Not that long ago, it seemed genuinely strange to hear the words “Ryan” and “Adams” right next to each other on a big singing-competition show. In 2011, the American Idol contestant Paul McDonald sang a shuffling, Rod Stewart-esque cover of Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up” on the show, and it seemed like a real worlds-converging moment. Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on the show at the time, told McDonald, “I don’t know Ryan Adams or that song. And I know a lot of music.” (A few years earlier, the runner-up Blake Lewis had sung “When The Stars Go Blue” on Idol, but he’d identified it as a Tim McGraw song.) But now, the world has shrunk enough that Adams himself can come through the finale episode of a hugely-rated singing-contest show, bedhead and Sonic Youth shirt and all, and nobody acts like it’s weird.
Last night, NBC’s The Voice had its big finale episode, and the 15-year-old Massachusetts high schooler Brynn Cartelli won. Meanwhile, runner-up Britton Buchanan, a 17-year-old kid from North Carolina, sang with Ryan Adams. The two, both playing guitars, duetted on “To Be Without You,” an understated rocker from Adams’ 2017 album Prisoner, and they sounded nice together, their vocal tones blending fairly easily. It’s always going to be awkward when a guy like Adams shows up on a show like this, but it was less awkward than it could’ve been. Here’s that performance:
Cartelli got to do a big superstar duet, too. She and songwriter-turned-star Julia Michaels sang a medley of Michaels’ songs “Issues” and “Jump.” They sounded a whole lot like one another. Here’s that performance:
And Spensha Baker, another finalist on the show, teamed up with country star Kane Brown to sing Brown’s song “What Ifs.” Here’s that video:
Meanwhile, Florence + The Machine were among the many performers who came through the episode to promote their newest songs. Florence Welch fit into things a bit more seamlessly; she is, after all, the sort of traditional power-singer who, in another life, might’ve done very well on a show like this. But she’s also a wild-hearted free spirit, and so we got to see her careening and whirling barefoot across a stage draped in billowy curtains, singing her new single “Hunger.” Here’s that performance:
Florence’s new album High As Hope is out 6/29 on Republic.