The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Blind Auditions, Part 3 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Blind Auditions, Part 3”! The blind auditions continue as Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera fill their teams with some of America’s best talent!
To recap, here is where the teams currently stand:
Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis, Brooke Adee
Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo
Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z
Team Adam Levine: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-Backstage, Carson talks with the coaches about their teams so far. Christina expresses a desire to get a country artist. Blake is somewhat concerned, but says he still loves Christina, to which she responds, “See how much you love me after this round.” The claws are out!
KELSIE MAY, 15, opens the show!
-Kelsie has been passionate about singing all her life, but she never had confidence in herself. However, her parents convinced her to post YouTube videos, and things took off from there. She performed for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and notes that she lost one of her best friends, Xavier, to cancer. With tears in her eyes, she expresses how unfair it is that someone that good had to leave so soon. They’re spending an awful lot of time on her backstory, as we next get into her love of Loretta Lynn. She’ll be singing “You’re Lookin’ At Country,” which further draws comparisons with Loretta. In essence, she’s so much like Loretta Lynn that people in her hometown have taken to calling her “Little Loretta”.
-I like her vocal. She’s got clear potential, but I think she needs a little more work. But she’s got a great foundation from which to work, and I think with the right coaching, she’ll be able to grow into a possible frontrunner, simply from how the demographics of this competition work out. She’s utterly adorable, and has some interesting tones in her voice that suggest she could actually go beyond country music.
BLAKE SHELTON, CHRISTINA AGUILERA and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Blake loves that Kelsie is from Kentucky, while Christina is stunned that Kelsie is only 15. She feels Kelsie can do more than just country, and notes that, having started her own career at age 7, she can relate to Kelsie. Pharrell says he pushed his button so Kelsie could know that he feels she’s real. He thinks it’s great to see someone so young have such clarity in who they are. Blake makes the case that his artists, like the Swon Brothers, Rae Lynn, and Craig Wayne Boyd, are popular on country radio. I don’t listen to country music to be able to know how true that is, but Christina fights back with a good point: Kelsie will be one of many country artists on Team Blake, whereas she would represent country music as the lone country voice on Team Christina. Yet, despite this fairly good point…
KELSIE MAY CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Kelsie can hardly believe her good fortune, while Blake is feeling boastful, rubbing it in Christina’s face.
KIMBERLY NICHOLE, 34, is up next!
-Kimberly is a professional singer at a New York club called The Box, which she describes as “a modern-day Studio 54 meets Moulin Rouge,” although her voice is almost secondary to her wild fashion style, as she wears extravagant tutus out onstage. She’s had a passion for music, but put it on hold to become the first college educated person in her family. After graduating, she ended up working human resources in the fashion industry, but eventually abandoned corporate America to return to music. She fights back tears as she explains that she feels as though she’s hit a brick wall in her pursuit of a music career. Ah well, I suppose this is as good a place as any to get a start. You might not be an international platinum-selling artist, but you’ll likely have a career of some sort, at the very least.
-Kimberly sings “Nutbush City Limits,” and I’m not really all that impressed by this. She definitely has a good voice, but there’s just something about her tone that feels off to me. Blake and Pharrell hit their buttons for her, but honestly, I’d be surprised if she lasted all that long. But I’m open to being proven wrong.
BLAKE SHELTON and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Adam notes that Kimberly sang a run that Pharrell invented, so he felt the minute Pharrell turned around it was over. Christina feels she might have missed the mark on Kimberly, who responds by saying, “It’s okay. You look amazing,” prompting Christina to feel even worse. Pharrell tells Kimberly that her voice is amazing. Blake notes that while he’s not a soul artist, he does have soul, and Adam sticks up for Blake somewhat. Kimberly asks Blake how he’d help a girl with a soulful voice who likes singing rock, and he responds by saying he’d have her sing rock songs. She seems to enjoy that answer, but…
KIMBERLY NICHOLE CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Pharrell is stoked to have Kimberly on his team, while Christina reiterates how much she regrets not pressing her button for Kimberly. Backstage, Kimberly claims she chose Pharrell because he has a way of bringing out what’s naturally there in his artists. Maybe that’s true outside of the show, but I’m honestly not so sure he has the same magic touch as a coach.
