After weeks of blind auditions, battle rounds, brutal “knockouts” and controversial eliminations, we’re finally down to crunch time on Season 15 of “The Voice.”
Tonight, the remaining four contestants — Kennedy Holmes, Kirk Jay, Chris Kroeze and Chevel Shepherd — make their final appeals for our votes. And on Tuesday one of them will be crowned champion and make off with the $100,000 record deal.
But first, some pressure-packed performances. Each of the finalists are being required to do three numbers — a new solo cover, a special duet with their coach, and their first original single. Are your palms sweating?
Adam Levine’s are probably not. He’s the only coach without a horse in the race. As for the others: If Chevel wins, it will give Kelly Clarkson a second straight victory. If Kennedy wins, it means a first-ever U.S. championship for Jennifer Hudson, who did notch a victory on the UK version of “The Voice.” And a victory for either Kirk or Chris means Blake Shelton will capture a seventh coaching title — more than anyone else.
So here’s the rundown of songs for each finalist, in the order they sang them:
— Solo cover: “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. An iconic, fun country-rock song, to be sure. But an obvious — and overdone — one. Still, it gives Chris a chance to show off his amazing guitar skills, and the coaches give Chris a standing ovation. Blake said he “killed it.”
— Original single: “Human.” Blake is jealous. He said he’d like to have this song on his record. Sounds like a radio-ready tune with a good message, but this is a rather low-energy performance. We don’t know if this really helped the Wisconsin rocker.
— Duet (with Blake Shelton): “Two More Bottles of Wine” by Delbert McClinton. Another fun number, but again, is it enough to raise Chris into the upper level? Doubtful.
— Solo cover: “It’s a Little Too Late” by Tanya Tucker. The little singer with a great big voice delivers a smooth, soulful performance on this jaunty little ditty. The recapper for TVLine called wrote, “She sounded as at-home as a cowgirl feels on horseback.” Um, we think that’s good. Kelly thinks Chevel is going to win it all.
— Duet (with Kelly Clarkson): “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” by The Judds. Not surprisingly, Kelly brings most the most charisma to this number and gets the energy going for Chevel, who, despite a great voice, doesn’t always have a magnetic stage presence.
— Original single: “Broken Hearts.” A strong finish to the night for Chevel, who pointed out that it was her first time she has recorded an original song. The performance had Kelly tearing up.
— Original single: “Defenseless.” This emotional country ballad was co-written by “The Voice” alum Nicolle Galyon and sung with a blanket of dry-ice fog covering the stage. Another coaches’ standing ovation. Jennifer said she was ready to go out and buy Kirk’s album and attend his concerts. Blake was excited that Jay had made her a country fan. “You’re the real deal,” he said.
— Duet (with Blake Shelton): “You Look So Good in Love,” by George Strait. OK. You, go Kirk. Not a lot of harmonizing here, but it works. The Hollywood Reporter calls this tender-hearted ballad “a straightforward, old-school country performance, which was a bit different for Jay.”
— Solo cover: “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascall Flatts. Thumbs-up to this song choice. A strong finish. Adam said his voice stands out this season.
— Original single: “Love is Free.” We have no idea what all those other people were doing on the stage. Distracting! Still, Kennedy gets her night off to a solid start with this catchy (if repetitive) tune. The recapper for Gold Derby wrote, “Her vocal take on it reminds me a little bit of Brandy. Her stage presence for her age just blows me away every week.”
— Duet (with Jennifer Hudson): “Home” by Stephanie Mills. A pair of big pipes on this song from “The Wiz.” Really impressive. As EW.com points out, “What works for Kennedy in this song is that she quickly reminds us that in addition to that peppy pop style she’s got going on, she’s also a rather elegant soul singer who can embrace her diva side just as easily as anything else.”
— Solo cover: “Confident” by Demi Lovato. The crowd went wild for this show-closer. And what stage presence. Kennedy finishes it off by busting a few dance moves. Jennifer thinks she sees a Beyoncé in the making.
So did tonight’s performances change your mind on who should win? Going into Monday’s show, participants in our “The Voice” poll overwhelmingly favored Chevel, who had more than double the number of votes for Kirk. Taking third and fourth were Chris and Kennedy, respectively.
We’ll see if those rankings stick when the two-hour finale of “The Voice” airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on NBC.