It's the night of nights: the bleachers are overflowing with wound-up fans, the coaches are dressed in their finery, the finalists and their friends waiting nervously in the wings. Backstage, Olympic athletes, TV stars and a gaggle of pop music's hottest artists make small talk as they wait for the show to start. Finally, Carson appears at center stage, counting down the intro millions of Americans settle in to discover who will be the new champion of The Voice.
We see a recap of last night's incendiary performances: Tessane and Adam harmonizing on "Let It Be," Xtina with Jacquie Lee pushing the diva's Hunger Games hit "We Remain" over the top, Will Champlin singing to his young baby. So what does this group do for an encore? Well for starters, you assemble the top 20 artists from this talent-rich season for one massive sing-along. Sure enough, Tessanne Chin, Will Champlin, Jacquie Lee, Amber Nicole, Austin Jenckes, Caroline Pennell, Cole Vosbury, Grey, James Wolpert, Jonny Gray, Josh Logan, Kat Robichaud, Matthew Schuler, Nic Hawk, Olivia Henken, Preston Pohl, Ray Boudreaux, Shelbie Z., Stephanie Anne Johnson and Tamara Chauniece join in on a raucous "Tonight Is the Night."
We come back from commercial break and get some insights from all four coaches; they're unanimous in thinking that this season's talent crop is the best ever - and that whoever wins, his or her runners up have bright futures as well. We transition into Jacquie Lee's "bring-back" segment, a chance for her to reunite with a few of the friends she's made this season. She returns to the stage, joined by Caroline Pennell, Matthew Schuler, Cole Vosbury and James Wolpert for a rousing take on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
After a fun look at "Sexiest Man Alive" Adam Levine's coaching antics, Tessanne Chin takes the spotlight next, with the first of the night's A-list performances. Tessanne's wowed everyone this season with her vocal firepower, and now she'll sing toe-to-toe with a legendary diva, Celine Dion. Bathed in the background vocals of a 12-piece choir, the two singers trade off on Celine's "Love Can Move Mountains." It's another ground-shaking performance, putting the crowd on its feet. When the applause dies down, we find Carson up in the Sprint Skybox, showing off the best fan impressions of coaches and artists.
We come back from break to find Ryan Tedder and his band OneRepublic on stage. The Season 5 advisor has written a song specifically for tonight's winner (which we'll hear at the end of the show), but for now, we're more than pleased to hear Ryan belt out the band's latest single, "I Lived." We come back from commercial break for a quick visit with several Olympic athletes, enjoying the night's festivities before they head to Sochi, Russia and the upcoming games. The quick hit is followed by a taped package recalling some of CeeLo's poetic means of speaking.
We see more familiar faces at the stage. Nic Hawk, Josh Logan, Matthew Schuler, Preston Pohl and Ray Boudreaux have assembled for the night's "boy band" performance. The singers offer up a fun and fresh take on Bruno Mars' "Treasure." In another season, any of these singers might well have been in the finals. But they're all gracious and grateful to be back on the stage tonight just to help celebrate an amazing season.
Will Champlin is up next, with his "bring back" segment. With his friends Austin Jenckes, Caroline Pennell, Cole Vosbury and Jonny Gray, Will leads a tight, harmony-filled take on Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." They're followed by Jacquie Lee's A-lister performance, a sumptuous take on "Ain't It Fun," from one of her favorite bands, Paramore.
We come back from break for a girl group performance. Proving that the talent pool was deep for both men and women this year, Amber Nicole, Grey, Kat Robichaud, Shelbie Z., Tamara Chauniece and Stephanie Anne Johnson deliver a mean take on Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." After a generous ovation, we return to Carson who sets up a package on what's become a tradition for Voice finalists. Will, Tessanne and Jacquie are all taken by a ruse to the Universal Studios backlot to a holiday-themed Whoville, where they're each gifted with a brand new Kia car! Being a finalist has its privileges.
After seeing interviews with the finalists as to what winning would mean to each of them, we return to the stage for a blockbuster guest performance: Celine Dion and Ne-Yo singing their new single, "Incredible." With a crisscross of lasers, the diva and the hip-hop powerhouse trade vocal licks, whipping the capacity crowd into fervor. We take a short commercial break and then return for a check in at the Skybox with Carson and Ryan Tedder, and then snap, we're back at the stage for Will Champlin's A-lister duet. Will's got a multi-talented vocalist on hand as well, Aloe Blacc. The pair delivers a beautiful take on Blacc's ballad, "Wake Me Up."
The hour of revelation is approaching, but no one wants to get serious just yet. Tessanne Chin, Preston Pohl, Will Champlin, Grey and Olivia Henken assemble at the stage for a goof-time deliver sing-along on a soul classic, "Hold On, I'm Coming." They're followed by a silly taped piece looking at the incomparable dance moves of Blake Shelton. Then, we're into a spectacular final guest appearance. Lady Gaga takes the stage, clad in a shimmering white suit. She delivers her "Do What U Want" surrounded by tuxedo clad waiters and a glittering giant clamshell. As the song progresses, the clamshell rises - to reveal Christina Aguilera! The two divas trade vocal licks, sipping champagne and harmonizing like no one else could.
And now, the hour has come. Will, Tessanne and Jacquie come to center stage. Director Alan Carter has set the scene with pulsating lights, thumping pulses of music and a perfectly dramatic pool of light. As the three artists stand abreast, nervous, wrought with emotion, we hear final thoughts from our artists. The feeling is palpable: everyone knows this season was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Finally, Carson steps up to fulfill his appointed duty. First he reveals the third-place artist: Will Champlin. Then, after the moment hangs for what seems an eternity, the voting results are revealed. The Season 5 winner is Tessanne Chin!
As pyrotechnics explode and confetti cannons fire and Adam Levine presents her with a champion's trophy. She hugs her husband and parents and Paul Mirkovich kicks up the band for one more number, the Ryan Tedder-penned "Tumbling Down." Fighting off tears and a crazed crowd, Tessanne gives the song her best, as the crowd and coaches take to their feet, exhausted, ecstatic and elated to have been part of The Voice's biggest finale ever.
Lady Gaga with Christina Aguilera, OneRepublic, Celine Dion and Ne-Yo, and many Voice artists perform - and a new champion is crowned.