8:00 p.m.: It is time. Who will be “The Voice”? Will it be Muskogee’s The Swon Brothers or 16-year-old Texan Danielle Bradbery, both representing Oklahoma country music star Blake Shelton’s team? Will Blake get a “The Voice” three-peat for his 37th birthday? Or will it be indie pop-rocker Michelle Chamuel, who is competing on Team Usher? We’ll know in two hours, and it’s gonna be a long two hours, folks. At least there will be lots of music …
8:01: Host Carson Daly just introduced the Top 3 as “three of the most talented artists in the country.” So it’s already a big night for The Swon Brothers. Now, cue the first (but I’m sure not the last) montage …
8:04: Carson says “The Voice” had unprecedented voting, and all the songs made the top 10 on the iTunes chart. He says “Trust me when I say it’s anybody’s to win.” The suspense may kill me. Of course, a performance by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera, coupled by the knowledge that Xtina is back in one of the big red chairs next season may prove fatal. Not a fan of either of these two or their remix of a reasonably entertaining song (A-Ha’s “Take on Me”) into a mishmash of irritating noise and insipid lyrics. Here’s a question: Which performance will be more annoying, this one or Florida Georgia Line with Nelly?
8:11: Shakira says the standout moment of the season and the two-night finale has been “the caliber of the talent on this show.” She compliments her fellow coaches and wishes Blake a happy birthday. He thanks her for the cake she got him. Have a mentioned I’m gonna miss this sweetheart when Xtina comes back?!
8:12: Adam Levine is backing off a bit from his declaration last night that Danielle will win this year just because it’s so close this year.
8:13: “I don’t give a crap about a three-peat,” Blake declares. “It’s about this year.” He says The Swon Brothers, Danielle and Michelle have done what it takes to win, and they should be commended. Usher says that if Michelle wins that he will take it as a sign that people appreciate her talent and hard work. Happy birthday, Blake!
8:15: For their “bring back performance,” The Swon Brothers are bringing back fellow Team Blake contenders Justin Rivers and Holly Tucker, plus Team Adam’s Amber Carrington, to do Lady Antebellum’s “Stars Tonight” with them. Great lineup. They look like they are having a ball representing contemporary country music on national TV.
8:23: Now, social media correspondent Christina Milian is showing homemade video of mostly cute kids doing imitations of the four coaches. Plus, she’s got video footage of Blake telling Danielle that she will be performing tonight with Hunter Hayes. Girl squeal!
8:25: Now, Carson is getting all pseudo-serious about the bromance between Blake and Adam and how it’s going through a crisis now that the new coaches have arrived. There’s lots of lame insults and “shut-ups” going on. “Usher has awakened new feelings in the depths of Blake’s heart,” declares Shakira. Now, the “I loves you” are between Blake and Usher. But Blake says the bromance between him and Adam isn’t over. “I hope you two kids can stay together. America needs it,” Carson says super-seriously. That was ridiculous and hilarious and just wrong.
8:27: Anyway, Tulsa native Ryan Tedder and his band OneRepublic is up to performing their infectious new single with help from Michelle Chamuel. It goes without saying that even if all of them fall of the stage, this will be better than the first celeb performance of the night.
8:30: OK, that was a pretty great performance in its own right, without comparing it to Xtina and Pitbull’s nonsense. Seeing Adam sitting on Blake’s lap right before the commercial break was just wrong, though.
8:34: Oh, look, it’s a montage! Here’s a montage of Usher’s coaching techniques, and not to be outdone, Blake’s doing a silly version of Usher’s unorthodox coaching with The Swon Brothers and Danielle going along with it. “The way he taught me how to catch the notes, it was life-changing,” Danielle deadpans while wielding chopsticks and wearing a crazy headband. Now, there’s fake crying by Blake and a birthday wish for him. This show is just indulging his natural ridiculousness. “Hey, it’s the finale,” says Carson.
