Round three of The Voice
season 8 Blind Auditions once again brings together four of the music industry's most successful artists and coaches: funky-white soul rocker Adam Levine, 2014 Country Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton, soul/hip-hop/R&B mogul Pharrell Williams and the newly-returned mega pop icon and Hollywood Walk of Famer Miss Christina Aguilera. The coaches continue to bicker in an entertaining way over the new crop of aspiring artists competing for the chance to become the next winner of The Voice
Before the third Voice installment gets underway, Pharrell has five artists, Blake and Christina have four each and Adam is off to a slow start with only three. Adam seems to have lost his touch, but by the end of the evening he adds five new artists to his stable of talent. Throughout the evening are a multitude of snippets of the playful antics between the coaches who provide half the entertainment of this show. Let's get to it!
Day three starts with a brief review of many of the artists who've already performed and chosen their coach from nights one and two. Then we get a preview of what's in store for the evening. Bypassing the upcoming artist teases, I prefer to watch the coaches chat before going on stage, and then I head straight for the first performance of the night.
Kelsie May ("You're Lookin' at Country")
Painfully shy high school sophomore Kelsie May, 15, from Louisa, KY, was convinced by her parents to put her vocals up on YouTube. She enjoys using her music to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which had a great impact on the short life of a dear friend Kelsie lost to Ewing's sarcoma in January 2012. Her idol is Loretta Lynn, whose song she sings for her audition. She's decked in caramel boots, a lovely lace dress and a killer one-sided chestnut braid.
Her range isn't as wide as some of the other female vocalists we've seen this season or last, but she holds her own. She comes off as young and somewhat timid, but reasonably solid. After the first verse and chorus, Blake hits his button, followed by Pharrell and Christina. Christina tries to sell her on her experience as a young artist. Pharrell is subdued in his comments. Blake appeals to her southern roots.
Result: Kelsie chooses Blake
Kimberly Nichole ("Nutbush City Limits")
Custom tutu-wearing 32-year-old Kimberly performs regularly in her hometown of New York, NY, in an exclusive club she describes as a mixture of Studio 54 and Moulin Rouge. She's a pretty hot ticket with a saucy funk-soul sound that reminds me of a younger, less tortured version of Tina Turner, the creator and original producer of "Nutbush City Limits." Blake turns first, followed by Pharrell.
Result: Kimberly chooses Pharrell
Michael Leier ("Last Kiss")
Looking a lot like the island-marooned version of Arrow's moppy-headed Oliver Queen and suited up in a maroon Beautiful-Day-In-The-Neighborhood Mr. Rogers sweater, 20-year-old Fargo, ND, native Michael Leier played rock and roll in bars with his mates for a number of years before heading off to med school. His voice is much better than I expected, thank goodness, as I do feel a kinship with this midwestern fellow being from central Minnesota myself. Adam, if he's chosen as Michael's coach, will whip this boy into shape visually, so I'm not worried about that. He needs more energy beneath his wings, but his voice shows solid potential. Adam is the first to turn his chair, followed by Blake.
Result: Michael chooses Adam
Some Performances Fall Way Too Short
Campbellsville, KY, native Hannah Ellis is a substitute teacher, a nanny and a part-time window and door salesperson for her father's business because singing just isn't paying the bills. She has a sparkly personality and a beautiful presence, but none of the coaches turns a chair. A vignette of three more artists who don't make it past the Blind Auditions features Mark Lum who plays it too safe, Sara Schulmann who falls short of expectations and Sam King who holds back his inner beast.
Travis Ewing ("Say My Name")
Hailing from Lafayette, LA, 23-year-old Travis is a full-time musician who records every instrument, beatbox percussion and all the vocals for his recordings. After college graduation, he performed locally, winning an award as Musician of the Year in New Orleans for Raw Artists. He sang solos in middle school where he first fell in love with music due to the encouragement of his music teacher. Carson Daly surprises Travis with a video message from his teacher from so long ago.
He's got a nice face, but he's not vocally extraordinary. Good, but not extraordinary. No one from night three has been blow-my-boots-off extraordinary.
Christina turns almost immediately. A verse later, Blake turns, followed several lines later by Pharrell.
Result: Travis chooses Pharrell
Three More Artists Pass Muster
In a second vignette, Noelle Bybee performs "Unbelievers" and chooses Pharrell as her coach. Bren'nae DeBarge performs "Golden" and nets one chair, landing Adam as her coach. Finally, James McNeiece delivers "Lay Me Down" and again Adam is the sole chair, bringing his total number of artists to six.
