The shoes are already coming off! Jennifer Hudson gave her heels some air time tonight as she and Adam Levine, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton tried to win over the next round of contestants — and that means things are starting to get competitive.
Let’s take a look at who lines up for a shot at the season 15 title tonight, shall we?
Keith Paluso (30 – Memphis, TN)
“Way Down We Go” by Kaleo
This guy’s title selection couldn’t be more accurate because the whole song is spent seeing just how way down we can go with Keith Paluso’s grizzled bluesy growl voice. This park ranger and bird fanatic has all the ingredients for a solid member of Team Adam Levine — he’s attached to his ax, willing to reach for some gnarly notes, and has a general air of self-possession — but thanks to Blake Shelton’s timely block use, the outdoorsman gets snatched up by The Cowboy. The good news for Keith is that he seems to be able to navigate through multiple genres, from blues to country to rock and roll, so that should give him and his coach a lot to work with. A lack of versatility has been the downfall of some singers of his style in the past, so look for this guy to change it up quite often to keep it interesting while maintaining that strong lower register that Blake loves so well.
Team: Blake Shelton.
Claire DeJean (17 – Dallas, TX)
“Hurt Somebody” by Julia Michaels and Noah Kahan
Oh, hi Claire DeJean! This teen singer — who spends her downtime teaching dance and acting to children because of course she does — has one of those soft and twangy upper registers that’s so hard to resist, along with a full feathery voice that she glides in and out of with ease. It takes one tender finishing note to convince Kelly Clarkson to turn for her, but when she does, the girl is overjoyed to the point of tears (and it’s clear Blake Shelton doesn’t stand a chance even if he did turn first). Count on this gal to go the soft pop route in the very near future.
Team: Kelly Clarkson.
Franc West (38 – Atlanta, GA)
“(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
The fact that Franc West only gets one chair-turn tonight says nothing about the immense impact of his voice. Thanks to his experience singing in the U.S. Navy, he has an exceptionally deep bass that has enough texture and resonance to be undeniable. If he could hone in on some of those higher notes and make his transitions between octaves a little cleaner, he might just be a contender. For now, though, his urgency and obvious instincts are strong enough to get him a coveted spot on Team JHud, and with her guidance, he can turn that raw talent into a true skillset (provided he picks a less generic song next time, of course).
Team: Jennifer Hudson.
Michael Lee (30 – Fort Worth, TX)
“The Thrill Is Gone” by BB King
If Adam Levine was having a bad night before this, Michael Lee just kicked him in the shins and then slapped him with a six-string for good measure. He’s basically able to make his electric guitar a backup vocalist here, which means he’s speaking Adam’s language from the first lyric, and his bluesy rocker style is a no-brainer as well. Somehow, though, he decides to take his gravel tones over to Team Blake Shelton for now, despite Adam being the more obvious choice and the fact that Jennifer Hudson paid him the ultimate compliment by throwing the first shoe of the season in his direction. Considering how married the blues are to country music, Michael Lee should be fine on Team Blake all the same, though.
Team: Blake Shelton.
Ele Ivory (20 – Nashville, TN)
“Jump” by Julia Michaels
This might be a first: Ele Ivory’s day trade is working in a cave, which means she’s probably got access to some killer acoustics when she’s practicing her vocals after shifts. And what a voice it is … or could be. Her mellow melody is lovely when she’s hitting the right notes, but there’s a pitchy quality that’s a little hard to overlook in spots. Her tendency to default to her mid-range, which is far less soothing than her head voice, makes this performance a bit too inconsistent for the coaches to tamp their buttons. The good news for her is that Adam Levine is so insistent that she work on things and come back again that she’ll get a chance at the Comeback.
DeAndre Nico (22 – Port Arthur, TX)
“When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
Just like last night, our final auditioner of the evening has the distinction of earning a four-chair turn from the coaches. DeAndre Nico, who’s had a rough year courtesy of the havoc Hurricane Harvey wreaked on his family’s home, has a rich and supple mid-range and some impressive high notes to boot. There are moments when he seems behind the tempo a bit, but the emotion of his delivery is undeniable, and everyone’s vying for the chance to coach him to the next level. Somehow, Adam Levine is able to lure him because he turned first, which means he obviously cares the most, right? It might actually be an inspired choice on his part, though, because if anyone knows how to pick songs that can highlight his high notes, well, it’s the guy who does it every single day of his working life.
Team: Adam Levine.
Adam Levine – Tyke James, Radha, DeAndre Nico
Blake Shelton – Mercedes Ferreira-Dias, Kameron Marlowe, Keith Paluso, Michael Lee
Kelly Clarkson – Sarah Grace, Mikele Buck, Claire DeJean
Jennifer Hudson – Tyshawn Colquitt, Patrique Fortson, Kennedy Holmes, Franc West