The top four performed in the finale for NBC's The Voice season 17 on Monday night. Coaches Blake Shelton, John Legend, Gwen Stefani and Kelly Clarkson were all represented in the finals, but the decision was ultimately up to the viewers as to who would become the next champion. Each finalist sang three times, performing a cover, an original single and a holiday duet with their coach.
Ricky Duran was up first, singing his cover of Tom Petty's “Running Down a Dream.” The song was definitely in his lane, and he was able to showcase the kind of rock artist that he wants to be. He put on a good show, working the crowd and singing well. Clarkson praised his range.
Jake Hoot from Team Kelly followed with his original song “Better Off Without You.” The tune was about his divorce, and he delivered on the emotional front. He was the only one of the final four to write his original song. He played to his base and showcased his strengths, giving himself a solid shot at winning the whole thing early on.
Team John's Katie Kadan was up next, singing with Legend in a duet of “Merry Christmas Baby.” The harmonies were strong, but the duets definitely felt like filler.
Team Gwen's Rose Short debuted her original song “Steamroller,” which she said reflected the way she has pushed through life. She showcased her range and sounded particularly strong in her lower register. Shelton was particularly impressed, even though she isn't his artist.
Duran came back to the stage for his duet with Shelton. They sang “Run Run Rudolph,” and it was a fun performance that highlighted their guitar skills.
Kadan came back to the stage with her original song “All Better.” She sang with conviction, combining theatrics and strong technical skills to make for a well-rounded performance. Of the original singles, hers stood out, as she delivered a full package and staying true to herself.
Hoot returned to sing “Winter Song” by Sarah McLachlan with his coach, Clarkson. They sang well together, and Hoot got to show off some of his range.
Short and Stefani next sang “My Gift Is You,” an original holiday single by Stefani. They blended very well together, and Short stood out as a powerful vocalist in this duet.
Hoot returned for his cover of “Amazed” by Lonestar. He showed off his country roots and played to his base with this one, which was a smart move since country singers usually do well on the show.
Kadan covered Aerosmith's “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing,” proving that she is the most versatile artist in the finals. Her ad libs were impressive, and she sang the song as if it were her own.
Duran pulled off a memorable original song. His single was called “A Woman Like Her,” and he brought passion and a country-rock sound to it, giving his best performance of the night. Clarkson compared him to Bruce Springsteen, and overall, he gave a strong view of what he would be like as a solo artist.
Short closed things out on a high note, performing a cover of "Border Song" by Elton John. She made the song her own and sang with enthusiasm and power.
Mike Darnell was in London this week to help Warner Bros International Television Production impress international buyers as part of the UK Screenings. He talked up new shows, including Ellen’s Game of Games, and Warner’s monster franchises, not least The Bachelor, which is poised to go all A Star Is Born with its latest spinoff The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart.
Darnell knows that if he can get a show away in the U.S., it makes the job of his international colleagues that much easier, but it was the contrasting fortunes of The Bachelor and Love Island in America and Britain that got him thinking when Deadline caught up with Warner’s president of unscripted and alternative television.
The Bachelor returned to ViacomCBS’s UK network Channel 5 after a seven-year hiatus in 2019, but it struggled to make an impression. By contrast, Love Island has been extended to two seasons a year on ITV2 and its winter edition is entertaining more than 3M viewers a night — six times The Bachelor‘s audience. Over in the States, it’s the opposite story: ABC’s The Bachelor is the long-running and dominant force, while CBS premiered Love Island to a mixed reception last year, although it did renew the dating show for a second season.
Darnell has a theory that the two shows can’t co-exist in the same market. “It does appear that Love Island has taken over the space in the UK. I notice that Love Island didn’t really work over in the U.S. and it feels like maybe the two, once one is established, it’s hard to get a foothold [for the other],” he said. And on the prospect of Love Island putting down roots beyond a second season, Darnell was not convinced. “I’m just going to be really honest. I love CBS and I work with them, but I think based on those numbers last year, it will have to grow an awful lot to continue,” he added.
Listen to Your Heart is the latest in a conveyer belt of Bachelor franchise extensions, which makes it all the more remarkable that Darnell is yet to expand The Voice universe for NBC. There are other iterations of the format overseas, most notably The Voice Kids, but NBC has yet to be persuaded. Darnell remains enthusiastic about getting a kids’ version off the ground.
“I would love to do a Voice Kids in the U.S. It’s going to be ultimately NBC’s decision — it’s been talked about here and there, but we’re still not there with them. Voice Kids has done well everywhere, so I’d like to see one in America,” he explained.