"The Voice" Season 3 Blind Auditions continued at a snail-crawling-through-molasses pace on Tuesday, with frustratingly little progress made by the episode's end. Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera only scored one new team member apiece, and Adam Levine somehow managed to get through the entire episode without recruiting a single singer. Only for Blake Shelton was Tuesday's episode any sort of game-changer. But what a game-changer it was! In the course of just one hour, Blake went from being this season's most disadvantaged coach, with the weakest team, to someone with a real chance of winning this whole thing for a second season in a row--when he snagged two new valuable team members who are likely to become Season 3 frontrunners.
Charlie Rey - This likable everyman, a smog technician who works in his dad's auto shop and fears that all air pollution exposure is affecting his father's health, definitely saw "The Voice" as his escape from a long (but possibly shortened) life of exhaust fumes and exhaustion. "I don't want to keep breathing all that carbon monoxide; it's taking years off my life and destroying my voice," Charlie told host Carson Daly. (Suffice to say, after this, "The Voice" is not going to be sponsored by Jiffy Lube any time soon.) Charlie's performance of Michael Buble's "Home" (a song once covered by Blake Shelton, actually) started off underwhelmingly--his diction was garbled and his projection wasn't great--but his confidence eventually grew and he started to sell the song, and himself, by the end. Blake and Adam were impressed and buzzed in, and a grateful Charlie dropped to his knees, overcome with emotion--which probably only endeared him to America all the more. "I think it's obvious that I'm a better coach than Blake," an eager Adam told Charlie. Charlie didn't find it so obvious, however--he chose to join Team Blake instead. Frankly, Blake needed Charlie more, after building a fairly unimpressive and fodder-filled team this season...but I don't blame Adam for being angry over losing this one. Charlie may not be the strongest singer this season, but he's the kind of contestant that America with vote for.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
Cassadee Pope - Every season of "The Voice" brings us a cool chick who once was in pop-punk band of some renown. Season 1 had Meg & Dia's Dia Frampton, Season 2 had Automatic Loveletter's Juliet Simms, and for Season 3, it's Cassadee, the former frontwoman of Columbia/Decaydence Records band and onetime Fall Out Boy touring partners Hey Monday. (FOB's Pete Wentz even gave Cassadee a pre-audition video shoutout this Tuesday.) Cassadee appeared to be very nervous going into her audition, which seemed unusual for a pro who toured pretty much nonstop from 2008 to 2011. And she had no reason to be skittish, really. Her cover of Ednaswap/Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" was stellar, and none of the coaches were torn: All four of them turned around for her. Adam was so into Cassadee's performance, in fact, that he gave her a standing ovation and gushed, "I would be so honored to have you on my team; I know exactly what we would do." It was no surprise that Cassadee didn't go with Cee Lo, who can't get anyone to join his team nowadays, and who probably creeped her out by singing ZZ Top's "Legs" while leering lecherously at her miniskirt. It was also unsurprising that Cassadee didn't go for the least-rockin' judge on the panel, Christina. But when Cassadee chose Blake over Adam, that was a shock, especially after Adam's standing O and impassioned speech. Adam was crestfallen and bitter once again, and Blake was once again delighted.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
Amanda Brown - This here was another cool chick. Like Season 2 "Voice" winner Jermaine Paul, Amanda once sang backup for Alicia Keys. (She and Jermaine are buddies, actually: He tweeted his support for her on Tuesday afternoon, and urged his followers to tune in.) Amanda has also sung with Justin Timberlake, Lenny Kravitz, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Hudson, and even the almighty Adele. But apparently what was good enough for Adele, Justin, and J.Hud wasn't good enough for Adam, Xtina, or Blake, because only Cee Lo turned around for Amanda. It seems that is the only way Cee Lo scores any team members now--by default--but I think Amanda and Cee Lo will be a good match. For instance, I was intrigued when she revealed that she'd gotten her start singing gospel in church, but that her whole life and artistic outlook changed when she heard Radiohead for the first time years ago. And when she belted out the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse version of "Valerie" on Tuesday, that also impressed me. Cee Lo is kindred-spirit R&B singer who also likes to explore all sorts of musical genres, so I think he will best understand Amanda, and that he will encourage her to take risks that the other coaches would probably shy away from. I can't wait to see what Amanda and Cee Lo get up to in rehearsals.
MEMBER OF: Team Cee Lo
Sylvia Yacoub - Sylvia grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, where women aren't exactly encouraged to become pop stars. Her mom, in fact, wanted to be a singer, but apparently there was no "The Voice Egypt" or any other such outlet for Mama Yacoub's talents. Sad. But now, with the Yacoubs settled in America, the land of opportunity and countless TV talent shows, Sylvia is free to pursue her own musical dreams. Yay for America! Anyway, Sylvia's rendition of Rihanna's "Only Girl In The World" was decent, not a bum note throughout (Sylvia is certainly a stronger singer than, um, Rihanna herself), but I didn't think her performance was quite special enough. Maybe Sylvia just needs more time to establish her identity and find her own voice--and maybe her new coach, Christina, can help her do just that. Cee Lo and Blake wanted Sylvia too ("I felt like you were the only girl in the world!" raved Cee Lo, futilely), but I think Sylvia made the right choice going with Christina--even if conservative types in Sylvia's native land would surely disapprove of all that ample Christina cleavage on display. (Side note: Seriously, Xtina. Would it kill you to find a shirt that fits? Cover up! This is a family show!)
