The Voice 9 – Live Blog and Recap – The Blind Auditions Premiere (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for The Voice 9, “The Blind Auditions Premiere”! It’s the season premiere, and with that, we have the return of last fall’s coaching lineup: Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, and Gwen Stefani! Together with host Carson Daly, the search begins once again for the next great, undiscovered talent. Will the winner be among tonight’s auditioners?
I know I’m excited for tonight’s show, considering how hyped this season has been, with early rumblings indicating that this could be the most talented group of finalists ever. I’m a bit skeptical about those claims, since hype can often be deceiving, but I’m trying to remain optimistic about the season ahead. Hell, the fall seasons of The Voice, in my mind, routinely outclass the spring seasons. So that alone has me stoked for tonight’s premiere.
Anyway, keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary, results, and videos as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the coaches talking about what The Voice means to them, with Adam saying the show changed his life, Gwen saying it “feels like a family here,” Pharrell noting that his favorite part is watching people get progressively better, and Blake declaring that he didn’t realize just how much this show would end up meaning to him when he signed on. We then segue right into the four coach performance, performing each other’s hits. I didn’t recognize the Blake song Gwen performed, but I absolutely loved Blake’s version of “Don’t Speak” and Adam’s take on “Get Lucky,” although it sounded as though Pharrell struggled a bit with the high notes in “Sugar” (but hey, Pharrell himself would tell you he’s not the strongest singer in the world).
MARK HOOD opens the show!
-Mark is a cool guy, who is constantly at odds with his adorable mother. Mostly, she took issue with him singing more adult songs when he was young, so she sent him to a school for agricultural sciences in Chicago. Mark has loads of personality, recalling how he played a dead guy on TV, and actually went through a rigorous audition process for the right to play a dead guy. His bragging about being the chosen dead guy made me instantly love this guy. Mark states he wants Blake Shelton for his coach, because he feels no one would expect it, and Blake would push him. Interesting choice.
-Mark sings “Use Me” by Bill Withers, and he sounds a bit like Aaron Neville, at the start. I really like him. He’s got a very passionate, powerful tone. Adam and Pharrell turn around pretty quickly, while Gwen takes a little bit longer. But Blake is the very last to hit his button. After the performance, Mark freaks out about having gotten a four-chair turn. “WHAT?! WHAT?!” he keeps shouting. I love it.
MARK HOOD RECEIVES A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Adam says Mark “high-fived the stage” with his performance, while Gwen says his voice is exactly the type she’s been looking for, and says she believed his every word. Pharrell praised him for his jazzy tones and his vocal control. When asked what kind of music he wants to perform, Mark says he sees himself as “John Legend meets Pharrell.” Of course, Blake wants Mark on his team, so he puts on a Pharrell hat to try and steal Pharrell’s thunder. “You look like the captain of the Love Boat,” Adam states. This is hilarious. Ultimately, Mark makes his choice…
MARK HOOD CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Woooowwww! He was all about Blake, but went with Pharrell anyway! Watching him literally geek out backstage over Pharrell choosing him is one of the most endearing moments I’ve seen from any contestant in several seasons. I love this guy.
KOTA WADE is up next!
-Kota works at a guitar store and performance venue with her dad. She says they got into this business when she couldn’t find any venues for her to play with as a kid. She talks about how her family has sacrificed a lot for her and her music, recalling how they moved from New Mexico to California in order for her to pursue her music career. She is even in a band called Bad Wolf, which came complete with a music video featuring surprisingly high production values and costumes. Anyway, Kota says this could be life-changing, and that she wants to do this, in part, to give back to her parents for always supporting her.
-Kota sings “Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke, and it doesn’t take long for Blake to his button, since she has a slight country-type twang to her voice (I compare her to Meghan Linsey from last season. Country by way of blues and soul music). Gwen also hits her button while trying to look over her chair and cheat to get a sneak peek at Kota. Pharrell also hits his button. Adam is the only hold out, and I have no idea why. Kota was great here.
BLAKE, PHARRELL AND GWEN TURN THEIR CHAIRS!
