The blind auditions continue tonight on The Voice, and as the four teams start to collect their subjects, the self-proclaimed “Queen” Kelly Clarkson pulls out a literal crown to signify her intent to continue her reign as The Voice‘s coaching champion again this season. However, her majesty’s night doesn’t go completely to plan as she tries to lure some country recruits away from the true Voice liege, Blake Shelton, and fails miserably on more than one occasion.
On the other hand, she does have a little luck courting some contestants who could still very well make it to the finals, so don’t count her out for the throne just yet.
Let’s take a look at who joins Team Kelly and the rest of the teams in round three.
Dave Fenley (39 – Nashville, TN)
“Help Me Hold On” by Travis Tritt
Clarkson may want a country music artist “like a fat kid wants cake” (her words), but after 14 seasons of striking out, Adam Levine has finally wisened up about even trying to go for guys like Dave Fenley here. And he’s right to save his energy because this country crooner has basically been instructed by his mother to hop on the Team Blake train if he can, and southern gents never disobey their mamas on national TV. Although Kelly enthusiastically tamps her button before the first verse of his controlled take on this classic country ballad is done, the singer and Blake speak the same language as they praise the song’s originator for his skills as a “balladeer.”
No matter the coach, though, there’s a lot to like about Dave’s performance here tonight, from his subtle crescendo to the big hook to his deep and raw rasp in the outro to his all-around good attitude. The fact that he can beatbox on the fly, just for fun, means he’s probably got even more to show for himself in the coming weeks.
Team: Blake Shelton.
Steve Memmolo (35 – Boston, MA)
“Spooky” by Dusty Springfield
Some artists come on this show and blow the coaches away from the first lyric, while others take a second or two to calm down and get in a groove. Steve Memmolo belongs in the latter category because when he first begins to belt this seasonal favorite, it’s whispery and generic and mostly forgettable.
About halfway through, though, he starts to find his rhythm and spices things up with some brassy tones and even a few Michael Jackson-esque squeals. Those are enough to catch Adam Levine’s attention — he’s always a sucker for a high note — although the coach does want him to steer clear of being too cute and schmoozy with his stage swagger (confidence which is owed, no doubt, to all the comparisons of his looks to Ben Affleck’s). We’ll see how that works out, but for now … points for him coming out with a creative number we don’t always hear here.
Team: Adam Levine.
Audri Bartholomew (19 – St. Louis, MO)
“Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman
Apart from all the shoe-throwing stuff, it’s the ultimate sign of respect when Jennifer Hudson decides she wants to duet with a budding artist. Considering Audri Bartholomew comes in with a bustling diva voice to match a show tune, it’s no wonder JHud doesn’t even want to break stride with a different song as she takes the stage with her new recruit. This is a “big song,” as the coaches note, and Jennifer is impressed that Audri has the guts to try it.
As for the delivery, well, there are certainly some rough edges that need to be polished out. Audri has plenty of power, but the pitch isn’t always perfect. If there’s anyone who knows how to draw out the soul of a singer and leave the rest on the road, it’s Hudson, which is probably why no one else even bothered to turn for this girl.
Team: Jennifer Hudson.
Rachel Messer (19 – Fort Gay, WV)
“I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” by Patsy Montana
There’s country, and then there’s country, and Rachel Messer is about as downhome a sweetheart as they come. To hear her talk about living on hollers and raising chickens and playing the mandolin while her grandpa strums the banjo, well, it’s clear even Blake Shelton isn’t as twangy as this’un.
The good news for her is that her yodel-and-sashay style seems to really work for both Kelly and Blake, especially since she can keep pace with this uptempo old school number. The better news is that her head-to-toe denim makes her a perfect match for Blake Shelton. The best news is Kelly has already given her some solid free advice anyway about out what her next move should be, suggesting the gal take on a Patsy Cline number for the battle rounds, and YEP. She so should. Those sharp southern tones would be a sublime match for a slower piece from Cline’s repertoire and could help show off some sophistication we haven’t seen from her tonight.
Team: Blake Shelton.
Brent Morgan (30 – Madison, AL)
“Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man
Brent Morgan has made a career out of writing and performing jingles for commercial brands, but he still somehow manages to erase all the catchiest earworm moments of this tune during his performance. That’s not to say it’s a bad performance — he’s still got some serious groove sprinkled into his pop-rock vocal — but there’s a subdued quality to the showcase that seems to have the coaches hesitating tonight. Since he literally makes a living capturing people’s attention with memorable song moments, you think he’d know better than to offer an arrangement that takes out all the snappiest beats. Womp.
Chevel Shepherd (16 – Farmington, NM)
“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
There’ve been a lot of teenagers to come and go on this show, but have any had quite as much sass and self-confidence as this little lady? By little, I mean little; she’s 4’10”, but every inch is built with the same steel as the car she’s named after, and it’s hard not to dig her moxie.
That same confidence comes through on the stage because she powers through some obvious nerves and delivers a range review that’s impressive. At the same time, her tones are sweet, and there’s a bit of gravel to her sound to keep it interesting. She sounds a bit like Jessica Andrews or Amanda Wilkinson of the late ’90s/early aughts country singer scene, and if she’s able to hone in on all that note control and deliver something just a bit cleaner next time, she might do big things here. Kelly Clarkson is definitely delighted to snag this country singer from Blake’s clutches, so you know she’ll get some special attention from her coach, too.
Team: Kelly Clarkson.