay Z’s “99 Problems.” And I have to say, I DUG this real hard. I loved the arrangement, I loved the feel of the whole thing, and I thought it made him seem like more of a musician than any of the other contestants. That said, this is not a “who arranges and plays a musical instrument the best” competition. It’s a singing competition. And as to Xtina’s comment about the lyrical content of the song being misogynistic or inappropriate, I’ll say this. Could Tony have picked a different song to reinterpret, a song with perhaps less controversial content? Yes. Was Adam’s justification of the song being a metaphor incredibly lame, to put it lightly? Absolutely. Is Tony a chauvinistic pig who hates women and deserves to be repeatedly condemned on national television for a song choice clearly meant to be creative and interesting and not offensive and derogatory? I don’t think so. Once again, I think Xtina took it upon herself to not once, but several times throughout the night, harp on Tony’s song choice and make it look like something more sinister than it was. If anything, this is Adam’s fault. It just seems like from the start, Xtina has had it out for Tony, and I would have hoped she could rise above it in this final episode and give it a rest.

Next up for Tony was his duet with Adam Levine, and you could feel the bromantic chemistry just oozing off the stage as the two of them did a stripped down, simple, beautiful version of the classic Beatles’ song, “Yesterday.” The two of them sounded like one voice together, and while I felt Adam could’ve shared the lime light a bit more generously with his team member, I really like the overall product. Watch out y’all, this could be a precursor of much collaboration to come.

Tony finished off the night with his tribute performance of Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe.” And it truly did seem like it was getting harder and harder to breathe for dear Tony. His interpretation was almost exactly like an acoustic version of the song by Maroon 5, so there was no creativity to speak of there. And Tony actually sounded a lot like Adam—minus the whole lyric flub… but he powered through like a champ and I respect that.

At the end of the night, I thought Tony was endearing and enjoyable, but I just can’t see him doing well in the poles, especially considering Xtina’s evisceration of his character.

Dena’s Prediction: 4th place finish

Chris Mann

CHRIS “THE” MANN. If there was ever a time to breakout and have some of the best performances of your LIFE, you most certainly chose well, sir. Chris’s first performance of the night was a duet with Xtina of Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion’s “The Prayer.” And I think the only person more excited by the prospect of this duet than I was most certainly had to be Chris Mann himself. You could almost see the pee trickling down his leg he was so breathless with anticipation and excitement! And Chris was absolutely FLAWLESS in this performance. If anything, he might have been so into this duet that he took a backseat to Xtina. But then again, I think everyone takes a back seat to Xtina when she deigns to “share” the stage. And I could barely even hear what they were singing because I was so disgusted and distracted by the amount of Xtina’s flesh to which mine eyes were subjected. I don’t even know what was more offensive, the frontal shot or the back shot. Either way. So much ew. But I’ll try to focus on Chris, since he is my shining star.

Chris Mann’s tribute song was Xtina’s “The Voice Within,” and what could have been cheesy and annoying was absolutely beautiful and heart-felt. Chris was, once again, flawless. And this song really brought to light the improvement we’ve seen from Chris over the course of this season. He has really found a way to hone his sound, and seamlessly blend classical and pop to create this very Josh Groban-esque style that is simultaneously impressive and incredibly accessible to a mass audience. Tonight was just really Chris’s night. He was polished, charming and endearing. And it was at this moment that I realized he actually had a shot at winning this whole thing.

Chris’s final performance of the night was his solo number, and just like Jermaine and Juliet, he also made a very predictable song choice in Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.” But you know what? I have heard this song done countless times, in countless different ways, and I have to say I enjoyed this rendition just as much if not more than any of those, even without the high note at the end which he couldn’t get at due to sheer EMOTION. He was perfect. And as much as I thought the sign language going on stage right was a bit over the top, it didn’t take away from Chris’s performance, which was spectacular. This was Chris’s night, from start to finish.

I think Chris has the voice. I think he is The Voice.

Dena’s Prediction: 1st place finish, winner of The Voice.

Well folks, only a few hours until we find out if my predictions are correct!

Check back to find out the results for this second season of NBC’s The Voice!

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!