On tonight’s finale of “The Voice,” will fans vote for the talent or for the feuding celebrities as the hit-singing/chair-rotating spectacle crowns a winner?
Fans and critics alike are evenly split between the four finalists – classically trained Chris Mann (team Christina Aguilera), indie rocker Juliet Simms (team Cee Lo Green), former Mouseketeer Tony Lucca (team Adam Levine) and the experienced polish of Jermaine Paul (team Blake Shelton).
With the pressure off (voting closed Tuesday morning) the four singers can kick back and enjoy guest performances by Justin Bieber, Hall & Oates, Lady Antebellum and Flo Rida. Purrfect the Cat will no doubt be in attendance and the four coaches will come together and close the season the way they started it, with a group performance.
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As of Tuesday morning, it was a four-way fan split according to an online reader poll at MTV with Paul getting 22.02% of the vote, Mann 26.28%, Tony Lucca 25.21% and Juliet Simms narrowly beating out the competition with 26.49%
But with a long-standing feud brewing between coaches Levine and Aguilera, some fans may have used their votes to pick celebrity sides.
Aguilera’s beef with her former Mickey Mouse Club alum Lucca, added fuel to a fiery live performance show on Monday. Throughout the season Aguilera has criticized Lucca’s lack of versatility as a performer, which has been a source of irritation to Levine on whose team Lucca performs.
She criticized his version of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” not for musicality but for the lyrics, saying that the song “was a little derogatory toward women.” What followed was a he said/she said between Levine and Aguilera, which may push voters to take sides as much for the entertaining spat as for the entertainer himself.
Another former Mouseketeer, Justin Timberlake, tweeted his support of Lucca and guest artist Bieber also offered support via social media wishing Team Adam luck.
But fans are still the show's lifeblood.
Wild card Simms has said that her final song choice, “Free Bird” (which drew unanimous praise), was inspired by fan requests and that she wanted to give them what they wanted. No doubt she’s hoping they’ll return the favor sending votes her way.
Mann’s emotional rendition of “You Raise Me Up” brought tears to his own eyes – but did viewers well up enough to float him into the winner’s circle, or did he stay too long in his vocal comfort zone? Paul, a former Alicia Keys backup singer threw down a powerful rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” which drew Aguilera to her feet during the song.
Despite Aguilera’s misgivings, Lucca has been a viewer favorite winning much of the popular vote throughout, making him one to beat tonight. It would be a case of following in previous “The Voice” winner Javier Colon’s footsteps - acoustic singer Colon was also team Adam and performed variations on popular standards that left studio and at-home audiences wanting more.
The winner will receive $100,000 and a recording contract.
"The Voice" airs on NBC at 9 p.m. tonight.