Reality TV

The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – Live Finale Performances (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “Live Finale, Part 1”! Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Pharrell Williams lead their artists into battle for the final performance show of the season! America will decide the winner, but first, the contestants are going to leave it all out on the stage!

But what will the finalists sing? Check out the song spoilers with iTunes links below:

Team Adam Levine
Joshua Davis, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (iTunes)
Joshua Davis, “The Workingman’s Hymn” by Joshua Davis [Winner’s Single] (iTunes)
Joshua Davis and Adam Levine, “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon (iTunes)

Team Pharrell Williams
Sawyer Fredericks, “Old Man” by Neil Young (iTunes)
Sawyer Fredericks, “Please” by Ray LaMontagne [Winner’s Single] (iTunes)
Sawyer Fredericks and Pharrell Williams, “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft (iTunes)

Koryn Hawthorne, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown (iTunes)
Koryn Hawthorne, “Bright Fire” [Winner’s Single] (iTunes)
Koryn Hawthorne and Pharrell Williams, “We Can Work it Out” by The Beatles (iTunes)

Team Blake Shelton
Meghan Linsey, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge (iTunes)
Meghan Linsey, “Change My Mind” [Winner’s Single] (iTunes)
Meghan Linsey and Blake Shelton, “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin (iTunes)

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.

The Voice 8 - Live Blog and Recap - Live Finale Performances (VIDEO)

Credit: NBC

Let’s get this show on the road!

RECAP

-We speed through the introductions, as we’ve got nine competition performances to get through tonight. And up first is one of Pharrell’s two finalists…

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KORYN HAWTHORNE opens the show!

-Koryn recaps her journey with Pharrell and Carson, from her beginnings as a pizza shop worker who sings at an old folks’ home in her free time, to her time on the show getting saved by Pharrell. We also see some of her best performances, such as “Make It Rain” before learning that she’ll be singing “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. In rehearsals, this sounds like a perfect song choice for her, although I swear I’ve heard more girls sing those on singing competitions than dudes. It’s to the point where I find myself forgetting it’s even a James Brown song.

-Koryn sounds terrific here. I’d argue she has the second-best overall resume of performances of the four finalist after Sawyer, as she’s been very consistent. Even though she often pushes her voice, the tone is hard to really argue with, especially here. Of course, one of the big positives of this performance here is that she gets to sing the whole song, and not just a truncated version. She allows the story to build, and her vocal along with it. It’s a very complete performance, and one of Koryn’s very best. Pharrell is on his feet repeatedly throughout the performance, which isn’t all that surprising, but it’s rare that I see him THIS excited.

-Adam says all four coaches are unbelievably proud of Koryn, while Blake says that performance proves why Koryn deserves to be in this finale. He adds that it was her best performance yet. Christina is thrilled Koryn made it to the finals, and hopes she had the best time of her life. She throws in a lament over having let Koryn go, but she seems happy that Koryn ultimately ended up with Pharrell. Pharrell, meanwhile, asks when the last time we’ve seen a young woman control a band and control the sound in the room like that. He talks about how proud he is of Koryn, and how honored he is to have her on his team. “I feel incredibly lucky and blessed, because you are something else.” Pharrell’s comments are always so touching.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Koryn Hawthorne sings ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-As we head to break, we get a skit in which Adam picks up Blake to give him a ride to work. Apparently, it’s a teaser for a longer skit that will air on tomorrow night’s finale.

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY is up next!

-Blake talks about how proud he is of Meghan, and how her journey has been the strangest of all the finalists, considering this is her second chance at making it in the music industry. Meghan talks about her original song, “Change My Mind”, which she wrote in a dark time in her life. She wants it to serve as a message to young girls about not changing who they are for anybody else. Blake likes the song in the studio, but he wants to feel every lyric. We see Meghan filming in the music video for the song, and she looks so achingly pretty. She’s like a blonde Betty Boop, but proportional. What? My analogies are tortured.

-While I don’t love the song, it absolutely does sound like a winner’s single. And Meghan sings the hell out of it, delivering all the soulfulness that Blake wanted her to. Hell, he’s standing up by the end of it, and applauding really enthusiastically, like he’s trying to revive Tinkerbell or something. The backdrop for the performance is also lovely, with the curtains and strings section, and the blue lighting. It was a performance that was as visually arresting as it was aurally pleasing.

