The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Blind Auditions, Part 4 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Blind Auditions, Part 4”! 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, 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
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!
-We don’t even get any backstage banter from the judges, or a backstory for the first audition tonight beyond a brief voiceover blurb from the artist herself. We just get right to it…
ASHLEY MORGAN opens the show!
-Ashley sings “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, and while it’s a solid vocal, I’m not really all that impressed by it, for some reason. She definitely has a great voice, but there’s just something about her tone I find bland, so I’m not too big into the performance…
-…that is, until 3/4 of the way through, as she absolutely NAILS the key change and finishes strong with some powerful, drawn-out notes and controlled runs. Rarely has a contestant completely shut me up in the span of a few seconds before. I feel silly now. Pharrell and Blake hit their buttons, although Christina and Adam stay put, surprisingly.
BLAKE SHELTON and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Ashley explains that she’s a studio musician from the Bay area who also sings at a theme park. Blake responds by saying Ashley will never go back to singing background again, she’ll be singing in amphitheaters from here on out. Blake says this all while facing Pharrell, and seems to pick up that he should actually be telling this to Ashley and not Pharrell. Pharrell agrees with Blake by saying Ashley is great, but Adam interrupts them by noting that they should probably quit having a private date and actually talk to Ashley. Blake tells her that he has no one like Ashley on his team, while Pharrell says you can’t buy talent like Ashley’s got. Christina endorses Pharrell by noting that he’s had international hits, since it seems like the goal here is to prevent Blake from winning yet another season of The Voice. Blake makes the argument that country music is about telling stories, but it seems her mind has already been made up…
ASHLEY MORGAN CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Pharrell feels Ashley will continue to ascend in the competition, but Blake is already sore about losing Ashley, since he felt she was the perfect all-American girl. Christina is similarly regretful, noting that she should have pressed her button. Her rationale for not turning her chair was that she was afraid of competition. But not anymore…
KORYN HAWTHORNE, 16 is up next!
-Koryn works at Little Caesar’s and sings on the job about what she’s doing. Her song about making pizza is performed far better than a number of people who’ve turned chairs this season, so I’m confident in her chances. She also works on her singing by performing at an old folks’ home, so she’s already pretty likable. Of course, Koryn also has a background story (even if “sob story” is the better term, it still bugs me because it seems so reductive of the pain these people are feeling — well, unless it’s pain that’s just for the cameras, but I don’t feel like that’s the case here). Koryn, her mom, and her brother have been solo since her dad walked out on the family. Both Koryn and her mother shed tears about what turning a chair would mean for their family.
-Koryn sings “My Kind of Love” by Emeli Sande, and this was an outstanding vocal, I thought. She delivered a lot of power to her vocal, but also a considerable amount of control. Koryn has a lot of potential to go far in this competition, provided she picks the right coach to help nurture that talent. But she’s not as raw and unfocused as I’d expect someone her age to be, and that’s a good sign.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Adam thinks Koryn has a really impressive voice, and something different from what other contestants have offered. Meanwhile, Christina wants to know Koryn’s story, and would be honored to be her coach. Pharrell notes that Koryn has confidence, but humility as well, and she has a talent that people will pay to see for the rest of her life. Christina and Pharrell competing for Koryn results in the two coaches hugging it out, which inspires Adam to hug it out with Blake, in a cute (if somewhat random) moment. But Koryn must choose…
KORYN HAWTHORNE CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-This felt like a pretty obvious pick for Koryn, since she not only has a big voice like Christina, she’s also super young like Christina was when her first album dropped. So I think this is a good pairing overall, even if Christina’s team does feel like it’s stacked with a lot of similar vocalists.
LEXI DAVILA, 17, is up next!
-Lexi has trouble with confidence, but all those fears disappear when she hits the stage. She’s been passionate about music since she was born, thanks to her parents encouraging her musical pursuits. They’re from Puerto Rico (WEPAAAA! REPRESENT!), and so they’ve kept her steeped in the music of their culture. Lexi’s grandfather was a singer in a nightclub, but he sadly passed away. So Lexi dedicates her Blind Audition to his memory.
