'The Voice' recap: The battles begin and two steals are already doled out
Tonight, The Voice‘s quartet of coaches complete their teams with the last leg of blind auditions before quickly beginning to disassemble them, shuffling the most steal-worthy contestants around by way of the battles. Alongside team advisers CeeLo Green (for Adam Levine), Thomas Rhett (for Kelly Clarkson), Halsey (for Jennifer Hudson), and Keith Urban (for Blake Shelton), the coaches prepare their duos for a night of duking it out, and already the competition is pretty fierce. Let’s take a look at the last-minute team additions and who battles it out to remain on their squads.
FINAL BLIND AUDITIONS
Emily Hough (16 – Petersburg, IL)
“Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell
Adam Levine’s last addition is Emily Hough, a springy folk singer whose country influence is evident in every elongated vowel she utters. Hough’s is a pretty twee version of this song, sure, but she’s got enough gravitas thanks to her pristine head voice and consistent choral flow throughout to impress both of the guys. Levine, in particular, is eager to recruit her above fellow chair-turner Blake Shelton — he even runs up to give her a hug before Blake can start trying to charm her. Adam believes he can help her take that “pure” vocal sound far in this competition, and he’s already hearing her sing a Linda Ronstadt power ballad next in his mind. And even though she’s got the weight of her whole town’s fandemonium nudging her in the direction of Team Blake, Adam’s enthusiasm and insistence that she’s right to round out his team wins the day.
Team: Adam Levine.
Josh Davis (20 – Cleveland, TN)
“Too Good at Goodbyes” by Sam Smith
This former Christian boy bander is trying to break away from his church roots and move in the direction of more “secular” pop singing. Luckily for him, he’s able to show something solid beneath a few shaky moments and severe note misses — his runs are pretty, and he’s got a good ear for escalations — and since Kelly Clarkson is desperate to add a dude to her team, he’s her man.
Team: Kelly Clarkson.
Lisa Ramey (33 – Brooklyn, NY)
“Beautiful Trauma” by Pink
Blake Shelton is probably right to say that if Lisa Ramey had auditioned earlier in the process, she probably would have gotten through. The cabaret show singer has a strong voice, and even if she is pitchy in some spots, her big, brassy tone is still a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to earn her one of the precious few team spots left, but the coaches do encourage her to come back when she’s honed in on some of the note control.
Katrina Cain (29 – Denton, TX)
“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac
This newlywed has a diverse history in the industry already; she writes music for an electropop band that’s been featured at SXSW and she also does jingles for a local country radio station. So, when she takes the stage to present her own version of “Rhiannon” she smartly draws it back and allows some of those scattered influences to shine through. Adam Levine tells her that, were it not for him and Kelly Clarkson’s teams already being full, she would’ve been a four-chair turn. Alas, she’ll have to settle for just getting two enthusiastic coaches vying for her attention. Her voice is clean and strong and has a bell-like quality, but there’s also a little twang in there, and although Jennifer Hudson is interested, she opts to see where Team Blake can take her.
Team: Blake Shelton.
Matt Johnson (26 – Staunton, VA)
“Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross
Talk about a closer. Matt Johnson’s personal story is enough to reduce anyone to mush; not only is he helping his mom with her cancer battle, but he’s also been trying to get to this stage for all 15 seasons. Yep, FIFTEEN TRY-OUTS LATER he is here. As fate would have it, he’s also the last person chosen in this season’s blind auditions, when Jennifer Hudson hears enough in his soulful voice to offer him her last spot. Matt might have a few things to work on — he needs a less rushed and rigorous song choice, for one thing — but JHud likes the fact that he’s willing to go for it with the stuff of legends like this, so with that, the teams are all full!
Team: Jennifer Hudson.
Team Kelly: Sandyredd vs. Cody Ray Raymond
“Cry to Me” by Solomon Burke
WHEW BOY. What a way to start the battles off on a strong note, with Sandyredd and Cody Ray Raymond tearing down the house in two very distinct but harmonious ways. Considering how powerful and instantly memorable Sandyredd was in the blinds, it’s absolutely no surprise that she slays this song. But we sure shouldn’t sleep on Cody Ray Raymond after tonight either. His opening verse, in particular, is precise and pretty and sprinkled with some choice growls that were it not for what happens next, might make him an early standout here.
