All right, guys, we’re in the last week of blind auditions for The Voice season 14, which means most of the coaches are down to just a few open spaces left. Not Adam Levine, though. The benefit of being shoved out of so many potential matches before is that now Adam is open for business, while the others are being a bit more selective. As we learned from Alicia Keys in season 12, being the last holdout with an open spot can be an unexpected boon, so maybe the fact that he’s got double the amount of free spots as anyone else will be a blessing in disguise.
He’s off to a good start tonight, at least.
Stephanie Skipper (33 — Nashville, Tennessee)
“Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson
It’s a risky move to come in to the blind auditions with one of the coaches’ own numbers, especially such an intensely personal one as this, but lo, it works out well enough for Stephanie Skipper. She doesn’t get Kelly Clarkson’s bid, but she does earn her tears and approval as Adam Levine and Blake Shelton vie for her membership.
Like Kelly, Stephanie has some abandonment issues over her out-of-the-picture father, which makes her feel even more confused about the opportunity to appear on national television. But now that her spousal band has broken up (the tour, not the marriage), this is Stephanie’s best shot at continuing music. Her voice is fine. It’s not extraordinary, but it’s an intriguing blend of deep country and far-out folk, à la Florence Welch. Adam and Blake are both mostly touched by the passion of her performance, so in that sense, it’s a good thing she’s chosen a delicate subject to sing about. Stay tuned to see if she can keep up that emotional resonance or not.
Team: Adam Levine
Tish Haynes Keys (37 — St. Louis, Missouri)
“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin
It’s easy to root for Tish Haynes Keys here for a couple of reasons. For starters, she doesn’t feel sorry for herself because she needed four hands in high school to carry her own bags and those of her infant daughter, or because she had to give up any singing aspirations of her own to raise her child into a full-grown woman who respects and admires her now. Better yet, Tish is a pretty solid singer.
There are some wobbly moments in between her power notes, so it’s a smart move on her part to hop over to Adam’s team when given the choice between that and Kelly Clarkson’s squad, because Adam makes it his mission to be honest, even when brutal, about the parts of a performance that could use some improvement. With him, she has a really good chance of working out those small kinks and delivering some throwback diva dishes that we can all enjoy as she progresses. It’s a win-win.
Team: Adam Levine
Bransen Ireland (28 — Fairview, Tennessee)
“Tulsa Time” by Don Williams
Bransen Ireland here make his case for a spot on the show by singing a relatively obscure country song with just enough twang to be authentic, without going too heavy into the plough mud like last season’s Red Marlow.
There are a few notes where he could easily be confused for Blake Shelton himself, so it’s no surprise that he opts to join Blake’s team above Adam’s. And Adam dashes any bragging rights Blake may think he has about the nab, saying, “You’re so good on this show you get people who were singing about your hometown on your team, congratulations.” Fair enough.
Team: Blake Shelton
Teana Boston (16 — Stockton, California)
“Unfaithful” by Rihanna
There’s a lot to like about Teana Boston as a person. She’s a good role model for her little brother, she’s dedicated to keeping her grade point average at 4.0, and she’s obviously not afraid to put herself out there, having tackled an Alicia Keys number in front of her whole school’s talent show at just 11 years old.
Similarly, there’s a lot to like about her as a singer. She’s strong with her note holds and packs a lot of power without being too aggressive or exhausting about it. She also carries the groove of the song very well. She does have a pretty nasally tone in her head voice, but she’s still got enough range to impress Kelly Clarkson, so, voila. We’ll get to hear her give it a go at least one more time on this show.
Team: Kelly Clarkson
Maya Base (29 — Jamaica, Queens, New York)
“Issues” by Julia Michaels
Adam’s exactly right about Maya Base here. Before he turns, she’s awesome, and then…it just gets bad. Of course, he doesn’t put it that way, and it’s his job to euphemize things like this, but hopefully he can find a way to help her hone in on what went right. Because her opening is pretty remarkable; there’s a grittiness and gravity to Maya’s sound that has just about everyone’s heads bobbing, and better yet, she has a sense of urgency about her, like she’s building to something and we’d all better listen up lest we miss out.
The second half is far less controlled and pitch perfect, as she drops her R&B juice for some grunge rock freestyle vibes, and the latter just does not work for her. If she finds a way to stick to the earlier elements, though, she really might have something. Big if, though.
Team: Adam Levine
Livia Faith (17 — Stanton, Kentucky)
“Dream a Little Dream of Me”
Well, well. Jaunty little voices like hers are pretty much the exact opposite of the Frank Sinatra wannabes on the men’s side, because these soft tones are both classic and modern all at once — appropriate for those smoky night clubs from back when women still wore dress gloves and pearls on a Tuesday, yet totally fit for the Instagram crowd now.
Livia Faith’s voice is especially convincing because while she does have that Betty Boop-style charm to her sound to start with, she’s also able to break out into some bigger notes that still somehow carry the sweetness of her tone all the way out to full tilt. It’s going to be interesting to see where Alicia Keys takes her, though, because “Earth Angel” is a bit…obvious.