-Gwen praises Kota on her fashion, and Kota states that Gwen is actually one of her fashion inspirations. Pharrell praises Kota’s voice, while Blake compares her to a young Cyndi Lauper. Blake says he knows he isn’t the most natural coach for her, but he feels he could really help her. Adam tells Kota that choosing Blake is a bad idea. Adam actively roots for Kota to pick Blake, even going into the crowd and shouting Gwen’s name. Ultimately, Kota admits that she’s looked up to Gwen since she was five-years-old, so…
KOTA WADE CHOOSES TEAM GWEN STEFANI!
-Blake is grumpy about Adam siding against him, and says Adam is simply bugged that he hasn’t won this show as many times as he has. Good times.
KEITH SEMPLE is up next!
-Keith is a native Irishman who came to America after he was discovered online by the band 7th Heaven, who hired him on the spot and brought him to America to join the band. Keith’s wife thinks he’s an amazing husband and father, but he’s still worried about being able to provide for them. I’m so rooting for this guy to be good. I already like him.
-Keith sings “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi, and it’s…alright, I guess. He’s not a bad singer at all, and even hits some awesome power notes towards the end. But it just felt kind of by-the-numbers for me. But two judges turn for him anyway, as Adam hits his button, and Gwen turns after encouragement from Blake. I think he’s a better fit for Adam, personally.
ADAM AND GWEN TURN THEIR CHAIRS!
-Adam loves that Keith is doing something that reminds him of “back in the day,” noting that he has a really powerful voice as well. Gwen calls Keith’s voice very dynamic and melodic. “I’d love to work with you,” Gwen says. “I think we could do some fun stuff together.” However, Keith is torn, so Blake cuts in with his opinion. “I could spend a season in the recording room with Gwen” (gives hubba-hubba eyes) “Or you could spend it with Adam” (sad face). I guess the quote adds more fuel to the fire of those Blake/Gwen romance rumors. Anyway, Keith makes his pick…
KEITH SEMPLE CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-This was the right choice, in my opinion. Adam could really help him discover the nuances of his voice, perhaps with more tender tunes, or more acoustic rock.
ALYSSA SHERIDAN is up next!
-Alyssa was accepted to Cal State San Marcos, but she’s putting it on the back burner in order to pursue this. She’s dedicating her performance today to her stepdad, who raised her. He was part of the EOD unit tasked with bomb disposal overseas. Tragically, one bomb he was defusing went off, and the explosion killed him. Sadly, her mother was pregnant at the time. However, Alyssa’s baby sister is the ray of sunshine he left behind for them. Man, this story really got me. And I normally don’t get goosebumps on the sad stories, but the shot of the baby reaching out to her father’s tombstone, and later saying he’s with God now, was really emotional.
-Alyssa sings “I Will Remember You” by Sarah MacLachlan, and I was unimpressed. I mean, she does have a voice, but I think her nerves got the best of her here, because she seemed to be holding back on some of these notes. I also think, sadly, that she made dedicating a song to her stepdad a higher priority than just singing the best song for this audition. And it hurt her, because none of the judges turned. I just felt awful for her, here.
-Gwen notes that this was a hard song for anybody to sing, while Adam says there’s a sweetness and vulnerability to her voice that’s appealing. He suggests she should keep singing and keep improving. Pharrell agrees with this, and tells her to come back and turn all four chairs. Lord knows, she wouldn’t be the first person to turn all four chairs after getting rejected in a previous season. I do hope she comes back. She does have talent, and she’s absolutely gorgeous, to boot. Seriously, she has all the appearances of a total star. She just needs that extra bit of experience and polish to put her over the top.
SIAHNA IM is up next!
-Siahna is half-Korean/half-French-Canadian, and she talks about how her mother is a real taskmaster when it comes to her grades, whereas her dad is a crazy person, having purchased a school bus on a whim (a bus they never even use!). Siahna recalls getting into music after seeing a Ray Charles performance, and playing at a lot of open mics in cafes to hone her craft. However, she feels The Voice is the best way for her to develop as an artist. She says she may be a young girl, but she’s an old soul at heart. Well, she certainly has a more grown-up sense of fashion than your average 15-year-old.