-Christina asks her about the process of writing the song, and congratulates her on getting to perform it on the show. Adam, meanwhile, pats the show on the back for giving artists this platform to do their own songs (and, honestly, that IS one of the cooler things about this show. Still, it’s not like Alex Preston didn’t get to do his own song). Blake calls it a powerful performance, and applauds Meghan again for her vocal.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Meghan Linsey sings ‘Change My Mind’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-As we head to break, we get a look at Meghan’s music video for “Change My Mind”, and I love seeing these finalists in music videos that make them look like stars. Still, no song or music video from this show will ever top “Velvet” by Chris Jamison. That song deserved to be a HIT, man.

-Back from break in the Sprint Skybox with Rob Taylor, Hannah Kirby, Sonic and Nathan Hermida, as they answer Twitter questions about the finale. Meghan Trainor, Ed Sheeran, Kelly Clarkson and Luke Bryan, along with the entire Top 20 will be back to perform at the finale. You know, provided anyone picks Deanna Johnson to duet with.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: SAWYER FREDERICKS and PHARRELL WILLIAMS duet!

-Sawyer and Pharrell perform “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft, and it’s actually sort of bland. This song doesn’t really give either guy much to do with the vocal, and the arrangement isn’t particularly original either. To make matters worse, Pharrell’s mic is turned down way too low, while Sawyer sounds like he’s fighting the band for much of it. That said, I do like Sawyer’s tone, as this sort of easy, breezy track is right up his alley. But I wish Pharrell had chosen something else. There are plenty of easy, breezy tracks that are better than this.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS is up next!

-Joshua hangs out with Adam in the studio, and talks about the story behind “The Workingman’s Hymn”, the song he wrote that he’ll be performing tonight. He talks about writing a song that isn’t about just love and romance, but about something bigger. It’s about showing his family that great things are possible. They work on the track in the studio, and is it just me, or does Adam’s voice sound better on this song than Joshua’s? Granted, I don’t particularly like the song (like, at all), but I really thought Adam sounded great in that brief three-second snippet where he’s advising Joshua on how to tackle a run.

-Yeah, I really don’t care for this song at all. That said, it’s less to do with anything Joshua is doing with it than simply that it isn’t my type of song. I imagine his fans will eat this up, especially since he delivers a good vocal, and the lyrics are actually quite inspiring. I don’t know that this is the type of song that wins competitions, but then, I didn’t think “My Baby’s Got a Smile On Her Face” was either.

-Blake thinks Joshua is a great songwriter, saying that song is now stuck in his head. Adam thinks it’s an amazing step they’ve taken on the show for the artists to sing their own songs. He says this isn’t just Joshua writing a song, it’s Joshua writing a fantastic song. He wants America to vote for Joshua because he wrote this song, sang this song, and he’s simply the greatest. I wouldn’t go that far, but hey, it’d be weird if Adam wasn’t hyperbolic about his contestant.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Joshua Davis sings ‘The Workingman’s Hymn’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-As we head to break, we see a clip from Joshua’s music video for “The Workingman’s Hymn”, and it doesn’t look like this video fits the song at all.

-Back from break as Carson introduces some huge Voice fans who were given tickets to the finale and a $100 Starbucks gift card. Koryn reenacting Oprah’s “You get a car! You get a car!” bit is classic.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: SAWYER FREDERICKS is up next!

-Sawyer talks about what it means to him to have his first single be written by his idol, Ray LaMontagne, considering that he used to listen to him while working on the house back home. He thinks the song, “Please”, is absolutely beautiful, and we get to see clips from the music video, as Sawyer rides around indoors on an old-fashioned bicycle. We also see him recording the track in the studio, and yeah, this is totally written by Ray LaMontagne, in that it brings out the Ray LaMontagne quality in Sawyer’s voice. It’s a gorgeous track, and easily the best of the four winner’s singles. Easily. (EDIT: Forgot we haven’t heard Koryn’s yet. I suppose I’ll reserve judgment)

-In my opinion, this is Sawyer’s best performance of the season by a country mile, and one of the best winner’s singles this show has ever put out. This was beautifully tailored to Sawyer’s vocal stylings, and it’s probably the most comfortable he’s ever been while performing a song on this show. It just felt natural and right. I don’t know that this song is necessarily a hit, but it’s definitely a great winner’s single, worthy of a tearful confetti shower.

