The Voice recap: Coach Me If You Can
The coaches finally fill up their teams of 12, and two exciting singers emerge to complete Teams Adam and Blake (uh oh).
Phew. I never thought I’d be so relieved to be done with The Voice‘s blind auditions, once the greatest part of a nascent reality show, now a less-than-thrilling necessity to brave before the good stuff.
I’m not sure when it happened that the auditions become rote, but I’m ready to welcome the battle rounds with open arms if it means we’ll be able to trim some of the fat from this season’s more forgettable (see: about 40 of them) contestants. There are some truly exciting singers here that I’m anticipating big things from, but I’ll wait for the battles before writing them off completely.
All in all, the blinds were flawed and the coaches’ lackluster banter was partly to blame (the other part being contestants who failed to elevate their audition songs beyond being a YouTube cover you might watch, like, once). Still, there are a few folks I’m digging, and two of them auditioned tonight.
Joe Trombino, 33, Queens, NY
Backstory: Studied dance at LaGuardia High School, that super famous performing arts school from Fame
Relevant Viewing: This.
Current Story: Living at home with his mother and grandmother while hitting “every NYC club you could imagine” (though arguably not Crease or Twice or Slice or Wesh)
Song: “Love and Happiness” – Al Green
You know something’s wrong when the first thing you do on The Voice stage is a weird kickflailspasm instead of, oh, I don’t know, trying to sing notes. Rather than bother trying to impress with his vocals, friendly borough brother Joe (wearing a vest-ascot combination that suggests Freddy from Scooby-Doo if he were an Italian artisanal craftsman) was way behind the beat, or so Adam says (the music snob in me said, “Yeah, totally, he was way behind the beat” but the actual Voice watcher in me had basically no idea whether this was true). Either way, Joe demonstrated his super cool Fame moves, but was ultimately devastated that nobody turned. He received the usual pleasantries before returning to his mother, who will likely bake him a Consolation Lasagna with You’ll Get ‘Em Next Time meatballs and a side of I Can Ask Nancy From The Salon If Her Daughter Is Still Looking For An Administrative Assistant garlic bread.
Kaleigh Glanton, 20, Wichita, KS
AKA: That random classical guitarist girl who also does CrossFit
Song: “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Before going onstage, Kaleigh promises that this audition is going to be the best 90 seconds of her life, and she sure sells that promise with a performance that’s genuinely one of the more interesting auditions of the season. There’s a little twang, a little quirk (as Shakira points out, perhaps wrongly), but there’s a really gorgeous voice in there and I’d be interested to hear what else Kaleigh can do in later rounds. All four coaches turn and Adam, Shakira and Usher make their cases, but then Blake chimes in with the sales pitch to end all sales pitches: “You already have a style. You just need a spotlight.” Well, damn. That’s some Joseph L. Mankiewicz sh-t right there. How could Kaleigh NOT pick Team Blake?
Team Blake: completed.
NEXT: About that September 11th story…
Brittnee Camelle, 23, Lawrenceville, GA
Backstory: Nursing student with a biracial identity crisis
Mom Says: “When she sings, it roars from her voice.”
Song: “Skyscraper” – Demi Lovato
I never understood why millenials risk giving up things like scholarships to audition for reality shows, especially when it’s basically an inevitable truth of our society that there will always be some sort of singing competition on television for the rest of our natural lives. Still, mazel tov to Brittnee for losing her nursing scholarship and landing a spot on someone’s team. For the first time in forever, there’ll be music there’ll be light Usher turns around first, which should immediately throw up a red flag to the other coaches that he’s serious, but Shakira pulls a last-minute Usher-esque move and turns. She pulls out all the stops and it looks like she’s got momentum, and Usher even makes a chauvinistic joke that prompts Brittnee to respond with the self-deprecatingly cringeworthy “We women do love to talk.” But even after all of this, Usher lays down a beautiful beat to counter Shakira: “I don’t want to make you over. I want to mentor you.” What is WITH these alluring soundbites tonight!? Has everyone taken a pithy screenwriting class? Obviously Brittnee chooses Team Usher after that. The hilarious part is, Usher even acknowledges that Shakira pulled out everything she had to win Brittnee. Cut to Brittnee’s interview: “Usher’s from Atlanta, I’m from Atlanta!” There it is, folks — the great equalizer. Peace up, A town down.
Team Usher: completed.
Beau Thomas, 27, Frisco, CO
Backstory: Full-time musician with three kids, living in a ski-resort town
Song: “You Are The Best Thing” – Ray LaMontagne
As you all know, I’m a big sucker for contestants with babies (especially Huggies commercial-quality ones), so I was a little bummed he didn’t get any chairs to turn. It doesn’t help that Beau was also super happy and optimistic. His audition wasn’t bad, but he suffers from the worst logistical part of The Voice, which is auditioning towards the end of the batch. He might have been picked if he was one of the first auditioners, but appearing towards the end was his biggest handicap.
Lindsay Bruce, 25, Santa Rosa, CA
Backstory: Lost her uncle in 9/11, wrote a song about him which ostensibly began her love of music
Song: “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” – Eli Young Band
Call me cynical or insensitive but Lindsay’s 9/11 backstory just felt wrong and out of place here — there seemed to be little connection between the tragedy and who Lindsay is now. Maybe I’m awful for thinking it but either it was the most important character-shaping experience of her life (and her interview didn’t exactly suggest this), or there is simply little else interesting about this girl. #endofrant Now, Lindsay is far from the best country singer this season, but she’s got the name and the look and a quasi-promising voice, enough to make Adam and Shakira both turn. It’s always fun to see Adam turn for a country singer since it’s something he rarely does (most likely to minimize his losses to Blake, but since Blake has a full team, Adam had nothing to lose). Shakira equates her quick vibrato with Lindsay’s and says their techniques will be compatible for teaching, which never strikes me as a good argument since I have to believe all four coaches are qualified to bring out the best in any vibrato speed. In a surprising move, Lindsay nonsensically says “I’m gonna go with the girl on my team,” becoming the last member to join Team Shakira.
Team Shakira: completed.
At this point it’s just Adam left, and we see him rejecting people left and right (including someone who sang “Get Lucky,” which is right up there with “Blurred Lines” in Songs From 2013 I Never Want to Hear Again).
Caleb Elder, 19, Appomattox, VA
Hottie Alert: Caleb Elder, 19, Appomattox, VA
Adorable Job: Works at a donut shop called Daylight Donuts
Song: “Groove Me” – King Floyd
Caleb’s the last singer to audition on the last blind audition episode for the last spot on Adam’s team, and he even says how much he wants to be on Adam’s team, so basically, he chooses Team Adam because of course. That said, what a personality! I loved watching Caleb, and he’s immediately one of my favorite contestants. Such a little sweater-weather firecracker, and a great match for Adam’s personality. Adam calls him a wildcard, which is true — if he can maintain a great voice, he’ll be a fun one to watch.
And boom! We’re done with the blind auditions! Next week’s tease gives a little preview of the mentors who will join during the battle rounds: Miranda Lambert (yawn) on Team Shakira, The Band Perry (sure) on Team Blake, Aloe Blacc (whose new album is amazing) on Team Adam, and Jill Scott (she sang “Hate On Me” and that’s basically all I know) on Team Usher.
Overall I’d give the audition round a C+/B-. Underwhelming beginning, promising end, but nothing too compelling throughout. There are a few contestants I’m excited about, but for the most part, I’m ready for half of them to be axed in the battles.
How about you? How did you feel about this season’s blind auditions? Let me know, and I’ll see you back here for next week’s battles!