7:00 p.m.: The first night of the two-night “The Voice” Season 4 finale starts now, and now is the time for the Top 3 – Muskogee’s The Swon Brothers and 16-year-old Texan Danielle Bradbery competing for Oklahoma country music superstar Blake Shelton’s team and indie pop-rocker Michelle Chamuel representing Usher’s team – to take advantage of what host Carson Daly calls their final chance to prove they are “The Voice” to America.
7:03: After the first of what’s sure to be many montages, we’ve got the coaches opening the show with a horn-tastic rendition of Joe Cocker’s cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends.” There’s lots of flash and fun involved, and I’m realizing now that I’m really, really gonna miss Shakira when Christina Aguilera comes back next season. In contrast, I haven’t missed Xtina at all.
7:10: Host Carson Daly is thanking the coaches for a great opening number and hushing Blake. “Is he causing trouble, already?” Adam Levine asks. Naturally. “I’m sorry, sir,” Blake replies. Adam says he just wants everyone to have fun. Shakira says she is going to the contestants’ very own cheerleader – “imported direct from Colombia” – and she is going to miss the comfy chair and these jerks the next few months. Usher says he wants Michelle and everyone to remember that “we’re humans being and not just humans doing” and to enjoy it. Blake says all three of the Top 3 have shown that they want to work hard and they don’t need to beat it into their heads anymore.
7:12: Now we’ve got Swon-tage going of The Swon Brothers run through Season 3 – and even earlier than that. Their dad, Kelly Swon, told me during the Muskogee homecoming that Zach started playing music on Mickey Mouse drums when they were 2 years old, and they’ve got pictures to prove it. Blake comments that they’ve got such a wave of momentum going, and they need to capitalize. They’re reiterating that they never expected to make the finals. They’re going to do The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why.” It’s a challenging song, so I hope they nail it …
7:15: Here we go, Zach is on piano, Colton is on guitar and they’re rocking those sibling harmonies. They’re nailing the falsettos on this, which is an amazingly positive sign. I hope their next song is something really high-energy that will contrast, but I think this is a great opening salvo. I love that Shakira is waving a “Go Okies” pennant for them! What a great sport! Have I mentioned I’m gonna miss her?
7:18: Blake is on his feet applauding, and the Swons and Blake are, as Carson put it, “acknowledging the new Okie from Colombia.” Usher is praising them “for finding the girl part of their voices,” evolving from strictly country and picking a classic effort; his praise seems a little backhanded, which is maybe naturally since they’re a threat to his finalist. Shakira is gushing that she is a fan and they’ve made her like them even though she doesn’t follow country. Adam notes that he was a bit critical of their last Eagles performance and that they nailed this one and he thought they did a great job, which was a tall order considering the Eagles are some of the best singers around. Blake turns Usher’s slightly sharp comments into a straight-up compliment, saying that he believes the reason people can’t always put their finger on what they like about the Swon siblings is that they are constantly evolving. Well played, sir.
7:27: This is what they’re calling a “defining moment” performance. Michelle Chamuel takes the stage in her trademark black glasses and red jacket, and the latter seems particularly since she is performing Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” from her “Red” album. I really like Michelle’s voice and her self-deprecating awkwardness and her goofy dancing. I’m not sure I’d ever vote for her even if there wasn’t a pair of Okies in this competition, but she’s got a certain likeability and definite vocal talent. My inner once-bullied nerd-girl wants to take her out for a latte and a good girl chat.
7:31: Usher is on his feet and fist-pumping. Shakira praises her energy and her “extraordinary, out-of-the-ordinary” talent. Adam notes that there’s an energy that Michelle creates onstage that just can’t be fabricated and is “the coolest thing in the world.” Blake is again talking about the evolution of an audience from the first time they saw her on the blind audition this year to now when he has to acknowledge she is a rock star. “This is a defining moment,” Usher says, adding neither expected to pick a Taylor Swift song for her – nor did they expect Swifty to drop in on their rehearsals. “You can’t have that many relatives out there screaming that loud, that’s fans.” Indeed, she has fans now, and they were very loud.
7:38: Christina Milian is chatting with The Swon Brothers asking what they loved the most about this experience. Colton says they love playing with the band there and getting lots of advice from the coaches. Zach says “it’s definitely the relationships that you build day in and day out.” He says they’re going to miss everybody.
7:40: Blake met with 16-year-old Texan Danielle Bradbery’s parents and stepparents over lunch, and he’s got kind words for them about instilling the confidence in her she needed to make it through the competition. Blake also praises her for introducing country classics for a new generations. He says she’s in the Top 3 out of 40,000 hopefuls. Wow. That’s a big number. Her parents says Danielle just wants to make Blake proud. “Mission accomplished,” he says. He also says he’s just honored to be part of her story. See, this is why he’s so good at this.
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