The Voice recap: Kelly Clarkson has the final block, and she's not afraid to use it
It’s week two of the Blinds on The Voice, and we are in it, people! In case you need a reminder: After two nights of Blind Auditions last week, coach Gwen Stefani has the most spots on her team filled with five, Queen Kelly — the only coach with a block left in her arsenal — is right behind Gwen with four artists, and, though much has been said about Blake Shelton’s inability to get artists to join Team Country, both he and John Legend are coming into night three of auditions with just three people each on their respective teams. Either the boys are extra picky this season or the ladies are crushing their pitches. Honestly, it’s a mix of both. Let’s see how things shake out tonight!
Mendeleyev, Venice, Calif.
Song: “Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan
Oh okay, Baritone, I see you. More important: I hear you. Okay, actually most important: I FEEL YOU. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had much sleep, maybe it’s because we learned that Lev’s mom passed away just a month ago and both his father and brother are tearing up, maybe it’s just Lev’s incredibly rich baritone, but I started crying halfway through this audition and couldn’t stop. Lev! He gets the four-chair turn, naturally, but even better, all four of the judges seem to seriously be fighting for him. They all remark on how much he did with those tender, low notes, and how much he connected with the audience (you got that right). Lev has a storyteller’s voice. I could see him with any of the four, but when John Legend starts singing a Richie Havens — Lev’s folk music idol — song, there’s no other choice.
Chair Turns: We’re! All! Crying!
Coach: John Legend coming in with the folk music icons.
Jake Hoot, Cookeville, Tenn.
Song: “When It Rains, It Pours”
Give me a guy who can both sing country pop like he’s been doing it all his life and who can grab a box of cereal from a very high shelf. I guess, give me this 6-foot-6-inch country singer named Jake Hoot. He’s very tall! Also, he sounds like he could easily be on the radio right now. It takes a while, but Kelly eventually turns — surprisingly, Blake doesn’t. He assumes Kelly used her block on him and doesn’t want to give her the satisfaction, which is both incorrect and a shame, because Jake probably was dying to join Team Blake. The blocks — always a blessing and a curse.
Chair Turns: Only Kelly!
Coach: Kelly, Country Queen
Calvin Lockett, Durham, N.C.
Song: “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by The Temptations
Once again, Gwen wins a surprising contestant with her excellent sales pitch. Is this woman director of marketing somewhere? Calvin, who has an excellent, warm tone and whom I would very much like to sing me to sleep some time, seems like a perfect fit for John Legend. But Gwen fights for the guy. She wants him to know that picking a coach isn’t just about who matches with you musically, it’s about picking someone who is passionate about you, who will do their best to bring out the best in you. And for Calvin, that’s Gwen.
Chair Turns: Blake, Gwen, and John
Coach: Team Gwen, you betta believe!
Josie Jones, Hamilton, Ala.
Song: “Men & Mascara” by Julie Roberts
Why even have blinds for people like Josie who roll up to The Voice saying they love country, only want to be country, and already know Blake is the one for them? John turns his chair first — he loves Josie’s tone, and for a 16-year-old she commands the stage — but there is no competition here once Blake hits his button. Not that Blake doesn’t deserve her: He’s excited to get a young country artist who sounds so much like traditional country and he’s ready to take her and her vibrato far in this competition.
Chair Turns: John and Blake
Coach: Josie’s favorite things are fishing, hunting, and country music — who do you think she picked?
Johnny Sanchez, Hollister, Calif.
Song: “Seven Spanish Angels” by Willie Nelson
You know what, The Voice? If you could quit it with the packages about singers trying to change their lives and the lives of their family before sending them in to get zero chair turns, that would be real cool. Alas, Rocker Johnny and his luscious locks are sent home. As John points out, he has “the tools” he just needs the polish: Some more confidence and control would do the trick.
Chair Turns: Ugh, no one!
Marybeth Byrd, Amorel, Ark.
