‘The Voice’ finished up this unusual season with three “remote” shows, just like “American Idol.”
But unlike “Idol,” NBC was scheduled separate performance and results shows for the finale. This way, the entire country was able to vote. “Idol” Sunday did live voting on the East Coast, which meant anybody voting on the West Coast had to do so without hearing the final songs.
Monday night’s “The Voice” performance finale featured five finalists for the first time, including two from Atlanta: pop/rock singer Micah Iverson and vocal powerhouse Toneisha Harris.
And while the “Idol” final five had zero Southerners, four out of five of “The Voice” singers reside in the South. Todd Tilghman hails from Mississippi and CammWess lives in South Carolina. (Thunderstorm Artis is currently in Portland, Oregon and hails from Hawaii.)
To open the show, the five finalists sang “Shine,” one of the biggest 1990s hits from Atlanta’s own rock act Collective Soul. It sounded sharp and looked good.
Each of the singers then performed two songs: a cover and an original penned either by the artist or professional songwriters with help from sister reality competition show “Songland.”
The top five are all great vocalists, and some could potentially have careers. They each showcased their strengths, and I’m having a hard time pinning down a sure winner. I believe it will come down to Todd Tilghman and Toneisha Harris with Todd winning. (I called it wrong on “Idol,” so maybe I’ll get it wrong again here!)
CammWess (Team Legend) "Purple Rain" Prince - He didn't shy away from this legendary song and did a nice job with different phrasing and tonal shifts than the original. It didn't supersede the original, but he did make it his own. The fog machine and post production spruced the visuals.
Todd Tilghman (Team Blake) "I Can Only Imagine" Mercyme - The pastor with eight kids actually auditioned first in Atlanta. He takes a Christian crossover hit and brings forth his full-throat spiritual intensity that is both joyful and pretty.
Micah Iverson (Team Kelly) "Butterflies" original - He picked this original song "Butterflies" for the melody. Producer Shane McAnally likes Micah's natural pop voice. Unfortuntely, he sounded a bit strained at points. But it's a great song with a strong chorus and hit potential.
Thunderstorm Artis (Team Nick) "Sedona" original - Thunderstorm wrote this tune about being in the mountains in Arizona. "I can listen to you for hours," said songwriter Ryan Tedder, who compared him to Ray LaMontagne, saying "less is more." The song has some lovely melodies, and his guitar riffs are mesmerizing. Thunderstorm vocally takes us on what what John Legend calls a magical trip.
Toneisha Harris (Team Blake) "Faithfully" Journey - Toneisha returns to the 1980s. She sang a Foreigner classic as her original audition. She injects cool gospel grooves into a relatively faithful version of the tune. Kelly compared her to Chaka Khan, and she was "intrigued" by Toneisha's vocal choices.
Todd (Team Blake) “Long Way Home” original - Shane McAnally and Ester Dean worked to help massage this into Todd’s own story. He brings heart and soul in his signature relatable way.
CammWess (Team Legend) “Save It To Tomorrow” original - This is CammWess’ song, and Ryan Tedder and Legend helped him refine it. It’s a very stripped down tune that feels like a John Legend hit. The vibe is very cool. I preferred this over his “Purple Rain.”
Micah (Team Kelly) “Chasing Cars” Snow Patrol - I find this song super dull, but it does fit in Micah’s wheelhouse. I’m not sure that performance will inspire votes.
Toneisha (Team Blake) “My Superhero” - She wrote the song for her son after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. Her performance is so touching, so personal. It might give her the win.
Thunderstorm Artis (Team Nick) “What a Wonderful World” Louis Armstrong - I thought this version was a bit too languid, too slow. But his supple voice kept the performance from falling apart, and the ending was sweet in the best way.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.