I remember a time when “The Voice” wasn’t holding blind auditions for its third season. The skies were blue. The fields were green. Dinosaurs roamed the earth. Good times.
OK, it hasn’t been that long, but you’ll be forgiven if it seems that way. Still, you really can’t blame NBC for stretching these auditions out as long as possible. Thus far, it seems like the ratings gamble for the network has paid off, with the show siphoning off viewers from other networks and helping The Peacock win the first official night of the Fall TV season. You read that correctly: NBC won the night. Look for cats and dogs living together anytime soon now. Mass chaos, is what I’m saying.
Let’s get into tonight’s one-hour episode. There are only twelve spots still open on the four teams combined at this point, so the competition will get fierce. Chairs will spin EXTRA hard, I’m telling you. They’ll spin so hard that Christina Aguilera’s fan will fly out and cut the head of CeeLo Green’s bird clean off. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton may or may stop flirting with each other long enough to actually notice.
As always, I’ll be keeping a running diary. As always, the times below are EST. As always, if the sob stories these contestants roll out raise my eyebrows, I reserve the right to make up new ones. In honor of “The Avengers” coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray today, I’ll have The Hulk have a stab at their backstory.
8:00 p.m. “Nobody knows what I’m up to. That’s my secret weapon!” says Green. Looking over his current team, I agree! I have no idea what he’s up to, either.
8:02 p.m. “It’s another exciting day of blind auditions!” lies Carson Daly.
8:02 p.m. Let’s kick things off with 19-year old Sylvia Yacoub. Originally from Egypt, Sylvia’s father moved his family to America in order to provide more opportunities for the women in his family. Yacoub notes that her mother, who herself was forbidden from singing while in Egypt, serves as inspiration for her today.
8:03 p.m. Yacoub takes to the stage to perform Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World”. Aguilera is either really impressed or really hot. It’s hard to read her fan action. Yacoub is solid, albeit unimpressive, in the early passages. And just as I type that, Aguilera, Shelton, and Green press their respective buttons in rapid succession. Insert obligatory “they probably hear something that I don’t” disclaimer here.
8:06 p.m. Shelton appreciates the fact that Yacoub actually got stronger, not weaker, as each coach turned around. Given how many contestants thus far have faltered upon seeing someone press his or her button, it’s a fair point. Green actually has to get the crowd to quiet down…before delivering a deadpan plea for her to pick him. Oh CeeLo, you cray cray.
8:08 p.m. With three options before her, Sylvia Yacoub becomes the fourteenth member of Team Aguilera. “You have, like, my dream hair!” gushes Aguilera, which is of course incredibly important on a show called “The Voice.”
8:13 p.m. North Carolina hog farmer IJ Quinn is our next contestant. He tells the camera that he has a voice that sounds like one belonging to a girl, so I’m praying for some confused faces if/when the coaches press their buttons.
8:14 p.m. Quinn picks Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” to wow the coaches, and his voice doesn’t sound particularly feminine to these ears. He has a high register, to be sure. But it’s also a fairly weak one as well, with little power supporting his voice until the final notes of the song. Very forgettable performance overall, and one that inspires no one to turn around.
8:17 p.m. “I say it with love…but I thought [you were] a female,” says Levine. (OK, once again the coaches and I are getting two different audio feeds, I guess.) While Levine appreciates Quinn as one singer with a high voice to another, he also felt the hog farmer was straining throughout the performance. Aguilera enjoyed his energy, if not the execution.
8:22 p.m. Carson Daly hits the road to personally hand an invitation to smog technician Charlie Rey. Rey works there with his father, even though exposure to chemicals inside the shop is damaging both his voice and his health over the long term. Channing Tatum is already contacting his agent to play Rey in the inevitable movie should Rey win this contest. HULK HOPE REY CAN BUY BREATHING APPARATUS WITH WINNINGS.
8:23 p.m. Michael Bublé’s “Home”? I didn’t expect that. The song’s vocal melody is rather low and subdued at the outset, which doesn’t let Rey stretch out much for the first thirty seconds. But once the song lifts up, Rey is there to help shoulder the vocal load, prompting Shelton to turn around in appreciation. Levine soon follows, which unleashes profuse swearing from Shelton to Levine that threatens to undo the bromance between the coaches. Upon completing the performance, Rey drops to his knees in relief. In doing so, we learn that Rey might want to think about new deodorant for the Battle Rounds.
8:25 p.m. “I couldn’t hear your name because all of these girls screaming!” notes Shelton after Rey introduces himself post-performance. Shelton praises Rey’s vibrato, so if you have “vibrato” on your “The Voice” Bingo card, good for you! Levine and Shelton start bickering over who is the better coach, and it’s straight up adorable, y’all. Rey just wants to get a word in so he can start the next phase of his career sooner rather than later.
8:28 p.m. With the coaches finally allowing him to answer, Charlie Rey becomes…the victim of a commercial break. Well, that’s annoying. That’s what happens when two judges make the auditions about themselves and not the talent. That’s also what happens when NBC wants to charge as much high-priced advertising as possible on one of the few shows people actually watch on this network.
8:33 p.m. We’re back! Well, if you’re reading this, you’re still here, I suppose. But I had to watch Matthew Perry get knocked over during a hockey game in what felt like the 400th “Go On” promo this week. In any case, with the commercial break behind us, Charlie Rey becomes the thirteenth member of Team Blake. Rey might not have the dynamic presence of other performers, but might be a wild card to look out for down the line in this competition.
8:34 p.m. Moving on, we meet Amanda Brown, a gospel-loving artist who found true musical religion by listening to Radiohead. Radiohead? I have my new favorite contestant! She tells Daly that she has experience in backing up artists such as Adele, but now wants to grow as an artist on her own. Oh please oh please don’t sing “Rolling In The Deep”. I just had that song surgically removed from my brain. How about “Paranoid Android”? No one will see THAT coming!