Team: Alicia Keys (Recap continues on page 2)
Jordan Kirkdorffer (27 — Nashville, Tennessee)
“In Case You Don’t Know” by Brett Young
Another country singer goes to Team Blake! What a shock!
Jordan Kirkdorffer arrives with a solid, albeit a little generic and even breathy at times, performance of a catchy, feels-inducing country song, and it draws bids from both Blake and Adam. With Blake, the appeal is obvious. Country is his thing, so of course he’s going to gravitate toward anyone who does a half-decent job in the genre. With Adam, the motivation seems to be that he wants to do something big with a country singer just to prove something to Blake. These two have been doing this together for 14 seasons, so they have to keep it interesting, I s’pose. Despite some surprising words of support for Team Adam from Kelly, Jordan still picks Blake. No big surprise there. As Kelly and Adam both warned him, though, he’s going to have a lot more competition in his comfort zone than if he’d given Adam a shot instead. Alas.
Team: Blake Shelton
Shana Halligan (34 — Los Angeles, California)
“Bang Bang” by Cher
Let’s just let Shaunna Halligan describe her own voice, because it’s a boldly accurate assessment, if you ask me: “It’s quite unique. It’s very sultry, and it sort of floats around wildly.” [Nods.] Pretty much. She’s basically what would happen if a Bond song became a person.
Shana’s former band fancied itself a “trip-hop” group, which is also a good way to describe what’s happening here. She’s the daughter of Dick Halligan, one of the founding members of a band (Blood, Sweat & Tears) that rocked out through the Woodstock era, which means her whole modern hippie vibe is inherited. There’s a dizzying, boho chic vibe to her voice that’s either going to make her a standout on Team Alicia, or she and Livia Faith are going to cancel each other out altogether. We’ll see, but you can probably count on those two going head to head for the knockouts.
Team: Alicia Keys
Gary Edwards (26 — Dallas, Texas)
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
Does anyone else get transported back to the backyard barbecue wedding scene in Jerry Maguire by the intro to this song? Just me? Okay.
Marvin Gaye’s music has been done and done again as much as anyone else, but to Gary Edwards’ credit, he does manage to make it interesting. His smart rendition is slow at first before coasting into that familiar jazzy chorus, and yeah, it’s a feel-good moment, just as Adam says. Gary’s got a lot more to offer besides these competent covers, too; he’s living by the motto “find the song, create the story,” so we’ll see what other songs he can flesh the meaning out of going forward.
Team: Adam Levine
Mercedes Ferreira (16 — Miami, Florida)
“All I Ask” by Adele
There are some other no-bids that get the montage treatment — perhaps mercifully so — but there’s a reason Mercedes Ferreira’s effort gets a full run-through where others don’t: She’s actually pretty good. Granted, her voice is pretty whispery in the intro, but she scales it up in the right spots and delivers a very pretty rendition of this difficult song. As Kelly points out, if she’d been auditioning earlier in the blinds, she’d probably get a bid, but now they’re “picky” and “looking for something specific,” so she’ll have to try again next time.
Hannah Goebel (20 — Nashville, Tennessee)
“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
Last but not least is our first four-chair-turner of the evening, an R&B/soul singer who’s trying to hack it in Nashville. She might not be the typical product of that city, but she’s got a swanky sound that’s impressive to everyone — even the woman whose song she’s singing. Alicia takes her time deciding whether to tamp her button for the gal, but in the end, Hannah Goebel is able to make her own mark on the number here and wins everyone over. She’s like Pink in her earliest days, and I want to hear more.
Smartly, Kelly uses her lone block to prevent Alicia from winning her over — which Hannah freely admits would’ve happened — and despite the guys trying to steer her away from Kelly’s team by pointing out that she crushed her dreams of working with Alicia, Kelly’s enthusiasm wins her over.
Team: Kelly Clarkson
Team Adam: Rayshun LaMarr, Drew Cole, Levelle Davison, Mia Boostrom, Reid Umstattd, Angel Bonilla, Stephanie Skipper, Tish Haynes Keys, Maya Base, Gary Edwards
Team Alicia: Britton Buchanan, Kelsea Johnson, Justin Kilgore, Jaclyn Levey, Christiana Danielle, Jamai, Johnny Bliss, Terrence Cunningham, Jordan Symone, Megan Lee, Livia Faith, Shana Halligan
Team Kelly: Brynn Cartelli, D.R. King, Molly Stevens, Dylan Hartigan, Jackie Foster, Jorge Eduardo, Alexa Cappelli, Teana Boston, Hannah Goebel
Team Blake: Kyla Jade, Kaleb Lee, Pryor Baird, Brett Hunter, Austin Giorgio, Spensha Baker, Wilkes, Jaron Strom, Jeslee, Bransen Ireland, Jordan Kirkdorffer