8:37: That’s no excuse for featuring what’s already the most annoyingly overplayed song of the summer, Carson. Yes, it’s Florida Georgia Line drawling “Cruise,” which is a lame song made even worse by the knowledge that their entire debut album is this insipid. (Boy, that word’s getting a workout tonight!) And now this mess just got worse with the arrival of Nelly who will at least commit to the rapping part instead of just taking it halfway like the Florida Georgia Line boys. There is nothing I like about this. Except maybe the energy. (The notion that rap and country can get along has already been established and arguably overdone.) The coaches are on their feet, but I think Adam’s smile looks pretty fake. Since I have no appearances to keep, I’m not even gonna fake a smile. Nothing will disguise my disdain.
8:45: Just to prove my insipid point, here is the first verse and chorus of “Cruise”:
Yeah, when I first saw that bikini top on her
She’s poppin’ right out of the South Georgia water
Thought, “Oh, good lord, she had them long tanned legs”
Couldn’t help myself so I walked up and said
Baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise
Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with you
In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it
So baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise
Classic? Um … no.
8:46: Christina has got the Top 3 in “The Voice” skybox for the last time, and Colton Swon says that he would be happy to lose to either of the girls standing with them not just because of their talents but also because of their hearts. Michelle says they’ve taught her more about who she wants to be, while Danielle says she regards them as her big brothers and sister. So sweet. It’s easy to root for any of these three.
8:47: Now the show is bringing back a quartet of Season 4 contenders to do the Motown classic “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Kris Thomas, Josiah Hawley, Vedo and Garett Gardner are harmonizing beautifully to The Temptations, but Holly Tucker snuck in to steal the show with her saxophone solo! Usher wasn’t the only one dancing his chair for that one folks. Now that’s a classic!
8:54: For her “bring back performance,” Danielle has asked Amber Carrington, Caroline Glaser and Sarah Simmons, her best “The Voice” friends, to sing Checotah native Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl.” All these ladies girls have such different voices, so this should be really interesting. But Danielle’s voice is so powerful and pure it’s hard to argue with Adam’s prediction that she could win it all. Obviously, I’m still rooting for fellow Okies The Swon Brothers, but Danielle could very well be “The Voice” this year. “That’s the definition of adorable,” Carson says at the end of it.
8:59: One last “the Voice” Confessional. I think the Swons have been the standouts of this, although Michelle’s hand puppets were pretty hilarious. I like Michelle’s imitation of Blake, and I did NOT need to see the Swons in those dresses again. I’m not sure how I feel about Cee Lo and his menagerie coming back, but I’m going miss that cutie Usher next season! And I’m gonna miss these confessionals.
9:01: I am telling you, Bruno Mars can put on a show. The retro R&B stylist is doing his new single “Treasure,” and I think I may love him, despite his red leisure suit with the leopard print shirt, which might not be so bad if his whole band wasn’t wearing that rather loud look. Plus, he gets double bonus points for the double disco ball!
9:08: We’ve still got almost an hour to go. I’m ready to know the winner. At least Zach and Colton Swon are gonna perform with Bob Seger very soon …
9:10: “The Swon Brothers have proven they have a deep appreciation for classic rock and country music, so joining this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer onstage is a perfect fit,” Carson says. They’re gonna perform Seger’s classic “Night Moves,” and Seger looks pretty happy swapping verses up there with Zach and Colton. They’re strumming their acoustic guitars, and the crowd seems to be getting into it. Now we’re seeing some big smiles on The Swon Brothers’ faces, and they’re finishing by fist-bumping, high-fiving and hugging a rock ‘n’ roll legend. Carson declares it one of the coolest things they’ve ever done on the shoow. Usher and Blake are on their feet.
9:15: Surprise, it’s a montage! This is pretty cute. It’s of Shakira, whose first language is not English, using big words that the three guys can neither spell nor define, although Blake is doing a pretty uproarious job of making up definitions for these words he doesn’t know. Shakira does have a silver-dollar vocabulary, and that’s just one more reason to love her! And wish Xtina wasn’t coming back next season.
9:20: Big-voiced songstresses Judith Hill, Sasha Allen, Karina Iglesias and Cathia are joining forces to do just by En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).” I think there’s a couple of decent quartets in the works here on the show tonight!
