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A look back at Monday night's "The Voice" competition and look ahead to Tuesday's season finale. NBC's Mark Barger reports.
For "The Voice's" top three, there was nothing to be done Tuesday but wait.
One of the trio of contestants left standing for this week's finale — country balladeer Danielle Bradbery, indie-pop belter Michelle Chamuel and down-home duo the Swon Brothers — is set to be crowned "The Voice" on Tuesday night.
But in true "Voice" fashion, that won't come without plenty of fanfare first, courtesy not just of their ballooning fanbases but also of some pop starpower. The likes of Bob Seger and erstwhile "Voice" coach Christina Aguilera, among others, will perform on Tuesday's show.
On Monday, the three finalists got three chances apiece to make their closing arguments for why they should win the whole shebang, hoping they'd yield a charm come Tuesday.
Team Usher's indie-pop sensation Michelle was up against two Team Blake country acts, Danielle and the Swons. But if there were any rivalries heading into the show's finale, they weren't evident Monday night.
The coaches themselves struck the collaborative tone at the show's opening, kicking off the two hours of performances with a take on the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends," a nod to their cover of "Come Together" at the start of the season.
And indeed, with a little help from their coaches-turned-friends — at least in the case of newfound BFFs Usher and Michelle — the final three contestants showed in their performances that they were more than getting by.
Each one performed a duet with their coach, another version of the song their coach deemed their breakout song on the show this season and finally one last new song.
The Swon Brothers, who have earned the distinction of being the first duo to make it to "The Voice" finals, were up first with a cover of the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why" — debuting a new soft-rock falsetto and breaking with their country roots for the occasion.
"All that I think was missing was, like, the third Bee Gee," Usher remarked, adding that he enjoyed seeing the pair's sound evolve. And Adam praised the performance, despite his criticism of the last Eagles song the duo performed. "It's a really tall order to do one of their songs, and you guys did a great job."
Next, Michelle was up, not with a new song, but with the song her coach Usher thought had been her breakout performance on the show. That had come, he said, when she performed Taylor Swift's hit "Trouble" fresh off a surprise visit to rehearsals from Swift herself.
Again, Michelle gave an electric, and electrifying, take on the song, and again, her coach rivaled the audience for sheer enthusiasm, rocking out as he grinned.
Afterward, as the cheers from the audience refused to die down, the coaches marveled at her energy on-stage — Shakira called it "extraordinary" — and the excitement she inspired in her fans. "What cannot be reproduced is that when you're up there, people are screaming so loud that our ears hurt," Adam said of the screaming fans — as Usher added, "You can't have that many relatives."
Next Danielle and her coach Blake delivered a sweet but powerful take on the Patty Loveless song "Timber, I'm Falling in Love," though there was the inevitable slight creepiness of a grown man singing a love song to a 16-year-old.
Team Blake's other finalists the Swon Brothers were back up next, this time delivering their breakout performance from the season: Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song," a tune that in their hands had won over even the country nonbelievers among the coaches the first time around.
"It's almost like I disappeared for a moment," Usher told them Monday of how their performance affected him. "Wow, what an incredible rendition, man. It's amazing."
Michelle returned next to tackle "Why" by Annie Lennox — a song she hadn't performed before, and one she knew would be a tall task. "This song is pure emotion. It's a big challenge that Usher thinks I can live up to, and I do not want to let him down," she said.
Michelle began performing a stripped-down, fragile take on the emotionally heady song — singing into what appeared a mirror, a la her take on "True Colors" earlier in the season, but turned out to be a computer image of herself.
The coaches thanked Michelle for giving them a rare chance to see her trade her high-energy rock-outs for vulnerable crooning, and they said her knack for both was testament to her talent. "Likeability and capability," Usher told her. "To me, that is what represents a true artist, and that is what you possess."
Next, the Swon Brothers took the stage with their coach to perform alongside him in a sort-of duet, if the duo counts as a single singer. They delivered a rollicking take on Brad Paisley's tongue-in-cheek homage to fame "Celebrity," in just the sort of good-humored performance the Swon Brothers have patented.
Team Blake's other finalist Danielle's turn came next to remind her audiences of her breakout performance on the show. And although Blake said it had been hard to pick one such performance for the teen since she'd had so many, he opted to have her sing the Pam Tillis hit "Maybe It Was Memphis" again.
Danielle turned in just the sort of plaintive, pure belt that has earned her such a loyal following, her clear voice the perfect match for the song's litany of Southern Americana tropes.
"You've grabbed the bull by the horns — no pun intended," said Shakira, donning a leather cowboy hat by way of support for the singer. (Never a partisan, she had also waved a "Go Okies" flag for the Swon Brothers and donned thick-rimmed glasses for Michelle.) That praise was nothing next to Adam's; he flat-out predicted Danielle would win the thing, to Usher's chagrin.
And just a night before two of the show's remaining acts were bound to head home empty-handed, that was just what Danielle and her competitors needed.
Not that home didn't have its own charms — a point made by the finalists' performance just then of the jangly indie-pop anthem "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Joining in for the choruses were all the rest of the top 16 from this season on "The Voice" — from the singers sent packing during live shows to recent runners-up like Sasha Allen and Amber Carrington.
After the crowds had left the stage, just two took to it: Michelle and her coach Usher, whose bond over the course of the season had strengthened into a meaningful friendship. With Usher predicting more duets in the future, the pair gave a soulful, ferocious take on U2's "One."
Closing out the night was Danielle, the show's youngest finalist and likely frontrunner — at least if you asked Adam and whoever decided to give the teen the plum final spot of the night. As she performed the closest thing she has performed yet this season to an uptempo song, Danielle's nerves over the pacing of Sara Evans' "Born to Fly" gave way to her trademark breezy confidence as she lived up to the song's name.
"Your perfection is almost boring me at this point," Adam told her. Her own coach was more strictly positive in his praise. "I'm one of the millions of people out there that you've got wrapped around your finger," Blake said. "Thank God you came to 'The Voice' to debut yourself."
"The Voice" will crown one of its three finalists the winner at its finale on Tuesday at 8/7c.