It took us two weeks — or 10 hours in TV time — but here we stand: four complete teams, three Ed Sheeran covers, 48 successful Blind Auditions, and a stadium full of desperate, slightly creepy Blake-shaped cardboard fans are all that remain of the first phase of season 9. Congratulations, everyone. We made it!
The final eight contestants include some of the most interesting performers of the season. First to go is 35-year-old Dustin Christensen. Like a lot of singers this season, Dustin has had some previous success in the music industry, but he hasn’t been able to parlay that into the type of career he wants. His gravelly, expressive tone is a great fit for Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train.” Blake immediately brings up Neil Diamond, and the comparison isn’t far off. Dustin’s performance proves he has power but also leaves room for his gentler side. The song earns a four-chair turn, and Blake secures his first singer of the episode.
Next is another Dustin, Dustin Monk (and I’m sure, coming up, there will be plenty of Dustin versus Dustin jokes made by all). He takes on “Bright Lights” by Gary Clark Jr. Dustin’s smoky, growly voice is obviously his selling point, but he has plenty of technique to back up his natural gifts. His runs are spot on, and he gives us a peak at his higher register, which I’d love to hear more of. Blake and Adam go toe-to-toe over the performer, and it’s Adam who scores another team member. Both coaches now have just one slot left.
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Chase Kerby of Oklahoma City introduces himself by explaining that he’d sung in the pop-rock band The City Lives, a big enough outfit to go on tour with emo heroes The All-American Rejects five years ago. None of that information would prepare you for Chase’s performance of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” though. His delicate, graceful voice immediately creates an intimate atmosphere, even in the crowded theater. He sounds vulnerable and intimate, and he manages to make a song as overplayed as “The Scientist” sound fresh and personal. Only Gwen turns, and it’s every other coach’s loss.
After Chase comes 16-year-old Shelby Brown, from Elberta, Ala. Shelby says she chose to sing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Stars” because it allows her to work in between rock and country. Shelby has a definite twang going on, but she fits so much else into just the first few lines of her performance, including strong dynamics, effortless runs, and a distinctive tone. Shelby earns the final four-chair turn of the Blinds, and the coaches all remark on how well she fit the song to her voice. Everyone wants Shelby, but Adam scoops her up, completing his team.
NEXT: The coaches complete their teams