Reality TV

The Voice 2016 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Finale, Part 1 (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 2016, “Live Finale, Part 1”! Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and host Carson Daly bring their search for the next great singer to an end!

The Final Four perform in their final chance at The Voice title! And we’ve got song spoilers for each contestant, thanks to iTunes! And the winner’s singles are written by the contestants themselves! Find out who’s singing what below:

Team Adam Levine

Laith Al-Saadi, “White Room” by Cream
Laith Al-Saadi, “Morning Light” (written by Laith Al-Saadi)
Laith Al-Saadi and Adam Levine, “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” by The Beatles

Team Pharrell Williams

Hannah Huston, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
Hannah Huston, “I Call the Shots” (written by Hannah Huston and Pharrell Williams)
Hannah Huston and Pharrell Williams, “Brand New” by Pharrell Williams feat Justin Timberlake

Team Christina Aguilera

Alisan Porter, “Somewhere” from West Side Story
Alisan Porter, “Down That Road” (written by Alisan Porter, llisey Juber & Ely Rise)
Alisan Porter and Christina Aguilera, “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King

Team Blake Shelton

Adam Wakefield, “When I Call Your Name” by Vince Gill
Adam Wakefield, “Lonesome, Broken and Blue” (written by Adam Wakefield)
Adam Wakefield and Blake Shelton, “The Conversation” by Hank Williams Jr.

I absolutely LOVE Hannah’s song choices, largely because “Brand New” was one of my favorite songs from Justin’s last album, and “Every Breath You Take” is one of those songs that nearly always makes for a compelling performance. But Alisan has awesome choices too. You really can’t go wrong with West Side Story or Carole King. I’ll have to listen to the guys before I make any judgments, but I do enjoy “White Room” by Cream. And Adam Wakefield frequently spins gold from unfamiliar song choices. So I’m hyped for this finale. More so than I thought I would be. I’m also anxious to hear the winner’s singles, since this could be big for reality singing competitions: if this approach is successful, I could see other reality shows actually allowing contestants to write/co-write their own songs in the finals. Should be a solid show tonight, if nothing else.

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!

The Voice 2016 - Live Blog and Recap - Live Finale, Part 1 (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-Carson introduces the coaches and then announces what we already know: each contestant will sing a cover, a coach duet, and a winner’s single they wrote or co-wrote themselves. In addition, we’ll be getting a look at each finalist’s debut music video. Now, onto the first singer of the night…

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI opens the show!

-Carson sits with Laith and Adam to recap his journey on the show. They talk about his highs in the competition (such as topping the Blues chart multiple times on iTunes) and his lows (such as landing in the Bottom 3 last week). He’ll be singing “White Room” by Cream. Together, they explore Laith’s musicality, with Laith stating that no other coach would have gotten him like Adam does, nor allowed him to explore the different sides of his artistry. I don’t disagree, although I find it hard to imagine Blake or Pharrell would have tried to take him away from the blues artist he naturally is. I could have seen both of them just allowing him to do whatever he felt like doing.

-I liked this more as a performance than as a vocal. Laith continues to demonstrate a level of musicianship that’s rarely been seen on this show, or any reality singing series, for that matter. Just the way he makes that guitar sing is amazing, and the depth of his passion is evident from how much he puts into each performance. With that said, I just didn’t think this was his best vocal, even if I did believe it was a totally finale-worthy spectacle.

-Blake was going to tell Laith not to play the guitar so much and to sing more instead, but Laith rocked that out. Christina is similarly impressed. Pharrell thinks this is a great time to be a fan of classic rock, and says what Laith represents is awesome. Adam, lastly, feels Laith is what’s been missing from this show, noting that he performs with a purity of spirit that’s unrivaled. He pleads with America to vote for Laith.

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER is up next!

-Christina gets a present for Alisan, as the two discuss the new original song that Alisan co-wrote alongside Alisan Porter, llisey Juber & Ely Rise titled “Down That Road”. Honestly, I think it sounds like a PERFECT fit for country radio. Seriously, it sounds like a ready-made hit. I’m genuinely impressed by this. Alisan and Christina wax nostalgic about her journey on the show, and Christina admits that Alisan’s work on this song has inspired her to finish her own album. Wait, Christina has a new album coming out?