-Lexi sings “Dreaming of You” by Selena, because of course she is. I love the song, but Lexi tries to do WAY too much with the song at the beginning. She does so many unnecessary runs that Adam and Blake immediately discuss, among themselves, how young Lexi clearly is. But this does get a little bit better as it goes on. I didn’t think it was fantastic, and I’m honestly kind of surprised Adam and Blake turned their chairs, but I do think she has potential to grow as she moves forward.
ADAM LEVINE and BLAKE SHELTON turn their chairs!
-Pharrell says he hard nerves, so he didn’t turn around, although he encourages her to stand with a posture that reflects what a good job she did. Christina reflects Pharrell’s critique, but congratulates her on turning two chairs. Adam says that it started out super strong, but got a bit iffy as it went on. However, he feels he can help her control her nerves, and honestly believes she can win this thing on his team. Blake is crazy about Lexi, though Adam reminds him that she isn’t a country artist. Lexi says she’s honored to have both coaches as options, but…
LEXI DAVILA CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-We then get a montage: high school pop singer Josh Batstone goes with Team Adam, while Team Christina lands stay-at-home mom Katelyn Read and soul singer Ameera Delandro. Not to be outdone, Team Blake gets indie singer Bay Brooks.
QUINCY MUMFORD, 23, is up next!
-Quincy went through a lot of phases when he was younger from punk to reggae, but he’s always loved music. Quincy has a band called Quincy Mumford and the Question Why, and he says he met his wife at a show. She moved back to Sweden shortly after meeting him, but they continued traveling back and forth to make their relationship work. They recently got married, and Quincy works in his parents’ cafe to pay the bills, in addition to giving music lessons. They’re one another’s support structure, for better or worse, but he really wants to turn a chair.
-Quincy sings “Dancing Machine,” and it’s one of my favorite auditions of the night. It’s very funky and cool, and he’s got a voice that reminds me of Allen Stone. I dig this guy a lot, and even Adam and Pharrell gab with each other, feeling that this guy has something. But, ultimately, none of the coaches turn around for him. A shame.
-Adam and Pharrell note that Quincy has something, and that it’s immensely difficult to sing to people who have their backs turned, but something was lacking from the performance. Christina echoes their sentiment. Blake says Quincy can come down and punch him for what he’s about to say, but he felt there wasn’t enough heart in the song. Quincy seems disappointed, but he takes the criticism in stride, noting that each one of the coaches gave him valuable advice. I feel like letting him go was a mistake, but with the spots growing more rare as we near the end of the Blinds, I can kind of understand why they’re being hesitant about pressing their buttons for every good singer who comes by.
BRENNA YAEGER, 19, is up next!
-Brenna talks about growing up in the countryside, and recalling that she and her four older sisters shared a bed. She credits her oldest sister for helping develop her voice, since they would sing together in bed. She gets emotional when talking about her parents’ divorce, since her father ended up having to sell their log cabin where they were raised. She used music to cope with the loss, playing shows and developing her performing skills. This girl is tailor-made for Team Blake — a country artist who’s absolutely adorable.
-Brenna sings “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert, and the minute she gets to the lyric that mentions the name “Adam,” Adam hits his button for having said his name. I’m not blown away by her performance, but I think she has lovely tone, and a certain drama to her stage presence that made this compelling. It was like watching a scene from a Broadway musical, as there’s a certain acting aspect to Brenna’s performance. Blake hits his button at the last minute, upsetting Adam, but all I can notice in that moment is how much this girl looks like Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind.
ADAM LEVINE and BLAKE SHELTON turn their chairs!
-Adam hugs Brenna since she’s so emotional. When he learns that she got the song tattooed on her foot with her sisters, Adam hugs her again simply for being adorable. He even makes his pitch while slow-dancing with her. Blake says they can go to prom later, but for now, he wants Brenna on his team. Adam says she doesn’t need to be on Team Blake, since he can always hit up Blake for advice anyway, but I feel like this is a decision she made before even coming out…
BRENNA YAEGER CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Brenna just rushes into Blake’s arm and shouts “I LOVE YOU!” So yeah, there was never any other possibility for Brenna the minute Blake hit his button. Backstage, Brenna says she felt she had to go with her gut, but come on, you have his wife’s song tattooed on your foot!
