The Voice 8 – Live Blog and Recap – The Blind Auditions Premiere (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 8, “The Blind Auditions Premiere”! It’s time to start the process all over again as a new season of The Voice kicks off with some intense blind auditions. Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera are the coaches, as some of America’s best talent competes for a spot on a team with one of the four coaches.
Who will pick up the first contestants of the season? Which coach will each contestant pick? Will there be any four chair turns? Could this season’s winner come from tonight’s group of auditions?
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be posting results, videos, commentary, and more as the night rolls on. The Voice is back! Get hyped!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We kick things off with the coaches singing “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, with Adam on the drums and Blake on the guitar. It’s a solid performance, and a cool way to kick off the season. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed hearing Pharrell on a rock-driven track. Christina too. She should do this more often.
-After the performance, we get the intro video where Blake announces that Craig Wayne Boyd debuted at No. 1 on the country charts, a feat accomplished only by Garth Brooks. Adam, meanwhile, states that iTunes helped Matt McAndrew and Chris Jamison get record deals. Christina and Pharrell are anxious to work with the artist, and each other. And, because this is The Voice, we get a spoilery preview of what’s to come, because why not give away everyone who gets a chair turn tonight?
SARAH POTENZA, 34, is up first!
-Sarah talks about growing up in a musical family, and starting a band in 2006 with her husband. She works as a waitress in the same restaurant where her husband, Ian, is a cook. She notes how difficult it is to make ends meet when you want to be an artist. Emotionally, she recalls her father being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and how her father inspired her to be brave. She loves the idea of a blind audition because she’s “an ordinary person,” so the idea that she could potentially turn a chair and get a shot at making it is huge for her. I like her already, and I really, REALLY hope she’s good.
-Sarah sings “Stay With Me” by Rod Stewart, and I really dig her rock tone. She reminds me a bit of Amanda Overmeyer from American Idol 7. She’s a total throwback to a more classic rock vocalist like Ann Wilson from Heart. By the end of it, she gets ALL FOUR CHAIRS to turn around. Pharrell, in particular, is hyped up by Sarah’s performance, standing and rocking along through the whole thing.
SARAH POTENZA GETS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Sarah notes she’s from Nashville, and Pharrell is immediately on edge, worrying she’ll side with Blake. Christina makes note of how excited the other three coaches were, and noted she just had to get in on it (not a great argument, Christina, but whatever). Pharrell, meanwhile, says he can’t let Sarah go because she’s giving this generation something they’ve never seen before. He walks up to Sarah onstage to make his pitch, and Sarah notes they’re “necklace twins.” Adam one-ups Pharrell by openly flirting with Sarah, coming up onstage, and wrapping his arms around her in a big hug. Adam returns to his seat and asks Sarah where he fits in the conversation, prompting Blake to respond, “Nowhere!” Pharrell sticks up for Adam, and Adam is touched by it (drawing an “Awww” from the crowd). That said, Pharrell still wants the chance to stay on the Sarah Potenza Bus. Sarah makes her choice…
SARAH POTENZA CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Backstage, Sarah explains she chose Blake because country music has the best stories, and she needs Blake to help her access those stories. Back in the studio, Adam argues that Sarah had made up her mind to pick Blake long before she auditioned, so there was nothing they could say to change her mind. You know, he’s probably right. I still found this funny though, since he Adam has a way of taking sour grapes and showing it can all still be in good fun.
LOWELL OAKLEY, 19, is up next!
-Much like Sarah Potenza, he comes from a musical family. His uncle is an opera singer, and it’s given him drive to focus on his own vocal training. He wants to be a new R&B/Soul-type fusion artist, citing that he developed his distinctive style from his time in an a cappella group. He says in order to pull off his style, he needs to look the part, act the part, sing the part, and prove to people you can glide across that stage. If nothing else, his uncle has a lot of faith in him, saying he can croon like nobody else.
-OH MY GOD! I was NOT expecting that voice. He sounds like a cross between Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble. He sings “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and I find this absolutely tremendous, from the way he interacts with the band (“Come on, pick it up now”), and the way he effortlessly tackles each note. This guy is the best old-fashion crooner type I’ve seen on a show like this in years. Adam is quick to turn his chair, while Pharrell follows suit towards the end of the song. Both coaches give him a standing ovation after it’s over.