-Siahna sings “Fever” by Peggy Lee, and Gwen immediately turns around. She’s very good, in the sense that there’s very clearly something to build on here. Not a perfect audition, but pretty damn close. She didn’t need to do any crazy vocal gymnastics, and performed with confidence, truly owning the stage. I thought this was terrific, and apparently, so did Blake and Pharrell, who hit their buttons not long after Gwen. Adam is, once again, the lone hold out.
GWEN, PHARRELL, AND BLAKE TURN THEIR CHAIRS!
-The coaches freak out over how young Siahna is. Gwen recalls hearing her voice for the first time, and saying “That’s my girl!”, which is why she hit her button right away. Pharrell actually goes up and gives Siahna a hug, noting that no matter what happens, he wants her on his team. Blake feels Pharrell is being disingenuous, which offends him, saying Siahna is fresh, and he wasn’t kidding when he said he wants her on his team. It’s a friendly argument, although the ads made it seem far more heated. I really need to stop watching previews for this show. Siahna makes her choice…
SIAHNA IM CHOOSES TEAM PHARRELL WILLIAMS!
-Siahna breaks down in tears backstage, saying she’s dreamed of this her whole life, and it’s finally coming true. Backstage, Blake and Pharrell hug it out, and Blake even goes in for a kiss. Pharrell pulls away, prompting Blake to joke, “I knew you had a problem with me!” Adorable.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: 15-Year-Old Stuns With ‘Fever’ On The Voice 9 (VIDEO)
JORDAN SMITH is up next!
-So this is a “mystery audition,” which is not only a blind audition for the coaches, it’s a blind audition for us as well. The person sings “Chandelier,” and I think the show wants us to think it’s a female, although it’s pretty obvious the singer is a male. All four judges turn, and then give him a standing ovation. Gwen runs up and hugs him after the performance ends, and…okay, yeah, it was good. But four-chair turn, a standing ovation, AND a hug from Gwen? I don’t know.
JORDAN EARNS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Gwen loved the performance, and notes Jordan looks nothing like his voice. Adam thanks Jordan for auditioning, praising him for tackling one of the hardest songs he could possibly have tackled. Pharrell asks to hear Jordan’s story, and he states he’s from a small town in Kentucky, where he grew up performing in church. However, he was picked on for his effeminate voice, being called “ma’am” at the drive thru and over the phone (Adam: “Me too.”). Jordan states that he came to accept his difference, and the crowd responds by applauding him, while Pharrell gives him a standing ovation. Blake also thinks his speaking voice doesn’t matter, because his singing voice is incredible. Adam takes it one step further, saying he’s one of the most important people to ever be on this show. Pharrell cuts in to reiterate that he wants Jordan on his team. Am I the only one who didn’t get the fanatical love for this? It was a great audition, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve seriously heard better.
JORDAN SMITH CHOOSES TEAM ADAM LEVINE!
-Adam runs up onto stage and hugs Jordan. He says he could learn a lot from Jordan, calling him a wonderful human being who also happens to be a very talented one as well. Jordan fights back tears backstage as his family cheers him.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Mystery Man Turns Four Chairs With ‘Chandelier’ on The Voice 9 (VIDEO)
DR. PAUL is up next!
-Dr. Paul is a 66-year-old man who lives in a log cabin out in the woods. He recalls getting into music in the 60s thanks to his father’s influence, before being drafted into the service in 1969, where he picked up the nickname “The Doctor,” which stuck after his time in the service. He toured throughout the 70s, and eventually met his wife, before settling down with a job at an electrical engineering company. He wants to make his father proud, since his father was one of his heroes. Dr. Paul feels this is his last chance, and that a recording contract could be huge for him. I like him already, although I’m nervous for him too. Please be good!