STAFF SERGEANT JEREMY GAYNOR is up next!
-Jeremy is leader of the West Point Band who once led the Army Soldier Show. Before he joined the Army, he met his wife at a local church, and she’s currently pregnant with their first child, so he wants to build a legacy in the music business not only for himself, but for his child. He seems like a really cool, down-to-Earth guy, and I’m rooting for him already.
-Jeremy sings the Luther Vandross version of “Superstar” by The Carpenters, and Christina is quick to hit her button. It’s absolutely gorgeous, as this song does a great job of highlighting the rich, soulful quality of his R&B-infused voice. Adam and Pharrell hit their buttons simultaneously, and Blake soon follows after hearing Jeremy work his crazy falsetto. He seems positively stoked to have turned all four chairs, and his family is in tears backstage.
JEREMY GAYNOR EARNS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Blake is confident enough in who he is to tell Jeremy he’s a total stud, prompting Adam to wonder how Blake gets away with saying all the stuff that comes out his mouth. Blake says he might not seem like the right coach for Jeremy, but he feels he can take Jeremy through the gauntlet of this competition. Adam thanks Jeremy for his service, and then notes that his Army work ethic will be a huge plus, since he also has an insane work ethic. Christina notes that her father was in the military, and notes that while Pharrell is probably the obvious choice for Jeremy, considering his R&B background, she feels she can do a lot with him. Pharrell says he would love to have Jeremy on his team, but he doesn’t come on as strong as he has for past contestants.
JEREMY GAYNOR CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-Christina is over-the-moon, and Jeremy is all smiles as he embraces his family backstage, but I’m too distracted by the victory song after he picks his team: it’s “Soldier” by last season’s fourth-place finisher Damien. I forgot how catchy that song was.
-After break, we get a cute but overly scripted segment in which Adam and Blake vow to team up against the other coaches, promising to endorse the other if pit against Christina or Pharrell. I’m sure that will last…
JACK GREGORI, 40, is up next!
-Jack is a law school graduate and also worked in the corporate world…before the market crashed and he lost all his money. But he felt that was a sign to give music another shot. That said, the market crash still left him dire straits, as he ended up having to rent out rooms in his house to five other people in order to make rent. He does legal work five hours a day, which helps pay the bills while leaving him open to play music more often. He’s part of a band called Human Country Jukebox, and although it’s a great outlet for his music pursuits, he feels this is his last chance to make something of himself as a musician, since he’s already 40.
-Jack sings “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and he has a very smooth, deep tone. I don’t particularly like this performance at all, since I find it kind of bland in places, but his voice does have a lot of character to it. Adam is quick to press his button and, to his great fortune, he ends up being the only one. So Jack is instantly his.
ADAM LEVINE TURNS HIS CHAIR!
-Adam rips Blake for not hitting his button, and talks about how unique and great Jack is. Blake says he let Adam have Jack so he could see what Adam finally does with a true country artist, since Adam’s dream is apparently to beat Blake with a country artist. Christina praises Jack while Pharrell adds that he’s glad Jack is here.
JACK GREGORI IS ON TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-I don’t really get it, but I suppose Adam needed to get himself a country artist sooner or later. But considering he didn’t do all that much with Amber Carrington, I’m not holding out tons of hope for his plan for Jack.
BRIAR JONNEE, 20, is up next!
-Briar’s mom was a choir director, so she’s been singing and playing piano since she was six-years-old. She admits she’s wanted to be an artist, but says that coming from a small town (so small that they don’t even have a grocery store!) made her doubt that her dreams were even possible. She ultimately enrolled in the Mississippi School of the Arts, and eventually landed at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she currently studies. But she wants more out of her life, particularly for the sake of her family. Briar once again reiterates that being from such a small town doesn’t leave a whole lot of possibilities. They’re really hitting hard on this “small town” aspect to her backstory.
