Danielle Bradbery was crowned winner of 'The Voice' Season 4 Tuesday, triumphing over unlikely underdogs Michelle Chamuel and the Swon Brothers.
So the underdog fell just short after all, and the front-runner stayed the course. Danielle Bradbery, a top seller and consensus favorite from the start, was crowned the fourth winner of "The Voice" Tuesday. Michelle Chamuel finished second, and another underdog act, the Swon Brothers, came in third.
And, since coaches and teams are constantly emphasized on the show, it should be noted that a member of Blake Shelton's team won for the third straight year. Blake had two of the top three; new coach Usher advised Michelle.
The Swons had defied the odds by surviving week after week, becoming the highest-ranked duo in the show's brief history, but no one expected them to finish higher than third. So it was no surprise that it finally came down to Michelle, whose gawky, awkward demeanor and dowdy eyewear made her the oddball favorite, and Danielle, a strictly conventional country singer who displayed an astonishing consistency and vocal skill for a 16-year-old.
Before that final showdown, of course, there was an awful lot of entertainment to enjoy (or endure, depending on your perspective). The finale of "The Voice" has grown to take on the proportions of the most lavish "American Idol" final spectaculars, so there were guest stars, comedy bits and "bring-back" performances that reunited many of the season's finalists.
Speaking of bring-backs, Christina Aguilera will supplant Shakira for Season 5, and she made a return to open the show along with Pitbull on their A-Ha-borrowing, lively smash "Feel This Moment." (It is interesting, in passing, that the only way Christina can get a hit these days is by singing choruses on OPH – other people's hits. Mariah Carey is more or less in the same situation, except she gets top billing even when guest artists do most of the work.)
During a round of otherwise routine generalities from the coaches, Adam Levine semi-retracted his prediction from Monday that Danielle would win. A needless hedge, as it turned out.
The Swon Brothers brought out two of their teammates, Holly Tucker and early casualty Justin Rivers, along with Adam's country-oriented Amber Carrington, to sing one of Lady Antebellum's livelier efforts, "Stars Tonight."
Michelle dueted with One Republic singer Ryan Tedder on the new "Counting Stars," possibly the group's best song to date, and she blended in admirably.
The funniest of several comedy bits, which I hope you'll pardon me for not recounting in their entirety (you should actually thank me for my restraint), was an exaggerated re-creation by Blake of some of Usher's more unorthodox coaching methods.
Florida Georgia Line were joined by Nelly for the pop-crossover version of their banal country blockbuster "Cruise." Finalists Garrett Gardner, Vedo, Kris Thomas and Josiah Hawley made a valiant attempted Temptations move, singing "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" fairly well and even trying out some of the Tempts' tamer choreographed routines.
Danielle brought back Sarah Simmons, the long-lost Caroline Glaser, and Amber again to launch an enjoyable four-part assault on Carrie Underwood's "All-American Girl." Bruno Mars showed the show's faux Temptations how retro R&B should be performed with his own "Treasure," a fine visual spectacle although it sounds better on record.
Well into the show's two-hour span by now, there were still more performances remaining before results were revealed. The Swons were able to attract the elusive TV presence of Bob Seger for an affectionate-seeming duet on the latter's "Night Moves." Also-ran contestants Karina Iglesias and Cathia, along with the more successful Judith Hill and Sasha Allen, combined for perhaps the night's top performance, a sultry version of the great En Vogue tune "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)."
After the top three were surprised by the gift of new Kias, Danielle teamed with Hunter Hayes, who did his best Keith Urban Jr. impression on "I Want Crazy." Michelle brought back her Usher teammates Cathia, Josiah and Vedo for an inconsequential cover of Stevie Wonder's inconsequential cover of the Beatles' consequential "We Can Work It Out."
The final performance slot went to Cher and her new, contemporary-sounding single, "A Woman's World," which continually reminded me of, for some reason, Robin S's now-obscure '90s dance-pop hit "Show Me Love." What an interesting way to celebrate one's mid-sixties.
And at last, the results were revealed, falling out along the lines of most viewers' expectations, if not necessarily their hopes. Danielle was congratulated, confetti rained from the ceiling, and the new winner attempted a reprise of her final Monday song, "Born to Fly," managing to get about three words out before emotions overcame her.
Danielle's "Voice" victory is the first for a flat-out country artist – last year's winner, Cassadee Pope, was a pop-rocker who leaned increasingly toward country under Blake's tutelage. She's certain to make waves in Nashville, which already has enjoyed a particularly bountiful harvest from the TV contests over the last year with "X Factor" winner Tate Stevens and "American Idol" runner-up Kree Harrison. Danielle likely has the greatest commercial potential of any of the TV newcomers.
Michelle's future is less certain, as it may prove difficult capturing her TV-performance lightning in a recorded bottle. The right material will be crucial, and she may be able to supply some of it, having put out several releases of original material in the past. But it remains to be seen whether her new popularity can be sustained over the long term.
Prospects may be brighter for the Swon Brothers, who would seem to have a good shot at a Nashville deal themselves. With continuing support from Blake (who has been generous to his team in the past), they could well be heard from again.
"The Voice" has been notably unsuccessful at turning its top contestants into stars thus far. This season's crop may change all that.
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