-I absolutely love this song. It’s also one of Alisan’s more compelling performances, because it’s clear how much she believes what she’s singing. She sounds like a country version of Celine Dion, and that’s someone I can get on board with as a winner for this show. Granted, I’m still thinking Adam Wakefield takes this, but I know I’m definitely buying Alisan’s single tonight. It was a gorgeous performance, not at all over-the-top, and quite nuanced vocally.

-Adam liked the song, and goes as far as to admit that if he’s judging based solely on voice, then Alisan is the voice that deserves to win. He frames it like he’s about to be critical, which makes no sense, given what he ended up saying. Blake thinks Alisan’s song was great, considering that it came from her story. Christina loved witnessing Alisan record this song in the studio, and calls her the epitome of The Voice. Alisan is off to a strong start with that one. We get a look at the behind-the-scenes of her music video shoot, and she looks absolutely stunning. Kind of looks like she’s wearing the outfit she wore for her Official Voice Single photoshoot.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Debuts Powerful Original Song ‘Down That Road’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD AND BLAKE SHELTON are up next!

-We get our first coach/contestant duet of the night, as Adam Wakefield teams with coach Blake Shelton for a performance of “The Conversation” by Hank Williams Jr., an easygoing song that fits both artists perfectly. In fact, it might be too easygoing for a finale. This duet really doesn’t make a case for why Adam should be our winner, and that kind of does a disservice to him, as a contestant. With that said, I didn’t think anything Craig Wayne Boyd did on finale night necessarily helped his case, and he won anyway. So you never know. And hey, both these guys sang the song well. So it’s not as if this was some kind of disaster. I guess we’ll see how this all pans out.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON is up next!

-Carson sits down with Hannah and Pharrell. When asked if she thought she’d ever make it this far, Hannah responds with an enthusiastic “No”. She recalls waiting for Pharrell to turn his chair, while Pharrell talks about what a tremendous artist she’s grown into. Hannah fights back tears when talking about what her schoolkids mean to her, making her all the more endearing, to me. She’ll be singing a virtually unrecognizable version of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, essentially turning it into a dirge. I love this arrangement. It’s downright haunting, and it’s the sort of thing I think Hannah needs to do in order to stand out and potentially finish higher than anyone is expecting her to.

-This is easily one of my favorite reinterpretations of any song I’ve heard on a reality singing show this year. It’s so radically different from just about any other version of this song I’ve ever heard on a show like this. It takes a song choice that’s fairly common, and completely reinvents it into something that could be an entirely new record. And Hannah’s voice is distinctive and gorgeous on this, with soulfulness and a bit of bluesy styling towards the end. I adored this.

-Adam admits he’s very protective of that song since he loves it so much. He was scared and almost kind of mad, because it was so different. But he absolutely loved what Hannah did with it, and asks if it’s an existing version of the song. Pharrell states that it was all Paul Mirkovich. Regardless, Adam thinks Hannah is badass. Blake agrees, thinking she did a great job with the new arrangement. Pharrell gets the crowd cheering for Paul Mirkovich for his genius new arrangement, before praising Hannah for her talent, grace and humility. I think if Hannah keeps it up, she could surprise people and find herself in the Top 2.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Hannah Huston Completely Reinvents ‘Every Breath You Take’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI AND ADAM LEVINE are up next!

-Laith will be teaming with Adam for a medley of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” by The Beatles, with Laith on guitar (where else?) and Adam on drums. It starts out really sweetly, although I think hearing Adam’s voice makes Laith’s sound strangely gruff inadequate by comparison. Still, I think both men do a good job with the duet. And it gets better when they switch from “Golden Slumbers” to “Carry That Weight”, and Adam leaves the drums behind (after an awesome solo!) to join Laith on guitar. The two jam out together and deliver a really impressive performance. I really enjoyed this.

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA are up next!