-Briar sings “Take a Bow” by Rihanna, and…eh. She’s got a good voice, but I don’t feel like this is the right song for her. She also oversings it in places. Seriously, 70% of this song consisted of runs, so much so that I expect Christina to turn simply because she heard a little of herself in the excessive runs. But she does get Pharrell and Blake to turn their chairs.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS and BLAKE SHELTON turn their chairs!
-Blake is enthusiastic with all his clapping, prompting Adam to tell him to silence his huge hands. Christina likes Briar, but quickly notices how emotional she is. She tells Pharrell to give her a hug, which Blake blocks while he gives his pitch. He comes on super strong by telling Briar that he not only loves her vibrato, he loves her. Christina notes that Pharrell has swagger, and mimics Pharrell’s walk (and looks pretty hot doing it, actually). Blake insists Pharrell’s limp is fake, but admits he can’t walk a straight line. Adam walks a straight line like a total square, in one of the funnier moments of the episode, expressing jealousy that he can’t walk like Christina or Pharrell. Hell, I wish I had enough internal rhythm to walk with that level of swag. Speaking of Pharrell, he felt that Briar was holding back, and says he could help her bring out her potential. It seems clear who she’s going to pick…
BRIAR JONNEE CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Pharrell hugs Briar while Blake does his best “pimp limp”. Briar notes she chose Pharrell because she grew up listening to his music, and now that I think about it, so did I. Seriously, N.E.R.D. was amazing.
JESS GALLO, 20, is up next!
-Jess works in a restaurant with her father, but she doesn’t want to wash dishes for the rest of her life. She recalls how introverted she was as a kid, noting that her first crush was on a girl. Her parents placed her in musical theater to bring her out of her shell, and as a result, she ended up making the decision to come out. Her parents were incredibly supportive, with her father adorably recalling that Jess told him, “I like girls,” to which he responded, “Great! I like girls too!” Jess is excited to audition because she feels her voice isn’t representative what she looks like. If she could turn a chair, she’d be ecstatic.
-Jess sings “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance, and it’s a stranger choice. She has a very helium-voiced tone, but with solid control. She has no wavering or uncertainty in her voice, and she does some really cool runs. But this was just the wrong song for this stage of the competition.
-Blake says that song never gave him the opportunity to hear her open up and go for a big note, which is a shame because she’s a good singer. Pharrell loves that Jess is left of center, but he wanted to hear the other shades of her voice. However, he pleads with her to come back, saying he’ll be here waiting for her (so…Pharrell confirmed for Season 9?). Adam says he was waiting for something darker from her, but feels she could knock it out of the ballpark when she comes back. “You promise?” Jess says, and Adam seems really confident that she’ll turn a chair on a second try. Christina as well. And (why not?) me too.
BRIAN JOHNSON is up next!
-Brian talks about being picked on all his life for being “the chubby kid with a high voice,” so he was always shy about his music. However, once he got to college, he found that all the people doing music were the cool kids. So he started a band called The Rescue, and played every coffee house that would take them. Unfortunately, his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and his gradual deterioration ruined his parents’ marriage, as they ended up losing their house and separating as a result. Brian credits his wife, Kellie, for helping keep him positive, as he moved back home with his father and got a job in insurance to help out. Brian’s father has tears in his eyes when he notes that when you hear Brian’s voice, you’ll understand.
-Brian sings “Reason to Believe,” and before he’s even done with the first vocal run, Adam hits his button. Brian’s father is legally blind, so he can’t see what’s happening on the screen, but he’s in tears just the same, particularly after Blake hits his button too. It’s a strong vocal that I really think is one of the best of the night.
ADAM LEVINE and BLAKE SHELTON turn their chairs!
