The Voice‘s blind auditions are now past the halfway mark, which means the blocks are almost gone, and some coaches are starting to get a little worried about who’s stacking up on the opposing squads. What’s proving to be especially interesting about this year — when the array of coaches offers a little something for everyone — is how often the contestants are willing to break genre when selecting their coaches. Tonight, that proves to be a major thorn in Adam Levine’s side, as he wrangles nary a recruit, even when the auditioners seem like a sure thing. Yikes.
Let’s take it from the top.
Spensha Baker (24 — San Antonio, Texas)
“Blackbird” by The Beatles
Entrant No. 1 for the evening is a delightful genre bender who got her start in gospel music (and even had a label contract and three-year tour), wants to break into country music next, and decided to sing this Beatles ballad. Spensha Baker took a break from music to work in real estate but is ready to get back into the business, and it looks like she’s got an early pair of fans in Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson.
Her rendition of the number is soft and sweet and shows a lot of promise, and while Kelly is amped to help her merge the “soulful and country” worlds, Blake’s statement that she’s his “favorite artist of the year” so far and his deep Nashville connections make him an easy pick.
Team: Blake Shelton
Alexa Cappelli (18 — Upland, California)
“I’ve Got the Music in Me” by the Kiki Dee Band
If The Voice has taught us anything in recent years, it’s that a lot of teenagers have talent beyond their years. In this case, Alexa Cappelli has squeezed singing into her busy school schedule and has a brassy and mature sound to show for it. Granted, she could use some grooming in parts — her note shifts are a little harsh, for one thing — but she’s got enough funk and authenticity to interest both Kelly and Adam Levine.
Although Adam makes a solid pitch for her allegiance to his team, it’s Kelly Clarkson’s music the girl grew up on, and she even auditioned for her school with one of Kelly’s songs, so it’s a good thing Adam’s loaded up that little soundbite from The 40-Year-Old Virgin because it is, indeed, “KELLY CLARKSON!” she opts to work with.
Team: Kelly Clarkson
Adrian Brannan (25 — Ventura, California)
“Two More Bottles of Wine” by Emmylou Harris
Letdown No. 1 for this evening is an, erm, interesting one. Adrian Brennan spends her days “bucking horses” and singing cowboy music for rodeos across the country. That’s all fine and good, but she got her start doing opera, so she’s got this tendency to wail in her Trisha Yearwood-meets-Patsy Cline tenor, and it isn’t enough to convince any coaches to turn around for her.
Wilkes (33 — Waleska, Georgia)
“One Headlight” by the Wallflowers
For a moment, the coaches hesitate to turn around for Wilkes, and it’s the first time I’ve been on the edge of my seat and pounding the desk for someone to tamp that button. Because beneath his raspy, soft tones is a solid singer who hits every note cleanly and accelerates his performance into powerful moments that make me want to hear more.
Sure, it starts out whispery and small, but his the achy vibe in his voice is real and there’s some talent and urgency there that’s ready to be tapped. Based on the song choice, he seems like a shoo-in for Team Adam, but he’s also quite interested in the country music scene, so he opts to join Team Blake instead.
Team: Blake Shelton
Jaron Strom (29 — Shelby, North Carolina)
“This Magic Moment” by Ben E. King
Checking the box for the season’s requisite boy-bander is Jaron Strom, a guy who grew up on Motown music and has a voice that follows in the Jason Mraz/Justin Timberlake tradition, albeit not quite as well. His yawp is just right for the swoony love song aesthetic, but he’s going to need to smooth things out a lot if he wants to make this one-chair-turn opp last longer than round one.
Team: Blake Shelton
Terrence Cunningham (36 — Washington, D.C.)
“My Girl” by the Temptations
Now we’re talking. If we’re lucky, there’s at least one singer each year who seems to transcend the stage during his or her audition, and it looks like Terrence Cunningham is ready to be that guy for season 14. His drawn-down rendition of this classic number is compelling and lovely and has the coaches happily gelatinizing into putty before him. A sampling of the praise:
Blake: “You’re special — there’s nobody like you.”
Adam: “You don’t need us. We need you… I want to coach you more than I’ve ever wanted to coach someone on The Voice.”
Kelly: “I just want to sing with you. I’m so curious why you aren’t already on the radio.”
Unfortunately for everyone else, though, Terrence came into this thing with Alicia Keys in mind for his coach, and since she “felt it,” too, his decision is already made. And Alicia is pretty chuffed about it, bragging, “I think I just won The Voice.” If he can manage to stay this poetic and powerful in his performances, she might be right.
Team: Alicia Keys
In keeping with The Voice‘s tradition of showcasing cast-offs over people who actually got a chair to turn, there are at least three tryouts that get montaged tonight. It doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t worth watching; after all, last year’s winner Chloe Kohanski found herself in a montage early on. This time, it’s Jeslee, who performs “I’m With You” well enough to spark a feud between Blake and Kelly and is ultimately wooed by Blake’s comparison to season 3 winner Cassadee Pope. Then Alicia gives back-to-back bids to Jordan Symone, after a rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” wins her over, and Megan Lee, whose take on “Killing Me Softly With His Song” has her convinced the girl is poised to unleash in later rounds.
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Levelle Davison, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Angel Bonilla
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Justin Kilgore, Jaclyn Levey, Christiana Danielle, Jamai, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Jordan Symone, Megan Lee
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Molly Stevens, Dylan Hartigan, Jackie Foster, Jorge Eduardo, Alexa Cappelli
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Kaleb Lee, Pryor Baird, Brett Hunter, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Jaron Strom, Jeslee