ADAM LEVINE and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Adam is floored by Lowell, and says it felt like they were at a club. Pharrell applauds Lowell for not being regular. “You’re other,” he says. Adam, meanwhile, insists he can be the one to help Lowell fully realize his potential. Pharrell counters with a really passionate plea about how he can help Lowell do things that have never been done before, and that he can help him achieve. Lowell makes his choice a bit uncertainly…
LOWELL OAKLEY CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Lowell says he chose Pharrell because he isn’t trying to put him in any single genre. Back in the studio, Pharrell notes that he needs to help Lowell see just how special he is.
ROB TAYLOR, 22, is up next!
-Rob recalls how his mother had a stroke when he was young, resulting her paralysis. After high school, he was accepted into Berklee College of Music, but he passed the opportunity over in order to stay home and take care of his mother. In a backstage segment, she talks about what a great son he is, and they have her subtitled for some asinine reason, like she isn’t perfectly understandable. Seriously, she speaks clearer than Blake does most times.
-Rob sings “I Want You” and does damn near the ENTIRE song in falsetto. This dude’s voice is absolutely CRAZY! I haven’t been this impressed by an R&B contestant on the show in some time. His technique is impeccable. Christina quickly turns her chair, and Pharrell quickly follows, with Adam bringing up the rear. Christina is annoyed by their turn, but she tries to sell Rob on her by approaching him onstage.
-Christina says Rob shouldn’t have clowns, he should have someone who will take him seriously. She wants to meet Rob’s mom and be a part of the family. Adam says he can be on any one of their teams, and they’d be rooting for him still. But if he’s interested in winning, he should come to Team Adam. Pharrell reflects that sentiment, making a plea for Rob. That said, I think it’s pretty clear which coach he’s picking…
ROB TAYLOR CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-Christina says she wanted to make it clear to Rob how passionate she was about him, while Rob expresses his excitement at getting to work with Christina and learn from her. While hugging his mother backstage, Christina arrives to embrace Rob and meet Mrs. Taylor.
IVONNE ACERO, 16, is up next!
-Ivonne is from Aguila, AZ, the home of the cantaloupe! She stresses that she’s never had any vocal lessons, and hasn’t really performed in front of people on her own before, since she only just joined her school’s chorus last year. She notes that her music teacher was a bit annoyed when she came to join, since she never had any lessons before. But when she sang, her teacher changed her tune. Her family is here to support her, and her parents seem on the verge of prideful tears the entire time. It’s really rather adorable.
-Ivonne sings “Try” by Colbie Caillat, and this is actually really good for someone who has no prior experience. Her family is in tears backstage, proud of their girl and hoping the coaches will turn. Unfortunately, none do. And I can get why. She’s good, but she’s got a bit of a ways to go before she’s fully ready. But once she’s ready, she has the potential to go far.
-Adam says there was a lot of good in Ivonne’s performance, but she’s just not there yet. But he makes her promise she’ll come back and try again, because while she didn’t get any chair turns this time, she might turn all four next time. Pharrell comes onstage and tells Ivonne to loosen her nervous grip on the microphone. He says she has an enormous gift, and tells her not to wrap it up like that. He then gives her a big hug, in an endearing moment. Christina feels with time and confidence, she could learn who she is as an artist. She recommends taking a year and writing everything down, to learn who she is and grow. Blake regretted not turning around towards the end, but thinks she could really nail it if she comes back.
CODY WICKLINE, 20, is up next!
-Cody notes how different he is from his parents, since he’s the only musically-inclined person in his family. He recalls taking up singing at age 16 after performing “Feliz Navidad” in his Spanish class. He’s the first person in his family to go to college, and his father is shown beaming with pride. His mother couldn’t be there at the audition, but Cody notes that she always supported his music and felt he would take it far. Cody’s voice sounds like Blake Shelton on helium. It’s uncanny how alike they sound.