-Adam says that Ray LaMontagne writing a song for Sawyer would be like if Eddie Vedder wrote a song for Adam when he was 16. It would have blown his mind. So, in his opinion, Sawyer is a winner no matter what happens tomorrow. Pharrell agrees, saying it’s a dream come true. He shouts out Ray LaMontagne, and thanks him for writing Sawyer such a beautiful song. He also thanks the band, who played on the studio version of the song as well. Overall, Pharrell couldn’t be happier with how that all turned out.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Sawyer Fredericks sings ‘Please’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-As we head to break, we see clips from Sawyer’s music video, and man, even when he’s pleading with a girl to stay with him, he can’t help but smile from ear-to-ear. It’s kind of charming, actually.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KORYN HAWTHORNE and PHARRELL WILLIAMS duet!

-The pair sings “We Can Work It Out” by The Beatles, but it’s the Stevie Wonder version. And…yeah, it’s 0-2 for Pharrell on these duets. They look like they’re having a lot of fun, but I just didn’t care for this song choice, nor did I necessarily think it was the best vocal either of them has ever given. Still, the amount of fun they’re clearly having is almost enough to save it for me, honestly. They look like an uncle and niece getting down at a wedding after the band has bailed because the check bounced, and the reception needs entertainment. In a cute moment, Pharrell does the “I’m not worthy” bow to Koryn after the performance. Christina also gives them a standing ovation.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS is up next!

-Joshua recalls his journey on the show, talking to Carson about how he initially picked Blake after Adam delivered one of the most passionate “Pick Me!” pitches ever. However, Adam talks about his need to steal Joshua, which he ultimately did later in the competition. They also talk about his most successful performance, “Fields of Gold”, which delivered a quiet soulfulness they’re looking to recreate with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I went from loving this song from being completely worn out on it from countless years of seeing everyone and his mom sing this song whenever a contestant or a coach needed that last gasp “VOTE FOR ME! I WANT TO WIN, DAMN YOU!” push towards the finale. It’s the male answer to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and while I get why, I could do without hearing it every season.

-I was actually kind of disappointed with this. It was never as epic as other versions of the song have been, nor was it subtle enough to be considered a restrained take on the song. Also, from a sheer technical standpoint, this was one of Joshua’s weakest vocals of the entire competition. There were parts where he was just plain off-key (particularly at the end), and other parts where he was hoarse or inaudible. That said, I’m willing to add 10 points to this performance alone for his baby’s cute noise-canceling headphones. That man (and his beautiful wife, of course) make adorable children.

-Christina rambles to get around to the point that she liked what Joshua did, but to me, she seems slightly irked not to be a part of this finale beyond empty, faux-criticism. Adam is much more succinct, and way more positive, praising Joshua for what he did with the song. Still didn’t love it, but I do like Joshua. I mean, I say that a lot, but it’s stunning how there are never jerks on this show.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Joshua Davis sings ‘Hallelujah’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY and BLAKE SHELTON duet!

-The pair sings “Freeway of Love”, and much like Pharrell’s duet with Koryn, this is a lot of fun. But unlike either of Pharrell’s duets, this song actually allows the contestant to show off her vocals. It’s got a boisterous chorus that lets Meghan show off her strong upper register, while also allowing Blake to hang back and let Meghan take the spotlight. Seriously, this was barely a duet from how little Blake was actually on the track. And I like that. He wants his act to be the star, and she comes across as one here.

TEAM ADAM LEVINE: JOSHUA DAVIS and ADAM LEVINE duet!

-This was okay, I guess. The chorus is a nice touch, and again, there’s a lot to be said about how much seeing a coach and contestant have fun together improves a performance. But I just couldn’t get into this. Maybe it’s because there were a few moments in the vocal where, if I closed my eyes, I couldn’t tell the difference between Adam, Joshua, and Paul Simon, who wasn’t even there. These duets have basically been a complete wash this year.

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: KORYN HAWTHORNE is up next!

-Pharrell talks about getting a stroke of inspiration and writing “Bright Fire” for Koryn, noting that it feels like “sunshine” and represents “what God is to us.” While in the studio, Pharrell tells Koryn to imagine she’s in her favorite place to sing, back home in church. I don’t think it sounds that great during rehearsals, but the studio version they listen to afterwards is actually quite nice.

-Koryn sounds like Beyonce here. Or, at the very least, she has a very similar swagger. This is a fantastic single, and if it proves popular, it might be enough to catapult her to a higher finish than she would have had with a weaker song. Seriously, if you like this song, the only way to get it is if you buy Koryn’s version, so people who don’t even watch The Voice could end voting for her without even really meaning to. If nothing else, I’d say she deserves the vote. She feels like a star here. It doesn’t really work as a winner’s single, but it totally works as a single that’s ready for radio.