8:36 p.m. To make her own musical mark, Brown performs Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”. It’s a good match between song and performer, with all four judges bobbing their heads along to the number. Still, no one turns around until the final moment, when Green presses his button and keeps Brown in the foreground a bit longer.
8:38 p.m. “That last thing you did? WHY DIDN’T YOU DO IT EARLIER?” Levine pleads. I will never understand that excuse. It’s not as if she suddenly started being awesome in the parking lot after leaving the building. “Yay for me!” says Green, and he should be pleased. After all, Amanda Brown becomes the fourteenth member of Team CeeLo.
8:44 p.m. Next up, we meet 55-year old Yolanda Barber. While she has extensive musical history, including stints on cruise ships, she now drives a school bus to make ends meet. Daly calls her the most “experienced” artist in the competition, and while it’s fun to bag on Carson, his exchange with her in genuinely charming and effortless. This is miles better than him offering to work in Charlie Rey’s place back at the “Smog Shop”.
8:45 p.m. “I really thought it was too late for me,” Barber notes backstage, before breaking down into tears. When a nineteen year old says this, I snicker. When Barber says it, I feel it. This is either going to be great or cause me to punch a wall.
8:46 p.m. Barber chooses Oleta Adams’ “Get Here” as her audition song, and it’s a strong if far from perfect rendition of the song. But while all the coaches focus intently on the performance, no one turns around for her. Well, that’s just ridiculous. I’m guessing Aguilera can hear me type that, as she buries her face in her fan upon completion of the song.
8:48 p.m. “Let me process this, being so stupid…” mourns Levine. Aguilera explains that each coach is looking for a specific sound at this point in the competition, as a way to explain away his or her indecision. That seems like a ridiculous argument. Given how historically arbitrary the Battle Rounds have proceeded, why not load up on talent and roll the dice down the line? This makes me sad. And I’m sad that “The Voice” is making me sad. Sigh. I guess I’m invested in this season. You win, Giant Hand Statue. (Side note: I think Barber is handling this better than I am.)
8:51 p.m. After the last commercial break, during which I created the need for new drywall in my office, we meet our final contestant of the night: Cassadee Pope. Her former band once toured with Fall Out Boy, which is a pretty brave thing to admit on national television. And wouldn’t you know it? Daly just happens to have a video message from Pete Wentz himself, who took time from his busy schedule of doing whatever Pete Wentz does nowadays to wish her good luck. “Pete Wentz just wanted to say a little something to you,” Daly helpfully explains to her after that message finishes. You don’t say? HULK SMASH DALY. DALY WAS NICE WITH BARBER BUT JUST OUT-DALY’D THE JOINT UP ALL OVER AGAIN.
8:54 p.m. To help bolster her solo career, Pope chooses Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn”. And all previous snark aside, she’s great from Note One. Shelton, Aguilera, and Levine agree and turn around within a few bars. Green eventually joins them, making Pope the only unanimous choice tonight and, I believe, the entire week. I still don’t like Fall Out Boy, but I might be a fan of Cassadee Pope after that performance.
8:56 p.m. Highlighting the unanimous vote, Aguilera notes that Pope’s performance contained musical elements in which all four coaches individually specialize. “I know exactly what we could do. I think it would be amazing,” says Levine, hopefully talking in terms of musicianship. (After Green’s invocation of ZZ Top’s “Legs” upon seeing her, anything is possible.) Shelton calls Pope a “superstar,” likening her to the three other coaches in the competition. High praise indeed.
8:58 p.m. “I have to go with my gut instinct,” says Pope, and Cassadee Pope becomes the fourteenth member of Team Blake. That’s a huge get for Shelton, who had a strong week overall and bolstered his team significantly tonight.
Updated team rosters, ranked in order of strongest to weakest…
Team Adam: Bryan Keith, Joe Kirkland, Samuel Mouton, Loren Allred, Nicole Nelson, Melanie Martinez,Brian Scartocci, Alessandra Guercio, Adanna Duru, Collin McLoughlin, Benji, Michelle Brooks-Thompson, Sam James, Brandon Mahone (Total: 14)
Team Blake: Terry McDermott, Gracia Harrison, Eric Musicman, Julio Caesar Castillo, 2Steel Girls, Liz Davis, Kelly Crapa, Suzanna Choffel, Michaela Paige, Ryan Jirovec, Lelia Broussard, Terisa Griffin, Charlie Rey, Cassadee Pope (Total: 14)
Team Christina: De’Borah, Devyn Deloera, Adriana Louise, Aquile, Nelly’s Echo, Lisa Scinta, Marissaann, Beat Frequency, Paulina, Joselyn Rivera, Dez Duron, Laura Vivas, Jordan Pruitt, Sylvia Yacoub (Total: 14)
Team CeeLo: Daniel Rosa, Trevin Hunte, MacKenzie Bourg, Domo, JR Aquino,Nicholas David, Avery Wilson, Todd Kessler, Ben Taub, Emily Earle, Mycle Wastman, Diego Val, Alexis Marceaux, Amanda Brown (Total: 14)
Levine still has the deeper roster, but not by much as this point. Rey and Pope are both stellar additions for Shelton, far outshining the pickups by Aguilera and Green.
And now individual grades…
They Stood Out: Charlie Rey, Cassadee Pope
They Scraped By: Sylvia Yacoub
They Got Robbed: Yolanda Barber (Don’t even get me started.)
What did you think of the latest blind auditions? Do you actually care about team composition, or simply who makes it to the Round of 64? Did I overpraise Barber or sell Yacoub short? Sound off below!
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