The backstories for contestants on The Voice
largely fall into two categories. There are people with a rather
sizeable connection to music or there are some incredibly sad stories.
Night 4 of the Blind Auditions, we get plenty of both. There's the son
of one of the members of Chicago, a girls who seems to do nothing but
enter singing contests and a professional cruise ship singer. Then
there's the guy with two sisters both dealing with horrible diseases and
the struggling single mom.
Throw in the redemption of a singer who auditioned last season but didn't make it (and who has one of the saddest stories ever) and you have tonight's episode of The Voice
. Will Champlin: "Not Over You" by Gavin DeGraw
His dad was in Chicago (the band, not the city). He ekes out a living as a studio musician, but he wants to make it big to help support his wife and adorable baby daughter. Maybe he should spend less money on suspenders, bracelets and white-framed glasses. We get it, you're a hipster.
He has a great, very radio-friendly alt-rock voice. He sounds exactly like he looks, which is actually a refreshing change of pace for this show. Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green all turn around, but the best moment is when we see his baby daughter smile and point at her dad.He joins Team Adam
. Adam then calls him a male Michelle Chamuel. Whoa, dude, those are some pretty big shoes to fill. He's not THAT quirky.Macey Estes: "The Way" by Ariana Grande
She's an 18-year-old from Indiana who followed her sister in show choir before finding her true love: rap. So naturally she sings a song from a girl who starred on a Nickelodeon show.
Her voice is young and inexperienced. There are some solid moments, but most of it is flat and pitchy. No one turns around
, but Macey gets a chance to perform a rap about The Voice anyway.Stephanie Anne Johnson: "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by K.T. Tunstall
She's a gospel and soul-loving cruise ship singer who spends eight months a year on the sea. Her grandma, Freddie Mae, is supportive, cheerful and seems like the kind of awesome old lady who Tyler Perry plays in movies.
She has a big, soulful voice, as you'd expect, but I think it's a terrible song choice that doesn't really show off what she can do. I think she'll be a surprise in the Battle Rounds. Cee Lo and Christina Aguilera turn around. Stephanie went to high school with season 1 finalist Vicci Martinez from Team Cee Lo and she loves indie soul. It seems like all the cards are stacked in Cee Lo's favor, but she joins Team Xtina
.Sam Cerniglia: "It's a Beautiful Day" by Michael Buble
He works for Groupon and he's in a wedding band. More importantly, both of his sisters have serious diseases (Cystic Fibrosis and something that shrinks the brain called Batten disease). The Voice is better at making me cry with its emotional backstories for contestants than any other competition show.
He has a suave, casual style and an interesting voice. It's a little too low, but he's definitely good. Blake and Cee Lo turn around. Blake loves his Buble-ness and Cee Lo thinks he sounds like a ladies' man and a swinger. Sam's fiancee begs to differ and he joins Team Blake
.Jennifer Newberry: "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
She's from Sweden, home of sweet and sour fish and wacky chefs. Sadly, her voice isn't as good as her people's meatballs. It's sharp and just kind of unpleasant. No one turns around
. Adam claims no one in the room would say she has a bad voice. Well, technically I'm not in the room, so maybe he's right, but I really don't like it.James Irwin: "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.
He auditioned last season but didn't get any chairs to turn around. He's the guy whose wife had twins that only stayed alive for 10 minutes, but then she got pregnant again so now he has a cute son. I remember the story, but not the voice.
His version of this song is pretty cool, energetic and rocking. All four chairs turn around. He's apparently the first returning contestant to get all four chairs. Adam thinks it faded towards the end, and James blames the chairs turning around for throwing him off. He joins Team Adam
, because of his honesty and constructive criticism.Olivia Henken: "Two Black Cadillacs" by Carrie Underwood
She's entered and won dozens of small-town singing contests at places like the Kentucky state fair. She wants this to make it sound like she's working hard for her big break, but I find it more desperate and sad, like she's more interested in the fame than the music.
She's a pretty blonde country singer with a voice that I find thoroughly unremarkable. Somehow Christina and Cee Lo both turn around. Christina claims Blake will give her song choice ideas all season long while Cee Lo wants to put her in different positions (meaning genres other than country). She joins Team Xtina
. Olivia will make excellent Battle Round cannon fodder, and I'm sure Blake will steal her.Jason Kertson: "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder
He's a 16-year-old Seattle rocker kid who became a viral video sensation by playing two guitars at once. He has an impossibly deep voice, which is cool, but he's rough around the edges. His voice may sound older, but his technical skills are clearly young and in need of improvement. No one turns around
. Adam feels like less of a man because a 16-year-old kid has a manlier voice than he ever will.R. Anthony: "Hall of Fame" by The Script
He used to be in an "up-and-coming gospel trio" before his wife got pregnant and he had to get a real job. So he can get a real job, but not a real first name? I'm not wild about his crazy, raspy voice. I'm more intrigued by the fact that he looks like season 3's De'borah. I'm not entirely sure he's not De'borah living a secret double life as a man.
Christina turns around, and so does Cee Lo at the very last minute. He joins Team Cee Lo
. Pretty sneaky, Cee.A Trio of Good Singers
We then speed through three singers who made teams. Keaira LaShae joins Team Cee Lo
. Amber Nicole joins Team Xtina
. Emily Randolph joins Team Blake
.Justin Chain: "She's Country" by Jason Aldean
This dude has a kick-ass name and a big cowboy hat. He was gonna go to college for football, but he got into an extremely serious motorcycle accident that resulted in him getting 500 stitches and then some. Note to self: Never, ever ride a motorcycle.
He has a good, ol' boy country voice that will probably take him to the end like The Swon Brothers. Blake turns around early and no one else even bothers. I think they wanted to, but Christina, Cee Lo and Adam knew there wasn't a chance in hell they'd possibly get this guy to pick them. He joins Team Blake
.Ashley DuBose: "Diamonds" by Rihanna
She's a single mom who is spreading herself thin to work and raise her baby while still pursuing her music. The "Single Mom Who Needs This for Her Kid(s)" is a total cliche on these kinds of shows. Sorry, but The X Factor
and American Idol
has half a dozen of these a year.
She definitely has a great voice, but for me it sounds too much like Rihanna and she doesn't really bring anything new to the party. Still, all four coaches turn around. They fight over her by lavishing some insane praise on her. She's good, yes, but is she really gonna make it to the end? No.She joins Team Adam
. Sigh. On paper, Adam's teams are always great, but he has proven time and time again that he doesn't know how to coach these big-voiced divas to the end. Just ask Judith Hill or Amanda Brown.
And with that, The Voice
season 5 Blind Auditions are almost over. Monday will be the final audition episode at 8pm as the four coaches finalize their teams, and Tuesday will be a special look back at the best auditions. The following week, the Battle Rounds begin.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)