Results: Noelle is with Pharrell. Bren'nae is with Adam. And James is with Adam.
Adam Levine Auditions for the Coaches
In the best performance of the evening so far, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Levine, 35, of Los Angeles, CA, nervously takes the stage to perform a beautiful rendition of Sir Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." At first, I wondered how far the coach was going to take the gag and am delighted to say he takes it all the way. Now I just hope his performance is made available on iTunes for my lifelong enjoyment. I'm a huge fan of all Elton John's work, and Adam does it justice. Taking the gag even further, Adam goes so far as to choose a coach.
Result: Adam chooses Christina. Yes, he actually did!
Sonic ("Money on My Mind")
A makeup artist and jewelry designer, 23-year-old Sonic is the second artist in the Blind Auditions to be partially deaf. From San Francisco originally, she was signed to a label at 14, but left the label when her album never materialized. She's got a half buzz cut and sports a lovely but distracting nose chain. Her voice is rather dynamic, but a little screechy in parts. However, Sonic takes chances with her delivery and shows a lot of promise. Adam and Christina turn immediately.
Result: Sonic chooses Christina
Ella Khorov ("I Can't Stand the Rain")
A New Orleans native, 17-year-old Ella says her hometown has informed her musical style since birth. She's a singer and a competitive swimmer who believes in hard work. Ella says she doesn't perform a lot, but believes her drive will take her far. Her reedy voice is definitely promising, but no one turns a chair.
Jacob Rummell ("Count on Me")
Eighteen-year-old Jacob from Hartville, OH, is one of three children who came together in a unique way. The oldest was born with Oxalosis, a rare metabolic disorder. Jacob and his other sister were adopted into the family and have been a wonderful and supportive unit ever since. Jacob is most excited to perform because Christina Aguilera is back on The Voice and he'd love to work with her. His voice is clear and sweet and almost flawless (except for being a little pitchy). He sounds completely different than he looks. Adam turns around, and later so does Blake. Pharrell is fit to be tied when he sees what this little guy is like.
Result: Jacob chooses Blake
Barry Minniefield ("Me and Mrs. Jones")
The executive chef at The Improv in Hollywood, CA, 52-year-old Barry sang in the kitchen and drove his managers crazy, but comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Phyllis Diller, Rodney Dangerfield, Jay Leno and Roseanne Barr absolutely loved him. After retiring from cooking, the Fort Wayne, IN, native moved to Palm Springs to perform. Carson Daly surprises him with a video message from Jay Leno wishing him luck. His voice is smooth milk chocolate. Adam waits until the last minute and turns his chair.
Result: Barry is with Adam
Another Three Artists Advance to the Battle Rounds
In a third vignette, we see three more snippets of winning performances. There's not enough time to show their entire performances, but the results qualify these three for the next round.
Adam gains Nicolette Mare after her performance of "Everything Has Changed," Christina turns a chair for Clinton Washington's delivery of "Candle in the Wind" and Blake scores Matt Snook who sings "Red Dirt Road."
Results: Nicolette Mare is with Adam. Clinton Washington is with Christina. And Matt Snook is with Blake.
India Carney ("New York State of Mind")
Brooklyn native and 21-year-old India Carney is one of 140 students chosen each year to study music at UCLA where she's currently in her senior year. Most of her performances so far have been in school where she has studied everything from music theory to classical opera. A chance to work with a coach on The Voice would be a dream come true and an amazing start to her professional life as an artist. Since she's got the pimp spot, I'm thinking she's gonna knock our socks off. For the first time this evening, there are goosebumps running up and down my legs during a performance.
India's voice is silky and mature, delicious and impeccable. Christina is the first to turn her chair, later christening India as a "Vocal Beast" during her commentary. Blake just wants to sit and listen to India sing. Pharrell almost proposes marriage to the young songstress. Adam gets the final say and promises her that she's going all the way. All four fall all over themselves groveling to be her coach.
Result: India chooses Christina
14 More Artists Advance to the Battle Rounds
The results of night three of The Voice Blind Auditions are as follows (with Adam making a big comeback):
Team Christina: India Carney, Clinton Washington and Sonic.
Team Pharrell: Noelle Bybee, Travis Ewing and Kimberly Nichole.
Team Adam: Nicolette Mare, James McNeiece, Bren'nae DeBarge, Michael Leier and Barry Minniefield.
Team Blake: Matt Snook, Kelsie May and Jacob Rummell.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)