After a fairly awesome kickoff on Monday, "The Voice" Season 3 resumed Tuesday, and this time, the talent wasn't quite so awesome. Maybe NBC editors had shortsightedly frontloaded Monday's premiere episode with the most promising singers, leaving episode two to rely mainly on thickly laid sob stories, rather than on actual exciting auditions. Or maybe, when NBC executives made a last-minute decision to air a third episode this Wednesday, they hastily hacked what was originally supposed to be a single two-hour Tuesday episode into a pair of one-hour chunks. All I know is, when Tuesday's brief episode ended abruptly at the 9 o'clock hour, it just felt unfinished and anticlimactic.
But that all being said, there were a couple major Tuesday standouts--including one whom I predict could win this entire season--that kept the judges on the edges of their spinning seats and me on the edge of my couch. Here's how Tuesday's small crop of contestants fared...
Adriana Louise - This raven-haired beauty, a part-time waitress/bartender who looks like a model/actress, arrived with a made-for-TV sob story about her family being held up at gunpoint when she was 9 years old. But the story had a happy ending: Her family was rescued, and music helped young Adriana deal with the trauma stemming from the incident. Now, years later, the very much all-grown-up Adriana showed up on "The Voice" rocking a LWD (little white dress) and belting out Jessie J's "Domino." She certainly looked the part of a superstar, but there was something about her vocals that just didn't connect for me--her voice was just too generic, nothing I hadn't heard before. Yet all four judges turned around, starting with Cee Lo Green, who perked right up in his swivel chair once his pervy little eyes landed on Adriana. ("We look like we just got married," he later lecherously/awkwardly declared, pointing out their unplanned matching white outfits.) However, Adriana decided to join Team Xtina, since the very first record she bought--when she was age 9, actually--was Christina Aguilera's. I hope Christina offers this woman some real guidance, because even though Adriana has a pleasant look and voice, I don't really sense that she's established a solid musical identity for herself yet. I think Cee Lo or Adam Levine might've been better mentors for Adriana in this regard, but maybe Christina will mold Adriana into a Baby Xtina in the end.
MEMBER OF: Team Xtina
Casey Muessigmann - With a surname that's basically pronounced "Music-man," this cowboy should've had singing in his blood. And I was rooting for him before he even got onstage, after hearing his backstory about how a serious professional wrestling accident nearly destroyed his life. But when Casey started belting out "Sweet Home Alabama," I wasn't so sweet on him. Casey just came across like a run-of-the-mill bar-band singer to me, really--nothing special. But Blake Shelton practically had his mind made up before Casey even warbled a single note, when he heard Casey's heels clop along the stage floor. ("Boots! I hear boots!" Blake excitedly exclaimed. Hey, who knew Blake had bionic hearing?) Cee Lo spun his chair around as well, but when Blake oddly praised Casey's "ass-spanking" stage moves, that somehow sealed the deal, and Casey chose to go with Team Blake. Hmmm. Should Blake's bromance partner, Adam Levine, be jealous?
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
Aquile - Ooh boy, yet another sob story. This guy, who grew up in a predominantly white small Wyoming town and was teased for being biracial, got his jaw broken at age 19 by one of his bullies--but in a Kanye West/"Through The Wire"-esque tale of overcoming adversity, he learned to play guitar while convalescing, and he's now a professional, regularly gigging musician. Aquile's buttery-smooth, adult-contemporary performance of Elton John's "Your Song" was a bit too sedate for my tastes, but it had the ladies in the studio audience howling (his handsome face certainly helped; the surgeon who fixed his jaw did a fantastic job), and he definitely had what "The Voice's" rival show calls the X-factor. And the three judges who hit their buttons--Christina, Adam, and a last-minute Cee Lo--probably took those girlish screams into account, sensing that this would be a contestant who could win (female) votes. Even Christina seemed smitten, semi-jokingly suggesting that Aquile give her a "private concert." Ahem. Well, maybe that'll actually happen, because Aquile did eventually choose to join Team Xtina. Christina's mentoring sidekick, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, sure is going to feel like a third wheel during this season's Battle Rounds rehearsals.
MEMBER OF: Team Xtina
Bryan Fogarty - This guy holds down a day job as the tour coordinator for LeAnn Rimes, and considering LeAnn's recent crazy trials and tribulations, working closely with the troubled country singer has probably provided Bryan with all the eyewitness experience needed to handle the cutthroat music business. But his actual singing experience has so far been limited to karaoke nights out with LeAnn's entourage, and he therefore basically sounded like a merely better-than-average country karaoke reveler. Unsurprisingly, then, no one picked Bryan. Hopefully this didn't bum LeAnn out too much; after all she's been through lately, she probably could have used some good news.
MEMBER OF: Team No One
Mackenzie Bourg - In the "Voice" sob-story stakes, this 19-year-old pretty much has everyone else beat--so really, unless any other contestants can claim that their entire families died in a bus crash on a bus filled with newborn puppies and kittens, they should just shut the heck up. Here's Mackenzie's tale of woe: He contracted a bizarre virus a couple years ago that caused all his organs to shut down and made him go into acute respiratory failure and heart failure, and he nearly died. The fact that he ever woke up from his coma, let alone recovered enough to audition for "The Voice," is a miracle. But of course, it was Mackenzie's plucky cover of Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks," not any sympathy story yet-unheard by any of the coaches, that earned him a spot on Team Cee Lo. Sure, Cee Lo was the only judge to hit his button, somewhat surprisingly, but Cee Lo has consistently demonstrated that he has the best taste on this show (#REDZONE4EVER), and therefore I think he could work wonders with Mackenzie. I actually think this kid could win, if Cee Lo picks the right songs that work within his admittedly slightly limited vocal range. Mackenzie is adorable, hip, sympathetic, and, as Adam worded it, he's "Harry Potter meets Justin Bieber." Really, there isn't a girl under 18 in America who wouldn't vote for that winning combo.
MEMBER OF: Team Cee Lo
Julio Cesar Castillo - The first "Voice" contestant to ever sing in Spanish, this mariachi man belted out Ritchie Valens's "La Bamba" and sounded muy bueno. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) It wasn't really my thing personally, and I thought it was a little weird that he looked like he'd borrowed James Massone's letterman jacket from Season 2, but I appreciated the diversity Julio brought to the show, and his voice was undeniably strong. Blake whacked his button almost right away, and later Cee Lo buzzed in too, although interestingly, Christina--the one judge on the panel to have recorded a Spanish-language album in the past--kept her back turned the entire time. Julio decided to sign up with Blake, which I think was the right call. For some reason, I think these two will be una pareja perfecta. (Again, sorry.)
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
So for those of you keeping track, so far Team Cee Lo has Mackenzie Bourg, along with Monday recruits Trevin Hunte and Daniel Rosa; Team Blake has Casey Muessigmann and Julio Cesar Castillo, plus Monday's Terry McDermott and Gracia Harrison; Team Xtina has Aquile and Adriana Louise, plus Monday's De'Borah and Devyn DeLoera; and Team Adam still consists only of Bryan Keith and Joe Kirkland, since Adam didn't pick up any new contestants on Tuesday.
Will any of these teams recruit some truly stellar talent on Wednesday's episode? I certainly hope so. But if not...well, I guess there's always "The X Factor," which premieres the same night.