The Voice recap: Two Thumbs Up
Carson Daly needs to calm himself. I appreciate how involved he gets with the contestants, but I can’t help but think it’s a little too much when he’s cheering louder than a singer’s mother. We know that you’re the “fifth Beatle” and everything, Carson, but we won’t like you any less if you take your cheerleading down a notch. In fact, we might like you a little bit more. And then there’s always the fact that Carson’s opinion doesn’t matter (no offense) and really can’t help us when it comes to judging the night’s auditions…
The story: This 28-year-old charmer hails from Dallas. Currently working as a “starter” at a golf course, Lewis once had a record deal with Interscope, for which he completed a radio tour. And after two and a half years, Lewis had almost finished a record when his music was shelved. Now, he’s hoping The Voice is his second chance.
The song: Usher’s “You Got It Bad” performed with a guitar and a little white-boy flair.
Embarrassing moment: When discussing his past in music, Lewis gives the audience a glimpse at a few of the music videos he was in during his record deal. The undone bowtie look with the sexy fingerpoint to the camera? Yep. He’s going to regret showing that one.
The verdict: After Usher, Blake and Shakira all turn around, it isn’t hard to imagine Lewis’ choice. “I got to go with my man Usher.” And after a super cool handshake and a quick dance move from Usher, the night is off to a good start.
The story: 45-year-old Shawna P is out to prove that it’s never too late to do what you’re passionate about. After seeing Elvis perform at the age of 8, Shawna knew what she wanted to do. She joined the Music Mafia in Nashville after college, which included other members Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich. She even performed with Kid Rock. But after the Music Mafia dissolved, Shawna was left without a leg to stand on. And now, she’s ready to give it another go.
The song: The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels,” performed with a raspy rocker edge and a nose ring.
The quip: When asked how long she’s been singing, Shawna replies, “I’ve been singing since most the people who’ve tried out have been alive.” Touché, Ms. P.
The verdict: Adam and Shakira do their best to convince Shawna they’re both rockers at heart, but she only believes one of them — the one who can show her how to move her hips. Shawna joins Team Shakira.
NEXT: Which coach says “diaphanous?” (Hint: It’s used correctly.)
The story: An 18 year-old from St. Louis, Caroline Glazer has two options: Start a singing career or go back to college at the University of Kansas. And as a graduate of the University of Missouri, I have to say I think she made the right choice by joining The Voice.
The song: Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” is performed with such a small town coffeehouse vibe that it can’t help but be charming.
The vocabulary: In the fight for Glazer, Blake draws on the fact that he has dimples (he’s pretty sure), while Shakira whips out her genius IQ and calls Caroline’s voice “diaphanous.” Look that one up in the dictionary, Blake.
The verdict: Despite Shakira’s intelligence, Blake wins Caroline over the moment he mentions her writing. If that man doesn’t know the way to a woman’s heart…
The story: Cameron I-don’t-need-a-last-name is a 24-year-old man from Iowa who spends his days working in a residential treatment facility for kids. Back home, he’s a self-described “mini-celebrity” among kids ages 7-12. A producer, actor, singer, dancer, entertainer extraordinaire, Cameron hopes to win the crowd over with his red bowtie and his stylish dance moves. Oh, and his voice, too.
The song: Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” is performed without much originality and with some serious breath-control issues.
The no-no: The judges know Cameron’s dancing, and it’s highlighting his bad breath control. That’s not even mentioning the awkward moment when Adam explains to Shakira that he’s dancing (hence the struggles) after he’s stopped. Ouch.
The verdict: He’s out. Nobody turned around for Cameron, who will still go home a role model for his kids. The good news? Cameron’s moves prompted Blake to say “My hips don’t lie.” So, for that, we thank you Cameron.
The story: 43-year-old Michael Austin is a deputy sheriff whose body might not be able to make it in the force much longer. Luckily, Austin describes himself as half deputy and half singer. With his own band, Austin Law, performing once a month in Las Vegas, Austin knows a little bit about the music scene. At the very least, he knows enough to wear a cowboy hat and a vest that shows off his impressive arm tattoos. If Adam Levine teaches us anything, right?
The song: Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” is performed with a bit of a country twang and a few pitch problems, but that doesn’t stop Shakira and Adam from turning their chairs around.
Whoops: Did anybody else catch that Adam looked like he hit his button only to get Blake to do the same? I don’t feel like Adam really wanted this guy on his team.
The verdict: Want him or not, Austin joins Team Adam, whispering “Let’s whoop his ass” in Adam’s ear, referring, of course, to the big country man in the competition.
NEXT: Another year, another backup singer…
The story: A classically trained pianist from New York, Sasha Allen is the real deal. At the age of 30, she has been a back-up singer for John Legend, Alicia Keys and — wait for it — Christina Aguilera. After putting her career on hold to be a mother, Allen is ready to chase her dreams. And I can’t wait to see her do it.
