We said Jordan Smith was full of surprises. Having sung pop, rock and a hymn so far on The Voice, he opened Monday’s Season 9 finale with a musical theater classic: the inspirational Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.
It was one of three performances the Harlan County native turned in on the final night. Each of the Final Four competitors – Emily Ann Roberts, Barrett Baber and Jeffery Austin – performed a song of their choice, a holiday song and a duet with their coach.
The show mixed up the selections for an entertaining two hours, though you did hit a point where you were thinking, “OK, who’s done their duet?” “Who’s still got a holiday song left?”
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In a bit of yet-another-turn, Smith and his coach, Adam Levine, joined up to sing the The Beach Boys harmonies with their classic God Only Knows – Adam showing he could really lay down some Beach Boys vocals.
Smith fans got to spend a lot of the show guessing what his holiday choice would be and watching two obvious ones performed by other competitors: O Holy Night by Austin and Silent Night by Baber.
Smith had his own ideas. In the show’s last half hour, he delivered the finale’s penultimate performance with the Mark Lowry-Buddy Greene classic Mary Did You Know? first made famous by one of contemporary Christian music’s biggest voices, Michael English, and recorded by fellow Kentuckians such as Wynonna Judd in a duet with Kenny Rogers. (If you are looking for some good Kentucky-reality show karma, it was also a hit last year for Sing-Off winners Pentatonix whose ranks include Owensboro’s Kevin Olusola.)
Levine told the audience that he had never heard the song before and actually had another idea for Smith’s holiday selection. But in the end, he said Smith was right.
“This guy is artist and he has a vision,” Levine said.
Coach Pharrell said, “I think the people are just ready for you to make a record.”
With his deep spiritual roots, it seemed only appropriate Smith closed out the competition part of the show singing the line, “The sleeping child you’re holding is the great I Am.”
Roberts closed out the night with Cam’s Burning House. Her fellow country competitor Baber took on Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man, and Austin also went a little country with a powerful rendition of Sugarland’s Stay. Following that turn, coaches pointed to Austin’s status as The Voice’s most improved artist of the season, going from turning around one chair, Gwen Stefani’s, in the blind auditions, to making the Final Four.
“You kind of snuck up on everybody,” coach Blake Shelton said.
Shelton was the busy coach with both Roberts and Baber in the competition, singing the Glen Campbell classic Rhinestone Cowboy with Baber and teaming with Roberts on Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ Islands in the Stream – a choice some in the Twitterverse questioned for the 17-year-old Roberts and 39-year-old Shelton.
Now everyone gets to wait until Tuesday night when the winner will be named close to the end of a two hour Voice finale that starts at 9.
As of this writing, all three of Smith’s performances Monday night are in the iTunes Top 10, with Mary at No. 1, and nine of his tracks are in the Top 100.