The Voice recap: Will Gwen Stefani use the final block?
It’s night three of The Voice Blind Auditions and we have one block still left in play: Gwen Stefani. It’s doubtful she’ll use it on Blake, although she did use his life-size cardboard cutouts as target practice for her t-shirt cannon, so anything is possible. Still, I’d be more concerned if I were John Legend or Kelly Clarkson. Let’s jump back into the singing, as things move smoothly along.
Rio Souma / 28 / Detroit, Mich.
“Cruisin’” by Smokey Robinson
We’re starting off the night with a classic Motown sound. Rio is smooth and knows how to use runs at the most opportune moments. As soon as he goes into his falsetto, Gwen turns her chair. She loves that he sounds “unique” but also like the consummate professional. It doesn’t take long for John and Kelly to follow. John is especially excited about Rio. He loves that he didn’t give us the typical full falsetto version of this song and instead showed off the power of his chest voice. It was “phenomenal,” John says. With a review like that, how could he not join Team Legend?
Ryan Berg / 27 / Dallas, Tex.
“Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer
Oh, okay rasp. Ryan here has such a memorable tone, it’s no wonder Gwen turns pretty quickly...and that she uses her block to make sure John Legend doesn’t get his hands on this voice. It’s a smart move since the only other coach to turn for Ryan turns out to be John Legend. So, Ryan doesn’t have a choice, he’s on Team Gwen, but she loves how “original” Ryan’s voice sounds and praises him for his “point of view” as an artist, so it seems like he’ll be well taken care of by his new coach.
Becca Kotte / 33 / Fargo, N.D.
“American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz
Becca has both a musical theater background — she performed in the Las Vegas company of Rock of Ages, and also sings back-up for Sir Rod Stewart. Yet still, this is not enough for our coaches. Becca rocks out on stage, but John tells her she sounded much more convincing in the second half, and both Kelly and Blake agree that Becca sounded “hesitant” throughout. She didn’t fully go for it and didn’t show off enough of who she is as an artist to win any chair turns.
Jus Jon / 30 / Newport News, Va.
“Talk” by Khalid
Before he heads on stage for his audition, Jus Jon tells us that he’d be most happy being coached by either John Legend or Blake Shelton. It’s a nice fact to know since Jus Jon’s lone chair turn belongs to Blake. One would not necessarily put our resident cowboy with an R&B artist who has an extremely cool vibe. But Blake is excited he doesn’t have to fight off the other coaches here — both Kelly and Gwen admit they liked Jus Jon’s voice but felt the performance wasn’t dynamic enough — he’s won plenty of times without a country artist and he’s very happy to do that again. Jus Jon joins the rest of the artists on Team Blake.
Ben Allen / 42 / Estero, Fla.
“Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn
Okay, now here is a dude made for Blake Shelton’s team. Ben even admits that he’s happy to sing other genres, but everything will come out with a twang on it so he sticks to country. His voice is immediately ready for country radio. Blake knows this and turns right after Ben gets the first line of the song out. Gwen and John know they have only a minuscule chance of persuading this country boy to try something different, but decide to shoot their shots anyway. If you never try, you’ll never know, Kelly Clarkson. Just kidding! John and Gwen can compliment Ben on his “tone for days” and “clear” and “confident” voice all they want, he’s still going to Team Blake.
Kelsie Watts / 29 / Nashville, Tenn.
“I Dare You” by Kelly Clarkson
Ah, yes. That always exciting moment when a contestant decides to use one of the coaches’ songs for their audition. Typically Kelly is extra harsh when someone pulls a song from her songbook, but almost from the get-go of Kelsie’s more “intimate” rendition of Kelly’s latest single, Kelly is beside herself with excitement. Kelsie really knows how to build up to the big notes and then, friends, the girl deploys the whistle note. Kelly and Gwen turn immediately. Kelly is beyond impressed with both Kelsie’s range and control. As was inevitable, Kelsie joins Team Kelly. When in doubt, folks, try out a whistle note. Just kidding, it is nearly impossible to do well so please don’t attempt this, you will hurt yourself.
James Mays / 27 / Memphis, Tenn.
“The Show Must Go On” by Queen
Speaking of taking a risk: James decides to sing this huge Queen song for his audition and it backfires on him. It’s just too dramatic and theatrical for Blake and Kelly, and John notes that it was so big it seemed to get away from James. There were “some control issues,” John says. They praise his power and vibrato, but still, no chair turns.
Carter Rubin / 14 / Long Island, N.Y.
“Before You Go” by Lewis Capaldi
This precious child! First of all, Carter’s voice sounds absolutely nothing like a 14-year-old’s — it is mature and believably emotional, it’s powerful but there is also control there. Gwen and John turn because they are moved, and then when they find out Carter is only 14, they know they’ve made a good choice. John tells him his “tone is piercing and brilliant” and also notes that Carter is the youngest person John’s ever turned for — he’s usually “a snob” about having singers with more experience, he says, but was so impressed. For her pitch, Gwen assures Carter she’ll take care of him — she has a 14-year-old son, after all — and can help him with stage presence. Carter joins Team Gwen.
Casmè / 39 / New Orleans, La.
“Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin
Casmè is a lot of fun. It’s only John Legend who turns his chair for her, but he’s right — the others missed out on Casmè’s biggest strength: her performance value. She can also sing! As Kelly points out, not only was there a lot of soul in her audition, but she felt a little rocker come out thanks to Casmè’s rasp and growls. It’ll be interesting to see where John goes as far as song selection for her, because she could really go anywhere. Needless to say, she’ll be in good hands on Team Legend.
Michelle Moonshine / 28 / Salt Lake City, Utah
“Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor
Michelle — who considers her wheelhouse a mix of country, bluegrass, and rockabilly — was supposed to audition for The Voice six years ago, but found out she was pregnant right before and had to cancel. Now she’s back, baby! Although she has a “peaceful and sweet” tone according to Kelly, Michelle’s performance never really goes anywhere. There’s no build, there’s nothing really unexpected. The coaches are looking for someone to really excite them, and this performance was just a bit underwhelming.
Desz / 30 / Houston, Tex.
“Un-break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
Well, this is soul-cleansing. Honestly, I’m a sucker for any '90s R&B, but taking on Miss Toni Braxton? And absolutely murdering it? Desz could just sing this song in every round and I’d be on board. She gets a four-chair turn. John knows it’s not an easy song to sing, but praises Desz for nailing both the gorgeous alto notes and “then deliver[ing] those high notes, too.” He’s blown away at how she was able to take such a familiar song and make it her own. Gwen calls it “stunning,” and Blake admits that by the time Desz got to the huge power note at the end, he just couldn’t help himself; he had to turn. Kelly turned first and is impressed by Desz’s confidence — it was a risky song choice — but also by her “crazy cool” control. They all would love to have Desz on their team...but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out who she picks. In the meantime, just go listen to “Un-break My Heart” another few to 100 times.
Team Kelly: Joseph Soul, Eli Zamora, Marisa Corvo, Madeline Consoer, Ryan Gallagher, Kelsie Watts
Team Gwen: Lauren Frihauf, Payge Turner, Liam St. John, Chloé Hogan, Ryan Berg, Carter Rubin
Team Legend: Tamara Jade, John Holiday, Cami Clune, Sid Kingsley, Rio Souma, Casmè
Team Blake: Ian Flanigan, Jim Ranger, Taryn Papa, Aaron Scott, Jus Jon, Ben Allen
A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.