MICHAEL LEIER, 20, is up next!
-Michael is from Fargo, ND, but notes it’s nothing like the movie or the TV series, and very few people he knows has that “Don’tcha know” accent. He recalls starting a band with his buddies after teaching himself how to play guitar. But the band members all went their separate ways after high school. He became a pre-med student, but he never felt as passionately about medicine as he did about music. He’s at a crossroads between pursuing music and returning to school, so he’s deciding to give this one last shot.
-Michael sings the Pearl Jam version of “Last Kiss,” and I absolutely LOVE Michael’s voice. I mean, the guy has absolutely no stage presence, and might actually have anti-charisma onstage. But he can develop that as the show goes on. Adam is quick to hit his button, and I think they’d be a match made in Heaven. But, as we reach the end of the song, Blake hits his button to make this a fight.
-Blake is stunned that Michael was the one singing the song. Pharrell says he loves the voices that stick out like Michael’s (so why didn’t your press your button?), while Adam praises Michael on his love for Pearl Jam, prompting Blake to note that the song was a “remake”. Adam corrects him by noting the difference between a “cover” and a “remake,” before talking about how similar Michael’s voice is to Eddie Vedder. Blake thinks it’s ridiculous that Adam spent his pitch talking about Eddie Vedder, and honestly, he’s kind of right. But Adam lashes back by saying you have to know where an artist is coming from, and he feels like he gets Michael. So it’s no real surprise when…
MICHAEL LEIER CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-Afterwards, Adam jokes with Blake by saying “You complete me,” and notes he’s “the peanut butter to my jelly.” Backstage, Michael says he chose Adam for the “I get who you are” comment. Conveniently, Adam appears and thanks Michael for making the right choice, joking that Blake doesn’t even know who Pearl Jam is, mistaking them for Creed. I love jokey, Blake-ragging Adam.
HANNAH ELLIS is up next!
-Hannah competed in the Colgate Country Showdown when she was 11, and caught the music bug then. She moved to Nashville when she was 13, and has pursued music ever since. She notes that music can be a job, but it doesn’t pay the bills, so she’s a nanny and a substitute teacher, noting that she actually likes school a lot. In addition, she works for her dad as a part-time windows-and-doors salesperson. However, as much as she loves the work (well, as much as someone CAN love selling windows and doors), she wants her music dream to come true, saying all she needs is a microphone and a stage to stand on.
-Hannah sings “This One’s For the Girls” by Martina McBride, and it was just the wrong song choice. I mean, she clearly has a voice, and she’s absolutely gorgeous. But this was just an awful song to choose, since it didn’t give her voice any real moments to shine. It wasn’t bad, it was just bland, which is arguably worse when you’re trying to get chairs to turn. Hell, if you’re a country artist, you should be aiming to turn more chairs than just Blake’s, but this performance seemed designed to only turn Blake. And when that didn’t work, it was all for naught. No one turns their chairs, unfortunately.
-Blake says he can tell Hannah has a great voice, but felt she was too sharp. Then again, he says it’s better to sing sharp than flat, since singing too sharp implies you at least have a lot of power underneath it all. Christina likes Hannah’s voice, but felt she’ll understand when she watches it back. Pharrell encourages Hannah to come back next year though, and sends her on her way with a hug. Hannah is encouragingly positive, agreeing with the judges’ critiques and saying she’ll return to music once she gets home.
-We follow this up with a trio of people who were unable to get a chair to turn: MARK LUM, SARA SCHULMANN, and SAM KING. There were some nice voices here, but none seemed like a particularly huge loss. Hopefully, one or all of them come back, since there was potential here.
TRAVIS EWING, 23, is up next!
-Travis is an LSU grad, and won Musician of the Year in New Orleans for RAW Artist. But he’s having a hard time breaking into the music industry. That said, he does have a pretty cool technique for performance, making use of loop pedals to turn himself into a one-man band. Travis recalls that he was originally encouraged by his 7th grade teacher, adding that if not for her, he wouldn’t be in this position right now. Before the audition, Carson plays a video of his teacher wishing him luck on his audition, and Travis is overwhelmed at seeing her for the first time in 10 years, although that would seem to suggest that he hasn’t actually seen her since he was her student. Ah well, whatever, this was sweet anyway.
