The blind auditions came to a close together with a fearsome rivalry brewing. Forget Adam and Blake; Blake and Gwen were at each other’s throats.
Going after 20-year-old pop singer Ryan Sill, Gwen told Blake: “I’m going to have to slice you.” (He chose Gwen.) When they both tried to woo the 17-year-old Fernanda Bosch, Blake challenged: “This won’t be a cotton candy throwing contest here,” referring to Gwen and Pharrell’s nice-guys-come-in-first attitude when it came to competing for contestants. (She chose Blake.) And when Gwen tried to play the I’m a girl too card with Mayra Alvarez, 26, who hails from the same city as last year’s runner-up Jake Worthington, Blake said: “This is not The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” (She chose Gwen.)
The blind auditions are now over, and we have our teams going forward: Adam finished up his team first in the evening. Gwen’s is the most uneven team gender-wise, boasting only four male contestants. Blake’s, naturally, has some country twang. Pharrell’s has some of my personal favorite contestants: Maiya Sykes and Elyjuh Rene, for instance.
But before the blind auditions ended, here’s what went down:
The best performance of the evening in my book happened to be the first: Matt McAndrew, a 23-year-old who sang a gorgeous version of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” That tattooed and spectacled McAndrew seemed the most radio-ready of the night, performing a cover that was thought through, unique, but also honest to the original. It’s a rendition I could easily see going onto my iPod. McAndrew got three chairs to turn, but ultimately ended up with Adam, the first coach to turn for him. “There’s something about you that is really spectacular,” Adam said.
Runner-up goes to Brittany Butler whose funky twist on “The Girl from Ipanema” had Gwen and Pharrell trying to out-sweet one another in head-to-head conflict. “They are going to fight each other with rainbows and happiness,” Adam said, later labeling their duel a “candy cane sword fight.” Butler’s version of the classic tune reminded me of Amy Winehouse’s, though the 21-year-old Butler wasn’t trying to imitate the late, great Winehouse, simply putting her own new and interesting spin on the song.
Best performance to feature the worst fashion
Beth Spangler, 30, did a great job of belting out Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had,” proving that she doesn’t need to be a country singer just because she has the accent of a country singer. Spangler got all four chairs to turn and prompted the fiercest battle of the night. Pharrell tried to prove his devotion by standing for Beth. Adam explained how meaningful his turn was because he had only one open spot. (She ended up going for Adam.) Gwen tried to play up the fact that she and Beth are both females and tried to entice Beth with her fashion connections. Gwen even pointed out that her outfit was particularly Stefani. “This is so you, isn’t it?” Beth said of her outfit. Oh, that outfit. It’s superficial, but I was completely distracted by her odd get-up: skintight leather overalls and a striped shirt, a mixture of Where’s Waldo? and Catwoman.
Biggest disappointment (for Blake)
The coaches’ arguments for not turning their chairs for Evan Watson’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” were totally valid. Watson over-sang the song. Still, the disappointment on Blake’s face was obvious when he discovered that Watson and his wife run a brewery. “A brewery? Dammit,” Blake said.
Gwen was pulling out all the stops during this show, but perhaps her weakest attempt to win over a contestant, was the connection she drew to the Macy Gray-singing Fernanda Bosch, who works with her mother coaching swimming to children with special needs. “A lot of people don’t realize that I actually was a swim teacher as well when I was 17,” Gwen said. Well, that’s not really much use for a singing competition.
Most likely to join a boy band
Ryan Sill was angling for this spot early on in the night during his performance of “Secrets,” holding his hand over his heart when singing, but he was overtaken during the last number of the night. Blake nabbed 15-year-old Justin Johnes as his last contestant. Though this was Johnes’ first time singing in front of a crowd—he’s a YouTuber, naturally—he nailed “Let Her Go.” Expect Johneshomies to be popping up soon. (That is how it’s done, right?)