Last night’s blind auditions premiere of The Voice proved that new girls Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus are coming in full speed to fill their teams with some top-tier talent and win this thing. Now it’s the boys’ — well, mostly just Adam Levine’s — turn to start thinning the margins by culling some talent for their own teams. In the season premiere, Adam couldn’t even land the guy who once creeped on him backstage at a Maroon 5 concert. It’s now go time for Team Adam, and what a bounty he receives this eve. He wiiill be loved.
Sa’Rayah (28 – Chicago, IL)
“Drown In My Own Tears” by Ray Charles
The night starts out on a heavy note, with soul singer Sa’Rayah breaking everyone’s hearts with her bitter memories of being robbed of a childhood by her mother’s addiction. The good news? Her mom’s now sober, Sa’Rayah has a gorgeous little girl of her own, and she gets to take her pick between Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys after running away with an old soul classic. Alicia tries to woo her with her usual speeches about tapping into “the truth, the real, the light,” and Miley throws out a few platitudes, too. Ultimately, Sa’Rayah just wants to do the unexpected when picking her coach of choice, so she opts for a little flower power to help her through.
Ethan Tucker (26 – Olympia, WA)
“Roxanne” by The Police
Here’s a guy who once tricked the Steve Miller Band into letting him be their opening act just to get some play time at a sold-out show. That alone makes him completely rad, but it’s even cooler that his roommate is his 85-year-old grandma Dorothy, with whom he spends all his free time whenever he’s not busy touring with the likes of Ziggy Marley and Buddy Guy. His reggae-jazz take on “Roxanne” is a little dry, sure, but Adam Levine and Blake Shelton are definitely feeling his raspy tones and the theory that went into his song variation. In a surprise decision, Ethan decides to forgo the opportunity to work with Adam — who says they “musically get along,” whatever that means — and instead joins forces with Blake. Was it Blake’s casual reminder that he’s recently made some friends within the ska-reggae scene (“I’m not ashamed to say I played the Gwen Stefani card”) that won the day? No doubt.
Katie Colosimo (28 – Nashville, TN)
“Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato
This pet beautician really wants to break out of her cage, but she’s gonna need to do a little grooming before her next audition. There was definitely some talent there, but the pitch was all over the place.
NEXT: Team Adam finally nabs some solid hopefuls…
Andrew DeMuro (25 – Chicago, IL)
“Vienna” by Billy Joel
This school teacher-turned-budding musician has a history with Billy Joel. Not only did he draw from the soft rocker’s song repertoire for his high-school talent show, but he had the guts to ask for a duet with him during a college campus Q&A…and it worked. So, obviously he’s hoping his song pick from the Piano Man will be his lucky charm tonight…and it works. Adam’s drawn to his character and audible joy in performing, and recruits him to his squad.
Billy Gilman (28 – Richmond, RI)
“When We Were Young” by Adele
Billy Gilman is a name a lot of people from country-music circles might recognize, as he was just 10 years old when he got his first record deal and started getting some radio play. Blake Shelton sure remembers him, and even Miley can accurately describe a random tour-video detail from when he once opened for her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, decades back. After his vocal chords changed in his teens, though, his label dropped him, and he’s struggled to find his true sound as an adult. Judging by the way he tackled Adele’s bustling number, though, he’s still got it. He might’ve come in hoping to work with Miley, but it’s Adam who speaks to him most tonight. Not only is he literally pumping his fists over the dude’s “intangible qualities” and such, but he also flat-out refuses to sit until he hears Billy say his name. [Insert the obligatory “She Will Be Loved” lyric reference here.]
Natalie Vincent (18 – Bridgeport, CT)
“Hold Back the River” by James Bay
Sometimes these kids are so sweet you can’t help but be sad when they get the inevitable no-turn. Natalie Vincent’s story about facing her shyness is sad enough to drop anyone’s fingers onto a button, but her voice itself needs a lot of tuning before she’s ready for this kind of show. Long story short, her sister suffered massive internal-organ failure due to her bout with sickle cell anemia, and the only time she felt brave enough to sing in public — let alone audition for a nationally televised show like this — was after seeing her teenage sister in a casket, unable to do it herself. In other news: Kleenex’s stock value just shot up after her segment.
Sophia Urista (31 – New York, NY)
“Come Together” by The Beatles
From aspiring doctor to karaoke winner to some hole-in-the-wall burlesque show’s opening act? Yup, that’s the path that brought this woman to the stage, and the girls were *into* her. To my ear, she sounded like Melissa Etheridge meets Steven Tyler, but Alicia Keys was hearing a Janis Joplin-Tina Turner mesh within her raspy rocker punches. Alicia played up her sense of feminism during her courtship effort: “We need to be together so we can continue to scare all the men in the world who need to be shown that a woman’s power cannot be contained, it’s not supposed to be smushed down so they feel comfortable,” she said. But Miley had an even bigger ace in the hole; she had her godmother Dolly Parton appear on the video screen to insist Sophia join Team Miley. How can you beat that?
NEXT: Two dreams come true for one woman…
Brendan Fletcher (25 – Brooklyn, NY)
“Jolene” by Ray Lamontagne
This handsome bartender wants to take his Bryan Adams-meets-Edwin McCain vocal act on the road, but first, he’s gotta win this thing. Luckily for him, his soft, ‘80s-tastic love-ballad-ready sound earns him three chair turns, one of which is from Adam, who respects the power presence he can bring to the show. “Everybody felt what was happening in here,” he says to his newest recruit.
Dan Shafer (56 – Mt. Juliet, TN)
“Marry Me” by Train
When Blake Shelton turns a chair for this man, who turned 56 overnight after taking a day job to support his family after his son was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, he’s shocked to discover the voice that sounds like it belongs to a 20-something actually belongs to a guy with a head full of gray hair. Nevertheless, he likes what he heard tonight.
Lauren Diaz (24 – Apple Valley, CA)
“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
Mark it in permanent ink on the calendar, folks. The day Lauren Diaz auditioned for The Voice was one of the top two happiest of her life, guaranteed — we’re gonna assume her son’s birth is still no. 1, even though this day was pretty freaking special by anyone’s measure. Not only did she get to sing Alicia Keys’ biggest hit right in front of her, but she earned massive praise from the artist who she’s idolized for so long — and better still, she gets to work with her. Alicia even subbed in her name to add a little cherry on top of the welcome pie. Lauren, a vocal coach herself, gets two other coach bids after exercising such control and skill with her instrument, but as Adam puts it, “The sky is blue, the grass is green, this girl is on Alicia’s team.” After all that excitement, Lauren’s longtime boyfriend decides backstage is the perfect place to propose, and she says “Yes.”
Tastiest coach ribs of the night:
Adam: He’s a charming, sexy MF.
Blake: I have a girlfriend, Adam.
Adam: I know. The whole world knows.
Miley: I google them at night.