-Cody sings “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by the late, great George Jones. I love this song, and while I felt Cody’s rendition was pretty weak starting off, it gets much stronger as it goes on. However, for much of the song, Adam is the only coach who’s hit his button. It isn’t until the final third of the song that Blake hits his button. And it isn’t until the last note that Pharrell and Christina hit their buttons, virtually simultaneously. So we have our second four-chair turn of the season, and I’m a bit surprised, honestly. Didn’t think Pharrell and Christina would go for this.
CODY WICKLINE GETS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Adam asks Cody his name, and in a charming moment, Cody says he needs time to remember. Adam notes that great voices transcend all genres, and says Cody just delivered the best country performance he’s ever heard on this show. Man, it was good, but I REALLY wouldn’t say that. Blake fights for Cody by comparing him to Merle Haggard, and noting he needs someone to introduce him to Nashville. Pharrell counters by noting he went to the CMT Awards twice, so he knows a thing or two about country music. He wants to work with an “anomaly” like Cody, a singer the likes of which he’s never had on his team before. Christina feels Cody’s talent is undeniable, and she would “love, love, love” for him to give her a shot. They all make compelling cases, but none more compelling than Blake.
CODY WICKLINE CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Adam considers Cody a major loss for him, while Blake feels more confident about his potential to win than ever. Backstage, Cody embraces his father and cries, then calls his mother to let her know he got all four chairs to turn. Naturally, she’s ecstatic, saying she knew he would do it. A country singer who’s as sentimental as he is talented: could we have a frontrunner already? Granted, I didn’t think this was the blowaway, show-stopping performance the coaches seemed to think it was, but okay country music is sort of like cold pizza. It may not be ideal, but it’s still pretty good.
TREEVA GIBSON, 16, is up next!
-Treeva introduces herself in sign language, noting that her parents are both deaf, meaning she learned sign language before she could even talk. The irony of this is that she ended up losing much of her mid-tone hearing as a teenager. While it won’t get worse, she does still need to rely on lip-reading to understand others. She feels it’s important to make a career out of something you love, and she loves singing, even though it’s hard to know that her parents will never be able to hear her.
-Treeva sings “Young and Beautiful,” and while I’m not sold on it immediately, it does get stronger as it goes on. It’s still not perfect, but she does have a voice, even if I think she needs a little more time to develop it. But, ready or not, she’s on the show now, as Blake and Christina quickly hit their buttons for her. Blake gives her a standing ovation at the end.
BLAKE SHELTON and CHRISTINA AGUILERA turn their chairs!
-Adam endorses Christina after Blake makes a lame joke about how the name “Treeva” sounds like “Stevia”. He notes that her voice was a bit shaky in some places, and great in others, leaving him a little confused. That’s why he didn’t turn his chair. But Christina heard more in her voice than the pitchiness. She thinks Treeva is great, and she really wants to work with her. Pharrell kind of regrets not pushing his button for her, while Blake expresses shock to learn that both her parents are deaf. He feels she’s delivered something he’s never heard before. It’s time for Treeva to pick, and she signs out her decision so her parents can understand backstage.
TREEVA GIBSON CHOOSES TEAM CHRISTINA AGUILERA!
-Christina is fascinated by Treeva and how she came to love music. Artists like her are why Christina is always happy to come back. Backstage, her parents fight back tears while they congratulate her.
MASON HENDERSON is up next!
-After break, we get a cool little audition in which we experience what the coaches do. We just hear Mason. We learn nothing about him. Not his age, his look (beyond the crisp shirt he’s wearing and the fact that he’s playing a guitar). We just hear his version of “Riptide” by Vance Joy. And it’s pretty damn good! Unfortunately, the coaches don’t feel the same way. Nobody turns their chair.
-Blake feels a pang of regret when he learns Mason is from Alabama. However, he felt it was a bit too dramatic a performance. Adam echoes the same sentiment, saying it needed more control. Christina says if their chairs hadn’t been turned towards the audience, they probably would have been more into it, since she could tell from how he sounded that he was moving his body and getting into the performance. Mason confirms he was getting down. Pharrell challenges Mason to explore his range, noting that when people can’t see you, you need to give them more with your vocal.
