There is so much singing tonight! The finalists sing, and sing some more, then sing again! The coaches sing! The only person who does not get to sing is Carson Daly. Poor Carson Daly. It is the story of his life.
Laith Al-Saadi, whose continued presence on The Voice is a testament to the American spirit, kicks us off with “White Room” by Cream, which Adam says is a good note to end on, because it is true to what Laith loves. I would not say he transforms the song in any way, but it is a classic Laith performance — lots of passionate guitar solos and yet another vest stolen off a teddy bear. Behind him, there is a projection of what I think may be a white room. I cannot be certain, but I suspect there are black curtains. “What a time to love classic rock!” muses gentleman-scholar Pharrell. “I’m having so much fun,” declares Adam, who appears to have flown in from a Hawaiian paradise for the occasion. “I have, like, zero agenda. I am not playing the game. All I’m doing is enjoying my guy up there, doing what he does.” That is also why I love Laith, for doing what he does!
There is no time to dwell on the purity of Laith’s heart and his spirit, though, because Christina has a present for Alisan Porter. (The present is shoes.) For her original number, Alisan sings “Down That Road,” because it is a song about “hope and second chances.” This song is a little bit inspirational for my dour tastes, but it is pleasant and showcases her voice well. Speaking of showcasing things, what is happening with her dress, I wonder? She looks like a sexy wood nymph or a misguided figure skater. I cannot be sure, but I think I like it. “You’re the real deal, Alisan,” Blake says. “You deserve to win, because you’ve been down all the roads,” gushes Christina, bedecked with tropical flowers.
Onward! For the first special coach duet of the evening, Adam Wakefield and Blake Shelton do a real twangy rendition of “The Conversation.” I would say that it sure is a country song!
After a tearful retrospective of Hannah Huston’s greatest hits, it is time for our “Hannah Banana” to take the stage with a “dark and moody” rendition of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I love it. It is creepy and intoxicating, like the theme song for a movie about stalking, or a movie about James Bond. It is truly inspired, especially on the part of Voice musical director Paul Mirkovich, who thought of it. “That was so risky, but I think it’s going to be a huge reward for you,” Blake drawls. Pharrell praises Hannah for her red dress and her humility, and also for Paul Mirkovich, musical genius. “Vote this girl through!” he tells America, one last time for old times’ sake.
And now, with what Carson describes as “an incredible medley for the ages,” Adam Levine and Laith sing the end of Abbey Road. This is very fun! I am delighted, though not as delighted as Adam, who gets to live out his childhood fantasy of being all of the Beatles at once. “That was awesome,” opines Carson Daly, who is finally coming into his own. It has truly been a pleasure to watch him blossom over the course of this season.
Alisan Porter and her best friend Christina Aguilera are up next, and they will be celebrating their friendship with a rousing rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend.” I would say that it is wholly unobjectionable choice. I was hoping for something a little more theatrical from them — something with more hair-whipping — but I agree that friendship is very important.
Next up: Adam Wakefield, with his original song “Lonesome, Broken, and Blue.” I do not want to spoil anything for you, but this one is a downer. “It’s such a sad song,” Adam tells Blake, “but I’ll be honest with you: I wrote it when I was sitting on the beach, sipping a margarita.” Ah, the life of an artist! It is a beautiful song, and a wistful one. I get chills, and although I have generally found that to be a medical thing, it may be music-related in this case. “Dude, so that was your original? Man. Congrats,” Pharrell observes. “The first verse of that song?” Blake coos. “That is brilliant dude. I mean, you wrote that.”
To cheer us all up, Hannah and Pharrell perform Pharrell’s own “Brand New,” but with Hannah taking over the Justin Timberlake part. It is profoundly bizarre in all the ways I expected, but here’s the twist: It is also bizarre in ways I did not expect. There is no tune, but there is a marching band! It is like a conceptual art piece, in a way. What do you think it means? I am going to guess it is a referendum on capitalism. Watching them, Christina licks her lips. I can only assume that is because she plans to eat them.
Back in the studio, Laith and Adam are having a heart-to-heart about Laith’s journey and the unexpected affections of America. “I feel like you’re an acquired taste,” Adam says. “I’m kind of the brie cheese, if you will, of The Voice,” agrees Laith, affably. What cheese do you most identify with, I wonder? I would say I am a gouda, myself. For his original song, Laith has written a bluesy slow jam called “Morning Light,” which is spectacular, in an Eric Clapton sort of way. “It was cool. I enjoyed it,” says Christina, paragon of generosity. Pharrell is a big fan of the time signature (6/8!) and chord changes. “You’ve slowly, over time, leading up to this moment, become my favorite,” announces Adam, conveniently.
For a change of pace, more singing! Adam Wakefield covers “When I Call Your Name” by Vince Gill, because it combines “country music and bluegrass music and mainstream music at the same time.” Frankly, this performance feels a little one-note, but the judges love it. “I’m never disappointed when you take the stage,” Christina admits, begrudgingly. “You have such amazing taste,” Adam raves. “You just blew the roof off this place,” Blake says, shaking his head in unadulterated awe.
Hannah’s “original” song was written for her by Pharrell, because she is a preschool teacher, and he is noted American songwriter and producer, Pharrell Williams. The theme of the song, Pharrell explains, is how Hannah has learned to “call the shots.” One might suggest that it seems suspiciously like Pharrell is calling the shots in this particular scenario, but the song itself is pretty great, and I would highly recommend Pharrell’s songwriting services. Five stars. To Hannah’s credit, she gives a stellar performance, and it is reassuring to see her back in her signature jumpsuit. In response, Adam says that Pharrell is amazing. Pharrell, in turn, says that Hannah is amazing. I think this song is amazing. Just imagine how amazing it would be if Hannah had written it!
To close out the night, a truly shocking turn of events: Alisan Porter takes Broadway! This is the moment I have been waiting for my whole life, except I did not know it until just now. She will be singing “Somewhere,” from West Side Story. I am stunned. I am thrilled. I am confused? I think it is safe to say I did not see this coming. “It’s a beautiful statement,” Alisan says, embracing her Barbra Streisand moment. When she hits her final high note, fire rains down from the ceiling. “Alisan, I don’t know what to say,” Adam tells her, taking the words from my mouth. Did I like this performance? Not particularly, but that is of no matter. The Voice has overlooked Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for too long, and it is nice to see them finally get a moment to shine. Christina weeps.
And with that, the singing portion of our competition draws to a close. And so, my friends, I ask you: Who will be crowned the Voice of America?