7:26pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'The Voice': Season 10 Finalists Debut Original Songs
Heading into the season 10 finale, The Voice coaches Christina Aguilera, Pharrell, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton each had an artist fighting for the title. Part one of the finale aired tonight and was jam-packed with performances, with all four remaining artists singing an original song they wrote or co-wrote, a new cover, and a duet with their coach.
First up was Team Adam’s Laith Al-Saadi, singing “White Room” by Cream and entering his comfort zone by playing the guitar. It was a performance that embodied everything Al-Saadi excels at, especially when it comes to playing the guitar. While his voice isn’t at the same level as some of the other contestants, Al-Saadi certainly knows how to put on an energetic rock show. Shelton praised his ability to make it this far in the competition by doing his own thing, which is definitely a deviation from what usually does well on this show. As Levine put it, Al-Saadi “is what’s missing from the show.”
Alisan Porter from Team Christina got the original songs started with her single “Down That Road,” which reflected the story Porter has been telling all season of overcoming hardship and working hard to follow her dreams. During their rehearsal, Aguilera mentioned something about Porter inspiring her to finish her own album, which is long overdue. Porter’s performance was emotional and vocally impressive. She has a killer voice from a technical perspective, but she also has a clear voice as a storyteller. And hey, voice should really be the main criteria here. It’s the name of the game, after all. Levine said that Porter has the voice that deserves to win. “You’re the real deal,” Shelton said. “You are the epitome of The Voice,” Aguilera added.
For the first duet of the night, Adam Wakefield and Shelton sang “The Conversation” by Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings. It was a fun duet, and they sounded good together.
The competition continued with Team Pharrell’s Hannah Huston, singing “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. Pharrell and Huston worked together to create a really dark and moody version of the song, and it paid off. Huston’s performance was emotional and had so many dynamics. It raised the bar for the evening, showing her impressive artistry and versatility. “I love it, and I love you, and you’re a badass,” Levine said, complimenting her ability to change the song so much. “That was so risky, but I think it’s going to be a huge reward,” Shelton said.
Al-Saadi returned to the stage with his coach Levine, who played drums and guitar and sang along on a duet of a Beatles medley. Both shined as musicians but not really as singers.
The duets continued, with Aguilera and Porter singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Again, it was fine. But the duets are almost like filler: They don’t factor in that much to the competition, and it’s just a fun opportunity for viewers to see coaches perform with their artists.
Wakefield was up again, this time with his original song, “Lonesome, Broken, and Blue,” which he wrote on his own. Unsurprisingly, Wakefield is an impressive songwriter. It’s a solid country song, but it has some bluegrass influence in it, too. Overall, it seems to encompass the kind of artist Wakefield wants to be. He showcased impressive artistry tonight. “I like all the different sides to you,” Pharrell said. Shelton was overwhelmed by Wakefield’s songwriting abilities.
Huston and Pharrell performed their duet next, singing “Brand New,” which Pharrell originally recorded with Justin Timberlake.
Al-Saadi came back to the stage to debut his original song, “Morning Light.” In his recording session, Al-Saadi compared himself to brie cheese, saying that he is an acquired taste in the competition, but his analogy was confusing, because brie doesn’t seem to be particularly polarizing. Maybe he was thinking of bleu cheese. In any case, Al-Saadi knows music better than he knows cheese. He wrote a solid song, but it wasn’t quite exciting enough for the finale. It focused a little too much on the guitar riffs and not enough on the singing. Pharrell urged viewers to buy the song, and Levine said that Al-Saadi makes him happy because of how happy he is to be doing this.
Wakefield tackled his cover next, singing “When I Call Your Name” by Vince Gill. The song choice was perfect for him, playing into his bluegrass roots while still being a song with some contemporary country sound. Wakefield had a lot of momentum going into the finale, and he performed well tonight, capping off a slew of solid country performances with this cover. Aguilera praised the accuracy in his ad libs and runs, while Levine said Wakefield makes some of the best creative choices of all the finalists. “You just blew the roof off this place, dude,” Shelton said.
Huston co-wrote her original song, “I Call the Shots,” with Pharrell. She has proven her versatility over and over again this season, but it was refreshing to see that she has strong creative instincts when it comes to original music, too. Pharrell is obviously an outstanding producer, but there was a lot of Huston in the song, and her final performance was a highlight of the night just in terms of how fun and original it was. Pharrell said he was honored to have worked with her on this process, and Levine praised what Huston did with the stripped-down song.
Porter closed out the night with her cover performance. She sang “Somewhere” from West Side Story. As Carson Daly pointed out, Porter had one of the best Blind Auditions in The Voice history. It was clear from the beginning that she would end up in this finale, representing Team Christina. She’s Aguilera’s only hope for becoming the first female coach to win the competition. And she gave it her all tonight, bringing just the right amount of drama and honesty to her final performance, especially on the last run. She received a standing ovation from Aguilera and Pharrell. Levine was left speechless by Porter yet again, and Aguilera was moved to tears. “You’re the definition of The Voice,” she said.
Tomorrow night, the season 10 champion will be crowned. Who has your vote? Sound off in the comments, below.