Was there an obvious winner in last night's performance finale of Season Three of The Voice? Yes. Yes there was. But before we get to him/her, it was an entertaining episode full of weird fashion choices, self-indulgent rock star fantasies and inexplicable mini-mes, all of which deserving mentioning for one reason or another. Here's a rundown of the highs and lows from tonight's festivities.
BEST WAY TO INCREASE NBC'S INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE: NICHOLAS DAVID'S FIERY PIANO
Yes, that piano was quite literally on FI-IIIIIRE as Nicholas David performed a mashup of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" and Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" in the show opener. Didn't seem particularly safe—for the piano, especially—but we're sure that Alicia Keys' stage director got fired last night for not having come up with that idea first just the same.
BEST DEEP-DISCOGRAPHY DIGGING: CASSADEE POPE
"Coming up, Cassadee Pope performs a Sheryl Crow hit!" "All I Wanna Do?" "Leaving Las Vegas?" "If It Makes You Happy," maybe? Nope: Pope opted for forgotten 2002 "hit" "Steve McQueen" (Hot 100 peak: #88), megaphone solo and all. It was an inspired choice for Pope, and it wouldn't be surprising if people reminded of the song's existence for the first time in a decade sent it back into the iTunes Top 100 by this time tomorrow A.M.
WORST WAY TO STEAL ATTENTION FROM THE CONTESTANTS: CHRISTINA AGUILERA
Her tiny hat may have grown in size since the first season of The Voice, but it's still nothing more than a silly conversation piece, not something we should drop everything to focus on. Carry on, folks.
BEST HOMAGE TO WHITNEY HOUSTON IN THE BODYGUARD: CASSADEE POPE
A dress made of mirrors, the former indie rocker revisited "Over You," causing Blake to applaud the emotion contained within her vocals, even more affecting in light of the Sandy Hook tragedies.
WORST TASTE IN MUSIC: TERRY MCDERMOTT'S KID
Yeah yeah, touching and all that Terry would want to sing his kid's favorite song for his finale performance. But seriously: Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings"?? You'd be hard-pressed to find a large number of '80s survivors willing to go to bat for that crappy song, much less a member of the next generation. Somebody get that poor child a Grouplove album or something.
BEST WAY TO BUTT INTO FAMILY BUSINESS: BLAKE SHELTON
Terry McDermott hasn't seen his father in four years, so his compassionate coach (and those with control over NBC's checkbook) decided to stage a little family reunion before the finale. Say hi to grandpa, Liam! This is, of course, in addition to inviting Cassadee's family over for a hangout sesh as well. Gosh dang it, Blake. We love you even more now.
BEST AXL ROSE IMPRESSION: ADAM LEVINE
Adam showed up to play guitar during Terry and Blake's live rendition of "Dude Looks Like a Lady," shirtless, with the recognizable hair and headband of the GNR front man. Hey, a guy without a team has to do something to pass the time. Plus, the 100% ROCKIN' memory will give him comfort next time he's on stage singing "She Will Be Loved" and "Payphone" for the millionth time.
WORST BACK-HANDED COMPLIMENTING OF A CONTESTANT: ADAM LEVINE AND BLAKE SHELTON:
For poor Terry McDermott, whose performances of "Broken Wings" just wasn't very good. Levine's appraisal of the former was to give him kudos for recovering after starting super-out-of-tune (gee, thanks Adam) while Blake played the whole Nobody Realizes How Hard That Is To Do card, the last resort of the coach with nothing nice to say. (He also asked the audience rhetorically if his ears were bleeding, which was somehow supposed to be a compliment.) Sorry, Terry—it just wasn't your night.
WORST HOLIDAY ENSEMBLE: NICHOLAS DAVID
Too many reds on greens on reds does not a festive outfit make. Adam liked it ("You look like a principal!") but probably because he's had fantasies of being sent to the principal's office.
BEST "HEY, ISN'T THIS CRAZY THAT I'M HERE AND DOING THIS?" COUNTENANCE: NICHOLAS DAVID
Fashion choices aside, you had to respect Nicholas David's sheer bemusedness at the entire experience of the Voice finale. While most reality show contestants can't stop emoting about how overwhelming it is to be on said reality show, Davis just seemed tickled pink by the whole thing. Duetting with Cee Lo and his dancing mini-me clone? Far out. Doing comedy schtick with Adam Levine? All right, all right. Playing a piano on fire? Yeahhhh boy. David doesn't seem to particularly care if he wins or not, because he's too busy having the time of his life while he's there. Gotta love that.
BEST PERFORMANCE: CASSADEE POPE
And it's a good thing David doesn't seem to care all that much, because Cassadee basically has this thing all sewn up. She probably did before tonight, but with her stellar performance of Faith Hill's "Cry"—including a couple super-dazzling high notes at the end that easily trumped anything that came before them that evening—she put the final nails in McDermott and David's coffins. She'd be a worthy winner, and one with more commercial potential than any Voice finalist before her, so hopefully there'll be no hard feelings from the hair-helmeted classic-rocker and the blasé soulster with the hilarious beard.