An estimated 13 million people are going to be tuning in for the finale of "The Voice" tonight and tomorrow night, but what if you're going to be one of them but you haven't been keeping up with the show all season? You don't want to sound like an idiot. To help you out, we've broken down the mechanics of the hugely popular singing competition so that you can keep up during your viewing party and totally sound like you know what you're talking about.
THE MANY STAGES OF THE VOICING:
It's been a long road since Season 9 premiered back in September, with hours and hours of televised singing behind us. If you're trying to sound knowledgeable, each segment of the show's run has a helpful name, so write some of these down. First there were the "Blind Auditions," which is really the gimmick that first set the show apart: The coaches sit with their fancy spinning chairs pointed away from the stage as contestants sing, with the initial reactions based solely on their, well, voices.
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After the initial auditions, the coaches assemble their teams and head into "The Battles," in which coaches pit members of their own team against each other to whittle down the roster to 24 contestants in total. Then they head into "The Knockouts," which is pretty much the same thing as "The Battles" except the contestants don't know who they're competing against until right before they go onstage.
Then, finally, it's time for the "Live Shows," during which the home audience gets to start voting. During the "Live Playoffs," the contestants also put out recordings of their performances on iTunes, and if they crack the iTunes Top 10, their scores are multiplied. Contestants start dropping like flies over the four weeks until the "Semifinals," where nine were left to compete. Last week five more were knocked out, leaving us with four singers vying for the title of the one with the most voice. Or something.
THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE VOICING:
At first glance, the sheer number of contestants on "The Voice" might seem daunting, but we've made it all the way down to just four voices vying for $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Music Group. If anybody asks, here's what you should say about each of them.
Jordan Smith: "That dude's version of 'Somebody to Love' legit slayed me. He should always have that choir behind him."
Barrett Baber: "He's good and all, but I’m just not feeling the dad vibe. But did you know he survived a plane crash? How cool is that?"
Emily Ann Roberts: "Doing a Dolly Parton number the week that Dolly Parton was on the show was a bold choice."
Jeffery Austin: "I'd be more comfortable rooting for him if someone could talk to him about how his hair is too tall."
THE PEOPLE WHO JUDGE THE VOICING:
The four famous faces in the big red spinning chairs my look like judges and act like judges, but don't call them judges. On "The Voice," they're coaches. Contestants get divvied up among them onto teams, with each coach representing a different corner of the pop landscape.
(They also tend to take to the stage themselves quite often, which is one of the benefits of having actual successful pop stars on your show — and a great way to pad out an hour or two of live television.)
Adam Levine:The Maroon 5 front-man is the de facto rocker of the bunch, and his remaining team member, Jordan Smith, is one of the favorites to win.
Blake Shelton:If it's a little bit country, it's Team Shelton. He's also got two contestants in the final four — Emily Ann Roberts and Barrett Baber — which says a lot about the show's red state appeal.
Gwen Stefani:The No Doubt singer handles the pop-centric side of things, and she almost didn't have anyone in the finale until Jeremy Austin snagged a spot via the Instant Save. He should really thank the good people of Twitter for that one.
Pharrell Williams:Who doesn't love Pharrell? America, apparently, since none of Team Pharrell's 12 contestants from the course of this season made it into the finale. Awkward.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick