“I know, in my mind and in my heart, that you are the winner of this show.”
In most contexts, Adam Levine’s declaration, delivered to Tessanne Chin after her showstopping rendition of “I Have Nothing,” would have made for a touching, flawless endorsement.
Monday’s final season five “The Voice” performance show was not one of those scenarios.
In effectively crowning Chin the winner, Levine was not simply declaring his preference for Chin over Team Christina Aguilera contestant Jacquie Lee. He was also revealing that he favored Chin over his own contestant Will Champlin.
Levine only amplified that perception of favoritism when, following Champlin’s rendition of “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You,” he commented, “I can’t see any negatives in the fact that you are here in the final three. So really, regardless of the outcome, I kind of couldn’t care less about it….You’ve won, you’re here, it’s over.”
For one of his contestants, Levine felt it imperative to crown her the singular winner of the show. For another, he was content to celebrate his mere involvement in the show’s finale.
To the extent that Levine is involved in a competition with fellow coach Aguilera, his desire to push the team member he believes is his strongest is understandable. But insofar as all contestants count on full support from their coaches, Levine’s clear favoritism seemed unfair to Will Champlin.
Unlike Tessanne and Jacquie, Will faced the burden of not being his own coach’s pick to win.
As discussion about the line began to consume Twitter, Champlin publicly weighed in.
“Yes I heard what @adamlevine said about Tess before I performed,” wrote Champlin. “Don’t need him to think Im a winner or want me to win-I want it enough myself.”
Champlin quickly deleted his comment, but when a user confronted the contestant with a screenshot, he explained, “I’m sorry you feel that way. No drama, just an honest response to the many questions &comments. I feel I should weigh in.”
(Update: Regarding the deleted Tweet, Champlin also added, “So somehow my tweet was deleted amidst the replies, but to recap: I feel like a winner & very thankful no matter what anyone says or does.“)
Champlin was, however, sure to include praise for his fellow finalists. “Let me also say that @Tessanne & @jacquieleemusic are beyond spectacular!They deserve every wonderful thing that comes their way. Much love!”
NBC’s “The Voice” will crown its fifth winner during Tuesday’s live results show.