-Travis sings “Say My Name” by Destiny Child, and when I heard the song choice, I really didn’t think this was going to be as good as it ended up being. This was a smooth, funky, cool performance. It felt like a very adult performance, like Christian Grey grabbing a microphone. Christina is first to hit her button, while Blake holds out for a bit longer. Pharrell hits it at the end, but Adam never pushes his button.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA, BLAKE SHELTON and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Adam explains that why he didn’t push his button but says it doesn’t matter because he’s an idiot for not turning his chair. Travis says he agrees with that, prompting the coaches and the audience to “oooohhhh,” but Travis clarifies he meant that he agreed with Adam on his critique, not on the “I’m an idiot” statement. Still, damage is already done. But Adam takes it in good humor. Christina says she was the first to recognize the soul in Travis’ voice, whereas Blake fights back by saying he’d find a way to put the spotlight on Travis and really highlight his talents. Pharrell closes it up by praising Travis for keeping it in the pocket, and saying that while he was last to press his button, he recognizes Travis’ talent. And that’s good enough to get the job done…
TRAVIS EWING CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Travis notes that Christina almost had him with what she was saying, but he notes that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with Pharrell, considering what a great producer he is. So basically, people ARE choosing Pharrell for what he can do for them outside of the show, rather than for his ability on the show. I think he made a mistake here, since Christina felt like a more natural fit for him than Pharrell. Christina is puzzled herself as to why Travis didn’t pick her, but I guess you just can’t front on Pharrell’s mainstream relevance.
-Montage: Teenage singer Noelle Bybee chooses Team Pharrell, Bren’Nae DeBarge “of the legendary DeBarge family” chooses Team Adam, and R&B crooner James McNeice also chooses Team Adam.
-Adam is so confident in his hot streak that he decides he should audition…
ADAM LEVINE, 35, is up next!
-Adam sings “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John, which he noted in previous seasons was one of his favorite songs of all-time. And he does it justice here. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes just what a great voice Adam has. But beyond sounding terrific, the segment offers some of the more humorous bits of the Blinds, as Adam shouts out to his own chair, pleading with “Adam” not to hold out. Pharrell hits Adam’s button for him after he and Christina turn their chairs. Blake eventually follows.
ADAM LEVINE EARNS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Adam eventually chooses Team Christina, leaving Blake in a huff: “I only pushed my button to see what the freak looked like.” This was way more entertaining than I expected it to be, but dammit, I just find Adam so charming here. That said, I do wish that, instead of this, we could have seen a full audition from one of the montaged singers. James McNeice looked like a total dude-bro, but he sounded outstanding, so I would have loved to hear a full version of his “Lay Me Down” audition.
SONIC, 23, is up next!
-Sonic talks about how her mother brought her up on classic soul, from Billie Holliday to Etta James and Michael Kackson. She was signed to a record label at age 14, and was made over into a diva-like artist that doesn’t represent who she really is. But after four years, an album never came out, so she went her own way. She does freelance makeup and jewelry design, and has even created some of the stuff she’s wearing now, like the funky-looking nose-earring combo (she’s even got painful-looking platform shoes on, and while I don’t doubt she’s genuine in her fashion, there’s just something about her that comes across like she’s trying too hard). However, ignoring all the fashion stuff, Sonic does have a significant twist to her backstory: she’s deaf in her right ear, which is how she got the nickname Sonic. She says she doesn’t hear music the same way as other artists, but says this is what makes her Sonic.
-Sonic sings “Money On My Mind” by Sam Smith, and while I really like the verses, it sort of falls apart in the chorus. I think it was pitched too high, so she ended up sounding too sharp. The trouble on the choruses seemed to affect her confidence, as she kind of comes unglued towards the end. But her voice is too good to pass up, so I’m not surprised that she gets Adam and Christina to turn almost immediately.
ADAM LEVINE and CHRISTINA AGUILERA turn their chairs!