-Dr. Paul sings “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, and it’s a solid, if unspectacular, vocal. He doesn’t have the strongest voice in the world, but he’s got a great tone, and good control. He’s clearly been performing for years, and has tons of experience to offer. Unfortunately, none of the coaches turn. Not that this necessarily surprised me, but I was certainly disappointed for Dr. Paul.
-Blake likes Dr. Paul’s tone, but feels his phrasing was a bit off. Gwen praises him and thanks him for performing for them. Pharrell shakes his hand and thanks him for coming, while Adam says he was “fantastic”. This was a case where they clearly liked him a lot, but knew this just wasn’t the right venue for Dr. Paul. And I don’t blame them, really, although I would have liked to hear him a second time.
NADJAH NICOLE is up next!
-Her dad was in the military, which meant she went to military school as a kid, which she hated. However, she actually had several opportunities to sing at political functions thanks to this. She also ended up winning at Showtime at the Apollo. In short, her career really started to pick up…and then she got pregnant. She fights back tears when talking about how she didn’t want her parents to think her life was over, and that being here makes it feel like it’s not. She states her parents have been very supportive of her, and her daughter, Journey Beloved. She’s states that the coaches here not only help you grow as a performer, they help take you farther in your career. So yeah, this is her chance. Before the performance, Blake talks with Pharrell about how he can feel this one is going to be good. I’m thinking he’ll be right.
-Nadjah sings “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae, and I’m actually kind of surprised how long it takes for even one chair to turn. Adam hits his button when the performance is 3/4 through, while Blake hits his button in the last five seconds. It’s a solid performance, but I wasn’t exactly bowled over, although I did expect that the judges would love this. In fact, I thoroughly expected Pharrell and Gwen to turn, so when they didn’t, I was shocked. She closed with a solid high note though, to her credit.
ADAM AND BLAKE TURN THEIR CHAIRS!
-Pharrell says he wanted to hear more of what she could do, but by the time he did, it was too late. Gwen says she didn’t expect that voice to come out of Nadjah (what DID you expect then?). Adam and Blake go to war over Nadjah, and I get the feeling she’s going to go with Blake, especially considering how hard he’s hustling for her, saying that while he doesn’t know this Janelle Monae song, he turned for Nadjah, not Janelle. Sure enough, when it comes time for Nadjah to pick her coach, she goes down the road less traveled for R&B singers…
NADJAH NICOLE CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Nadjah fights back tears backstage, noting that these are happy tears. Blake then rubs the win in Adam’s face, as he now has his first artist of the season.
BRAIDEN SUNSHINE is up next!
-The fifteen-year-old Braiden talks about how people ask him if Sunshine is his real last name. And it apparently is! For a second, I thought this was Jacob Rummell from last season auditioning again. Same curly mop-top hairdo, same quietly unassuming personality. Hopefully, his voice is just as strong. I think his audition is being set up to surprise us. Something tells me his voice is going to make him sound older than his years. This could either go well for him, or disastrously. I’m guess more the former than the latter.
-Braiden sings “The Mountains Win Again” by Blues Traveler, and I’m not sure he could have picked a worse song if he tried. He performs it really well, to his credit, but it’s not a song that gives him any sort of opportunity to really showcase his range. I think he has a lot of potential, but he needs better song choices. Anyway, it’s looking like nobody is going to push their button, but Pharrell and Gwen hit their buttons at the very last second. At the end of the performance, Gwen and Pharrell hug, because they’re adorable.
GWEN AND PHARRELL TURN THEIR CHAIRS!
-Gwen thinks Braiden is amazing, particularly when she learns his last name is “Sunshine”. Pharrell would love to work with someone like Braiden, noting that there are things he needs to work on. Gwen makes her pitch by going to the same pitch she uses for all teenagers: “I was in a band at 17 years old,” with a hint of “and I’m a mother to three boys!” Still, it’s a good argument that’s worked in the past, so I don’t blame her for going back to that well. Adam says if he had the chance at 15 to play for Gwen Stefani, he would have lost his mind, whereas Blake says this is like a custody battle. Ultimately, Braiden makes his choice…
BRAIDEN SUNSHINE CHOOSES TEAM GWEN STEFANI!
