The Hollywood Finale of Jermaine Paul
So for the last three months, I renewed with the everyday man in me by sitting down, shutting up and watching people sing for two hours every Monday. Well, every Monday and Tuesday for the past month or so. Why have I done this? I really don't know. While I think THE VOICE was as manipulative as anything out there, I was thoroughly entertained by it and even intellectually stimulated. Once again, I'm not sure why. My guess is that the show employed some of Vince McMahon's old writers to extract every drop of drama from the formula. It worked. I'm not going to break down the entire season today. I'm planning to do a longer piece on this soon enough. I'm only going to break down the final. Why? Because I've been a fan of Joe Berkowitz's weekly recaps of this season in Rolling Stone and because I have things to say about it.
From the original 48 cast members chosen through the blind audition process (probably the most exciting and original part of the show), we were down to four. One representative per team. Blake Shelton had R&B machine with football player physique Jermain Paul, Christina Aguilera had...ugh...Opera singer Chris Mann, Cee-Lo Green had rocker and frontrunner Juliet Simms and last but not least, Adam Levin had former Mouseketeer turned folk/indie/whatever Tony Lucca. While I think some major talent was wasted in the elimination process *, This wasn't a bad combination to end the show with. Not at all. At least three of the four finalists had a rightful claim to be there.
If the final was so goddamn interesting, it's because the masks all fell down and we could admire how strategical the contestants had been. Jermaine Paul kicked off the night with a killer "I believe I can fly". That guy's been smart. He kept himself just one nose above the pack for all the show and just kept getting steadily better from week to week. He never had a bad performance ** and just constantly built up. I think he saved R. Kelly's song for last because he's knew he could nail it better than the others. Chris Mann did a Josh Groban song...don't even get me started about him. Tony Lucca I thought should've lost to Katrina Parker last week, BUT...we would've been deprived of this wonderful moment of television if it had happened ***. While I think Tony clearly wasn't a frontrunner in the final four, he was with Katrina Parker the most improved contestant on the show and this was the best song played in the finals. That's a testament to Adam Levine's coaching skills if anything. I'd eventually check out his next record. Playing last, Juliet Simms interpreted "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. While she was put last again and was expected to impress, she didn't nailed it as bad as last week and left the impression she peaked at the wrong moment. Maybe it's because she overkilled it. "'Freebird" is not exactly a song you have to scream out. Why didn't she chose a Janis Joplin song? I don't know. It would have been a natural fit to her voice.
So Jermain Paul won. It makes sense. He chose the strong and steady approach as all the contestants had high and lows throughout the season. He was never the strongest coming into the finals, but he was never weak or vulnerable to elimination. I don't think he even sang once on Tuesdays to save his life. It's funny how the team everybody deemed the weakest had won the show by sticking to a no non-sense approach.
I couldn't help myself but think: "Did America really vote?" Part of the reason why I liked the show so much is that it managed its drama so well, it could offer a Hollywood ending and crown a super marketable family man. Everybody got what they wanted. The producers got their juicy storyline. Universal Republic got a great potential to work with and Jermaine had the spotlight he so desperately wanted. I have no doubt he will succeed better than season one winner Javier Colon. Judging by the comments I've read online, I can't help being surprised Jermaine won. It was all Juliet Simms Vs Chris Mann. Knowing the public regularly screws the pooch when asked to vote, this is way too perfect of an ending to be genuine, I think. But who cares? NBC's web site got a lot of clicks and we get a winner that nobody really hates.
The show is called THE VOICE, but except for the first four weeks it doesn't really lives up to its name. Like the other shows, it's about who's most marketable and who's more likely to survive the show business industry. If it was based on the contestant's voice, Christina's Lindsay Pavao and Adam's Whitney Myer were the two contestants with the most singular voices ****. They didn't win but hopefully both of them get recording contracts. If anything, that's a testament to the fact we were watching something heavily controlled. Another example of that is the Spring Lounge. What the fuck was this place about? Really? There has been so many surreal filler moments in there. Anybody has a .gif of Erin Willett being force fed cupcakes for her birthday?
THE VOICE is an unapologetic display of the America that fascinated and scared Hunter S. Thompson. A place where the elite runs the show and you get to pay for watching. Where reality has better writers than fiction. He would've been the best man to follow this show and would've written something like The Hollywood Finale of Jermaine Paul. Will I watch season three next fall? I'll see if summer and free Mondays can raise my enthusiasm again. Sure thing, a weekly recap would complement the pop culture side of this site very well.
* Jesse Campbell, Lindsay Pavao, Whitney Meyer, Jamie Lono, Jamar Rogers, Katrina Parker, not to name them.
** Well, except maybe for his blind audition. I wouldn't have turned my chair for him. Would you?
*** A little background on this. The rumor wants that it was retaliation against Christina Aguilera for calling him one-dimensional a few weeks earlier. Ballsy.
**** Oddly enough, they are friends in real life. There are videos of them singing together on YouTube.