Ranking the Final Four on Season 2 of The Voice


They square off Monday night, four singers aspiring for the same goal — the Season 2 title on The Voice.

Below, I rank the artists based on where I think they’ll finish.

Check back Monday night.  I’ll be live blogging throughout the performance show (8 to 10 p.m. EST).  Same thing for the results show Tuesday night (9 to 11 p.m.).

In separate blogs, I’ve posted The Voice performances for each of the four finalists and three pre-Voice samples of their music.

4. Tony Lucca:

Backstory:   We all know he was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club with Britney, Christina and all the rest.  For four years, no less.  Then he went the singer-songwriter route.  But big-time success has been elusive, something he’s hoping The Voice will fix, especially since he now has a family to support.

How it started:  He auditioned with “Trouble” and got all four judges to spin their chairs around, a feat no one else in the finals accomplished.  He picked Team Adam, not Team Christina, because Adam predicted he’d have “an amazing career” and he’s interested in longevity, not flash-in-the-pan stardom.

On iTunes: “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was a hit, checking in at number 22 after the quarterfinals, the best among that week’s performances. “How Do You Like Me Now” was number 32; “In Your Eyes” number 98.

Idol Chatter grades: B+ for the last two performances, when Tony ditched the singer-songwriter vibe for more upbeat performance songs; B- for “In Your Eyes.”

Public support: Katrina Parker actually got 52 percent of the public vote for Team Adam members last week; Tony made the finals because Adam Levine split his half of the score 60-40 in his favor.

Music releases:  The most extensive of The Voice finalists.  He has released eight albums, beginning with “So Satisfied” in 1997.  The most recent, “Under the Influence,” came out in September and features covers of 10 songs from artists who have influenced him.  Just for good measure, his discography also inlcudes six EPs and a live album, with much of the material available on iTunes.

Assessment:  “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was the best non-Juliet performance we’ve seen from a finalist.  It also nixed criticism that he’s too one dimensional.  But there’s a little matter of voter support. Without Adam’s help, he wouldn’t be in the finals.  Two factors in his favor:  He gets to duet with Adam, and he has a mentor who keeps the focus on the singer, not the sideshow.

3. Jermaine Paul:

Backstory: He tried out for The Voice at the suggestion of his daughter and is trying to make it as a solo artist after singing background for Alicia Keys. He and his brother were once members of a four-guy R&B group called 1 Accord that recorded a song called “Don’t Stop, Don’t Quit” for the “Bootycall” soundtrack. The group also toured southeast Asia with Shaquille O’Neal and other NBA stars.

How it started:  Jermaine auditioned with “Complicated” and enticed Cee Lo and Blake to turn around.  He selected Team Blake.

On iTunes: His quarterfinal performance of “Against All Odds” was fans’ favorite, checking in at number 38. A more lukewarm reception for “Open Arms” (58) and “Living on a Prayer” (125).

Idol Chatter grades: B for his first two live performances, B- for his rendition of Journey’s “Open Arms.”

Public support: Jermaine attracted a whopping 77 percent of the public vote for Team Blake members last week. Keep it in perspective; in Erin Willett, he had the weakest semifinal foe in terms of popularity.

Music releases: Jermaine has dabbled at being a solo artist, releasing an album called “Preamble” in 2008 and a single called “Airplane” in 2009.

Assessment:  To date, the potential has been better than the product. Perhaps Jermaine and Blake just haven’t stumbled upon the right match of singer and song.  But a contestant should have to be special at least once before winning this thing, and time is running out for Jermaine to be special.

2. Chris Mann:

Backstory:  He’s the guy with operatic training who told The Voice he’s tired of trying to fit his voice into a pop mold. “I’ve tried to shrink my voice down to fit. But I decided, for this show, I was going to just sing like myself.”  He got a degree in opera from Vanderbilt, has performed in Italian opera and describes himself as “Josh Groban meets Robbie Williams.”

How it started:   He sang “Because We Believe,” starting in Italian, for his audition.  Cee Lo and Christina wanted him on their teams; he chose Christina.

On iTunes: None of his performances have been download hits. They landed as follows: “Ave Maria” at 63, “Viva la Vida” at 96, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at 77.

Idol Chatter grades: B+ for “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” C for his other two performances, partly because I wasn’t sure singing opera was a wise choice in the semifinals.
Public support: Despite singing opera, Chris got 54 percent of the public vote, which was the deciding factor in who made the finals since Christina Aguilera split her vote 50-50.

Music releases:  He released a self-titled 5-track EP in 2009, a three-track EP in 2011 and a pair of singles — “Beautiful Life” and “Pretty Girl” — the same year.  The first EP includes a pop/classical take on “Heartless.”

Assessment:   If the winner was based solely on the voice, Chris would win because his is pretty much impeccable.  But The Voice needs to build some star-maker cred, and crowning an opera singer in Season 2 would seem an unlikely way to accomplish that.

1. Juliet Simms:

Backstory: She started singing in coffee houses at 13 and started touring across the country and “living the gypsy lifestyle” at 16, the daughter of “hippie, surfer rockers,” she told The Voice. She’d like to make a name for herself in music, but doesn’t rule out continuing to perform with Automatic Loveletter, her pre-Voice band.

How it started:  Juliet auditioned with the Beatles’ tune  “Oh Darling” and convinced everyone but Blake to spin their chairs around.  She chose Team Cee Lo.

On iTunes: “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” from last week was the best performing Voice performance on iTunes this season, landing at number 6. The second best: Juliet’s “Roxanne” at number 21 from a couple weeks earlier. In between, “Cryin’” was number 38.

Idol Chatter grades: A for her last two performances; B+ for “Cryin’.”

Public support: Despite facing the toughest competition in the form of Jamar Rogers, Juliet got 61 percent of the vote cast last week for members of Team Cee Lo.  But the week before, she needed a judge’s save to remain in the competition.

Music releases: She fronted a band called Automatic Loveletter that released an EP in 2007 (“Revolver”), a self-tiled EP in 2009, an album in 2010 (“Truth or Dare”) and another in 2011 (“The Kids Will Take Their Monsters On.”) In the official video for “Heart Song,” a single off the 2010 album. Juliet shows off her bikini body and sings into her hair dryer. She later called that album “very poppy.”

Assessment:   Based on everything we’ve heard, she should win this thing. Based on the excellent 2011 album, she has the best potential to be The Voice’s first post-show success.  That album proves she’s not just a black-winged rocker.  She also writes black-winged heartbreak/love songs that soar with a passion to match her voice.

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