The Voice recap: The Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me
An R&B smootie battles it out with a street musician and a "sandwich artist" in another "blind auditions" round
Okay, quick: who’s your favorite coach on The Voice? Your answer tells as much about you as it might to reveal your favorite Beatle. Blake’s the heart of the whole operation. (Sharing his sarsaparilla with that poor mustache guy who looked like he’d escaped from the “Dream of the 1890s” sketch!) Adam’s the guts. (He’s willing to turn his chair for some risky choices, but that’s only because he’s too cocky to think he won’t win.) Christina’s the voice. (Blake didn’t concede that she’s “one of the greatest singers of her generation” for nothing.) And Cee Lo’s the loins. (What was all that talk about “the package”?) So, tonight, let’s break this down team by team.
TEAM CHRISTINA: THE BELLOWERS
Brazilian-born family man Jonathas learned English by listening to music, and judging by the amount of time he spends praising “the American dream,” I’m betting that music was a bit of Springsteen, and a whole lot more Springsteen. Jonathas lays it on so smooth during Usher’s “U Got It Bad,” crooning up his finest scented-candle R&B while doing a little pump-it! dance with his hips, that Cee Lo claims he thought Usher was actually singing. But all Christina has to do to steal Jonathas away from Cee Lo is bat those false eyelashes and purr: “I want to mold you and package you and do the right thing by you.” And that’s it. It’s all over. Jonathas, who confesses that he’s had “the hots” for Christina since fifth grade, goes with Team Teenage Crush. Guess he wants Christina to do right by his package. Or something like that.
Next up is Monique Benabou, a.k.a. FreeSpiritSoulSinger. (At least, that’s what she calls herself on YouTube, though one look at her feather earrings could’ve told you that.) Monique, who looks a little like a young, hipster Gloria Estefan, wants to audition because, “Being on The Voice would be a huge thank you to my parents.” (Isn’t it weird how any singer who’s single and doesn’t have kids shows up on set with his or her parents? And that’s true whether that person is 21 years old or 45 years old? We love these moms and dads, but we’re starting to suspect that someone at NBC might be working as a “stay-at-home son.”) Belting out a not-so-shy version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All,” Monique works the rock ‘n’ roll in her voice, and she sounds pretty good. Christina makes a sniffy face at some of the high notes, but in the end, she takes Monique.
Finally, down from the heavens comes Anthony Evans, whose father is Dr. Tony Evans, the Christian pastor, radio broadcaster, and chaplain to the NFL and NBA. Admits Anthony of his famous dad, “I started to feel this pressure, [like] you gotta be something ’cause your dad’s something.” Though he needn’t worry: according to his bio, Anthony’s favorite musical memories include singing backup for U2 at the 2o01 Grammys. Suck it, pops! Anyway, Anthony eases into Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” with a trembling tenor that’s tailor-made to give Adam sweet, sweet fantasies of, well, himself. But when Anthony hits the vocal runs right on target, Christina picks him instead. “I thought you had a beautiful voice,” she says, shrugging. Or maybe she just wants to make Adam mad?
NEXT: Charlotte Sometimes, Always, Forever-Never!
TEAM BLAKE: THE REAL DEALS
There’s nothing a country star loves more than authenticity. And Blake’s got loads of it here, starting with “street musician” Naia Kete and her lovely dreadlocks. In order to discover her very real talent, out in the real world, Carson must temporarily leave the oxygen tank he sleeps in and venture out onto the sidewalk. “There’s people out there making music, and making a living at it!” he exclaims. (Yes, Carson. Also, those people breathe air.) Naia brings a slight reggae lilt to Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.” She’s got a nice, earthy quality to her voice, and Cee Lo pushes his button for her, which earns a little flirting. “Cee Lo, you push all my buttons, I gotta say,” Naia coos. (Adam, who’s amazed, accurately remarks, “That’s the first time I’ve heard that overt flirtation coming from the other side!”) But ultimately, Naia says, she must go with “the gut.” She chooses Blake. And he does have a good gut, filled as it is with sarsaparilla.