Song: “Angel From Montgomery” by Bonnie Raitt
Yes, let the Bonnie Raitt just wash all over you. It’s easy to see why John says he could see Marybeth making it to the finals on this show: Her voice is incredibly versatile and so good that she could really sing anything. She comes in as a country artist but mentions she also loves Adele. Let the woman sing Adele! Kelly uses her block against Blake here — smart, he definitely would’ve went for her — but he sees her do it and so refuses to turn until the very end. I honestly thought he wasn’t going to turn out of spite, but Marybeth and her stellar control (she goes from her chest voice to falsetto like a pro) deserve a four-chair turn. And I’m not even going into that whole “Don’t Speak” thing because let Marybeth have her time in the spotlight, coaches!
Chair Turns: An easy four-chair turn, with Blake blocked.
Coach: Kelly’s block does her no good — Marybeth joins Team Legend!
Tamika J, Miami, Fla.
Song: “You Got Me” by The Roots feat. Erykah Badu
What world do we live in that those fabulous pink boots Tamika is wearing don’t earn a lousy chair turn? I know, I know, these are blind auditions, but they should’ve felt the power emanating from those babies. Tamika does both the rap and singing in this song, which is bold, but it seems to throw off the judges. Kelly is into it but was waiting for a better connection between the two elements and Tamika never seemed to get there. It seems like nerves played a part in this, because from where I’m sitting Tamika J had some real potential. Next time, perhaps!
Chair Turns: No turns!
Kiara Brown, Las Vegas, Nev.
Song: “Free Falling” by Tom Petty
Who is this tiny angel person from the Sunset Strip? I want to live in some of her runs, specifically the one she does over “loves horses.” John describes her voice as “clear and subtle” and he isn’t wrong, but her singer-songwriter vibe gives the performance some real heart — and that’s exactly what Gwen responds to. Kelly was waiting for Kiara to go somewhere bigger with the song, but I feel like she’s going to regret that choice later. This ends up being another showdown between Mom and Dad, and honestly, it could’ve gone either way.
Chair Turns: Gwen and Blake
Coach: Team Gwen collects another great artist
Melinda Rodriguez, Miami, Fla.
Song: “What a Wonderful World” by Eva Cassidy
Melinda has arrived at The Voice in the hopes of making jazz “cool again” and so decides to sing Eva Cassidy’s version of “What a Wonderful World.” You know who loves Eva Cassidy? One Miss Kelly Clarkson, née Independent. Melinda is trained in classic jazz, and you can tell because she’s doing some real vocal acrobatics, but remains in control the entire time. Gwen attempts to lure her to The House That Just a Girl Built, but Melinda is a perfect artist for Kelly. It’ll be interesting to see who she pairs her up with in the Battles.
Chair Turns: This is ladies’ night!
Coach: Eva Cassidy fans unite! Melinda goes to Team Kelly
Jon Rizzo, Oceanside, N.Y.
Song: “Let Her Cry” by Hootie & the Blowfish
A guy from a ’90s cover band coming on The Voice, singing a Hootie song, and sounding EXACTLY like Darius Rucker? Forget it! Our dearest Italian contestant — whose musician father warns him not to “blow it” before he takes the stage — has a strong enough voice but felt too much like an actual Hootie cover band to get them interested.
Chair Turns: If only someone had said: “I only wanna be with you, Jon!” Alas, no one did. (I will never apologize for Hootie & the Blowfish themed jokes. Never!)
Cali Wilson, Salem, Iowa
Song: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
Only on The Voice do kickboxing and Fleetwood Mac join forces. Unless there is a kickboxing class set to only Fleetwood Mac music, in which case, sign me up! I have a few punches to throw during “The Chain.” Anyway, Cali is a kickboxing instructor and she’s arrived at The Voice to live out her mother’s dream — Cali has a single mother who gave up music aspirations to raise her kids — and it is very moving. She’s got a country twang to her, but her stripped-down version of “Dreams” gives way to a very soulful voice. By the end, she has Blake, John, and Gwen all fighting for her. It seems like Blake would be the obvious pick here, but we’ve been fooled before!
Chair Turns: Blake, John, and Gwen
Coach: We’ll have to wait until tomorrow!
While we await the resolution to that cliffhanger, let’s talk front runners: Who’s stood out to you the most after three nights of Blind Auditions? Give me Yev or give me death, I say!