-Braiden says that some of the things Gwen said really brought him to her side. I can see why, since Pharrell’s pitch was basically, “You’re good, but you need a lot of work.” I love Pharrell’s honest approach, but it doesn’t always work when you’re trying to win someone to your side, unfortunately.
MICHAEL WOOLERY is up next!
-Michael is the son of former Love Connection host Chuck Woolery, and the grandson of the actors from Ozzie and Harriet, as well as Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Nelson, whom my mother ADORES. In a funny moment, Carson is nervous about Chuck Woolery being there, since he thinks Chuck could easily take his job. Back to Michael, who talks about a severe skiing injury putting his skiing dreams on the shelf. That incident, coupled with the death of his grandfather, changed the direction of his life forever, as he picked up the guitar more seriously, and started working on improving. However, he knows he has a lot of ground to make up, considering he’ll be competing against people who’ve literally been doing this their whole lives.
-Michael sings “Say” by John Mayer, and while he’s got decent tone, his voice needs SO much work. His pitch is just all over the place. Also, despite coming out with a guitar, he doesn’t really play it, just grabbing the microphone and holding his guitar off to the side of his hip. It was just a mess of a vocal, and while I think he might have potential, he needs more experience.
-Adam feels Michael needs more confidence in what he’s doing, and Gwen agrees, saying that it sounded like he retreated into his head once he realized no one was turning. Pharrell suggests Michael perform in front of tough crowds so this all becomes second nature to him. However, he does agree with Gwen in saying that Michael has a very nice voice to work with, even if this audition wasn’t his finest moment.
BARRETT BABER closes the show!
-Barrett talks about how his family did missionary work, so he grew up helping people, moving to South Africa with his family before returning to the U.S. at age 13. As a musician in a choir, he got to travel to Germany to perform. However, on the way back, tragedy struck: we see news footage of the plane having caught fire, as Barrett talks about how he tried to save people. Unfortunately, 11 people died, including one of the bassists in the band, as well as the choir director’s young daughter. We see the news footage of Barrett collapsing into his brother’s arms after the tragedy, and Barrett goes as far as to admit he’s wondered why he was spared. But looking at his wife and child, he knows why. It’s an incredible story, and Barrett comes across as an immensely likable guy. I’m definitely rooting for him.
-Barrett sings “Angel Eyes” by The Jeff Healey Band, which Blake immediately recognizes. He hits his button, and Pharrell quickly follows. Before Barrett is even a quarter of the way through the song, all four judges have turned! And you know what? He deserved four chairs! This is a dynamic vocal with an impressive amount of range to it. Adam, in particular, looks thrilled by this, standing for the rest of the song and cheering Barrett on.
BARRETT BABER EARNS A FOUR-CHAIR TURN!
-Blake asks what kind of music Barrett is trying to pursue, and he says he’s trying to “pioneer a new sound” in country music. Adam loves this answer, saying he has a lot of qualities of the other coaches: the country authenticity of Blake, the originality of Gwen and Pharrell, and even the falsetto of Adam himself. Gwen makes a pitch, learning that he’s a high school teacher in the process. Pharrell praises his vocal, whereas Blake compares Barrett to Garth Brooks. Adam breaks in and says he would “destroy” for Barrett, and that he “burns” for him. But Barrett makes his choice by turning to Blake and asking. “Whaddya say, Old Red?” Blake’s response? “Let’s do it.” For better or worse, I think we might be looking at the winner here.
BARRETT BABER CHOOSES TEAM BLAKE SHELTON!
-Instantly, Barrett and Blake seem like old buds, so I think he made the right choice, since I think Blake is going to go to war for this guy. Backstage, Barrett says he wants to be a good father and husband, and hopes viewers could find inspiration in his story. Back in the studio, Blake teases Adam over his ineffective pitch. I love Adam and Blake’s friendship.
-Aaaand that’s a wrap for tonight’s show! What did you think of the season premiere? Did the coaches make the right choices? Did the contestants? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for hanging out and reading!