(Jesse Larson, of Brooklyn Park, performed live on Monday's show. Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC)
The NBC show is called “The Voice.” Does that mean the winner should be the contestant with the best singing voice? The best all-around talent? The best entertainer? The most star power/potential?
Depending on your criteria, that could determine who will triumph in Season 12 on Tuesday.
Judging by Monday’s final live performances, Twin Cities’ own Jesse Larson might have the best voice. Soulful, sweet, pliable, potent, rangy, emotional.
There’s no question that Chris Blue is the best all-around talent at the moment.
Lauren Duski could become a country star by the end of the year..
But 15-year-old Aliyah Moulden – the youngest finalist ever – has the “It” factor.
In other words, it’s too difficult to predict who will be named the champ on Tuesday. The show will be broadcast from 8 to 10 p.m. on KARE Ch. 11, with special guest appearances by Miley Cyrus, Chris Stapleton, Zedd with Alessia Cara, Cee Lo Green, Gladys Knight, Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts, among others.
On Monday, each of the four finalists performed three numbers – a cover, an original and a duet with her/his coach.
The best original was Blue’s “Money on You,” a contemporary pop/soul tune with minimalist instrumentation, a dance beat and a slight reggae vibe with its guitar rhythm and vocal phrasing. It’s the kind of tune that would make Usher and Bruno Mars proud.
Duski’s “Déjà Vu,” which she wrote, could be a Nashville smash, suggesting Adele gone country with less vocal firepower.
Larson’s “Woman” is a well-crafted Southern soul ballad written by Stapleton (Larson had performed two Stapleton hits earlier in the season).
As for Moulden’s “Never Be Lonely,” file it under forgettable frothy pop-soul. But the teenager with youthful effervescence and an adult voice was convincing on “Dancing in the Street” with coach Blake Shelton and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
Larson’s gospelly soulful treatment of the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets” may have been the strongest cover on Monday whereas Blue’s dance-happy performance of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” (not a demanding vocal number) electrified the studio audience.
Duski’s rendition of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” lacked gravitas, and her interpretation of Hank Williams’ “There’s a Tear in My Beer” with Shelton was solid but unmemorable.
Duets of Prince tunes were inconsequential, with “Diamonds and Pearls” offered by Blue and coach Alicia Keys and “Let’s Go Crazy” delivered by Larson (playing a pink guitar on a smokin’ solo) and coach Adam Levine (playing a purple guitar).
So who takes the prize on Tuesday night?
It’s like trying to evaluate an MVP in sports. Is it the player of the year? The most valuable player on a winning team? The player who was most indispensable for his/her team?
We’ll see what “The Voice” viewers decide.