Even though all of these blind auditions for The Voice obviously took place in one sitting — we could probably describe every single article of clothing worn by Adam Levine, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, and Blake Shelton by now — it feels like the coaches are starting to really find their groove…and not just with their contestant picks, either. They’re already barbing back and forth like it’s old business, and they’re selectively stacking up their teams without hesitating to be competitive with one another. Well, except for Miley and Alicia, who’ve made a secret pact to never besmirch one another — the exact opposite of what Adam and Blake have going on with their frenemybros situation — but that’s all just part of the plan for global female domination. Mwahahaha! Just kidding…maybe.
Anyway, the story of tonight’s round three is it features one heckuva contestant comeback and a lot of jabs from Blake to Miley (no wonder they separated those two). Here’s who came out this time, where they landed, and why:
Aaron Gibson (25 – Atlanta, GA)
“Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
Okay, so Miley Cyrus probably just found her soul brother in this Aaron Gibson guy, who, like her, boasts that same “growly, scratchy, husky voice” that has become her signature sound…well, since ”Party in the U.S.A.” anyway. As his name might hint, Gibson’s got a gift with the guitar, too, so he and Miley are already ready to make ~the climb~ together…no matter how many local name-drops Blake’s got in the queue to try winning him over.
Simone Gundy (26 – Arlington, TX)
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Ben E. King
Every year there’s at least one booming R&B singer who makes Adam lose his mind, and this year it’s Simone, a former teen mom who’s put her dreams on hold to raise her son — but who’s now finally ready to explore her stage talent. Miley makes a good point that Simone has no trouble commanding the room and her bid feels more like a performance than an audition, but ultimately it’s Adam’s persistence that wins the day. “Right now I’m an animal, and I know I’m going to get you on my team,” he declares, surprisingly sans any teeth-baring. Blake does try to pitch in and rustle up some friendly competition, by suggesting Adam’s too “corporate” for her obvious sense of artistry and that she should aim for Team Miley instead, but Simone sees right through that hogwash and pours a little sugar on Team Adam. The fact that her pinchable-cheeked little 10-year-old told her to pick Adam certainly didn’t hurt.
Samantha Landrum (22 – Laurel, MS)
“Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain
Word to the wise: Steer very clear of anything by Shania Twain on this or any other singing-competition show for the rest of eternity — the twangy Twain train only makes one stop and that’s karaoke amateur night, as Samantha here found out the hard way. Good thing she’s still got her homegrown stage (and tractor) back at her family’s faux plantation to go back to.
NEXT: One of these things is not like the other…
Josh Gallagher (25 – Nashville, TN)
“Stay a Little Longer” by Brothers Osborne
Blake’s right about this man; Josh Gallagher came to this show to make it in his new hometown of Nashville. No, his voice isn’t perfect — unlike everyone else who blames their hiccups on nerves, his tremulousness is audibly running right through his otherwise nice voice to prove it — but it’s good enough for Blake and Alicia to engage in their first true coach-off. Fun? Eh. Josh goes with the obvious choice. The only thing that’s really dramatic about it is how it gives Blake the chance to throw out another one of his “aw, you’re cute” disses about Alicia’s effort to wrangle in a country artist (insert groan). Besides, Alicia did say, “daggon’ daggon’” so she’s obviously got some kinda country connection going on.
Gabriel Violett (28 – New York, NY)
“Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes
This guy has got to go down as having the weirdest non-music-related job in the history of this show. In addition to being an alum of Broadway’s Spring Awakening, he’s also a onesie-size model. You read that right. He tries on adult onesies to check the sizes for a living, which makes Miley his unintentional benefactor in life thanks to her social-media-documented allegiance to that exact type of cozy wear. Miley didn’t pick him tonight, though. Instead, Alicia was feeling his pop vocals and dug his ambition to do R&B-pop with his own “twist,” whatever that might be. She compared his voice to nuzzling into a safe embrace, which is a lot like one of those outfits he spends so much time in, so maybe the missed Miley connection wasn’t such a bummer.
Michael Sanchez (25 – San Diego, CA)
“Use Me” by Bill Withers
One of the funniest parts of blind auditions is when the coaches get gobsmacked by the mismatched appearance of certain singers with their voices. In the case of Michael Sanchez, whose voice easily blends into any 1960s Motown number — but who looks like an extra on Happy Days — Adam’s befuddled by what he sees when he turns around. No matter. He’s got a spot on Team Alicia by default, because she’s the only one who turned her chair for his bustling bass tones.
