The judges showed off their pickier sides as the second week of blind auditions came to an end. They stressed idiosyncrasy over mere technical prowess. Make it special. Make it your own. Make an artisanal pizza while singing the Whitney Houston catalog while patting your head and rubbing your tummy.
We saw two four-chair salutes, one for a returning season 4 contestant who overcame personal tragedy, and the other for the night’s final showstopper. There were no surprise semi-famous contestants, and no changes in the show’s format. Is it me or are all the contestants’ pre-performance self-pep-talks all starting to sound the same? This could change my life. This is my one shot. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I think they should ax the voice-overs and just blast “Lose Yourself” instead.
Favorite moment: Christina makes her first vocal demonstration of the season, hitting insane high notes in Ariana Grande’s “The Way” with a single effortless breath. The unfortunate student? Macey Estes. Though Macey didn’t advance, she did impress the judges with her Voice-themed rap.
Best unintentional pick-up line: “I will put you in some different positions. Professional positions,” said CeeLo to contestant Olivia Henken.
Now onto our new recruits…
WILL CHAMPLIN, 30, of California, is the son of Chicago member Bill Champlin.
Sings: “Not Over You” by Gavin Degraw
Verdict: The judges took their time on this one. At almost the last moment, Blake, then Adam and CeeLo turned around. “You have a really incredible voice, bro,” said Adam. Blake changes up his pitching style to a curt plea “Hey Will, I love you.” Will chooses Adam.
STEPHANIE ANNE JOHNSON, 29, of Washington, is an opera-trained lounge singer on a cruise ship. She’s away eight months a year and says she’s “ready to get back on land.”
Sings: “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall
Verdict: Stephanie’s voice is quite the sleeper hit. Starting off inconspicuously, she belts out a powerful run that has Christina and CeeLo moving. “We could feel the attitude right through the chairs,” says Adam. Stephanie says she wants to sing “indie-soul.” She chooses Christina, saying, “You haven’t had a winner yet and we’re gonna fix that.”
SAM CERNIGLIA, 25, of Illinois, works in customer service for Groupon. He says he’s here today in honor of his two sisters who are very sick.
Sings: “It’s a Beautiful Day” by Michael Bublé
Verdict: I was really excited for Sam because the show has been needing a crooner variable. Blake praises his depth, calling him “a complete vocalist.” “You sound like a gentleman,” said CeeLo. Sam chooses Blake.
NEXT: If at first you don’t succeed …