Breaking down the final performances by Fort Wayne’s Addison Agen and ‘The Voice’ Final Four
The contestants’ finish order on Tuesday night’s season finale results show on “The Voice” has sparked ongoing debate.
So we asked award-winning local choral director Tavis Schlicker to break down how each contestant did on their solo songs during Monday night’s final performance competition of the season, which were the songs viewers voted on to pick a season winner.
Schlicker, director of choral activities at Concordia Lutheran High School, admits he is a bit biased because Fort Wayne native and Concordia junior Addison Agen, 16, was one of the Final Four on “The Voice.”
But he provided an interesting assessment of the Final Four as a group and as individual artists.
One note: Celebrity coaches Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton selected contestants for their teams during the blind auditions. Coaches decided who on their team advanced through the battle, knockout and playoff rounds to the live shows.
Once the live shows began, viewers decided what contestants stayed in the competition and who went home. Viewer voting also determined the finish order among the Final Four – winner Chloe Kohanski followed by Addison Agen, Brooke Simpson and Red Marlow.
THE FINAL FOUR
“Generally, one of the things that was interesting this year was there was so much distinctiveness from each performer,” Schlicker said.
Each contestant approached their singing in their own way, he said.
• Addison Agen offered folk and heartfelt, soulful storytelling.
• Red Marlow focused on traditional country music.
• Brooke Simpson sang gospel and soul music.
• Season winner Chloe Kohanski concentrated on hard rock and showmanship.
“I think that is the key in any art – how do I put my stamp on it,” Schlicker said.
THE SOLO SONGS
• “Wish I Didn’t Love You”: “The Voice” viewers were used to Kohanski doing more up-tempo and rock tunes, Schlicker said.
“You get this, a ballad, and it’s perfect,” he said. “You get the full range of what she can really do.”
• “Bette Davis Eyes”: Kohanski started off rocking on this song, and Schlicker thought, “This is pretty neat.
“A little later in the song, I thought this song fell flat,” he said. “I liked first half and not the second half.”
• “Humble and Kind”: “It was just hard not to be moved,” Schlicker said of the performance.
As he works with choral groups and students, Schlicker said he tries to help them grow from vocal basics to where they are singing in the moment and feeling and conveying the emotional aspects of the song.
“I think that is the thing Addison does so incredibly well,” he said.
Schlicker doesn’t believe it hurt Addison at all in voting when she was overcome with emotion from the song and couldn’t finish the last two lines.
It wasn’t planned, and it wasn’t a break because of nervousness, he said.
“This was so clearly real,” he added.
• “Tennessee Rain”: “This was really cool,” Schlicker said, mentioning the stark stage setting with a guitarist out on stage with Addison inside a framed outline of a house.
“I remember watching at home and saying maybe the guitarist was a little hot (overwhelming),” he said. “I wanted more voice.”
Addison has great control of her voice, he said. She also enhanced her performance by using a broader range of her voice and adding flourishes to make the song more soulful, Schlicker said.
But she never strayed from her core sound, he added.
• “O Holy Night”: “Initially, it struck me that will be difficult to pull off,” Schlicker said, noting the holiday favorite typically is sung by vocalists with big, operatic voices.
But after getting through the beginning of the song, she did “really, really well,” he said.
From taped segments where the contestants talk about their lives, the audience already knew Simpson grew up in the church community.
“This feels authentic for her,” he said of her performance.
• “What is Beautiful”: With a song like this, you have to choose the moments to be intimate with your voice and the moments to really hit a climax, and Simpson did that “really, really well,” Schlicker said.
• “I Pray”: “Red was so classic country to me,” Schlicker said. “This song now could be covered by 15 different artists, and you could hear it at Opryland in Nashville, and it would feel right.”
The song also tells a story in a “cool way,” Schlicker said.
People also often refer to country music having a “twang,” and Marlow captured that essence by singing in mostly higher, brighter notes.
“It was perfect,” he said. “It was stylistically realistic.”
• “Make You Feel My Love”: This solo was stripped down to mostly a guitar and Marlow’s voice, Schlicker said. You could see the tension on his face, a visual sign of him singing in that higher-voiced, traditional country style.
“This could be any country singer today,” he said.
The Final Four contestants all delivered performances that were close in quality but very different, Schlicker said.
“I think there were things about each performer that suck you in and make you resonate with that performer,” he said.
Kohanski probably was the best, however, at getting the audience engaged in a performance, he said.
“She had the ability to work a crowd in a showman kind of way,” he added.