More blind auditions (including Lady Gaga's backup singer) give you more bam! for your buck

By Melissa Maerz
Updated April 14, 2015 at 11:06 PM EDT
The Voice / NBC

The Voice

S3 E8
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Did you realize that we’ve already reached the eighth round of blind auditions? Since the third season of The Voice premiered, all the sand in Bora Bora has passed through the hourglass, redwood trees have grown multiple rings, and Cee Lo’s cockatoo has celebrated its 140th birthday. Yikes. Time has passed.

But somehow, the coaches have lots of energy left. And they’ll need it. Because they’ll still see more joking from Blake. More flirting from Cee Lo. More reverse-psychology arguments about why someone should pick Adam. More of that I-might-push-the-button-no!-haha!-I’m-not-gonna-really-push-the-button! psych-outs from Christina. So let’s buck up and join them.

Speaking of the passing of time, Nathalie Hernandez, the night’s first contestant, might be younger than Cee Lo’s vintage sunglasses. (Which are amazing.) She’s only fifteen, and with her floral-print dress and her hair done up in braids, she makes my tender little girl-heart ache. So innocent! Her song choice, Taylor Swift’s high school fantasy “White Horse,” feels age-appropriate, and the sincerity fits her perfectly. Thank goodness this little lady isn’t trying to take on a life-weary Mary J. Blige song.

Her voice is a little shaky, but her natural tone is charming. (Teenage Voice contestants take note: you don’t all have to force yourself to sing like Lana Del Rey.) She gets two button slams right away. But she ends up picking Christina, who’s kind of like a white horse for Nathalie, if white horses galloped around in gladiator stilettos.

Rod Michael is not quite as lovable as Natalie. He’s amazingly cocky for a 31-year-old guy who used to be in a boy band: he concludes every sentence with the phrase “when I was over in Europe,” just to stress how famous he was over there. But his version of Mike Posner’s “Please Don’t Go” fails to impress, and he walks away without a single vote. Sorry, guy. They were rooting for you in Germany, Spain, and Lithuania!

Caitlin Michele steps up next, and it’s clear from her cool, blue-tipped red hair and her cute nose ring that she’s going to fill the show’s Artsy Rocker Girl vacancy. Caitlin says she suffers from panic disorder, but she seems pretty confident on stage, belting out “Cosmic Love” by Florence + the Machine. Her notes aren’t all pitch-perfect: when she flubs one, the cameras cut to Cee Lo shaking his head Nuh-uh! But she has enough power to climb the song’s ladder of ascending notes. Plus, as Adam says, “I really just care about different, and you were different.” It’s no wonder that Caitlin goes with Adam. There’s no better way to charm the resident Artsy Rocker Girl than by telling her she’s not normal.

NEXT: Gaga’s favorite Little Monster gets her shot at fame

With only a few spots left on each coach’s team, style matters just as much as talent. Lucky for Nicole Johnson, many of the teams are low on country acts, and she’s got the best puppy dog eyes ever. (If only the coaches could see them.) Her banjo-plucking version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All” is nice enough—but can I remind you that there’s a banjo in it? That officially makes it a country song, so it’s no surprise when the one official country coach snags her for his team. Blake doesn’t even have to bribe Nicole with his homemade sarsaparilla.

Unfortunately, the odds don’t work quite as well for middle school teacher Kameron Corvet, even though he makes Seal’s “Crazy” sound like a much cooler song. He puts some attitude into his guitar strumming, and makes his voice so low and smooth, you’d think he’s trying to convince you of something. Well, he definitely convinces me: I really want this guy to make it to the battle rounds. Sadly, most of the coaches already have their share of R&B singers, so he goes home. Worse yet, he’s so gracious about going home, it feels like an even greater injustice. I blame Seal. But then, I tend to blame Seal for everything.