However, once Sandyredd shows up with all of her effortless stage command, it’s all over. To his credit, Cody Ray does seem to recognize what he’s up against here and very generously does not try to outmuscle her — instead, he relies on his cool tones and likable demeanor to keep him in it — but there’s still no denying how much of a force Sandyredd is with her bottomless low note runs and pure vocal strength. Cody Ray is a good singer; Sandyredd is a full-package performer.
Adam Levine makes it clear from the start that he’s not going to let either one of them go home, but it’s up to Kelly Clarkson who’s declared the winner. Once she chooses Cody Ray, since she has girl power to spare on her team right now, all three remaining coaches vie for the steal, with Adam absolutely insisting he’s the most serious and dedicated to coaching her to the finish line. “When [Carson Daly] tells the story at the end of the season about how you were stolen and came back to win this thing, I want it to be on my team,” he tells her. Even so, Jennifer Hudson is “home” for her, so to JHud Productions she goes.
Winner: Cody Ray Raymond.
Steal: Sandyredd to Team Jennifer Hudson.
Team Blake: Joey Green vs. Michael Lee
“A Thing Called Love” by Bonnie Raitt
It’s a small world after all. The Voice may accept auditioners from all over the country, from all walks of life, but somehow Joey Green and Michael Lee here have ended up on the same team in the same season after knowing each other for nearly a decade. Despite that connection, though, their sound couldn’t be more distinct. While Joey has a raspy, rhythmic approach to music, Michael is so much more emotional and swampy with his blues sound.
Team advisor Keith Urban advises Michael to let some of that intensity go before he hits the big stage, but somehow, he gets even more audibly invested in every note, and it totally works. His eyes may be bugged out, and his forehead might have a sheen, but his voice sounds gnarly and convincing. By comparison, Joey sounds a little too relaxed and ordinary to carry on.
Winner: Michael Lee.
Team Jennifer: Colton Smith vs. Patrique Fortson
“God Gave Me You” by Blake Shelton
OKAY, COLTON SMITH AND PATRIQUE FORTSON, OKAY. These two each recognize that they have a moment to shine here in this leg of the competition, and neither of them come in ready to cede anything to the other. Colton’s got a steady, soulful voice that, standing alone, would be quite captivating, but then Patrique manages to topple him over with a massive range and fiery energy that’s hard to overlook.
They both give new life to this country radio favorite, and even though Patrique tends to steal the show, Colton’s smooth tones and vocal strength don’t go unnoticed either. Jennifer Hudson decides to keep Patrique around because his ultra-high notes just elevate the number altogether, but Blake Shelton recognizes the nuance Colton has brought to his own song and decides to give him a shot on Team Blake instead of letting him go home today. Win-win!
Winner: Patrique Fortson.
Steal: Colton Smith to Team Blake.
With that, though, two steals are already off the table, and we’re just getting started. If these battles continue being this close, we’re in for a mighty interesting couple of weeks ahead, ya’ll.
Adam Levine – Tyke James, Radha, DeAndre Nico, Steve Memmolo, Anthony Arya, Reagan Strange, Fousheé, Natalie Brady, Jared Matthew, Jake Wells, Funsho, Emily Hough.
Blake Shelton – Mercedes Ferreira-Dias, Kameron Marlowe, Keith Paluso, Michael Lee, Dave Fenley, Rachel Messer, Chris Kroeze, Kayley Hill, Kirk Jay, Caeland Garner, Colton Smith.
Kelly Clarkson – Sarah Grace, Mikele Buck, Claire DeJean, Chevel Shepherd, Delaney Silvernell, Kymberli Joye, OneUp, Erika Zade, Cody Ray Raymond, Abby Cates.
Jennifer Hudson – Tyshawn Colquitt, Patrique Fortson, Kennedy Holmes, Franc West, Audri Bartholomew, Natasha Greycloud, MaKenzie Thomas, Mike Parker, Zaxai, Lela, Sandyredd .
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.