The song: The Dixie Chick’s “Not Ready to Make Nice” is given a not-so-country spin when Allen belts out every last note, adding a classical feel to the song.
Play your card: You have to love the four-chair turnaround, when every coach plays whatever card they can think of. Blake comes first with the country card. Usher whips out the I-want-you-to-get-me-my-first-win card. Shakira plays the girl card, and Adam plays the experience card. But the winner is …
The verdict: He is still the champion of four-chair battles: Allen joins Team Adam!
The story: Life can be difficult for a musician who is stuck in a small town. Just ask Matt Cermanski, the 19 year-old with family ties to the business. Cermanski’s uncle is the pianist for The Tramps (think “Disco Inferno”) and Cermanski’s inspiration. He’s hoping The Voice will kick off his long career in the biz.
The song: Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” proves to be a challenge for the young vocalist, who can’t quite hit some of the notes.
Song choice: Believe it or not, it isn’t the constant knee jerking that does Cermanski in. The judges all agree: Song choice is crucial, and Katy Perry isn’t quite in his comfort zone.
The verdict: He’s out. No chairs turn around for this young lad, but on the plus side, Blake tells him that he’s pretty without makeup on. Sweet, right?
Take a quick breather, y’all! It’s time for the “others” montage. What we don’t get to see this episode is Usher picking up artist Jamilla Thompson, Adam picking up Amy Whitcomb, and Blake adding Justin Rivers and Michelle Raitzin to his team. That’s all we’re allowed to know, so let’s get back to it. Your breather is officially over!
The story: Born in Havana, Cuba, Mary Miranda moved to Albuquerque four years ago, where she was mocked for not knowing English. With her father in Barcelona, Miranda turned to music to help her through and to teach her English. Now, with her father’s necklace around her neck, she gets on stage to try and impress the judges, language barriers and all.
The song: Selena’s “Como La Flor” highlights Miranda’s vocal strengths as well as her inner Latina.
Latina connection: When Shakira, Blake and Usher all turn around, the blonde coach doesn’t seem phased. Well, at first she looks pretty pissed as she mouths “mother f*****” at both the boys. But in terms of fighting it out, Shakira thanks the guys for trying and works the Latina connection every way she knows how.
The verdict: And it works. Miranda joins Team Shakira.
NEXT: There’s a new music genre in town, and it’s called “bluntry”
The story: Memphis is what makes Grace Askew the “bluntry” singer that she is today, mixing blues and country. After hitting the road at the age of 22, Askew hit a plateau and hopes this is her chance to move beyond it. Now 26, Askew is ready to hit the stage.
The song: Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” is performed with a bit of a blues edge and a one-handed strumming of a chrome guitar that, at the very least, earns her some cool points.
Regrettable move: Askew’s performance literally makes Blake scream, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t watch this back, look at her hair and say, “What was I thinking?!”
The verdict: Even Shakira knows that Askew belongs on Team Blake.
The story: Her name might be incredibly generic, but Jane Smith brings us the night’s biggest (not so generic) sob story: Her parents were diagnosed with cancer within a week of each other. And despite her mother’s survival, her dad died only 19 months after being diagnosed.
The song: Florence + The Machine’s “You’ve Got The Love” performed with not quite enough vocal power to back it up.
Best moment: Usher and Adam both tell this 18-year-old girl that she’s “cute,” so I have faith that she’s going to be fine no matter what happens next.
The verdict: With no chairs turned, she’s out. Smith leaves the stage with her Mad Men-approved hairstyle and “impossibly cute” personality.
The story: And finally, Ryan Innes is the 31-year-old doctor who decided to pursue a career in music after the “love of his life” called off the wedding three weeks ahead of time. Now, Innes spends his days singing at weddings, lounges and the occasional corporate event. Also, he likes to grow out his beard. And it’s awesome.
The song: John Mayer’s“Gravity” is performed with that perfect balance of smooth R&B and scruffy soul that makes your heart happy.
Burning questions: Why did he and his fiancé break up? After all, he still calls her the “love of his life.” How long ago did she call off the wedding? And who is that little boy he’s hugging? Is that his kid?
The verdict: After all four coaches fight it out for Innes’ soulful voice (including Adam offering to kick him in the stomach), Usher takes home his first four-chair battle victory.
I’m going to be super lame and say that I’m most looking forward to more music from Ryan Innes and his precious blue eyes. And, of course, I expect great things from anyone who sings backup for Christina Aguilera. But what about you guys? Who were your favorites? Least favorites? Does anyone else think Usher is getting cuter with each passing week? Also, did the coaches seem less picky than they usually do at this point in the competition? Hit the comments with your every thought, musical or not.
Samantha on Twitter: @samhighfill
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.