‘The Voice’ Final 4: Emily Ann Roberts to Challenge Jordan Smith for Crown

The Voice - Season 9

… And then there were four. Going into the final performances of this Voice season, we have longtime frontrunner Jordan Smith representing Team Adam, Team Gwen‘s rapidly gaining dark horse Jeffery Austin and Team Blake‘s future country superstars Barrett Baber and Emily Ann Roberts. We hope they’ve saved their best for last, and over the span of two hours each artist will perform three times. We learn at the top of the broadcast that the four finalists will perform their song of choice, one holiday tune and a duet with their coach. So let’s see how The Voice Final Four approached the finale and who has the edge going into the voting.

Jordan Smith (Team Adam) – Jordan opened the night with the inspirational song “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music. It’s a fitting choice given his journey on the show and as we learn later, it also hits Gwen Stefani right where it counts as she starts to well up at his performance of one of her favorite songs from the production. Jordan in his tuxedo jacket is flanked by a string section, which backs his subtle opening and brings strength to the performance as he builds in intensity. The track has a climactic finish with Jordan backed by a full-on choir while a fireworks shower douses the stage from above. Blake says, “There’s nothing left to say anymore,” while Pharrell asks for a standing ovation and Adam praises Jordan’s humble belief in himself.

Jordan’s second performance is his duet with Adam. His coach reveals that the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” is what he feels to be the best song ever written. It’s an interesting performance, but we’re not sure it did anything to advance Jordan as most of the song featured the pair harmonizing rather than Jordan barely getting to take the lead and Adam’s voice mostly ruling out of Jordan’s during the harmonizing.

Jordan completes his three song run with the holiday song “Mary Did You Know.”  It’s a fairly simple production, with Jordan allowed to sing and his voice is left to shine. He’s greeted with a growing standing ovation from the crowd after the powerful song.  Pharrell says the people are just ready for Jordan to make a record. Adam reveals he had never heard the song before and it was Jordan’s idea to change it at the last minute. He reveals that it was absolutely the right choice to perform the song.

Emily Ann Roberts (Team Blake) – Emily Ann’s first performance of the night is her holiday song, taking on the classic “Blue Christmas.” As she stands aboard a blue snowflake-designed stage, the arrangement has the country twang we’ve come to love from Emily’s sound and her voice almost hits a yodel-like quality at one point. It’s a decent performance, but one that grows in substance toward the end as Emily Ann takes a few liberties to showcase her vocal power. It definitely ends on a high note. Pharrell says Emily Ann has a classic voice and a promising career ahead of her. Adam says that he can tell that Emily Ann is the real deal. Blake credits her range and says that her songs start simple but always ramp up in power.

For Emily Ann’s second performance, it’s time for her duet and she chooses the crowd pleasing Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton classic “Islands in the Stream” to sing with Coach Blake. Their performance is smooth and playful, with Emily Ann’s confidence at an all-time high as she appears to be in her comfort zone.

Emily Ann gets the final performance of the night with her solo song. She performs Cam’s “Burning House.” Emily performs in front of a doorway set ablaze, and digs deep to pull out the emotion of the track. It has the type of build, string backing and as Blake said prior, the bar-raising climactic build that could win her the whole thing. All four coaches rise to their feet as Pharrell mouths the word “Flawless.” Gwen credits her ability to deliver the intention of the lyric. Blake predicts that she might have just pulled an upset.

Barrett Baber (Team Blake) – Barrett gets to start off his night teaming up with Coach Blake Shelton on a duet. They dig into Glen Campbell’s classic country hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Barrett feels the lyric encapsulates his journey in trying to make it in the music industry. Blake opens the performance, walking through the audience and Barrett matches him in terms of the vocals. Both seem to be enjoying the performance and Barrett gets a chance to shine even though this is a duet.

For his second performance, Barrett picks Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man” for his solo track. Blake feels it’s perfect because it showcases his soulful side as well as a country vibe. Barrett performs on a set that looks like a boat peer, playing guitar and exuding the blend of power and soul needed to make this a standout performance, but it isn’t really until the end of the track that he has a “big” moment. While a perfectly good country song, we’re not sure it has the wow moment needed to win him the whole thing. Once again, Gwen is crying and gets emotional over his performance. Adam says he’s been a fan from Day One. Blake says that every performance is just filled with heart.

Barrett finishes out his night by taking on the Christmas favorite “Silent Night,” decked out in a black suit while Christmas lights, fake snow and a choir surround him. It’s not a traditional performance of the track, with Barrett adding a little more soul flavor to the classic. When the choir comes in, it truly becomes a powerful rendition and ranks up there with his other performances of the evening. Blake credits him for putting his own spin on the track.

Jeffery Austin (Team Gwen) – The last performer to take the stage starts off his evening doing his holiday song. His choice is “O Holy Night,” a song that fits the richness of his voice well. He performs on a candle and chandelier lit stage, backed by a choir who flank him in church pews. Though technically solid, the performance more shows the power of his voice than providing a showcase for his range. Once again, Gwen is moved to tears. Adam says that Jeffery has a sweet spot in his voice that shakes the rafters. Gwen thanks Jeffery for his performance.

For his solo performance, Jeffery attempts to dig into the country audience which is likely supporting Barrett and Emily Ann by choosing Sugarland’s “Stay.” Performing against the backdrop of red velvet curtains, Jeffery connects to the raw emotion of the track and the backing string arrangement adds to the performance. As the curtain lifts to reveal an orchestra, it’s a powerful moment. Jeffery has some “wow” moments within the performance in which his powers really cut through. It’s they type of song and delivery that could help him win it all. Blake smiles and says, “I like you doing country,” and tells him that he’s come the farthest and has made everyone a believer. Pharrell says he’s inspirational to others. And Gwen says he’s the real thing and is going to have a great career. She proclaims, “First girl to win,” and it’s possible that this performance will make Coach Gwen prophetic.

Jeffery’s final performance of the night is his duet with Coach Gwen, performing the Stevie Nicks-Don Henley classic “Leather and Lace.” Jeffery does a solid job, but once again, we’re not sure that this duet serves him well as there’s more Gwen than needed given that this should be more of Jeffery’s showcase. He’s definitely committed to the performance and shines during his moments, but a different song could have provided a better showcase.

Our Rankings –

Solo Songs
1. Emily Ann Roberts – “Burning House”
2. Jeffery Austin – “Stay”
3. Jordan Smith – “Climb Every Mountain”
4. Barrett Baber – “Die a Happy Man”

1. Emily Ann Roberts & Blake Shelton – “Islands In the Stream”
2. Jordan Smith & Adam Levine – “God Only Knows”
3. Barrett Baber & Blake Shelton – “Rhinestone Cowboy”
4. Jeffery Austin & Gwen Stefani – “Leather and Lace”

Christmas Song
1. Jordan Smith – “Mary Did You Know”
2. Barrett Baber – “Silent Night”
3. Jeffery Austin – “O Holy Night”
4. Emily Ann Roberts – “Blue Christmas”

Prediction: Jordan Smith wins based on the overall body of work from the season, but Emily Ann Roberts may have closed the gap enough to pull the upset and if fans are voting solely on Monday’s performances, she could win.

Tune in Tuesday at 8PM ET on NBC to find out who wins The Voice crown.

The Voice - Season 9
THE VOICE — Pictured: Jordan Smith — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

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