-Adam notes what a dream it must be for Koryn to have Pharrell write her a song, noting that he wants one of those too. He loved how well she performed that song, and how well it was written by her “too humble” coach. Christina says she always appreciates Koryn’s talent and her ability to use her full body to convey the performance. She says that while things didn’t work out for them when Koryn was on her team, she says Koryn wouldn’t be here if she didn’t land on Pharrell’s team. Pharrell gets emotional when noting that they finally did it, Koryn got to this point and got to perform her winner’s single, and he wants everyone in the studio to stand up for her.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Koryn Hawthorne sings ‘Bright Fire’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-As we head to break, we get a peek at Koryn’s music video, and it’s disco balls EVERYWHERE, ya’ll!

TEAM BLAKE SHELTON: MEGHAN LINSEY is up next!

-Oh, for crying out loud. Does Sawyer REALLY need to close the show AGAIN? Meghan recaps her journey on the show, including the 92nd reiteration of her backstory with Steel Magnolia and how this is her second chance. I’d argue this video package actually shows a minor regression, as I found her far more compelling in the early stages of the competition than I do now. But she’s still a really talented soul singer, so I can’t really front on her vocals. If nothing else, she’s fully committed to every song she’s given, which is more than can be said for some others in these types of competitions.

-Can I just say how much I love the set design? Having her perform on a rotating turntable is just such a wonderful little choice that helps make the performance distinctive and memorable without actually upstaging the artist. It helps that this is Meghan’s strongest performance of the night. Just really impressive, as the vocal builds to a crescendo, and she actually digs deeper with each subsequent verse and chorus. This is one of her most passionate vocals of the competition, I’d argue, and the perfect closing impression to leave in America’s mind before the finale vote.

-Pharrell says that her first run at a career didn’t go the way she wanted it to, but that she’s rewritten her entire career with her run on this show. Adam, meanwhile, compares Meghan’s voice to the gearbox on a car, noting that she has something extra to her voice that makes her very special. Blake agrees with Adam, saying that if there was a performance tonight that could change the course of events for the finale, it was that one right there. He calls it the performance of the night.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Meghan Linsey sings ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS: SAWYER FREDERICKS closes the show! Again! Big surprise!

-Sawyer recaps his journey, saying he was more nervous about the interviews surrounding his blind audition than the blind audition itself. Pharrell notes that he’s a music producer, and he loves watching anomalies like Sawyer happen. Carson states that Sawyer has had a single in the Top 10 every single week of the live shows, which is kind of insane. I have no idea if he’s going to be the show’s first huge success, but he has all the tools to make it happen. He’ll be singing “Old Man” by Neil Young, and Pharrell notices that the lyrics seem to have a lot of meaning to him. Sawyer talks about what the song means to him, and Pharrell is impressed with his heart. He says Sawyer’s heart is like a superhero’s cape, and Sawyer adds that this entire experience has made him a better artist and a better person.

-With all the guitars hanging behind him, it looks like Sawyer is in a guitar store. But that’s literally the only complaint I have about this (well, other than that random guy walking in front of the camera before the second verse). I thought this was a brilliant song choice for Sawyer, and a perfect lasting impression to leave with voters, much like Meghan’s last song was for her. Has he had better vocals? Yes. Hell, he had a better vocal tonight with “Please”. But this was still a damn fine performance. Overall, I’d argue Sawyer is the strongest artist in the competition in terms of star potential. Again, I can’t be certain he’ll be this show’s breakout star, but I’d say he has the best chance of any artist in several seasons.

-Adam says he’s not worried about Sawyer because he’s a great kid, but warns Sawyer not to ever lose sight of his purity, telling him he should always hold onto that because he’s the real deal. Christina remembers his blind audition, saying she was shocked when he picked Pharrell. But she was so glad that he did, because he’s a gem and Pharrell has brought out the best in him. Pharrell says that regardless of what happens, Sawyer is living the dream and he’s so proud to be near him as it happens.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: Sawyer Fredericks sings ‘Old Man’ on The Voice 2015 Finale (VIDEO)

-And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s show? Who were your favorites? And who’s going to win The Voice? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night’s finale, thank you so much for reading and hanging out! It’s been a blast!

For more on The Voice, such as performances, polls and more: The Voice

And for future updates on The Voice, follow me on Twitter: @NickRomanTV

Thanks again!

GOODNIGHT!

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