The Voice recap: The Blind Auditions, Part 3
In the first week of blind auditions, certain members of The Voice‘s coaching quartet (cough, Pharrell Williams, cough) were clearly being favored by the most-courted contestants, and in the third round of song and seat slinging, that tradition holds firm at first.
However, Blake Shelton’s Nashville charm is as solid as ever for the twangier try-outs — he’s now dubbed the Mayor of Blakeville, much to Christina Aguilera’s chagrin — and he starts showing his willingness to branch out a bit. Oh, and Adam Levine’s ample experience with the insane octave-hopping snags him a fair share of signees as well, while Pharrell and Christina are each passed over multiple times throughout the night. Whatttt.
“Season 10 has the best talent we’ve seen yet,” Blake says of tonight’s crop. Of course he might be a little biased, considering a whopping four fall for his little finger-point-overhead maneuver and make up for his lag-time in the past few episodes.
Let’s see where the teams stack up now.
Pharrell’s far and away the most uniformly accessible coach on the squad because, as he likes to remind his hopefuls time and time again, he’s not just a performer but also a producer (read: the guy who can make all your dreams come true). “Like every season I’m looking for different,” he says before the first auditioner takes the stage. And sure enough, he finds just that in his duet of Team PW newbs.
New recruits: Hannah Huston and Brian Nhira
Hannah Huston: The 24-year-old Lincoln, Neb., native knows zippy-dee-dip about any local country music festivals near her hometown, so the Team Blake swagger play is basically blocked at “hello.” Especially once Pharrell puts the smooth talk into his courtship of the “super giggly, goofy” preschool teacher whose raspy tones turn three chairs simultaneously at her last note — which, as Blake puts it, boasts an “extremely accurate falsetto.” Hannah might be newly bitten by the music bug, but she’s got the stuff that makes Xtina whip out her “yeah, girl” fandemonium and cross her fingers for a shot to guide this girl. Even Blake can’t hate on her decision to join Team Pharrell, though, and says that he hopes they can still be friends because she “seems like a blast to be around.” (Okay, that last bit came out just a teensy bit awkward, but ya gotta appreciate his sportliness about this game.)
Brian Nhira: Annnnd the second audition of the night signs up for Pharrell’s oh-so-stacked crew, too. Only this time, it’s a little more written in the stars from the start, considering he does sing “Happy” as his audition number (and blows it away, by the way). Even Pharrell has to give Brian props for hitting runs he didn’t in the original rendition. Blake turns his chair, too, but more as a salute to what Brian has here achieved with his cover than with any sincere hope of scoring this talent for his team. “I’ve got so much respect for you that I did something so humiliating as to hit my button when you’re singing his freakin’ song,” Shelton gushes. Of course, the real wow factor hits everyone once they talk to him and realize that 1) this guy’s basically a real-life angel who spends his spare time singing to children in underprivileged communities across the world, 2) his gift for gospel is downright heartbreaking, and 3) he’s totally sweet to his Zimbabwe-born fam to boot.
NEXT: High notes that can impress even Adam
Christina starts the day “very amped up” about her potential pairings and says her ears are devoted to finding someone “with real soul and flavor,” and what she finds in the two who enroll for Team Christina tonight are just that.
New recruits: Malik Heard and Kristen Marie
Malik Heard: This 19-year-old Dallas native’s velveteen performance of “Chains” by Nick Jonas is so slick that he inadvertently sparks a quick-wit match of metaphors between Pharrell (who refers to himself as the greenhouse to Christina’s “growing plant”) and Christina (who says she’s outgrown the greenhouse he speaks of — oooh, burn). “I’ve been making records since I was 18,” Pharrell boasts about his producer prowess, name-checking Malik’s idol Justin Timberlake as one of his oldest collabs; Christina strikes back with the fact that she worked with JT and Britney Spears when they were all just Mickey Mouse Club babies together. Malik makes ’em both sweat for a hot minute, but ultimately he’s swayed by Christina’s offer to nurture his skills.
Kristen Marie: When you sing a tune like Gary Jules’ “Mad World,” all that “Okies stick together business” Blake’s always wrangling ’em in with goes right out the window. Christina has picked up on some Adele and Sia-esque tonal moments throughout Kristen’s performance, and that’s “exactly” the kind of singer Kristen wants to be. “Blake has to realize I’m back,” Christina teases about her talent scoop. “He can’t just win ’em over with accents and dimples.”
Pardon the pun, but Adam spent the first week of blind auditions marooned on his own little island with few visitors, but tonight it’s that very uniqueness that adds three new names to his team roster. First, there’s the girl that he’s the solo turn for; then there’s the guy who he’s the only one offering constructive criticism to when warranted; and finally, the artist who they all four want but who best matches his particular glass-breakingly high-note skill set.
