Ah yes, we’ve come to the time in the Blind Auditions where contestants who would have turned every chair and instigated a four-way begging contest just a week ago are now garnering thoughtful chin taps and maybe a last minute two-chair-turn. The coaches’ teams are nearly full and Blake, Adam, Christina, and Pharrell have to be particularly selective; but everyone still has room on their team to try and sway a country artist to the non-country dark side. And every time, I think for just a second that they might be swayed—but, of course, the draw of meeting Miranda Lambert and probably getting a record deal is too great. These people are here to try and make it to the end, not play around with genres.
We’re also getting to the point in the process where it becomes especially confusing that we get montages of contestants who are going through to Battle Rounds, but full segments with people who don’t turn any chairs. That “soulful insurance underwriter” we saw in tonight’s montage seemed great! (Carson has clearly been working on his descriptions.) So, while the red buttons got a little more down time tonight, even the montage players in Round Four of the Blind Auditions showed an uptick in interesting performances. Basically everyone who got through tonight was told through a series of dramatic cardigan removal and frantic pillow disposing that they can and will be a star, but who’s really got the goods?
Ashley Morgan, 16; “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
Ashley is a background vocalist—a Voice staple—looking to strike out on her own. Whitney Houston is a risky choice if you’re trying to stand out, but Ashley certainly gave a competent performance and showed that she knows her way around a piece of music. She’s got the kind of voice that wears power well, and I liked how you could hear her smiling while she was singing. Blake and Pharrell did, too, and congratulated each other for turning around for a while before telling Ashley that they’re both the kind of coach who can help her make music to make a difference in the world. Blake gave it a good effort, but Ashley is thinking big picture…TEAM PHARRELL
Koryn Hawthorne, 16; “My Kind of Love”
I am constantly baffled by how put together the teenagers that come on this show are, and Koryn had the voice to match her mature aura. She picks the perfect Emily Sandé to show off her rich lower register, turning Christina’s chair quickly, and grabs Pharrell and Blake too when she nails the escalating chorus. Pharrell correctly tells her that he loves her combination of confidence and humility, but Christina makes her pitch all about the love and emotion that music can bring, and after some inter-coach hugging, Koryn makes her choice: TEAM CHRISTINA
Lexi Dávila, 17; “Dreaming of You”
Lexi is yet another beautiful and put together 17-year-old, but she at least has the nerves of an amateur performer. They show through in her vocal a bit, but “Dreaming of You” was a good choice to harness the young sound of her voice, and Blake and Adam heard the potential. Blake rightfully tells Lexi he specializes in erasing nerves (never forget Xenia!), but Adam tells her how he heard great potential in her big notes and plans to help her take it from a seven to a 10. TEAM ADAM
(Let’s Hope It’s Their Last) MONTAGE: High school pop singer Josh Batstone chose Team Adam; indie pop singer Katelyn Read and the aforementioned “soulful insurance underwriter” Ameera Delandro went Team Christina; and pop singer Bay Brooks is now Team Blake.
Brenna Yaeger, 19; “The House That Built Me”
It seemed like Brenna’s intro package was going a little overboard on the “growing up in a log cabin her dad built” stuff, but then it all became clear… Brenna and her siblings basically lived the lyrics of Miranda Lambert’s extremely personal “The House That Built Me” and Brenna was going to go out there and sing it in front of her husband, Blake Shelton. Thank goodness she did it justice, and though she started a little stronger than she finished, Brenna has the sweet, country voice, amazing hair, and memorable presence to grow with the help of a coach, and she got the one she wanted at the last second: TEAM BLAKE
NEXT: A “Superstar” turns all four chairs…[pagebreak]
Jeremy Gaynor, 30; “Superstar”
I’m surprised Jeremy didn’t get the cushy “last performance of the night” spot, because this guy had it all: He’s a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, the lead singer in the West Point band, met his newly pregnant wife while singing in the church, and is incredibly handsome and charming. He has a smooth and soulful voice that gets Christina before he even gets the first verse out. His stage experience is clear and after getting the rest of the coaches to turn too, Adam tells Jeremy that there’s something about the charm of the way he performs that you really have to see to understand. All the guys swoon over him, but Christina’s passion for making him a household name is the ticket: TEAM CHRISTINA
Jack Gregori, 37; “Ring of Fire”
You might not peg Jack as an aspiring country star, but you’d probably choose that before you’d assume he was a big wig lawyer. He was though, before the market crashed and he realized that it was time to spend his life doing what he really wanted to: Getting down on some Johnny Cash. Jack had a lovely baritone voice and a real spirit of classic folksy blues about him, but I had a little trouble imaging him doing much else. But you better believe Adam is going to make him try because this one chair turn finally got Adam the country singer he’s been dreaming of: TEAM ADAM
Briar Jonnee, 20; “Take a Bow”
Briar is from a tiny town in Mississippi and her bewilderment at how she could possibly break into the music industry without something like The Voice to get her there felt very relatable. That, in combination with the emotional conviction of her performance—oh and that she’s gorgeous like a pop star—are probably what made the occasional shakiness of her vocal excusable. Because in between the nerves was a full, charming voice that had Blake and Pharrell battling it out. Blake complimented Briar’s “skorts” and raved about her vibrato, but Pharrell talked to her about holding back and how he could help her really communicate the way she wants to. TEAM PHARRELL
BRIAN JOHNSON, 24; “Reason to Believe”
Brian is the kind of artist who loves The Voice and The Voice loves him back; after an adolescence filled with being bullied for being the chubby kid with a high voice, Brian was finally able to embrace his love of music in college, but says he’s glad for the blind audition because he’s not totally confident in the way he looks. But you couldn’t tell it from the way he performed—he had great energy and movement, and near perfect pitch. Adam tells him he draws people in emotionally “about as naturally as a performer can,” but Blake finds exactly what Brian is looking for when he tells him that he wants unique people, and there’s no one on his team like Brian: TEAM BLAKE
Corey Kent White, 20; “Chicken Fried”
The last spot of the night was saved for Corey Kent White, and I must say, he’s probably earned it. The thing that stood out to me from Corey’s intro package was just how much work he’s already put into making a career out of music at just 20 years old. His time spent on the college circuit was clear in his stage presence, but I wasn’t expecting such a unique-sounding rasp out of a cute, young guy. That, on top of really great pitch, had me stunned that no one was turning for him, and Pharrell too by the look on his face when he finally hit his button at the last minute, taking Blake along with him. Despite their tardiness, both guys were giving the sell their all once they had the floor, and we finally got to see Pharrell go all in, ripping off his sweater, marching straight up to Corey, and telling him that he can handle country. But Corey wants a record contract, and Blake has been known to get those for his artists—his sell is just pointing to country radio: TEAM BLAKE
There are five spots left to fill in the last installment of the Blind Auditions tomorrow… what do you think of each coach’s team now that they’re almost full? Do you have a good understanding of the artists going into the Battle Rounds or are you expecting some surprises out of a few diamond in the (montage) rough?