Reality Rocks

‘The Voice’ Season 5 Blind Auditions, Part 4: Chicago Hope

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Will Champlin, son of Chicago member Bill Champlin, is one of three strong new Team Adam recruits

Up until the fourth night of "The Voice" Season 5's Blind Auditions, I was thinking that CeeLo Green had a real shot of winning this season. But then, on Tuesday, he all but got shut out of the audition process, as one contestant after another passed him over. Meanwhile, Adam Levine surged into the lead, recruiting three valuable Team Adam players. Now it really looks like Adam will be the coach to beat this season, finally seizing "Voice" victory from the jaws of defeat/Blake Shelton.

Here's a full recap of the contestants who made it through this Tuesday:

Will Champlin – This guy had a lot going for him. First of all, he had a cutely nerdy style; he kind of looked like he'd been raiding Season 2 finalist Pip's closet, while Adam described him as the "male Michelle Chamuel" (a major compliment, as far as I'm concerned). Second, Will came to the competition with plenty of experience as a working musician. And third/most importantly, his father, Bill Champlin, is a member of Chicago (the band), and CHICAGO ARE AWESOME. Anyone who disagrees with me about this, I will fight you. I didn't think Will's vocal was as interesting or unique as his look, but a lot of that probably had to do with his ho-hum song choice, Gavin DeGraw's "Not Over You." Hopefully Adam, whom Will ultimately picked as his coach, can assign this guy some material that's a little cooler, a little funkier, a little more Chamuelian. Or maybe Will could just cover Chicago's "Stay the Night." That'd be rad, too. (Side note: Why did the producers make such a big to-do about Will's rock 'n' roll heritage, but no mention was made about fellow auditioner Jason Kertson's grandfather, Rob Lind of the legendary Sonics? Maybe because Will got through and Jason didn't.)
MEMBER OF: Team Adam

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Stephanie Anne Johnson – I admit that I readied myself for a dreaded four-chair shutout when I learned that this woman makes a living as a cruise-ship singer. After all, "cruise-ship" is a hyphenated adjective often utilized in singing-show critiques to disparage cornball contestants. Thankfully, Stephanie was not corny. But I don't think KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" was quite the right song for her. While she attacked the bluesy tune with the gusto of a performer used to having to fight for buffet-bound passengers' attention, she trailed off on a lot of her lines and sounded winded in parts. There was potential there, and she was immensely likable, but the girl needed guidance. CeeLo and Christina Aguilera both offered their guidance, and I totally thought CeeLo had this one in the bag when Stephanie revealed that she'd attended high school with CeeLo's Season 1 alum, the fabulous Vicci Martinez. Maybe it was CeeLo's failure to remember where Vicci placed (he said she came in second, but Dia Frampton was actually the runner-up that year) that blew it for him. CeeLo needs to brush up on his "Voice" trivia — especially when it comes his own contestants! Sheesh.
MEMBER OF: Team Xtina

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Sam Cerniglia – This "Midwesterner with a heart of gold" (Carson Daly's stiltedly scripted words) was the kind of guy I wanted to root for. He holds down a day job at Groupon, he plays in a wedding band, and both of his sisters suffer from serious, debilitating illnesses. But. He was just so bland. He had the personality and stage presence of, well, an unredeemed Groupon for a free pair of socks. I was utterly shocked when Blake and CeeLo both turned for Sam, and I couldn't help but wonder if they'd been tipped off about this nice guy's sympathetic, TV-friendly backstory. The most entertaining part of this audition, really, was when CeeLo described Sam as a "ladies' man, a swinger," and one of Sam's relatives backstage snarkily quipped, "Not so much!" Maybe CeeLo's cluelessness in this regard was why he got rejected yet again.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake

