Trae Patton/NBC
Jodi Walker
May 20, 2015 AT 11:57 AM EDT

The season 8 finale of The Voice ended up being the inverse of the season 7 Finale in every way: whereas last season started with a small talent pool and whittled it down to a dynamic Final 3, any of whom could have taken the whole thing home, this season started with an overwhelmingly talented Top 20, and came down to a group who sang well, but only one artist who could really sell a song.

And that artist was Sawyer Fredericks, the completely unsurprising, but very much deserving winner of The Voice season 8. The soft-spoken musical wunderkind from a small farm in New York is barely old enough to legally drive the Nissan he was gifted tonight, but, in addition to the car, he’s the brand new owner of a record contract with Republic Records and the weight of being The Voice’s eighth winner to date, without a single superstar to speak of. That’s not to say there haven’t been some solid singles from former Voice winners (and losers!), but that is to say there’s a good bit of pressure on the owner of a hat collection so impressive, it’s only rivaled by his coach Pharrell, to do something big with the opportunity he’s won.

As a whole, this season of The Voice produced a number of artists who I thought at various points in the competition could not only win this thing, but become viable recording artists. And those people (okay, women) returned tonight, proving that they very much still could. But the influx of talent in this season and their potential to succeed in the future with or without the “Voice” title, doesn’t make the winner any less likely to become the show’s biggest breakout yet. Considering that Sawyer currently has 14 songs on the iTunes Top 200, and that his original single is sitting pretty at #2, topped only by the unconquerable Taylor Swift, the 16-year-old stands a good chance.

Sawyer’s winning moment may not have been surprising, but it sure was sweet… and especially welcome after an hour of “recap” of Monday night’s performances, and one hour and 55 minutes of the results not being revealed. Still though, the Bring Back performances were fun, each of the coaches had a funny moment or two, and of course, the most aspirational of all singing show winners, Kelly Clarkson was on hand to show the children how it’s done.  Here are a few of the best moments leading up to Sawyer’s coronation…

Was there ever really a Top 20? We were young… so young.

The now mostly eliminated Top 20 opened the show with a melody of Fun. songs, but the most fun thing about the performance was recognizing the artists you’d totally forgotten about—Lexi Davilla, hey girl!—and those you can’t believe are here for Bring Back performances instead of confetti-filled celebratory winner’s singles… always in my heart, Kimberly Nichole.

Let’s Keep This Famous Person Around

Sometimes when I hear Meghan Trainor talk I feel like she’s playing a joke on me, but the woman is clearly a savvy recording artist: She can write a damn hit, and she can sing it too. Trainor performed an acoustic version of her jazzy hit, “Dear Future Husband” with a ukulele in hand, and co-writer Kevin Kadish on guitar (and a bunch of precariously placed lamps), offering a good example for our soon-to-be crowned winner that there’s room in the record industry for music that sounds like a current spin on a different generation of music. Now, next year, let’s get her to write one of the Top 4’s original songs.

Xtina Makes a Funny

Christina Aguilera is constantly full of surprises. If you’ve seen her recent visit to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, then you already know that she can do seriously convincing Cher, Shakira, and Britney Spears impression while singing; but tonight, she went all the way in with full impressions of those three, in addition to Miley Cyrus, Sia, and Lady Gaga auditioning for The Voice. Hearing Christina impersonate Cher saying, “Adam Levine, is that my accountant?” was never something I knew I needed but… it is. And also maybe an entire Xtina Variety Hour. (In fact, all of the coaches’ skits were pretty great.)

NEXT: Kelly Clarkson is a singing show’s dream, even more famous people perform, and our winner is crowned…

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