-Alisan will be teaming with Christina for a duet of “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King. It really is a perfect song for the two of them, as it matches their different sensibilities perfectly without forcing either singer out of her wheelhouse. Christina can do her excessive runs and Alisan can deliver her more subtle, folksy interpretation to the song. This isn’t to say Alisan doesn’t do her fair share of runs herself, but I think she’s done a great job tonight of reining in her more histrionic tendencies and serving up impressively nuanced, subtle performances.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!

-Blake gushes about Adam and notes how even though he’s promoting his own album, half the questions he gets are still about Adam. Blake is particularly impressed by Adam’s original song, asking what his inspiration was. Adam admits it’s not really about anybody, it’s just a representation of who he is as an artist. He just wrote the song, simple as that. Honestly, if a song like “Lonesome, Broken and Blue” is a fair representation of Adam as an artist, then I’m totally on-board with supporting him when this show is over, because this song sounds awesome.

-I’m of two minds on this performance. On the one hand, I positively ADORE this song. It’s just so beautiful and well-written. On the other hand, I don’t know if Adam wasn’t loud enough, or if the sound engineers messed this one up, but it was kind of hard to hear Adam in places. His voice is so beautiful and rich, and I wish we’d been able to hear it more fully. Still, I’m pretty high on this song overall. Loving what Adam has been doing the past few weeks.

-Pharrell loves hearing what Adam would do as an artist, and praises his performance and artistry. After ragging on the audience for their terrible clapping skills, Adam Levine gives it up for Adam by declaring how impressed he was with the song, adding that he loves how the artists are writing their own songs this season. Blake ADORED the first line of the song, and compares Adam’s song to something Keith Whitley might have written in the 90s. Not a bad comparison, actually. As we head to break, we go behind the scenes of Adam’s music video for this song. Doesn’t really look like it matches the song. You’d think this track would feature a music video filmed a barn with late-day sunshine beaming through the slats in the woodwork. But here, he’s out at the flood canal in Bull Creek in the San Fernando Valley. I half-expected to see the chase scene from T2 or the race from the end of Grease to continue in the background.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON AND PHARRELL WILLIAMS are up next!

-Hannah teams with Pharrell for a duet of “Brand New” by Pharrell and Justin Timberlake. It’s one of my favorite songs from Justin’s last album, so my expectations were pretty high. Unfortunately, those expectations weren’t really met. Neither singer seemed that comfortable with the vocal range of the song. Still, it was a cute performance, such as Hannah directing Pharrell to check the tag on her shirt during the “Like the tag’s still on it” line. Sure, I didn’t love the song, but I love the friendship between these two.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: LAITH AL-SAADI is up next!

-Adam and Laith are in the studio, recording Laith’s original song, “Morning Light”. Laith notes how the song is about trying to hold onto your love for someone when you know the relationship just isn’t going to work out. He aptly compares its vibe to “Georgia On My Mind”, and the melodies do seem to be of a similar variation. Laith also points out how he wrote the song specifically to allow for some sweet guitar licks. It’s an exceptionally well-written song, and I fully expect this to be one of Laith’s best performances.

-Wow, this is really a fantastic song. I know I’ve been hard on Laith’s vocals in the past, but this is one of his most emotional vocals. Hell, he even scaled back a bit of the musicianship to allow his voice to take center stage. He really did write the perfect song, and I think it speaks volumes for how great this finale has been that I seriously can’t decide whose performance I liked best.

-Christina praises Laith for the slow-jam vibe of his song, while Pharrell encourages America to go buy that song now. Adam, meanwhile, states that Laith is his favorite singer in the competition because he plays music for the right reasons, and he fills the room with joy. Ultimately, he says, that’s what music is all about: making yourself happy and making other people happy. We get a behind-the-scenes look at Laith’s music video, which was filmed in Chinatown. Looks pretty cool.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Laith Al-Saadi Delivers Personal Best With ‘Morning Light’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: ADAM WAKEFIELD is up next!