-Adam is stoked that Blake is his only competition, since he feels he can handle Blake. He says that Brian performed in a very engaging, emotional way, and was a total natural. Blake says that to sing the way Brian does is very hard, but he does it all so naturally that he can’t help being an avid fan of his. He says there’s no one else on his team like Brian. Christina asks how long Brian has been singing, and he recounts the story of his bullying in high school for having a high voice, prompting Adam to draw comparisons with himself (Blake: “You bullied people in high school?”). Pharrell says the music industry needs to see faces like Brian and hear voices like his. Ultimately, Blake had the better pitch…
BRIAN JOHNSON CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Backstage, Brian’s father tearfully says his son’s life has just changed, as doors have opened to him that have been closed for a long time. Brian confirms my suspicion by saying he ultimately chose Blake after learning there’s no one else like him on Blake’s team. There’s a strategy to this show, and I think it’s smart to pick a team where you know you’ll be unique. To his credit, Blake says he wants to build the most diverse team he can, so Brian is as smart a choice for him as he is for Brian.
COREY KENT WHITE closes the show!
-Corey is from Oklahoma and started playing shows when he was 11-years-old, and eventually became the lead singer in a group called Oklahoma Stomp. He was with the group for five years, until the band broke up and everyone went their separate ways. His big break was five years ago when he got to sing “Milk Cow Blues” with Willie Nelson after being brought up onstage at a concert. He knew in that moment that his dream was to play the same big stages that legends like Willie Nelson played.
-Corey sings “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, and it’s one of the most instantly confident, instantly strong performances I’ve seen on this show in some time. I’m actually STUNNED that he isn’t an immediate chair-turner. The coaches basically spend the whole audition hemming and hawing, and trying to get each of the other coaches to push their button.
-Adam recaps how all the coaches were trying to get one another to push their buttons. He endorses Pharrell, who says he sees a lot of potential in Corey. Blake says that one of the most exciting experiences he’s had on this show has been working with Oklahoma boys The Swon Brothers, and really drives home the Oklahoma connection. Pharrell decides he can’t allow this, so he takes off his jacket and approaches Corey onstage with Adam to make a pitch, saying that while he may not know country music, he knows all sorts of music. “I’ve toured in Oklahoma!” he says. “Go back and look at the tapes and see who pressed their button first!” Adam then continues the closing argument in The People v. Blake Shelton, saying that while Danielle Bradbery did win Season 4, The Swon Brothers he’s being compared to finished in third. “Maybe you want to think before you make this decision and make your home on a team that has a place for you,” he says, in his endorsement of Team Pharrell. Blake fires back by saying that while the Swon Brothers didn’t win, he did everything he could to make sure they got a record deal. Pharrell gets the last word by saying he’ll do his homework to be the best possible coach for Corey. Corey thinks it over but says there’s just something about those boys from Oklahoma…
COREY KENT WHITE CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Blake and Pharrell hug it out, and Blake notes that Corey could be his man this year. Corey is ready to get to work, however, which shows great work ethic on his part.
-Afterward, Blake reveals the plan he and Adam had to help each other, shocking the other coaches. But it’s almost impossible for any of them to take this seriously, which is why I find all this in-fighting so charming.
And that’s a wrap! To recap, here’s where the teams currently stand (tonight’s additions to each team are in italics):
Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis, Brooke Adee, Kelsie May, Jacob Rummell, Matt Snook, Bay Brooks, Brenna Yaeger, Brian Johnson, Corey Kent White
Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor, Treeva Gibson, Gabriel Wolfchild, Joe Tolo, Sonic, Clinton Washington, India Carney, Koryn Hawthorne, Katelyn Read, Ameera Delandro, Jeremy Gaynor
Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks, Anthony Riley, Mia Z, Kimberly Nichole, Travis Ewing, Noelle Bybee, Ashley Morgan, Briar Jonnee
Team Adam Levine: Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Blaze Johnson, Deanna Johnson, Michael Leier, Bren’Nae DeBarge, James McNeice, Nicolette Mare, Barry Minniefield, Lexi Davila, Josh Batstone, Jack Gregori
So all of the coaches have one spot remaining on their team, except for Pharrell, who has two spots remaining. Tomorrow night is a special 2-hour recap of the Blind Auditions so far, and next week will see the conclusion of the Blinds and the start of the Battle Round!
But what did you think of tonight’s show? Did the coaches make the right picks? Did the contestants? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for reading!