9:24: It’s montage time, and we’re seeing a day in the life of the Top 3. Not surprisingly, it’s jam-packed – I had to schedule an interview with The Swon Brothers last week, remember? – and when Blake’s involved, it’s hilarious. The cool part of this montage is they all got a new car: In Danielle’s case, it’s a new car. They get to pick any car from the Kia lineup, which is fairly awesome in every way. “I don’t know how we’re gonna decide who’s gonna get this one, though,” Colton says. C’mon, Kia, give them each a car!
9:27: “You know who’s here? Cher,” Carson says. That should be a great performance.
9:30: We’re less than 30 minutes away from revealing the winner. “It looks Nashville is coming to” Danielle, Carson says. She can’t stop grinning as she takes the stage in a pretty white gown with the even prettier Hunter Hayes to do his new single “I Want Crazy.” They’re harmonizing pretty well up there. That’s a lot of young talent, although he’s got the guitar skills and the energy. Of course, Danielle’s only 16 so she’s got plenty of time to get there. Overall, this is fresh and fun. And entertaining. And cute as a whole bag of buttons, even before the balloons drop and Hunter gives her a big hug at the end.
9:38: Carson says we’re less than 20 minutes away from him finally, finally, finally announcing the winner of “The Voice.” Just enough time to cram in two more performances, right? Michelle is going to bring back her Team Usher teammates Cathia, Vedo and Josiah Hawley to do Stevie Wonder’s version of “We Can Work It Out.” It’s getting harder and harder to argue with Blake’s assertion that this is the best season yet of “The Voice” as far as the quality of the singers the show attracted. Fun times. Super cute that they’ve all got red shoes on like Usher and their coach couldn’t help getting up on stage with them.
9:44: It’s the very last confessional and the Top 3 and their coaches are asked what would winning “The Voice” win. Zach says he hasn’t thought about it but it would be a dream come true. Usher is getting choked up just thinking about Michelle winning. Zach and Colton say they want to win it for their parents, their home state and for each other since they’re best friends. Michelle wants to win it for her coach, and so do Danielle and the Swons. It’s gonna be close, but I think any of the three will be a worthy winner.
9:46: Cher’s gone all dance club-pop for her the world premiere of her new single “Woman’s World.” She’s got big purple hair and a slinky black outfit, so it’s still Cher even if it doesn’t sound quite like her. She’s still capable of belting it, but the beat seems to be taking over here. Hmm … I think I’m going to have to give it another listen or two before I have a clear opinion on this. Not my favorite, but not totally horrible either. Cher is known for her evolving her style with the times – that’s the reason she’s had so much longevity – but I can’t decide if I’m a fan of this new direction. The crowd goes wild, so they seemed to like it.
9:50: We’re 10 minutes away, so cue commercial. I’m actually kind of nervous!
9:52: As if we needed a reminder, “The Voice” will be back in the fall with Xtina and Cee Lo returning to fill out the panel with Blake and Adam. I’m gonna miss Shakira and Usher!
9:54: And we’re back with about five minutes left. Carson says now the time has come … last thoughts from the Top 3. Zach, “This has been the most incredible ride that I’ve been on, and there couldn’t have been a better coach in the world … And we got to sing with Bob Seger tonight!” Colton reiterates that Blake has been a big brother to them. Danielle says “You’re an amazing coach and an amazing person” and she’s grateful to have him in her life. “Thank you for being you and inspiring me to be me,” Michelle says to Usher.
9:55: Carson is starting with third place … which is The Swon Brothers. Ahhh … I was rooting for those guys.
9:57: It’s down to the two ladies … and the winner of “The Voice” is Danielle! The youngest singer in this year’s competition wins. It’s a three-peat Team Blake, and her coach rushes the stage to embrace her parents. Danielle says “I’m speechless,” and they turn the stage over to her to sing Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly,” but after a few lines, she just can’t go on. She leaves it to the backup singers while she receives hugs from the other coaches, The Swon Brothers, Michelle and her family …
Congratulations to Danielle and good night!