-Christina notes that Mason is a great singer, but today just wasn’t his day. Mason says he pushed harder when it became apparent no coaches were turning their chairs, but it didn’t work out. Ah well, there’s always next time. I’d have hit my button for him, for what it’s worth.
MEGHAN LINSEY, 28, is up next!
-Meghan is looking for her second shot at superstardom, since she was in a band called Steel Magnolia with her boyfriend Josh. They got a record deal, went on a radio tour, and even scored a Top 5 Billboard single. Hell, ten years ago, they opened for Blake Shelton himself! But things ended up spiraling from there, and she and Josh eventually broke up. So she’s back at Square One. However, she sees this as a chance to focus on her solo career, since she feels she’s more of a soul singer anyway. You know, this kind of backstory would get someone disqualified from American Idol. But I guess it’s okay for The Voice because of the blind nature of the auditions.
-Meghan sings “Love Hurts,” and it’s one of the best auditions of the night so far. That said, Blake seems to have this look on his face the whole way through like he recognizes the voice and is simply trying to place it. That said, he never does hit his button to find out. But it’s no big deal for Meghan, since Adam, Christina and Pharrell all do.
ADAM LEVINE, CHRISTINA AGUILERA and PHARRELL WILLIAMS turn their chairs!
-Meghan is playfully irked by Blake not turning for her. Blake explains how he’s known Meghan for years, and adds that she’s one of the best singers he’s ever heard in her life (THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN FOR HER?!). He does note that if he had turned and she hadn’t picked him, he’d have been furious. Christina loves Meghan, and Meghan returns the compliment. Christina adds that she’s “Team Meghan, forget about Team Christina.” Pharrell wants to work with someone who has Meghan’s ambition, noting a Janis Joplin-esque quality in her voice. Adam feels she’s on the precipice of something great, and that’s why he wants her on his team. Christina fires back by saying she knows what it’s like to be a woman in this industry (Adam: “I do too.”), and they would share a great bond. However…
MEGHAN LINSEY CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Meghan can’t believe she just turned down Christina, but she feels Pharrell is such a great songwriter that she couldn’t pass up the chance to work with him. Christina takes it in stride, insisting she’ll steal Meghan (implying that she thinks Pharrell is likely to cut her, although Christina has such a lovely way of putting things that it doesn’t seem like an insult to Pharrell or Meghan, not that I think it would have necessarily been intended that way anyway).
JOSHUA DAVIS, 37, is up next!
-Joshua talks about how blues always spoke to him as a youth. He joined a band that played folk music, so he was able to pursue music full-time once he graduated college. He met his wife while in college, and together, they have one child with another on the way. So he’s looking to make a living for his family with music. Here’s hoping he’s good. Joshua seems like a really earnest, likable guy.
-Joshua sings “I Shall Be Released,” and he hardly gets three seconds into the song before Adam and Blake hit their buttons. Adam is over-the-moon for this guy, singing along with him through the song. Joshua has a really smooth, understated voice that I love, like folk music by way of gospel. Both Adam and Blake give him a standing ovation at the end of the song.
ADAM LEVINE and BLAKE SHELTON hit their buttons!
-Pharrell praises Joshua on his tone, control and character, while Christina asks Joshua about his experience in the industry. She loves the textures and sounds in his voice, but feels it was more for Adam and Blake. For his part, Blake is impressed with how Joshua has developed the bluesy, folksy sounds in his voice, and it’s a sentiment echoed by Adam. He notes that his own genre is very much pop, but he’s influenced by music that everyone loves. Adam notes he covered “I Shall Be Released” for a Bob Dylan tribute record, and Joshua admits he heard it, which Adam feels gives him an edge. Adam adds that since he and Joshua both came up in bands, Blake could never understand Joshua the way he could. He implies that he and Joshua can help each other win this, so they can both share in the glory, to which Blake responds that he’ll let Joshua have ALL of their glory if he comes to Team Blake. Ultimately, that seals it…
JOSHUA DAVIS CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Blake loves Joshua’s unique sound, while Joshua notes that choosing between Adam and Blake was one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make. Back in the studio, Blake rightly mocks Adam for trying to sell Joshua on a pitch that included variations on such gems as “Help me win this for you” and “Let’s share this win together.” Not a great pitch, Adam. Not a great pitch.