Austin Allsup (32 – Fort Worth, TX)
“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones
A lifetime spent soaking in so much country air did Blake Shelton right on one account: The man has an impeccable memory (let’s just pretend he didn’t get some kind of producer cue here for entertainment’s sake, k?). Here’s a guy with whom he actually performed back in the day! And if that blast from the past wasn’t spooky enough, the guy’s dad (Tommy Allsup) is another longtime performer who just so happened to flip a coin for Ritchie Valens’ seat on THE plane. Does anyone else have goosebumps right now? If so, it might be from the performance itself, which was a not-too-shabby rendition of the Stones’ classic. His voice was more Robert Plant than Mick Jagger to my ears, but what difference does it make, really? He and Blake were meant to be, so they were and now here they are again. Now we just need to see them recreate their cheek-kiss picture from so long ago, and we’re gold.
Khaliya Kimberlie (16 – New Mexico)
“Dibs” by Kelsea Ballerini
They talk a lot about vibrato on this show, but the term that really applies to this contestant is just vibe. She and Miley make so much sense together, not just musically, but also personality-wise. She’s got some things to work on for sure, but Blake’s not the one to help her get there, even if she is an audial dead ringer for Sara Evans or Jennifer Nettles — the latter of which Blake literally just name-dropped a few minutes before.
NEXT: Adam’s stripping down for this dude…
Cooper Bascom (28 – Winston-Salem, NC)
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
During certain moments of this gent’s performance, he really did sound like Marcus Mumford — but he’s still got a long, long way to go before he’s ready to make it onto one of these four competition squads. Luckily for him, he’s got a solid backup plan in play and can always go further in his education — although Blake encourages him to come back again after a little refinement, so who knows if this is the last time we hear from him on The Voice.
Halle Tomlinson (18 – Boulder, CO)
“New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel
Since Miley Cyrus took the last Norah Jones mini-me away from Alicia Keys — that is, Darby Walker, whose audition is replayed here tonight but was also covered in the pre-premiere Olympics show — it’s really only fair Alicia nabs the next. Adam made a play to scoop up this soft-rock singer, but when Alicia says things like “Your voice is an instant recognizable signature,” it’s hitting people in the deep.
Nolan Neal (35 – Nashville, TN)
“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John
If you watched the blinds from season 10, chances are you’ll remember this guy’s gut-wrenching story about his father’s suicide and the personal hardships Nolan endured from the guilt associated with his dad’s death. It was a feel-puncher, to say the least, and seeing him get sent away like that was a major, major bummer. So, his earning a four-chair turnaround based on his bloody close-to-perfect rock rendition of “Tiny Dancer” feels extra sweet. And having him reunite with Adam — who did, to his credit, say he wanted Nolan to come back with a different song after Incubus’ “Drive” just didn’t cut it last time — is even sweeter. The fact Adam was willing to strip off his suit to show his sleeve tats in solidarity for his latest recruit was hilariously endearing. Adam’s got big plans for this one now: “You’re gonna be the first guy who went home last season and who won this season,” he assures him. Could this be the first true fan-fave of season 11?
- Team Adam (8) – Riley Elmore, Andrew DeMuro, Billy Gilman, Brendan Fletcher, Bindi Liebowitz, Elia Esparza, Simone Gundy, Nolan Neal
- Team Alicia (9) – Wé McDonald, Jason Warrior, Dave Moisan, Christian Cuevas, Lauren Diaz, Josh Halverson, Gabriel Violett, Michael Sanchez, Halle Tomlinson
- Team Blake (9) – Sundance Head, Dana Harper, Gabe Broussard, Ethan Tucker, Dan Shafer, Josh Gallagher, Austin Allsup, Christian Fermin, Preston James
- Team Miley (9) – Darby Walker, Courtnie Ramirez, Ali Caldwell, Sa’Rayah, Sophia Urista, Lane Mack, Karlee Metzger, Aaron Gibson, Khaliiya Kimberlie
Tastiest coach ribs of the night:
The running gag Miley’s leading where they sub in nouns for Blake’s “Honey Bee” just keeps getting better. This round, they’ve added salt and pepper, Tom and Jerry, and Oprah Winfrey to the list. This, quite possibly, might never get old.
Blake making fun of Miley’s loquaciousness might be a little offensive, but it’s hard not to laugh when he says things like, “Oh my GOD, when do you breathe? Do you have gills?” and “The flowers are going to die on your clothes. You’re sucking the oxygen out of this room.”
Miley (to Adam): “You remind me of my mom.”