Cassadee Pope, the Season 3 winner of "The Voice," performs… (Tyler Golden/NBC )
It could have been any of them, but in the end it was Cassadee Pope who emerged the Season 3 winner of "The Voice."
The 23-year-old pop-rock singer who'd stepped away from her band, Hey Monday, to see if she could make it on her own proved, once and for all, she could. After Rihanna, the Killers, Kelly Clarkson, Bruno Mars, Smokey Robinson, Peter Frampton and Avril Lavigne, as well as many previously eliminated finalists, had performed and the season's results were revealed, Pope was the last contestant standing.
How did she feel? "I don't know," she said, honest till the end. "Amazing."
Pope had begun the competition a little fluttery and unsure, and then grew increasingly confident, connecting with viewers emotionally on songs like "Over You" -- by her coach, Blake Shelton, and his wife, Miranda Lambert –- and, on Monday night, Faith Hill's "Cry." Her success on the show had already brought her a personal victory – a reconnection with the father who'd abandoned her family and dropped out of her life.
On Tuesday night, it also brought her the opportunity to sing with her hero/doppelganger, Avril Lavigne. The hug they shared after dueting on Lavigne's "I'm With You," which Pope had tackled solo earlier in the season, already had to have felt like a win to Pope, whose look and movements mirrored Lavigne's.
Moments before she was named the winner and the confetti fell, Pope thanked the coaches for making her "feel so good" and "believe in her herself" -- something she'll presumably have even less difficulty doing now.
Of course, there's no use crying for the season's second-place finisher, Terry McDermott, the Scottish rocker whose finale duet with Peter Frampton on "Baby, I Love Your Way," host Carson Daly rightly dubbed "awesome." Or for Nicholas David, the hirsute Minnesota soul singer who sang "Cruisin'" with Smokey Robinson in what Daly said "might be the coolest duet we've seen all year."
As Kelly Clarkson reminded the singers, regardless of whether they nabbed the win, they have a shot at a brilliantly successful career, thanks to the huge platform the show has provided them.
No, whether you were rooting for David, McDermott or Pope to end up on top, the finale left you feeling good, if a little sad to see a terrific season come to an end.
Seeing the many finalists who'd already been sent home retake the stage to sing in the finale served as a reminder of how strong the competition had been, how big a feat Pope had pulled off with the win, and how much we'll miss the show before the next season kicks in.
Then again, we won't have to wait long. Season 4 – in which Christina Aguilera (who was celebrating a birthday) and CeeLo Green will take a break, to be replaced by Usher and Shakira, who made a funny finale appearance – will begin in just a few months. And a new flock of singers will arrive, striving to be the next … Cassadee Pope.
Congratulations, Cassadee. And Terry. And Nicholas. We look forward to seeing where you go from here. And thanks for a great season.