BRYCE SHERLOW, 17, is up next!
-Carson drives to New Jersey to meet up with Bryce, who is currently singing with her a cappella group at school. Bryce notes that, in competition, she did the solo on Pharrell’s “Happy,” and I would imagine it’d be kind of surreal that she gets to audition in front of him now. She’s understandably nervous, but seems to have confidence in herself and her abilities. I’m already rooting for her in my head.
-Bryce sings “Cool Kids,” and I don’t particularly like it. She obviously has a good voice, but this just isn’t the right song at all. It shows off none of her voice as well as a different song could have. She just sounds strangely tuneless throughout, and it’s clear from her tone that she’s capable of way better. None of the coaches turn around, but I hope she comes back, because I really just think it was the song.
-Pharrell feels bad about not turning around, and Bryce notes that she did the solo on “Happy” for her a cappella group. Pharrell asks if she can sing it now, and Christina encourages Pharrell to get onstage and sing it with her. This leads to an absolutely terrific little moment, as Pharrell and Bryce duet on “Happy,” and Bryce pretty much proves it was all in the song choice, since she sounded chair-turningly good here. God, I love Pharrell. He’s such a cool guy. After the performance, he asks her to promise she’ll come back next year, and she agrees. I hope she does.
-Blake gushes on how that was one of his favorite Voice moments. Meanwhile, Bryce says she really wanted a chair to turn around, but notes that her duet with Pharrell is a moment she’ll remember forever regardless. Hell, I would too. I’d be thrilled to be in the same football arena as Pharrell a week apart, much less sing onstage with him.
SAWYER FREDERICKS, 15, closes the show!
-Sawyer talks about being raised on a farm, and how he performs at open mics at the local farmers market. Sawyer’s mother feels he has such a vocal gift, and notes that an entirely different personality comes out when he sings. Sawyer himself notes that he finds singing easier than speaking. As the audition nears, his mother notes that she can’t imagine how the coaches won’t feel something when they hear him sing.
-Sawyer sings “I’m A Man of Constant Sorrow,” and it’s absolutely sensational. Seriously, this was pretty close to a perfect vocal. Within the first five seconds, he gets three chairs to turn. Blake is the lone hold out, but it doesn’t last long, as Sawyer’s vocal is enough to get him to give Sawyer the shot.
SAWYER FREDERICKS GETS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Adam says he isn’t sure if Sawyer has made up his mind already, but he wants Sawyer to know that if he picks Team Adam, he won’t be leaving until he’s the last guy standing. Christina calls Sawyer a legend in his own right, and notes that while she isn’t famous for playing a guitar (Adam: “I am.”), she knows soul. Blake tries to make a connection with Sawyer by figuring out where he lives, but when Sawyer says he’s from upstate New York, Adam rejoices and rubs it in Blake’s face, “That’s nowhere NEAR where you live!” But Sawyer does live on a farm, encouraging Blake to continue fighting for Sawyer, feeling they’d be a great match. Pharrell makes the case that even if Sawyer doesn’t choose him, he’s still excited to see how Sawyer does in the competition. In a surprising move…
SAWYER FREDERICKS CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Pharrell is as shocked as I am. “I can’t believe you’re on my team!” he exclaims. Christina is particularly disappointed, and again expresses the hope that Pharrell will cut one of his contestants so she can steal him. Backstage, Sawyer celebrates with his family and states that he picked Pharrell because he’s more about originality and going your own way. Blake rubs the loss of Sawyer in Adam’s face, asking if he wants him to call Usher. Man, Adam got straight-up shut OUT tonight.
-To recap, here is where the teams stand:
Team Blake Shelton: Sarah Potenza, Cody Wickline, Joshua Davis
Team Christina Aguilera: Rob Taylor and Treeva Gibson
Team Pharrell Williams: Lowell Oakley, Meghan Linsey, Sawyer Fredericks
Team Adam Levine: NO ONE!
-So what did you think of tonight’s premiere? Did the coaches make the right calls? Did the contestants? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for hanging out!