The Voice recap: Two blind auditions truly surprise the coaches
For the past 24 hours, I’ve thought about nothing but Kelly Clarkson’s haircut. Guys, it’s so good. I know there are lots of auditions going on — every coach already has two slots filled! — but the hair! It has range, control, and never once has it been pitchy. It should win season 18. Okay, I’m spiraling. Let’s head back to our four red chairs and see who makes the cut from this group of Voice hopefuls. I mean, they stand no chance against the hair but okay, whatever.
Arei Moon, 28, Boston, Mass. // “Miss Independent”
Arei is fearless. Picking not just a Kelly Clarkson song to sing in front of the queen herself, but the version from her tour, which starts off very slow and jazzy and then switches into high gear, takes some guts. Arei is a powerhouse with a strong high end to her range and within two notes Mr. Maybe-Not-So-Nice-Guy Nick Jonas turns his chair AND blocks Kelly Clarkson. That’s just cold. If Arei is singing a Kelly song, she probably wants to be coached by her.
Chair Turns: Nick and Kelly, but she is blocked, effectively destroying Nick’s “nice guy” image.
Coach: Team Nick, for better or worse.
Levi Watkins, 14, Birmingham, Ala. // “Hey, Soul Sister”
AHHHHHH. Okay, now this true Blind Audition is wild and I’m so glad they blocked us from seeing Levi at first. Like Kelly says, Levi actually sounds like a 20-something female vocalist with a strong alto voice. But he is not any of those things. He’s just a 14-year old boy, strumming on his mandolin and singing a cool arrangement of a Train song. The coaches are completely bowled over once they get a look at him. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares without that surprise factor in later rounds.
Chair Turns: Blake turns and makes sure not to act shocked, lest he get the other coaches interested in seeing whose up there. The plan works.
Coach: Team Blake actually feels like a good fit for this kid anyway.
Cassidy Lee, 23, Jacksonville, Fla. // “Gold Dust Woman”
Cassidy has been playing music since getting a guitar when she was 12, and she’s here to make her late father, who supported her dreams from the start, proud. Cassidy has a nice grit to her voice, and Kelly gets into her tone, but the performance is one-note and never emotionally connects. Nick Jonas is right: If Cassidy had picked a song that would show off her “story-telling voice” (or, like Kelly adds, just a song with a stripped-down arrangement), she would’ve been there.
Chair Turns: Even after announcing that her email address used to be “NickJLover” she gets no chair turns.
Zach Day, 25, Stearns, Ky. // “Weak”
Honestly, I think SWV should be mandatory on every season of this show, but I would not have expected Zach Day here to be the one to fulfill that wish. Like Levi, this is another true surprise. Zach was raised on a farm in a small town in Kentucky where he felt like he never truly fit in. But Zach hasn’t let that stop him. He’s up on this stage laying down some very cool, complex runs, and hitting some insane high notes. John calls his performance “flawlessly executed” which, like, is a lot, but he’s trying to win Zach over to his team by upstaging Kelly Clarkson who only offers a critique of “impressive.” You gotta fight for your artists, Kelly!
Chair Turns: Both John and Kelly are into the SWV love.
Coach: John is the only one really fighting for him, so of course Zach joins Team Legend!
Chelle, 18, Bargersville, Ind. // “idontwannabeyouanymore”
Um, hi, I think I blacked out for a second because all of a sudden Carson Daly is talking to a contestant about collecting rocks? Not to be dramatic but: what the hell is this show? It’s not the activity — Chelle is extremely shy, so she collects rocks and that makes her happy, more power to her — it’s just that we spend an insane amount of time discussing this hobby. Isn’t there more to talk about here? Especially when you’re as talented as Chelle. Blake, who turns after one note, tells her that she might be the first audition with perfect pitch throughout the entire thing. The performance is tight and precise, with some really cool runs, and I’m already excited to see Chelle tackle other artists.
Chair Turns: Blake, Nick, and Kelly all battle for Chelle.
Coach: I don’t think it mattered what Blake and Nick said, Chelle was always going with Team Kelly. And Kelly sees her young perfectionist self in Chelle, so she thinks she has a lot to teach her. I’m excited about this pairing!
Toneisha Harris, 44, Roswell, Ga. // “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Of course, they saved the emotional one for last! Toneisha is a gospel singer who was supposed to audition for The Voice eight years ago but dropped out when her then 12-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. She said that if it was meant to be, it would happen again. And here she is. And here is her son, healthy and supporting her. And here are all of us, crying. On top of the emotional story, Toneisha is a great singer. She has complete control the entire time and has great range. She sounds like the seasoned pro that she is.
Chair Turns: It’s a four-chair turn, of course!
Coach: I know everyone seems surprised that Toneisha picks Team Blake, but I’m not. His pitch was so sweet and sincere, about how he knows he can’t sing like she does but that he knows how to be an artist. He loves that she picked such a classic song and owned it. He tells her that the two of them both know how much experience matters. Guys, I love when Blake is so heartfelt.
After two audition episodes, here’s a reminder of how the teams are stacking up:
Team Blake: Todd Tilghman, Todd Michael Hall, Levi Watkins, Toneisha Harris
Team Legend: Nelson Cade III, Darious Lyles, Zach Day
Team Nick: Tate Brusa, Joanna Serenko, Arei Moon
Team Kelly: Tayler Green, Megan Danielle, Chelle