The surviving three choirs kicked things off with their takes on classic Christmas carols. The very likable Blake Shelton continued to insist he knew nothing about choirs, but he knew what sounded good. He referred to an unsuccessful auditioner who had choir experience and gave him some tips about what to do. Shelton's auditioning strategy was to find good lead singers and not necessarily voices that would blend. They performed the Kool and the Gang chestnut "Celebration."
Patti LaBelle despaired over finding a qualified choir at first, but was eventually very pleased with how it all came together. Her choir performed the Mary J. Blige song "No More Drama," but as has been the case much of the time for this group, the choir served as mere backing for a soloist. Patti surprised her choir by announcing that they would be accompanying her to a New Year's Eve show.
Nick Lachey continued to come across as the team captain that was having the best time, although his choir began by doing a Ray Conniff Singers-like version of the way overdone "What a Wonderful World." Tracy Morgan, usually on at this time in 30 Rock, appeared to plug a movie and looked like he might not be drunk for a change.
Kelly Rowland's choir, no longer in the competition, backed her on "Survivor," in the same way Kelly once backed Beyonce. Maria Menounos began her interview with the choir by misidentifying the woman she was speaking to. Michael Bolton sang "When A Man Loves A Woman," which I know because I didn't get to the mute button in time. Team Shelton finished with a very uncomfortable-sounding "Boondocks." Michael Bolton's choir, eliminated from the competition yesterday, got their last performance in with "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing." Kelly Rowland's group did "One Sweet Day" for their farewell. Patti's choir's last performance was the fate-tempting "We Are the Champions," with a lead vocalist who channeled the old Star Search weirdo Sam Harris.
The whole thing seemed to come apart in the last minute. Maria said the voting margin had been close. Team Lachey finished up with Earth, Wind, and Fire's "Sing a Song," and it was clearly the best performance of the night, as they made much better use of choreography than their rivals had. Maria announced the choir that had finished third: the Sheltons. Blake Shelton said the state of Oklahoma would be proud of all of them. Maria said the four non-winning choirs would all get a $50,000 gift courtesy from the corporate parents at GE. The winning choir was...Team Lachey (announced by Tracy Morgan as "Team Lakey")! Nick now has something to come back with when brother Drew taunts him about his Dancing with the Stars win.
Even though I declared Patti LaBelle's group superior after the first night, I changed my mind; the Cincinnatians were more inventive and worked together better as a group. This was a novelty show that worked, and I can see NBC pulling it out of mothballs every December. Maybe now I'll stop confusing Maria Menounos with Lachey's girlfriend Vanessa Minnillo. [Water Cooler Convo]