MEMBER OF: Team Xtina
I.J. Quinn - With his high-pitched, feminine voice and unusual background (he comes from a family of hog-farmers), I.J. almost seemed like the real-life inspiration behind some sort of "Boy Named Sue"-style country story-song. "Waiting back in North Carolina is a pig farm, and I want more than that," I.J. squeaked determinedly. Now that's good TV! So I was rooting for I.J., practically hog-calling as he took the stage, but sadly, his cover of Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity" did not make me as happy as a pig in you-know-what. It was just all so manic and unfocused, and he absolutely did not possess the mighty, almost Stevie Wonder-esque vocal power of Jamiroquai's Jay Kay. And he definitely hit at least one terrible note that kind of sounded like the wail of a stuck pig. After I.J. struggled through the entire song while camera operators focused ominously on extreme closeups of the coaches' untouched red buttons, the coaches all acted surprised to find out I.J. was actually a dude, and then they sent him straight back to the hog farm. Oh well. Maybe I.J. should've covered a song like Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," the Beatles' "Piggies," or Motley Crue's "Generation Swine" instead. Or maybe not.
MEMBER OF: Team No One
Yolanda Barber - This rejection saddened me more. I was really pulling for Yolanda. As this season's oldest contestant, at age 55, Yolanda had experience on her side (40 years of singing experience, to be specific), and she also had a lifetime of hard knocks from which to draw emotional inspiration--just this past year, she lost her steady gig as a cruise-ship crooner and was forced to take a job as a school bus-driver. Yolanda had a lot to prove--"I'm here to represent the 50-and-over set," she announced--and a lot to lose, since really, this was her one last shot. I thought her performance of "Get Here" showed a lot of class and sophistication, and the woman certainly could sing, but her old-fashioned cabaret style just wasn't what the judges were looking for. And her worst fears--that maybe it was too late for her--came true. Adam insisted, "Yolanda, you're amazing. Let's process how stupid we are for not turning around"...but it all seemed like lip service, since the judges frequently spend 10 minutes or more on this show rationalizing why they didn't hit their buttons for a particular rejected contestant, and such needless butt-kissing almost always comes across as fake. Anyway, luckily Yolanda had a good attitude and seemed to enjoy her brief time back in the spotlight, regardless. Let's hope she lands another singing job soon, because she belongs on a stage, not behind a school bus steering wheel.
MEMBER OF: Team No One
So now Team Blake consists of Charlie Rey, Cassadee Pope, Suzanna Choffel, Michaela Page, Ryan Jirovec, Lelia Broussard, Terisa Griffin, Liz Davis, Kelly Crapa, 2Steel Girls, Casey Muessigmann, Julio Cesar Castillo, Terry McDermott, and Gracia Harrison. With Charlie, Cassadee, and Monday night's standout Suzanna in this mix, things are suddenly looking nothing but up, up, up for Blake.
So expect Blake's for-the-most-part-friendly rivalry with his bromance partner, Adam, to elevate to a whole new level in the weeks to come. Although Adam didn't recruit any new contestants on Tuesday, with a lineup that already features great singers like Melanie Martinez (my overall favorite so far this season), Brandon Mahone, Benji, Bryan Keith, and Joe Kirkland, along with Michelle Brooks-Thompson, Sam James, Collin McLoughlin, Alessandra Guercio, Adana Duru, Brian Scartocci, Samuel Moulton, Loren Allred, and Nicolle Nelson, Team Adam is still looking pretty solid. And Adam seems pretty cocky.
Team Cee Lo is shaping up nicely as well, despite his aforementioned struggles convincing contestants to join his ranks. Amanda Brown was Cee Lo's only recruit this Tuesday, but she was a good addition to a strong team led by promising contestants like Diego Val, Alexis Marceaux, Mycle Wastman, Avery Wilson, Mackenzie Bourg, and Trevin Hunte, along with Todd Kessler, Ben Taub, Emily Earle, J.R. Aquino, Nicholas David, Domo, and Daniel Rosa. So this still could be the season when Cee Lo finally wins.
And then...there's Team Xtina, which definitely seems like the weakest team right now. While Christina's one recruit from Tuesday, Sylvia Yacoub, gave a respectable performance, she in no way came across as someone could potentially win this entire competition. Really, Christina's only standout team members right now seem to be Aquile, De'Borah, Dez Duron, and maybe Jordan Pruitt. (Team Xtina's also-rans include Laura Vivas, Joselyn Rivera, Beat Frequency, Paulina, Nelly's Echo, Lisa Scinta, MarissaAnn, Adriana Louise, and Devyn DeLoera.) Christina came in fourth on the last two seasons of "The Voice" (no diss to Chris Mann or Beverly McClellan, who were great), and she may be headed for yet another last-place finish at this season's finale.
But the Blind Auditions aren't over yet, folks! Oh, no. There are two open spots left on each of the teams, which means there will be even MORE audition episodes next week, before Season 3 finally moves on to the Battle Rounds. This is good news for Xtina, who with a bit of luck and a couple of wise decisions could get back in the game herself--but it's bad news for "Voice" viewers like myself, who are beginning to seriously suffer from audition fatigue.
However, hopefully the best talent will be saved for last, and next week's Blind Auditions episodes will be, as NBC would put it, must-see TV. See you then!
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