The Blind Auditions, Part 3
First week jitters are a thing of the past - at least for the coaches. Tonight, 11 talented artists make the grade, all with personal stories to match their powerful voices. The coaches scratch and claw to land the best of the best, and it isn't always so friendly on coaches' row. Here are five things that stand out:
Song choice is crucial if you want a chair to turn.
If you don't have a song that allows you to be you, the coaches will notice. "I think if you had reeled it in a little bit we would have really been able to hear you be you," Usher tells Scott Stevens when the artist's rollicking rendition of Little Big House's "Boondocks" fails to turn a chair. "Please do come back and come at it in a different way." He has similar advice for Brendan Ryan when the budding singer and comedian cannot turn a chair with his take on Beyonce's "Love on Top." "I found it a little bit difficult to really capture who you are," Usher tells him. "Next time pick a record that really represents who you are as an artist." Usher and Adam have a similar take for Robert Lee, a country singer from Alabama with a guitar and a tough rendition of The Band's "The Weight."
On the other hand, sometimes even the right song choice does not matter if all the other elements don't come together. The coaches are impressed by the choice made by 17-year-old (and self-described "old soul") Allison Bray, a country artist with a sultry take on Connie Francis' classic "Where the Boys Are." "You're so close in so many ways," Adam tells her. The coaches all encourage her to come back when she has worked on a few things, but the teenager will not be competing in Season 6.
As Shakira tells Allison, "You got amazing in the last 10 seconds, and that's not enough time for me to make a decision." With only 90 seconds of singing to make an impression on four seasoned artists, you must know you're putting your best foot forward.
For a three-time champion, Blake is struggling to fill his team.
Continuing a theme from the first week of auditions, which by his own admission was "a rough start," the country star finds himself still scrounging for singers to fill out Team Blake, even while being very selective with his chair turns. He makes a hard push for Clarissa Serna, the Texas singer who gets all four chairs to turn with her take on The Cranberries' mid-'90s rocker "Zombie." "You beat me down with your voice. It kept gettin' stronger and stronger and I'm gettin' more excited and more excited just talkin' about it. It was awesome!" Blake tells the bubbly artist. "Man, that's, let's... let's go," he finishes his pitch, trailing off as he uncharacteristically runs out of words. Being reduced to speechlessness is not enough to land Clarissa, who chooses her "Latina soul sister" Shakira as her coach.
Blake also loses out to Adam, which always grinds his gears, for the services of Patrick Thomson, the bearded giant with a gritty take on The Marshall Tucker Band's classic rocker "Can't You See." But he picks up Ryan Whyte Maloney, another rock singer with a gutty rendition of Journey's great hit "Lights." He then closes out the night by landing a powerhouse in Sisaundra Lewis, who tears up the stage with a sizzling blast of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way." He might be lagging a bit in filling out his team, but Blake didn't win The Voice three years in a row without picking up a few tricks.
Shakira's aggressive attitude might be starting to unnerve the other coaches.
Last week the tiny singer with the fierce attitude told the world she was in it to win it this season. This week she's still pushing hard to fill out her team, turning her chair seven times and landing three strong performers. In addition to Clarissa Serna, she nabs Louisiana singer DeShawn Washington after hearing his rocking take on Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away." The only coach to turn for Sam, she quickly grows tired of the other coaches beating themselves up for not turning around, telling them, "Guys, get over it. I'm the only smart one here." She's thrilled that DeShawn was delivered to her on a silver tray. "Come to Mama! He's mine, no stealing," she warns the other coaches, though Usher admits he is thinking there might be an opportunity to do just that down the road.
Shakira also picks up former teen pop star Lindsay Pagano after hearing her perform Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." But it's the Clarissa pickup that rankles. "Well I'm gettin' sick of Shakira," Blake says. "Dang it, Shakira is starting to take a lot of good talent away from us."
Usher might seem like the most cerebral of the coaches, but he's not above a little trickery.
The thoughtful coach is known for often waiting until almost the end of a song to push his button, and he always seems to be soaking in every facet of a performance. But in snatching up the Brothers Walker, identical twins with a country bent, he fools the other coaches. As the Walkers bop through their take on Zac Brown Band's "Keep Me in Mind" (the most ironic song title of the night), Usher crosses his arms and puts his feet up on his console. Then just before the song ends, when it looks as if no one is going to turn around, he casually hits his button with his foot. As his chair spins around he gives the other coaches a big grin, as if to say "Suckers!" The other coaches, having been lulled into letting the Brothers Walker go, can only cry, "Sneaky!"
Usher is also the only coach to turn around for Tanner James after hearing the 19-year-old sing the Bryan Adams classic "Heaven." "I think you're a diamond in the rough," Usher tells the young man. "There's a ton that I want to offer you."
Usher's big get of the night is willowy jazz and soul singer Melissa Jimenez, a seasoned artist who has sung in her father's 10-piece band for almost 15 years. Melissa impresses both Usher and Shakira with her soulful rendition of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You," which she starts off singing a cappella before the instrumentation kicks in. It looks bad for Usher as Melissa squeals with excitement at Shakira's turn and the two Latinas talk to each other excitedly in Spanish. But Melissa is tricky herself, telling the coaches the person she is picking is "a person I've been a fan of since day one, and the artist that I want to be, I can see myself being molded by this person." Surprise, it's Usher! His team is looking strong.
Adam is quietly building a powerful team.
During a montage sequence, we see the defending champion pick up R&B singer Joshua Howard after hearing the artist sing Armin van Buuren's "This Is What It Feels Like." "I love a simple, pure melody with a beautiful tone and that is what you have and I would love to run with it with you," Adam says by way of a sales pitch, which is enough to get Joshua on his team. Adam also beats out Usher for the services of Sam Behymer, a young nanny with a quirky spin on Lorde's "Royals." Usher pushes hard for Sam, having had great success with another quirky singer, Michelle Chamuel, whom he coached to a second-place finish in Season 4. "Individuality is my specialty, it's something I've really thrived off of," he tells Sam. But it's not enough to win her over, and she chooses Adam, who has now filled more than half the available slots on his team as we reach the halfway point of the blind auditions.