After Kameron leaves the stage, we get introduced to Chevonne, who’s a backup singer for Lady Gaga. Though she hasn’t quite reached Jan Brady levels of jealousy, she admits that she’s tired of being left in Gaga’s shadow. (Cut to a pretty great a capella clip of them singing “Born This Way” together.) Aside from her phenomenal halo of frizzy hair, Chevonne actually looks kind of like Gaga, but that’s where the similarities end. She powers through a lot of vocal acrobatics on the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket,” especially the part where she hollers, “Ain’t nobody else here / No one like me.” I’m all for individualism, but it’s not as if no one has ever sung that song in a reality competition before.

And yet, after telling the crowd that she has struggled with an eating disorder (judge! relevance?) Cee Lo says he appreciates that her performance comes from a dark place. They pick each other, and everyone’s happy, until some evil music supervisor plays Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” while Chevonne walks off stage. Poor lady can’t stop getting upstaged by her boss.

Next up, we get a trio of Adorable But Depressed Ladies. Kayla Nevarez dedicates her sassy version of Estelle’s “American Boy” to her father, who’s sick with liver disease. (Adam claims her.) Celica Westbrook still carries a grudge against the record label that failed to sign her, but her rendition of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” is only okay. (Christina scoops her up anyway.) Jessica Cayne says she was bullied and struggled with an eating disorder, so she’s taking on Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” to prove the mean girls wrong. (Sadly, nobody chooses her.) Two eating disorders in one show? And one involving Gaga’s backup singer? This is happening the same week that both Christina and Gaga have been wrapped up in body image controversies. It’s hard to tell whether that’s strange or just sad.

NEXT: What’s Hank Williams III’s real first name? (Hint: It’s not Christina.)

Anyway, the mood lifts slightly when we’re introduced to 46-year-old Rudy Parris, a country vet who played with Hank Williams III but gave up his career to raise his daughter. With his biker jacket, chunky turquoise jewelry, and long, shiny black hair, he doesn’t look like your usual Nashville lifer, and he doesn’t sound like one either. He infuses the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” with just the right mix of Southern twang, blues, and classic rock. If this guy’s a cowboy, he’s the steel-horse-riding kind.

Cee Lo tries to win Rudy over with flattery. “Damn, you look cool man,” he marvels. “I want your hair!” But Blake’s got the winning argument on this one. “You know what Hank Williams III’s first name really is?” he asks. But he already knows the answer, and so does Rudy: it’s Shelton. And maybe that’s a sign. He goes with Blake.

By the end, every coach has filled up his or her team except Cee Lo. So that leaves Cody Belew, who’s the son of a rodeo bull rider—and also, apparently, a stand-up comedian. Asked about the soul inflections in his Southern voice, he quips, “I really do believe that in a past life I was an elderly black lady.” Okay, he’s kind of funny. Asked to point out the differences between himself and Cee Lo, Cody observes that Cee Lo gets tell people to bring him a red latex winged suit and shoot him out of a cannon. “I’ve never gotten to say that to someone,” he jokes. “I’ve only gotten to dream about it.”

Cody picks “Hard to Handle,” and with his Southern-rock sassafras, he sounds more like the Black Crowes’ cover than Otis Redding’s classic. I don’t really hear the elderly black lady in his voice, but he’s obviously good, and as he modestly notes, he can entertain the crowd with “a little bam bam.” Cee Lo’s smart to push his buzzer. “You hit it! You hit it!” cheers Cody as he hugs Cee Lo, cursing up a storm while the censors try to keep up. A whole lot of bleeping ensues. “That’s the best reaction we’ve ever heard!” says Adam. “You curse more than I do.”

And with that, another [bleep]ing episode of The Voice has come to an end. None of tonight’s singers really feels like an obvious winner to me so far, but I’m excited to hear Rudy and Cody and Caitlin in the battle rounds. So now you tell me: who did you love tonight? Who did you hate? And after ten billion blind auditions, do you think it’s time for the battle rounds to [bleep]ing begin already?

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The Voice

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

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