Kaufman closed out the show with applause that went on so long and so loud that the coaches could barely comment. Singing Adele‘s “Set Fire to the Rain,” the Indianapolis father of three made a case for himself as a masterful soul singer.
“Oh, my,” his coach, Usher, enthused, barely audible over the cheers. “Throughout this whole process you have wanted to represent soul and that is precisely who and what you are.”
Adam Levine, the only other coach who got in a word, was also won over. “You’re super-amazing,” he told Kaufman, who earned four chair turns in the blind auditions but nearly got the boot when Levine chose another artist in a battle round and Usher jumped in to save him.
Each contestant sang one song picked out by viewers and a second song of their choice.
Grimmie – the Marlton, New Jersey, YouTube sensation who has set herself apart all season by picking surprising songs – chose the Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” starting off slow and tender and then closing out with sustained notes that staked her claim as the season’s star.
“That was flawless,” said Shakira, the only coach without an artist in the final three. “I was in complete awe. I mean, ‘Wow!’ You push envelopes and you put our own stamp on everything you do.”
Blake Shelton also applauded Grimmie’s moxie. “To cover Elvis, that is the biggest chance you can take. I thought it was cool.”
Quickly, however, Levine stepped in to make a stronger case that Grimmie should win – noting her artistic vision.
“The underwhelming commentary from Usher and Blake were just self-protection,” Levine, who won last season, said. “Every step of the way, all the great choices this girl has made, she made on her own.”
“I think this is yours,” he told Grimmie. “I think you are going to win this show.”
Worthington, however, made a strong effort to show that a country artist could go all the way. Singing Keith Whitley’s tender ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” the La Porte, Texas, teen showed his commitment to the traditionalist wing of country music.
His coach, Shelton, was clearly proud. “Jake is like the little brother that I’ve never had,” he said during rehearsals, noting that he was Worthington’s age when he arrived in Nashville to try his luck.
“When you first started this season I just wanted to squeeze you. You’re so cute,” Shakira said. “Now you’ve gained credibility. Your voice is just perfection on that song. It was tender, it was real and you made me pay attention to the lyrics.”
The night included some fun duets, as artists sang with their coaches and coaches paired off with one another. Levine held his own with the vocal acrobatics of Usher on D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does it Feel),” while Shelton and Shakira paired off on “Medicine,” their duet from her latest record.
The Voice will crown its winner Tuesday (8 p.m. ET) on NBC in a two-hour finale that will include performances by Tim McGraw, Robin Thicke, Ed Sheeran, OneRepublic, Justin Moore, Alabama and Coldplay.