New recruits: Natalie Yacovazzi, Nate Butler, and Ryan Quinn
Natalie Yacovazzi: The night’s first familiar face of the night comes by way of this Chicago-based single mom of one who spends her days on the credit card verification grind (a gig which she basically groans to describe because she’s ready for her shot at the big time). Natalie had auditioned for season 9 but didn’t make the cut, much to her disappointment. But Adam’s encouraging statement that “this is a job, you have to keep swinging at” has brought her back to the plate for another pitch, and whaddya know. Her only button slap of the night after her take on “Mr. Know It All” comes from none other than Mr. Know-It-All himself, Adam. Xtina does reach for hers at the tail-end there, but the track doesn’t light to white, so Adam couldn’t be more delighted to have her as his very own returnee success story. Whatever anxiety she’s working with during the performance’ll be easily smoothed out along the way now, he promises her.
Nate Butler: Christina may be fooled into thinking this is a double blind audition thanks to all the falsetto-to-mid-range slide that Nate executes through his take on Mayer Hawthorne’s “The Walk,” but Adam recognizes the solidarity potential with Nate’s fierce falsetto and other “brighter spots” and says they can work on the weaker transition moments. Blake, who’s also a contender for the 19-year-old musical theater mangenue, doesn’t get why Adam’s throwing down advice this early in the game, but Nate sure seems to and picks Team Levine.
Ryan Quinn: It’s four-chair turns for the four-octave local range artist who literally shuts the place down (he’s the final audition of the evening) with his insane rendition of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.” The music teacher, who’s been grappling with some real-life ills in addition to some small-town syndrome, is committed to Pharrell before coming in. But Adam is able to woo him with some amazement over his way with the high notes. “I’m a dude with a high voice, and when you’ve got me going like damn, that’s really high, I’m telling you that’s really high,” Adam says (a significantly more graceful compliment than Blake’s similarly positive, albeit weird, comment about him “hitting notes so high [his] eyeballs would’ve been coming out” if he tried). Adam walks away from this snag with a literal skip in his step.
Before tonight, Team Blake was lookin’ a little skimpy, but he more than makes up for it with his near-handful of new Blakeville residents (whom Adam’s now convinced are zombiefied into submission by the use of the codeword “Nashville”).
New recruits: Brittany Kennell, Peyton Parker, Gina Castanzo, and Trey O’Dell
Brittany Kennell: Like most of the hopefuls who’ve chosen Blake to lead them to Voice victory, this gal has country in her blood. She might be from Quebec, Canada, but she lays her head in Nashville (ding ding!) nowadays, and she’s ready to elevate from the level she’s at: “the kid that’s not getting picked to play.” She even kinda-sorta sounds like Gwen Stefani during her performance of “Strong Enough,” so Blake’s button jab is immediate. Pharrell comes in at the last minute and almost sparks what Adam coins a #ButtonGate controversy, but “hot dog!” (Blake’s words, not ours) she goes with the country crooner who can take her off the bench once and for all. “When someone lives in Nashville, it’s over,” Adam quips about this new Team Blake coup.
Peyton Parker: And it’s basically “second verse, same as the first” Henry the VIII-style when Blake brings this 20-year-old Georgia-by-way-of-Nashville (ding!) artist into his fold. Peyton’s not your traditional boots-and-a-Stetson singer — although we are delighted to see Christina rock the cowgirl hat in her attempt to lure P2 away from her natural choice — but her performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” still has enough of a drawl to it to convince her she belongs towhat Pharrell dubs the “Blakeville County Fair.” (We hear they have good pie.) “Let’s be honest, you’re not going to take down the Mayor of Blakeville,” Shelton says to tease his co-coach. He has to admit, though, that her little hat trick was cute enough that if Peyton were a “country guy,” it might’ve been enough to swing the decision.
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Gina Castanzo: The indie artist’s “Cecilia and the Satellite” performance draws Blake away from the country zone for what might be, in his words, “the oddest couple in the history of The Voice.” Despite their differences, both are completely convinced that “it’s gonna work.”
Trey O’Dell: And in another instance of Blake button-punching outside the box, he also welcomes pop rocker Trey O’Dell to the team, thanks to him “just killin’ it” with his rendition of Sheppard’s “Geronimo.”
- Team Pharrell (8): Caity Peters, Nick Hagelin, Abby Celso, Joe Vivona, Emily Keener, Jonathan Bach, Hannah Huston, and Brian Nhira
- Team Adam (8): Mike Schiavo, John Gilman, Caroline Burns, Laith Al-Saadi, Katherine Ho, Natalie Yacovazzi, Nate Butler, and Ryan Quinn
- Team Blake (8): Paxton Ingram, Mary Sarah, Adam Wakefield, Angie Keilhauer, Brittany Kennell, Peyton Parker, Gina Castanzo, and Trey O’Dell
- Team Christina (7): Bryan Bautista, Alisan Porter, Shalyah Fearing, Lacy Mandigo, Kata Hay, Malik Heard, and Kristen Marie
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.