Levine has the edge with three of the four finalists, but Shelton stands behind his country-rock artist

By Andrea Billups
Updated December 16, 2014 09:40 AM
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Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

Three songs each. One last chance to shine.

Monday night’s live finals on The Voice delivered a classic duel between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – who’ve won the singing competition twice and three times, respectively – as Season 7’s top four artists competed one final time.

The singers, all men, debuted original songs that will become their first records, along with sneak peeks of the videos for them.

Levine has three of the four finalists and performed with all of them – smooth soul standout Damien, alternative pop-rocker Matt McAndrew and emerging pop heartthrob Chris Jamison. In typical form, Levine was talking smack about his chances.

“I’ve got three times the firepower,” he bragged at the top of the two-hour competition.

Shelton, with handsome and confident country-rock artist Craig Wayne Boyd in the running, quickly countered that Levine was “in for a rude awakening.”

By the time all four artists had hit the stage three times each – singing a coach’s pick, a duet with their coach and the original song – all bets were off as far as who might take home the crown and launch their career with a recording contract and a check for $100,000.

“I sing from my heart, every time I go out there on stage,” the humble Damien said before a spiritual and emotional turn on the late Donny Hathaway’s soul classic “A Song for You.”

He was reverent, sweet, hopeful and hurting, sending all four coaches, including Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, to their feet with the purity of his vocal.

“Man, Damien, the way you just kind of float through a melody,” Shelton told the former TSA agent from Monroe, Louisiana, whose quiet grace and near effortless performances have been remarkable all season. “There’s so much power in everything you sing.”

Williams was equally transfixed. “The way you sang that song, it takes me to church,” he said. “I don’t feel like we get enough of that essence when someone sings the song and lifts everyone’s spirits. So proud of you.”

Damien later debuted his first single, “Soldier,” an anthem to strength and hope. It soared with inspiration as Damien energized the stage with his passion, his teary-eye parents in the audience looking on proudly.

Boyd, the lone country singer in the finals, received a huge gift from Shelton, who turned over one of his own unreleased songs, “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” to be his artist’s first single. Shelton seemed thrilled to let it go, noting it was “a song I’ve been carrying around in my back pocket for years.”

“This song was meant for you,” he told Boyd, a Texas native and father of a young son, who struggled for 11 years to make a name for himself in Nashville before rising to success on the show.

“Welcome to your future,” Williams told Boyd after he finishing singing.

Mother of three Stefani quickly jumped in to offer her own appraisal: “I hope you have a really good nanny, because you’re going to get that baby and go on tour for a really long time. You’re ripe! You are ready to pick.”

Boyd later rocked it out with Shelton as the two jammed on Randy Houser’s rollicking “Boots On,” trading guitar licks and verses in a concert-style duet as they fronted a full band.

Team Adam’s Justin Timberlake-inspired pop star Chris Jamison continued his breakout trajectory in the finals, showing heightened sex appeal and confidence as he easily traded falsettos with Levine on “Lost Without You.”

Their matched good looks, the tune’s spare arrangement and pitch-perfect soulful harmonies made it hard to tell who was the master and who was the apprentice.

It was a long way from home for Jamison, a onetime Ohio college mailman, who has continued to earn respect as he built on own talent each week. While he stepped up to prowl the stage and bring serious heat on Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River,” his original song “Velvet” was the perfect match for his sleek pop-soul vibe.

Williams was direct, describing Jamison’s growing success as a “metamorphosis.” “A star was born on this television show with you,” he enthused.

Levine stood on his chair and invoked Star Wars: “My young Jedi welcome and congratulations!”

Mop-haired Matt McAndrew continued to channel his own infectious and unique vibe, claiming his place as the only finalist to ever crack the iTunes Top 10 three times.

Levine called McAndrew’s versatility his strong suit, and the two shined in their very own “unplugged” power-acoustic moment singing “Lost Stars,” a song Levine performed for the film Begin Again.

McAndrew finished the night and the competition on the sweetest note, singing Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The moment was all cotton candy and clouds, and perfectly unusual – tracking with the Philadelphia music teacher’s season-long originality.

“It’s just magical to see you you come up here and just walk through walls, partitions, categories,” Williams told him.

McAndrew’s original song, “Wasted Love” was a big and powerful anthem. With fire blazing and a choir behind him, McAndrew descended stairs and finished the big chorus on his knees in alterna-anguish, inspiring protracted cheers from the crowd.

“I completely got lost in that performance,” Stefani said. And she was not alone.

Added Levine: “Matt McAndrew just sang his own song It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. I know all the words already.”

The Season 7 winner of The Voice will be announced Tuesday during a two-hour live finale at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Set to perform on the star-studded results show are Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Mark Ronson, Jennifer Hudson, Fall Out Boy, Jessie J and Lynyrd Skynyrd.