'The Voice': Our top 10
Now that the blind auditions are over, 48 singers are moving on to the battle rounds on NBC's ''The Voice'' (Mondays at 8 p.m.). We pick the 10 performers who really made our chairs spin
1. Tony Lucca, 36
How he describes his sound: ”Soul-folk: singer-songwriter/storyteller with inherent soulfulness.”
Background: Like Christina Aguilera, Tony’s an All New Mickey Mouse Club alum. He went on to star on 1996’s short-lived Aaron Spelling drama Malibu Shores with Keri Russell. Since then he’s put out eight albums, and his songs have been featured on shows like Friday Night Lights.
Why he’s one to watch: Tony’s already strong following has only grown since his gravelly rendition of ”Trouble” triggered a four-chair turnaround. Jokes Lucca, ”The full wrath of the Mickey Mouse Club has yet to be experienced.”
2. Jordis Unga, 29
How she describes her sound: ”I’m a rock & roll soul singer.”
Background: Jordis sang in two bands (blues and punk) before placing fifth on CBS’ 2005 sing-off Rock Star: INXS. She later recorded an album with Epic, but was dropped when her development deal ”went up in smoke,” she says. ”Nothing was ever released.”
Why she’s one to watch: Raspy, raw, and powerful, Jordis is a versatile rocker — and fun to watch, too. Coach Blake Shelton laid on the praise, calling hers ”the voice I’ve been waiting to hear.”
3. Tony Vincent, 38
How he describes his sound: ”Melancholy, hauntingly hopeful, incredibly honest.”
Background: An industry vet, Tony released three solo albums in the ’90s before transitioning into the theater world. He starred in Broadway productions of Rent and Jesus Christ Superstar before originating the role of St. Jimmy in Green Day’s American Idiot.
Why he’s one to watch: Any good reality competition needs drama, and Tony’s natural theatricality (which coach Cee Lo Green should know a thing or two about) and killer rock howl could make for some hugely exciting (and likely polarizing) performances.
4. Gwen Sebastian, 37
How she describes hersound: ”Definitely country, with a little bit of edge to it…country spunk!”
Background: After growing up singing in her parents’ van and at church, she released four albums through an independent label and has been touring with her band, Breakaway, for the past six years — mainly on the county- and state-fair circuit. ”I’ve been a full-time musician,” she says. ”But I’m thankful for it!”
Why she’s one to watch: Her tender, twangy ”Stay” audition showed just how developed and controlled she already is; as a country artist, she’ll blossom under coach Blake’s guidance.
5. Pip, 19
How he describes his sound: ”Pop-rock with a little more soul.”
Background: Before he had all four Voice coaches fighting over him, he auditioned for another TV singing competition, Oxygen’s The Glee Project, where he was eliminated in the first episode.
Why he’s one to watch: Don’t let the baby face fool you. Pip doesn’t want to be ”another Justin Bieber.” As his coach Adam Levine said, he’s a ”chameleon” — his surprisingly grown-up voice can adapt to jazz, rock, musical theater, and pop. As for the bow ties and suspenders? They’re here to stay.
6. Naia Kete, 22
How she describes her sound: ”I call it a blend of pop, reggae, and soul.”
Background: Naia ”grew up in a musical family,” she says, playing in a family reggae group since age 12. At 17, she recorded her own album independently before moving to L.A. and becoming a street musician.
Why she’s one to watch: Naia is a rugged, soulful busker with a coffeehouse vibe, as she exhibited in her Norah Jones-y rendition of ”The Lazy Song.” It was exactly the style that excelled on the show last season (see: Dia Frampton), which probably explains why coach Blake said he ”fell in love” with her distinctive voice.
7. Lindsey Pavao, 22
How she describes her sound: ”Sincere, introverted garage rock.”
Background: She’s performed in packed garages and coffee shops in the Sacramento area as part of her high school band A Colourado and the acoustic duo Boxes.
Why she’s one to watch: Of all the female contestants with unusual voices and even more unusual hair — and this season there are quite a few — Lindsey seems like the real deal. She infused her lilting singer-songwriter flair (coach Christina Aguilera called it her ”uniqueness”) into, of all things, Trey Songz’s ”Say Aah.”
8. James Massone, 24
How he describes his sound: ”Little white kid who kind of sounds like he’s a black kid.”
Background: The native Bostonian had never pursued music before his Voice audition. Instead he spent his days working in the family auto-body shop, which his grandfather started 60 years ago.
Why he’s one to watch: While many contestants gravitate toward a more pop/rock sound, James’ reedy tenor lends itself most naturally to R&B or hip-hop jams, and he lists Bruno Mars and Ne-Yo as influences. Plus, that Boston accent is pretty chaahming!
9. Jesse Campbell, 42
How he describes his sound: ”Heart-centered, universal music with soul.”
Background: Campbell released an R&B album through Capitol Records in the mid-’90s, but after the label dropped him, he sang on the streets for a time and battled a ”deep-rooted unworthiness” as a singer, sticking to the safe route of singing hymns.
Why he’s one to watch: Plain and simple, he has the goods — a pure, chill-inducing voice that no doubt brought tears to viewers’ eyes and inspired one of the fastest four-chair turnarounds ever.
10. Jamie Lono, 22
How he describes his sound: ”Honest, genuine, pure.”
Background: Aside from small gigs in local Chicago coffeehouses (and the sandwich shop where he works), Jamie hasn’t had much of a chance to show off his music. Still, he’s been honing his songwriting skills for about four years.
Why he’s one to watch:
His warm tone is like a happy blend of Gavin DeGraw and Ray LaMontagne, and it already has audiences swooning. His growly take on ”Folsom Prison Blues” was a highlight of the blind auditions.
What’s the deal with that cat?
”I told [producers] I wanted a nod to iconic villains like Dr. Evil,” Cee Lo explains of Purrfect, the fluffy white Persian he’s been seen with this season. Since her Voice debut, Purrfect (who is actually owned by Benay’s Bird & Animal Rentals) has attracted more than 23,000 followers on Twitter (@purrfectthecat), where she posts about coaches’ #catfights and her #whitecatproblems. So does Purrfect get paid in treats? ”I’m the only treat she needs,” Cee Lo quips. —Melissa Maerz