-Christina gives Sonic a standing ovation, while Pharrell notes that her voice can loose a little bit. However, he found those moments to be the best of the audition. Adam felt it was controlled and legit, even though she did fall apart in some places. All the coaches feel she’s got something special, but she can only choose one coach…
SONIC CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-Christina thanks Pharrell for not turning his chair, since she feels Sonic would have picked him. I’m almost positive she’d have been right too. Backstage, Christina embraces Sonic and thanks her for choosing her team, and I like this pairing quite a bit. Christina had better hold onto her, lest Pharrell or Adam snatch her up.
ELLA KHOROV, 17, is up next!
-Ella is a throwback artist from New Orleans (because why not more NOLA natives?), beginning with musical theater and following it up with classic Jazz and Blues. Swimming is also a major part of her life, but music is her passion. Ella then reveals that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and while she’s since made a full recovery, they talk about just how difficult her diagnosis was, as well as the waiting period prior to figuring out the stage of her illness. As her mother explains, she didn’t know if she’d get to see Ella grow up. But Ella’s mother survived, and her courage gave Ella the strength to chase her dreams. A sweet story that, thankfully, was kept short. Too often, it feels like these shows like to luxuriate in sadness, even when it has a happy ending.
-Ella sings “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and it’s a very good vocal, although I’m not sure I feel any star potential. At least not with this song. She can definitely sing, but she just needs more time to grow into a more distinctive, complete artist. The potential is certainly there. But I can get why none of the coaches turned their chairs.
-Christina says she likes Ella’s voice, but could hear some of the inexperience of her age in her voice. However, she feels Ella has a lot of potential. Blake feels the same way, as he could tell she was a “baby”. But he senses a lot of strength in her voice, and feels she could come back and make her way onto a team. Pharrell wishes the tempo had been closer to the original song, but still feels Ella is a good singer with loads of potential, a point which Adam reinforces. To her credit, Ella takes her rejection in stride, and resolves to continue performing, possibly even giving The Voice another try down the line. And I hope she does.
JACOB RUMMELL, 18, is up next!
-Jacob looks like a young version of the Blue Megaforce Power Ranger, to any nerds out there who also have nieces and nephews who watch a prodigious amount of Power Rangers, and end up watching it too as a result. Jacob’s sister was born to his parents biologically, but complications from an illness, which required her to have three kidney transplants in her childhood, caused his parents to opt not to have anymore biological kids. So they adopted the next two, Jacob included. Christina is Jacob’s favorite artist, so he was super excited to learn she was coming back for Season 8. So now we know whom he’s aiming for.
-Jacob sings “Count On Me,” and he has such a peculiar voice for an 18-year-old. It’s like he hasn’t even hit puberty yet. Still, I kind of love his voice. It’s so smooth and pure and clear, with hardly any vibrato or hesitation. It’s a very sweet vocal, and while I’m not sure how far he could go, I think he deserved to get those two chair turns (from Adam and Blake, respectively).
-Blake didn’t expect Jacob to be a guy, but he’s pleasantly surprised. Jacob notes that he likes Bruno Mars, which prompts Pharrell to regret not pressing his button. Christina likes Jacob’s voice, even though she doesn’t think he’s all there yet. Adam feels that while some of it was pitchy, he sees a lot of potential in Jacob. Blake says he’s never had a chance to work with an artist like Jacob before, and that excites him. He wants to help Jacob become the best artist he can be. However, Adam fires back by saying he already has ideas for songs Jacob could sing. He then adds that Pharrell has already pledged to help Team Adam, which Pharrell stringently denies to Blake. Jacob makes his pick, letting out the “A…” before changing at the last minute…
JACOB RUMMELL CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Backstage, Jacob can hardly believe his good fortune, while Adam makes up with Blake by kissing his cheeks. No, not those cheeks.
BARRY MINNIEFIELD, 52, is up next!
-Barry is the head chef at The Improv in Hollywood, and while he’s always loved singing, cooking always got in the way. But he started actually singing at the club, and while the owners weren’t crazy about it, he was able to craft a ton of celebrity friendships out of both his talent and his food, from Jerry Seinfeld to Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, and Jay Leno, who remains a great friend to him still. He proved so popular that the owners backed him in a catering company called No Laughing Matter Catering, which has catered for such shows as Seinfeld. He says he’s putting a decades-long culinary arts career on hold to make this music thing work. Man, I hope he turns a chair. He comes across as so likable. He even gets a video of encouragement from Jay Leno himself, who says that if The Voice doesn’t work out, he can always go on Top Chef. I find myself rooting for Barry already.