Shockingly, Blake also scores Charlotte Sometimes, the night’s only contestant to score a chair-turn from all four coaches. Carson tells us that Charlotte’s been diagnosed with a disease that breaks down her jaw. What he doesn’t tell us is that she used to be signed to Geffen, and her 2008 album, Waves and the Both of Us, earned lots of positive reviews. (EW gave it a B+.) Charlotte’s voice is a little too fluttery for me on One Republic’s “Apologize,” but everyone else seems to love her. Still, only Blake knows how to speak this former Geffen star’s language. Comparing her to last season’s Xenia Martinez, he reminds Charlotte that “Xenia has a record deal now, that’s all that I’m sayin’, if you’re into that kind of thing.” When Charlotte chooses him, Blake makes what looks like the international hand gesture for “totally awesome fiery-flames of excitement.” Even better? He actually explains this gesture to Christina. “It’s supposed to be electricity, like, touchin’ itself,” he insists. Quoth Christina, “That was weird.”
TEAM CEE LO: THE SUPERFREAKS
Somehow, Christina’s always able to hoard the coolest bald singers for herself. Last season, she scored Beverly and Frenchie. So it’s only fair that Cee Lo finally gets a fellow cueball with Tony Vincent, who’s starred in Rent and American Idiot and even worked with Queen on We Will Rock You in London. From the moment Tony rips into Queen’s “We Are the Champions” (or, as he sings it, “Wee-eeeee are the champ-yuuuuns”) it’s clear that the guy’s a performer right down to his eyeliner. This is a growling, undulating, nearly-yodeling voice that no doubt shamed his whole theater class from grades 1 through 12. And if it’s a little high-drama, well, Cee Lo’s never pretended that drama’s not his thing. (Are those rhinestones we’re detecting on his jacket?) “I’m a Renaissance man, but at the bone, I’m rock ‘n’ roll,” Cee Lo admits. Somewhere in this tattooed Broadway diva, he’s met his match.
Jamie Lono, who’s got the strange distinction of performing in a sandwich shop, might not be such an obvious choice for Cee Lo. But after this cute, scruffy blonde kid delivers a soft, folky rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues” that’s more Johnny Mayer than Johnny Cash, it’s clear that he shares at least one deep love with his mentor. Jamie: “I make sandwiches for a living.” Cee Lo: “I eat sandwiches.” Case closed!
Justin Hopkins might be the most normal pick of the bunch, though his LinkedIn profile does reveal that, onstage, “he puts a bag of Mexican jumping beans down his pants each night.” (Of course he does.) He once played guitar in the house band on The Carson Daly Show, but his dream is to make it as a lead singer, and luckily, his rendition of David Gray’s “Babylon” is nothing less than “silky, smooth, seductive.” (At least according to Adam, who didn’t pick him.) Cee Lo, who appreciates the soul in Justin’s delivery, needs to have him. As Cee Lo modestly observes, “What better mentor to have than old soul brother Cee Lo Green?” Plus, Carson probably threatened to taser him if he didn’t press the button.
NEXT: Adam Levine tells a hot girl, “I’m really, really desperate.”
TEAM ADAM: THE PRETTY YOUNG THINGS
Adam must have a sixth sense when it comes to hotness. Even with his eyes closed, he’s somehow able to hear the rosy cheeks and the flat-ironed hair. Take fresh-faced Nicolle Galyon, who wants to be the first country singer who’s famous for playing the piano. (Her at-the-bench version of “Superbass” on Vimeo isn’t bad.) Lightly pounding the keys, she makes her little brother cry with her classical twist on Kenny Chesney’s “You Save Me,” but her voice is so shaky that only Adam turns around. “When you weren’t nervous, you were so special,” he tells her, very sweetly. Though even Blake admits that when it comes to real country talent, “I didn’t have that feelin’ about Nicolle.”
Not to worry: Levine gets one more try with Mathai, who remains “beautiful” to Cee Lo. For Mathai, choosing Adele’s “Rumor Has It” proves to be a big mistake — she sounds like a teenager dressing up in a booming voice that’s too big for her skinny frame — but Blake and Adam still fight for her affections. First Adam effuses, “I turned around, and you were just layin’ down this sassiness!” Then he confesses, “I’m really, really desperate to have you on my team.” Hey, when complimentary doesn’t work, try just slightly pathetic. Some girls go for that. Some girls go for anything, as long as you’re Adam Levine.
TEAM ‘VOICE’: THE REST OF US
So, tonight my favorites were Monique Benabou (Team Christina), Naia Kete (Team Blake), and Tony Vincent (a hesitant favorite from Team Cee Lo, because he’s just a little much, but his talent intrigues me). Soon, we’ll finally get to see them battle. But for now, take to the comments below and tell me who you’re rooting for. Team Heart? Team Guts? Team Voice? Or Team Loins?