Blake Shelton congratulates winner Jermaine PaulThe victory of last year's winner of "The Voice," Javier Colon, almost seemed preordained, since he'd been a frontrunner even before Season 1 had started, when his first audition was prominently featured in NBC promos. But Season 2's winner was a lot tougher to predict. Much of this season's screen time focused on headline-making contestants like Team Cee Lo's flamboyant rocker Juliet Simms (who ultimately placed second), Team Adam's ex-Mouseketeer/Christina Aguilera nemesis Tony Lucca (who placed third), and Team Xtina's operatic showman Chris Mann (who shockingly placed fourth). But in the end, former Alicia Keys background singer Jermaine Paul somehow sneakily rose through the ranks, literally emerging from the background to surprisingly beat them all and tearfully become the new winner of "The Voice," on this Tuesday's grand finale.
It was arguably one of the biggest reality singing show upsets ever--although it's possible that Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine's awkward, nasty infighting throughout this Monday's episode hurt Chris and Tony's chances, thus clearing the way for the neutral-as-Switzerland Jermaine's victory.
Considering that I'd believed that coach Blake Shelton had the weakest overall team this season, Jermaine's victory for Team Blake came as somewhat of a shock to me. While he had beat his fellow Team Blake member Erin Willett in last week's semifinals by a whopping 73 percent of the public vote--the largest semifinals landslide among the four teams--I'd figured that was more a function of Erin's lack of popularity (she'd delivered a very subpar performance that week), rather than an indication that Jermaine already had this competition all sewn up. But Jermaine's classy, emotional performance of the singing-competition staple "I Believe I Can Fly" on Monday night, followed by his tender, sobbing backstage moment with his proud parents, likely sealed the deal for him. So it turned out that Blake didn't have such a weak team after all.
But of course, while Jermaine is a seasoned pro--having worked with not only Alicia Keys but Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, and Joss Stone, among others--it remains to be seen if this guy can sell as many records as the superstars with whom he once shared the stage. And after Javier Colon failed to climb the charts despite all his aforementioned hype (mainly due to a galling lack of post-show promotion), "The Voice" desperately needs its second champion to be a hit, in order to maintain the show's credibility. At the moment, it's a little difficult for me to see where Jermaine would fit in on the charts--and I certainly didn't find him nearly as interesting as, say, my personal favorite, Juliet Simms--but with the right material and maybe even a couple hip-hop collaborators (perhaps this week's "Voice" musical guest Flo Rida is available?), this mighty belter just might find his niche.
Last week, after Jermaine gave the game-changing performance of Journey's "Open Arms" that eventually advanced him to the top four, Adam Levine told him, "You are no longer a background singer, my friend. Today, you're in the front for good." We'll soon find out if Adam's words come true, and if the record-buying public will accept Jermaine with open arms--but for now, Jermaine Paul is the Voice, and if all goes well, he'll soon be looking to hire some backup singers of his own. Congratulations, Jermaine.
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