-Barry sings “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and while it’s not a blowaway performance, I actually really like Barry’s voice. It breaks in a few places, but I think there’s something here worth exploring. Adam pushes his button at the VERY last second, so Barry will stick around for at least one more round.
ADAM LEVINE turns his chair!
-Christina notes that she didn’t press her button because she has a singer very similar to Barry on her team. Pharrell admits to a curiosity about Barry, and praises him for his voice. Adam, meanwhile, apologizes for making it so excruciating for Barry, adding that he chose Barry because he has a man voice. Backstage, Barry talks about how stressed he was, since no one was turning around. Thank goodness for Adam.
BARRY MINNIEFIELD JOINS TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-We then get ANOTHER montage: Indie singer Nicolette Mare lands on Team Adam, while pop vocalist Clinton Washington chooses Team Christina. Lastly, country musician Matt Snook found his way to Team Blake.
You know, as entertained as I was by Adam’s audition, that’s now SIX SINGERS who just got Rebecca Samarin’d in a single episode. I honestly would rather have more contestants than coach moments, even if those moments are entertaining. The show already has a bit of a reputation of not caring about contestants as much as the coaches, and while it makes a certain sense (considering the coaches are the draws), I wish the talent would take the spotlight more often.
-Okay, my issues over Adam’s audition are almost immediately revoked when Carson’s recap of the night includes Team Christina gaining “three-time Grammy Award-winning pop superstar Adam Levine” (they even include him in the team graphic!).
INDIA CARNEY, 21, is up next!
-India devoted much of her life to music education. She took it so seriously that when she turned 11, she looked for middle schools that specialized in music programs. She ended up at the famed LaGuardia school in New York, but notes that the vocal programs center on opera, and while she does like opera, she’s always wanted a pop vocal coach. She’s nervous going into this audition, but India also comes across as supremely confident in her vocal ability. Considering she was classically trained since childhood in everything from opera to music theory, India has every reason to be a proud peacock heading into this thing.
-India sings “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel, and it’s easily the best audition of the night. Her tone is sensational, and some of the runs she hits (particularly in the last 20 seconds) are out of this WORLD. She earns the night’s only four-chair turn (well, the night’s only legitimate four-chair turn. We’re not counting Adam), and also a massive standing ovation from the coaches before the song is even over. I find it immediately endearing that India is so flustered by the response that she needs to gather herself before hitting the final note. She’s terrific, and we could have a real frontrunner here.
INDIA CARNEY EARNS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Christina tells Blake he needs to back off on this one, praising India for her insane jazz run at the end. Blake says he immediately became a fan of India’s the minute she began singing, but Adam says she needs a man and a coach, not just a fan. Pharrell simply congratulates her for making it on the show, noting that if she gets cut by a coach, she’ll just get stolen, but if she doesn’t get stolen, then that means she’ll be here for weeks to come, so it’s win-win for her. Adam says India is going all the way to the end, and he wants to be on that train with her. Adam straight-up promises her a trip to the live shows, saying she will never be available to be stolen on his team. Honestly, I’d pick Adam, if I were her. He took Tessanne Chin to the title, and I think he could do wonderful things with India as a team member. India says she’s going to go with someone who was a big part of her childhood, and immediately, Pharrell knows what’s up…
INDIA CARNEY CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-Christina is absolutely thrilled, and I don’t blame her. This is one of the strongest teams she’s had yet.
-To recap, here is where the teams currently stand after tonight’s show (tonight’s additions are in italics):
Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis, Brooke Adee, Kelsie May, Jacob Rummell, Matt Snook
Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo, Sonic, Clinton Washington, India Carney
Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Travis Ewing, Noelle Bybee
Team Adam Levine: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson, Michael Leier, Bren’Nae DeBarge, James McNeice, Nicolette Mare, Barry Minniefield
-And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s show? Did the coaches make the right decisions? Did the contestants? Who were your favorites? Is the winner in tonight’s lineup? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night’s show, thanks for hanging out and for reading! It’s been a blast, as always!