Some of the best moments on the The Voice come when the producers force us to play along with the coaches and judge solely on the voice. Right out of the gate, tonight’s episode took that turn when Sarah Golden took on Lady Gaga’s “You And I,” winning over Blake Shelton and Cee-lo. In the discussion that followed, we learned that Golden is a folk singer… so apparently none of the songs that the artists are allowed to sing during auditions were folk. But based on the song that she was able to attack, it seems that choosing Cee Lo was a smarter choice since he might have more to offer her when experimenting with various genres.
Two more artists joined Team Cee Lo this week, giving Golden some steep competition. 28 year old former model, Erin Martin wins the award for most unique voice of the night. Levine admitted to being scared and confused with what he’d be able to do with such a voice, which is why he didn’t turn around. Aguilera gave no reason for not turning but Shelton and Cee Lo did turn around… with Cee Lo winning this one. Smart choice Martin. While this would have been a great challenge for Shelton, she is clearly in better hands with Cee Lo. The fact that Martin has done showcases for record execs says a lot. So many artists we know today have been turned away because the labels do not know what to do with such a unique sound/image. That said, Martin is in perfect hands with Cee Lo as her coach and should keep him as a mentor when her time on the show comes to an end and she does go back to the music execs for a record deal.
23 year old Boston native, James Massone won over three coaches with Drake’s “Find Your Love.” As Levine shrieked, “He’s white!” and Aguilera shouted with delight, “You got soul!” Massone has a voice that doesn’t match his image but that’s the wonderful thing about The Voice, the image is not a factor of what gets you through the audition. His image may actually work for him in a shock of events rather than against him with this crowd. Only time will tell as he battles out another vocalist from Team Cee Lo.
Adam Levine also had success. It came as no surprise that Levine turned his chair around for 19 year old Pip first. Who else heard so much of Levine in him? Really, you could hear a little bit of each coach in him as he sang “House of the Rising Sun.” We could envision where each of the coaches could take him. As Levine pointed out, it seems that Pip can pretty much do anything. And with all four judges to choose from… he could. Levine better not let this one get away!
Thousands of talented hopefuls dream of being whisked away from their 9 to 5 job to participate in a potential career changing, life changing singing debut to the world. 35 year old Katrina Parker blew us away with “One of Us” but only truly touched Levine’s heart as he was the only coach to turn around. While there’s no question that Parker is talented, she really needs help crafting her own sound and perfecting that sound. Until then, there is going to be that disconnection that was felt among the other coaches. Levine has his work cut out for him here. Will she make it past the battle round?
As for Levine’s final artist of the night… Atlanta native, Chris Cauley will not have a problem living out his Grandmother’s legacy. “Grenade” catered to Cauley’s smooth, sweet tone. As Blake Shelton pointed out, stylistically it made the most sense to choose Levine. But we’ve seen in the past coaches matched with artists based on this reason many times and then get cut during the battle rounds because the song chosen then was the exact opposite of their sound, proving to be too great a challenge. So the challenge now becomes how to coach Cauley to win the battle round.
Blake Shelton added vocalist, Brian Fuente to his team, as he was the only coach to turn around for the rocker. It was slightly disappointing for us to just get a snippet of Funete’s audition but that leaves us even more to look forward to come battle round. Erin Willet tried to win over a coach with “I Want You Back” and reached Shelton just in the nick of time. There’s no question that Willet has a powerful and beautiful voice… but where she fits… or more likely, stands out in this competition is going to be a welcome challenge in a competition full of so many original and more creative vocalists. 29 year old Jordis Unga had quite a decision to make after performing “Maybe I’m Amazed,” having to choose between Cee Lo, Aguilera, and Shelton. With Shelton being the first coach to turn around and with his heartfelt speech about her voice being a factor that pushes him to be a better artist… it was no contest. I would have chosen Blake Shelton over Christina Aguilera after those words. To know that season one vocalist, Dia Frampton is touring with her coach, Shelton says a lot too. Unga is in wonderful hands. But if she doesn’t make it singing, she could always play a relative of Callie’s on Grey’s Anatomy. Do you see the resemblance?
Finally, there’s Christina Aguilera’s team to compete with. Father of four, Geoff McBride burst onto the stage with “Higher Ground,” quickly winning over Christina Aguilera with Cee Lo strangely taking forever to turn his chair around. McBride knows how to sing phenomenally, put on a strong performance from the beginning until the end, and bring high energy. You can’t do Stevie Wonder without high energy and McBride brought it right out of the gate hitting perfect notes and holding them at just the right moments. What a talent Aguilera has snatched up! It looked like Aguilera was surprised herself that McBride chose her over Cee Lo. No? Has Aguilera found her Javier Colon?
It is clear that Aguilera has found many artists that she is absolutely crazy over…. one in particular is The Voice‘s first ever MC, Moses Stone. We only got a snippet of his audition as well but based on what was shown, the battle rounds are going to be even more intense with an MC to compete against. Some voices cannot hold a candle to others, even in this competition… especially in this competition. So will the battle round be a breeze for this MC or not? And we all know Christina loves hip hop artists. But her coaching one rather than collaborating with one for her album… hmmm. How do you think this is going to turn out?
Not making it onto the next round of the competition were quite a number of uber-talented people. 19 year old Elley Duhe has a very funky sound that matches the artist, Duffy whom she used for her audition but unfortunately her voice has not yet matured to where she needs to be in order to get the most out of this experience. As pointed out by one of the coaches, Duhe was pitchy… and to add onto that, she was far too pitchy to teach in time to win this competition. In time, Duhe. But now is not that time. Also, singing such an overplayed song for reality singing competitions also did not help her cause.
Iowa native and LA transplant, Winter Rae took on Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” with celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton cheering her on with her family and host, Carson Daly. Unfortunately, there’s nothing phenomenal about Rae’s voice at this point so the coaches made a pass with this one. But as Levine pointed out, all of the coaches have experienced rejection but they are here today and Rae’s time will come. Although it is safe to say that this time is not in the near future as Rae has a lot of work to do on her range if she wants to sell out venues like her inspiration, Mariah Carey. 28 year old Texan, David Grace was also unable to get the coaches to turn around… as all eyes were on Blake Shelton to make the big turnaround. But country music is more complex than what some people may not realize. There’s an art to being a country artist and if Blake Shelton didn’t feel it, the right decision was made.
What I did find interesting this week was Christina Aguilera’s “low blow” towards Adam Levine, about being in this business long before Maroon 5 came along. It does bring up an interesting thought. All of the coaches are successful artists, yes… but they are coaches, mentors – not the head of a wildly successful record company. Yes, they may have influence there and are doing phenomenal jobs as coaches here. They have surely mentored dozens over the years without the cameras following their every move… but for how long and where are those people today? All we can bank on is their success on season one of The Voice, no? What do you think?
Watch The Voice Mondays at 8/7c only on on NBC.
*Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC and Mitchell Haaseth/NBC