More blind auditions! Judges fight over singers with hidden talents and two very different kinds of divas

By Jennifer Arellano
April 14, 2015 at 10:20 PM EDT
NBC
S5 E2
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We’ve got a long and winding road of blind auditions ahead of us. After the premiere, most of the voices tend to get lost in our cranial boomboxes and can start to sound the same. So going into tonight’s episode, I was craving some variety, some idiosyncrasy, even some whack-a-doodle hair accessory to help me differentiate between the power vocalists, folk-genre-hybrid singers, and Danielle Bradbery-wannabes. While tonight’s crop didn’t universally bowl me over with their talent, at least two of the nine new singers added to the roster are ones I can safely say I’ll remember. My favorites from last night? The rasp-a-licious Kat and perma-Glee-grin Matthew.

Before I get into the new additions, I’d like to concur with what a bunch of you pointed out in the comments — Christina Aguilera’s high rate of likeability right now. She’s warm and sweet and gives the most earnest speeches. Girlfriend has come a long way since her boxer-biatch-crafted persona from those Dirrty days. Most of the time she was actually the voice of reason compared to the other judges’ nauseating bickering and jostling. Definitely my favorite judge at the moment.

Now onto the new recruits…

Jacquie Lee, 16, of New Jersey, is a 360-degree cutie. She sings for cancer patients, she looks like a Disney star, her pre-performance self-speech was “breathe, say ‘Hi’ to Adam,” — adorable all around! Christina and Blake fought for her, impressed by her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” Cute as she may be, I wasn’t blown away. She sounded like your co-worker who always brings down the house during happy hour karaoke nights but wouldn’t actually ever quit her day job for a musical career. CeeLo’s main concern: “Did you get those boots from Aldo?” Her leather boots were okay.

Unfortunate quote of the night was Blake’s ill-fated attempt to convince Jacquie, “I specialize in 16-year-old girls [pause] winning in this show!” Jacquie rightfully goes with Christina.

Barry Black, 27, of American Samoa is an interestin’ fella. We’ve got the first instrumentalist of the competition. He sings “What You Won’t Do For Love” with a guitar and a French horn. But not just any French horn — Barry uses his mouth to make French horn-like sounds. “What the hell was that?,” asks Adam. “I thought your bow tie was like some weird harmonica or something,” he added. Adam and Blake squabble for the human kazoo (and Black even demonstrates his mouthy talents by “playing” the Jeopardy theme), and Adam wins. Hi, Barry, are you reading this? If so, do you do birthday parties?

Destinee Quinn, 20, of Arizona looks like a brunette version of Taylor Swift (in her country hippie phase). Quinn plays the biker bar circuit and once won an Alice Cooper singing contest. She sings “Cowboy Take Me Away” and Christina is the first to claim her. I thought she was just okay, kinda boring. I’ve already forgotten what she sounds like. Christina wins this one.

Cole Vosbury, 22, of Louisiana is a bona fide grandma’s boy. But lucky for him, he’s got a cool grandma. Apparently she toured with Elvis and Johnny Cash. “My claim to fame would be the only girl who ever turned down Elvis Presley,” she says. Vosbury warns that his song has “never been done before, but it’s also very risky.” This makes me think his act will involve something being set on fire. But alas, nary a pyrotechnic — Vosbury’s “risk” is choosing to sing The Jeffersons theme song, “Movin’ On Up.” Ballsy.

Adam gets jealous of Vosbury’s Duck Dynasty beard: “I’m trying man, I want that!” CeeLo applauds Vosbury’s “audacity to do that song” and is chosen. Vosbury is alright, I guess. He kind of sounds like James Morrison.

NEXT: The first four-chair salute

Holly Henry, 22, of Minnesota could be a dark horse in the competition in the vein of last night’s vibrato-riffic James Wolpert. She’s also the first four-chair fight of the night. Henry’s got some cool style, sort of if the Addams family had a cool Norwegian cousin. I dig. She says, “I wouldn’t call myself antisocial, but I’m kind of awkward.” But you couldn’t tell it by her angelic rendition of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” causing the judges to freak out and her little brother to cry backstage (most touching moment by far). “Because of you, I’m officially excited about season 5 of The Voice right now,” said Blake. “I know as a female what means… I have to get in there and save this girl!” said Christina.

But Holly chooses Blake, prompting him to do the Moonwalk. I’m undecided on her; I like the soothing Sia-like quality of her voice, but I want to see more range.

Austin Jenckes, 25, of Washington is a scooter tour guide with a more melodic-Springsteeny voice. He sings Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” with his childhood guitar (his dad, who committed suicide, taught him on it). I like Austin’s voice, it’s full-bodied and sounds well-honed, but it’s missing something, some kind of vocal quirk I can’t pin down yet. “You got soul power!” CeeLo proclaims. Blake is all over this one, even complimenting his look of a “big ol’ dude coming from the mountains… axing trees down.” Austin picks Blake.

E.G. Daily, 51, of California is my favorite so far. In case the name didn’t hit you, she’s a voiceover actor famous for her talents on The Powerpuff Girls, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and especially as The Rugrats‘ Tommy Pickles. “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do,” goes his motto. A few of the judges even recognized her from her movie work. It’s no surprise since she can voice diverse characters that E.G. Daily can also sing. I didn’t know Tommy Pickles had so many talents! She’s definitely on my to-watch list with her rocker, raspy, Lisa Loeb-y vibes, singing Faith Hill’s “Breathe.” I think she could give fellow raspy-voiced Kat a run for her money.

E.G. chooses Blake because “I don’t wanna play the voiceover card. I wanna be here for my singing.”

Jonny Gray, 29, of Texas is an Adam Levine devotee and used to be in the Air Force. He sings The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” sounding a lot like Brandon, except with less power, and more folk. CeeLo said he could hear some Stevie Nicks in his voice, but Jonny didn’t strike me with the emotion you usually get from Nicks. I think he benefited from good song choice. It’s down to his idol Adam and CeeLo, and Gray surprisingly goes with CeeLo “because he threw in a Pearl Jam reference.”

The Voice saved the best for last.

Tessanne Chin, 28 of Jamaica is the best contestant hands-down. She garners the second four-chair turnaround of the night, singing “Try” by Pink. She likes reggae and rock and has this sonically delicious Jamaican/British accent and you just want to hear her sing and speak all day. “This is gonna be a dirty fight,” said Adam. And it’s not hard to hear why — she’s got this Melissa Etheridge-diva-plus-something-magic vibe going on and she’s definitely the one to watch.

With that range and power you’d think she’d go with Miss Aguilera, but instead Tessanne chooses Adam. I was sad about her choice but happy there’s a singer who will make the Battle rounds very interesting.

How about you? Who were your favorites of the night?

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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