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James Irwin – Regular "Voice" viewers will remember James from last season. He was the guy with a particularly moving backstory (he suffered a major life tragedy when his twin daughters died minutes after they were born), but whose cover of the Script's "The Man That Can't Be Moved" sadly failed to move any of the coaches. I recall thinking he was good at the time and being surprised that not a single chair turned for him. But oh, what a difference a season makes! This week, James returned to sing R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," and he was even better…and ALL FOUR coaches turned their chairs. This made him the first comeback contestant to get every chair to spin during a second-try audition. "Voice" history was made! In the end, James, a "rocker at heart," went with Adam, who marveled at James's growth over the past few months. I have a feeling the second time will be the charm for James — and for Team Adam.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam

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Olivia Hencken – I'm not quite sure why Christina and CeeLo spun for this barely-above-average country girl. Better singers on this show (including James Irwin last season!) have been rejected, after all. I thought Olivia's vocals were weak and that her wannabe-Underwood performance was pageanty...and it was telling that Blake, the one country singer on the panel, did not hit his button. Christina called Olivia "Barbie," which I assume was intended as high praise. CeeLo offered to "put you in some different positions," being his usual icky self, and when he clarified that he meant "professional positions," that only made matters ickier. And he said all this in front of Olivia's family, yet! I bet you can guess which coach Olivia chose.
MEMBER OF: Xtina

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R. Anthony – R. was in a gospel trio with his brothers, but like many hard-luck singing-show contestants with deferred dreams, he put his career on hold to raise a family. I enjoyed his cover of the Script's "Hall of Fame" (and he sort of reminded me of a male version of Season 3's De'Borah), but his vocals weren't amazing, merely pleasant. Perhaps that's why Christina had such a delayed reaction when buzzing in. But that was nothing compared to the delayed reaction of CeeLo, who literally hit his button when R. was singing his final note. And then R. went with…CeeLo! What a burn. But this was the right choice. I think CeeLo could bring out the best in this guy and make him a little more interesting. I have NO idea what Xtina would have done with R.
MEMBER OF: Team CeeLo

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Keaira LaShae, Amber Nicole, and Emily Randolph – Aw, more poor cannon-fodder kids. These three also-rans only received 53 seconds of screentime combined. (But hey, at least that's better than the previous night's montage trio, who got 52 seconds.) Emily, the Team Blake contestant who covered Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," stood out the most here, but her "Voice" journey is likely to be a thorny one, indeed. Montage contestants are always doomed on this show.
MEMBERS OF: Teams CeeLo, Xtina, and Blake, respectively

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Justin Chain – There is no way this Alabama good ole boy isn't going far this season. He might even win. A salt-of-the-earth sports guy and the survivor of a serious head-on motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital for months, Justin had the likability thing and the sob-story thing down. But…he could also really sing. The guy sounded like a marketable country pro, practically ready to hit the CMA Awards next month. When Blake heard Justin belting Jason Aldean's barnstorming girls-and-trucks anthem "She's Country," he of course got the biggest Cheshire-cat grin on his face and gleefully whacked his button. Blake later labeled his castmates "idiots" for not turning as well, but I just think they didn't want to bother trying. Come on — they knew they had no chance of snagging Justin from Blake.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake

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Ashley Dubose – Okay, maybe Justin won't win. Because there's also this Ashley stunner in the mix. Cool and contemporary, this daytime desk jockey and single mother shone bright on her "Diamonds" cover and came across as an all-around awesome artist, the total package. All four coaches turned, and CeeLo seemed the most keen, not to mention the best match for Ashley's groovy vibe. CeeLo even pointed out that he keeps in touch with most of his Red Zone contestants and would proudly root for Ashley at future Grammy ceremonies. But snake-oily Adam wooed Ashley away with lines like "Your voice cuts like a razor through this place." CeeLo did not look happy. He may have dealt with other rejections this evening, but he knew that Ashley really was the one that got away.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam

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So now it seems like Team Adam is Season 5's frontrunning bunch, while Team Xtina still lags behind with the weakest overall lineup. But there are yet more auditions next week, so it is still any coach's game. See you then!

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