The hit reality TV show “The Voice” begins its two-part process to crown its inaugural champion with its final live performance episode from 8 to 10 tonight on NBC (KFOR-4 in Oklahoma City). The season finale is set for 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
I’ll be live-blogging both tonight and Wednesday night episodes right here at BAM’s Blog.
Before we get to that, here’s my recap of what happened last Wednesday on the show’s first one-hour results show, when the eight semifinalists were pared to four finalists:
The show, which began 15 minutes later than originally scheduled after President Obama’s special report on the war in Afghanistan, opened with a group performance, a medley of the George Michael hits “Freedom ’90″ and “Faith.” Yes, Beverly McClellan, Vicci Martinez, Dia Frampton, Javier Colon, Nakia, Xenia, Casey Weston and Frenchie Davis all sang together on one mash-up, and it was a credit to these performers’ talents – and a canny song selection and arrangement – that they managed to blend their divergent voices on a single medley.
Since NBC is planning to send those eight out on tour together this summer, it will be interesting to see if the George Michael medley becomes a set piece of those concerts. (For more on the tour plans, click here.)
After the group performance, we learned that host Carson Daly was going to spend the evening doing his best imitation of sports journalist Roy Firestone, who was gently mocked in the movie “Jerry Maguire” for his uncanny ability to make his interviewees cry. Daly was determined to wring tears from as many semifinalists as he could, darn it, and he succeeded in getting several of them choked up.
We also got to find out how this phase of the scoring would work and what the coaches wrote on their secret ballots at the end of last Tuesday’s episode. Each coach had 100 points to divvy up between his/her final two contenders. The score from the musician-coach would be weighed equally with the public vote, cast by online voting, phone balloting and the all-important iTunes downloads.
Cee Lo Green was first up to crown his team’s finalist, though he read a free-verse poetry tribute to his final singers before allowing host Carson Daly to reveal his score. The “Forget You” hitmaker gave 51 points to Nakia and 49 to Martinez. Green said he felt that the latter’s vocals on her rendition the previous day of Florence + the Machine’s “Dark Days Are Over” were a bit drowned out by the powerful percussion on the performance, so he voted to give the edge to Nakia.
But the public vote put the fiery songstress Martinez decisively into the first finalist slot.
Before the rest of the finalists were determined, Cee Lo dazzled as usual with his single “Bright Lights Bigger City.” Wearing a spiffy white suit and another memorable wig, Green channeled Cab Calloway as he strutted and sang amidst “Lawrence Welk Show”-esque bubbles, feisty flappers and suave gentlemanly dancers.
Next on the hot seat was Adam Levine. In a taped segment, the Maroon 5 frontman surprised his team members by letting them sit in with his rehearsals with Gym Class Heroes, with whom he collaborates on the single “Stereo Hearts.”
When Levine revealed his scores for his final two singers, he gave quite the edge to front-runner Colon. Weston couldn’t conceal her surprised expression when Daly announced that the coach had given her just 35 points to Colon’s 65 points.
“I know that looks bad, Case, but this does not reflect you guys as artists or performers,” he said. “Javier, I had to make sure. I had to play the game a little bit because I had to advance him.”
He rambled a bit, but the gist of his decision was that Weston is 18 and would have plenty of time and opportunities to make it as a singer, while Colon, who was once signed to Capitol Records but eventually dropped, was facing his last chance.
The Maroon 5 frontman shouldn’t have worried, as Colon won the public vote in a landslide. Levine, who had confessed that he and Weston had butted heads over her coaching, was quick to give her a hug and more reassurances that she was going to have an amazing life and music career.
“This is not over, our friendship is not over,” Levine said.
“I love you, too, even though I’m kind of mad at you right,” she replied.
“I know, I know it looks bad,” he said, while Colon told Daly how blessed he felt.
In his prerecorded segment, Shelton took Xenia and Frampton to Cincinnati for one of his shows on Brad Paisley’s tour. He gave both singers pink camouflage electric guitars – to match his camo guitar and go with the acoustic Takamines he gave every member of his team at the start of the competition – and introduced them to Paisley. He then invited them onstage to sing along with his latest No. 1 “Honey Bee,” which they also performed on the previous night’s episode.
Shelton, who has repeatedly expressed surprise at the fatherly relationship he has developed with both his semifinalists, split his 100 points between the competitors, who both blossomed under his tutelage.
“I don’t feel like I can win or lose in this situation with either one of them … I believe in them both so much and I love ‘em. I really do. And you can’t put a score on that,” the emotional Tishomingo resident said.
When America’s vote was added, the teary Frampton beat out Xenia by a narrow margin. Along with Colon, Frampton is considered a favorite as the show draws to its conclusion. If she wins, the real loser will be Warner Bros. Records, who last year dropped Meg & Dia, her band with sister Meg Frampton.
Christina Aguilera also divided her 100 points equally between her two very different bald, big-voiced divas, McClellan and Davis. She said comparing them was like apples and oranges so she was going to let America decide who to send to the finals.
By another slim margin, the public vote went to McClellan.
So, that’s your reminder of what went on last week: Dia Frampton is the finalist from Oklahoma country music star Blake Shelton’s team. Javier Colon is the finalist from Adam Levine’s team, Vicci Martinez from Cee Lo Green’s team and Beverly McClellan from Christina Aguilera’s team.
On the agenda for tonight’s episode: Apparently, all four finalists will be performing original songs as well as duets with their coaches.
In addition, all four musician coaches – Oklahoma country music star Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine – will team up to perform the Rolling Stones’ classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”Also, country star Brad Paisley joins R&B/pop sensations Pitbull and Ne-Yo as special guest performers on the hit vocal competition series that same night.
For a narrow window following tonight’s episode, eligible voters will have four ways to vote for the favorite finalist on “The Voice”: through toll-free phone calls, through online votes via NBC.com and the NBC Live online and iPad companion viewing app, and purchasing songs on iTunes. Votes are limited to 10 times via toll-free phone call per artist per originating phone number; up to 10 times through NBC.com or the NBC Live app per artist per e-mail address; and up to 10 times per artist per iTunes account, by purchasing the contestant’s then-eligible song through iTunes (up to a maximum of 10 copies).
“The Voice” final performance episode begins in just a few moments. Get ready for the live blog.