-Carson sits down with Adam and Blake, recalling some of his best performances from the show, particularly his take on Blake’s “I’m Sorry”, which Blake himself admits Adam sang better than he did. Adam is still trying to accept that he actually charted that high on iTunes, sitting just below Justin Timberlake. He’s come a long way in this competition, and he considers his “I’m Sorry” to be the best performance he’s ever given. Tonight, he’ll be singing “When I Call Your Name” by Vince Gill, and although Blake feels Adam should keep it closer to Vince’s original phrasing, he seems pretty high on Adam’s potential with this performance. And I don’t blame him for that. This is exactly the kind of song Adam does best.

-I could easily see this charting pretty high for Adam. I’m genuinely impressed by his ability to make every song sound like something he wrote himself. There’s a distinctiveness to Adam’s voice that makes him one of Blake’s best contestants ever, in my opinion. His delicate touch with the piano, his subtle phrasing on some of the lyrics, and his interpretations of each note are just beautiful. I truly loved this, and I thought he earned Blake’s standing ovation.

-Christina loves what Adam does up there, and admits she’s enjoyed every one of his performances. She says his ad-libs and runs are always so accurate, and he always does something interesting with them. Adam Levine thinks Adam has such amazing taste, to make the runs when he makes them and to hold back when he needs to. He thinks Adam has the most impeccable taste, the way he puts together a song. Blake, meanwhile, struggles to express how happy he is for Adam. He feels people across the country know what Adam just did with an iconic Vince Gill song. “You just blew the roof off this place, dude. Congratulations,” Blake says.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Adam Wakefield Stuns With ‘When I Call Your Name’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: HANNAH HUSTON is up next!

-Hot damn, this song is AMAZING! “I Call the Shots” sounds like something that could be a radio hit right this minute. Interestingly, the video package focuses less on Hannah’s journey and more on her recording of the song, and how she and Pharrell work together producing it. It’s one of the most fascinating video packages of this season, and it helped me to fall in love with the song almost instantly, because I could see the sort of work that went into it.

-This song is so badass, with a driving drum beat that gives this song attitude. And hearing how Hannah tackles it makes me think she’s this season’s best shot at a major popstar. Seriously, this song could be on the radio NOW. Hannah sounds positively incredible on this, like someone who’s already sold a million records. I need this song in my library. I NEED THIS SONG IN MY LIBRARY.

-Adam thought this was one of the coolest things he’s seen on the show, while Pharrell calls the performance “awesome”. He tells Hannah what a pleasure it’s been to work with her throughout this season, and felt gratified to see her realize that she can be humble but still feel like she deserves to be here, because she does. We get a behind-the-scenes look at Hannah’s music video, and it’s the best of the four videos, from the looks of things, as it has a 60s/70s vibe to it. Totally seems like something Amy Winehouse would have done.

TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA: ALISAN PORTER closes the show!

-Carson sits with Alisan and Christina as they go over her journey, particularly her meteoric rise through the iTunes charts after performing Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold”. Carson reminds everyone that no female coach has ever won, which Alisan thinks it crazy, although she feels a wee bit of pressure. She fears she might screw it all up, but Christina insists she won’t. Alisan will be singing “Somewhere” from West Side Story, and they both agree that THIS is the finale song.

-This is exactly as beautiful as I was expecting it to be. I love what Alisan did with this. She didn’t change it up too much, she just did a gorgeous, straightforward rendition of an iconic song. It might be blasphemous to say so, but this easily rivals Barbra Streisand’s version of this song, for me. Definitely the perfect final impression to leave in the audience’s mind as the season comes to an end, even if this isn’t the most contemporary song in the world. With that said, it’s still a bit early for the pyro shower she gets at the end of this.

-Adam congratulates Alisan on her success in this competition, while Christina actually fights back tears when talking about how much Alisan deserves to win this competition, and how hard she’s worked to make it this far. Alisan and Christina embrace, in one of the more emotional moments between contestant and coach in the history of this show.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Alisan Porter Brings Christina Aguilera to Tears With ‘Somewhere’ on The Voice 2016 (VIDEO)

-Aaaand that’s a wrap! I think it’s going to be a close one! The iTunes numbers should be interesting tomorrow, if nothing else. But who do you think will win Season 10? Sound off in the comments below!

Until tomorrow night, thank you for reading and hanging out!

GOODNIGHT!

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