Now that all the major table setting has happen in the season premiere, The Voice jumps right into the Blind Auditions. There’s a whole lot of singing and a whole lot of team building in the second night of season 9. There’s also a lot of what I like to consider The Voice‘s bread and butter and most valuable asset. The night is full of Adam and Blake arguing like an old married couple. The guys engage in a verbal tug of war several times, with poor unsuspecting contestants (and their fellow coaches) caught in the middle.
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Blind Joe (“If It Hadn’t Been for Love”)
The Voice dispenses with all the posturing and coach bickering up front in the second night of Blind Auditions. Instead, they dive right in with an actual blind person. The pun potential here is so great, I’m surprised it took them nine seasons to have a blind artist. Blind Joe not only has a fantastic name and great story, but he has a killer country voice, a voice that manages to turn around all four chairs. Though Adam wants Joe on his team, he quickly concedes defeat to Blake. The rest of the coaches follow suit. Adam does vow, as he does every season, that he will take a country artist from Blake.
Result: Blind Joe joins Team Blake
Ivonne Acero (“Style”)
Next up is something that makes The Voice really special: a previous contestant who failed to get a chair turn returns. This time, it’s Ivonne Acero. She is a teenager who works on a cantaloupe farm with her family. Blake told her last season she was five seconds away from getting a four-chair turn. In this audition, she doesn’t get four chairs, but she does get Pharrell and Gwen’s chairs. No one, not even her family, is happier about this than Carson. Pharrell and Gwen make their pitches.
Pharrell’s big line is that because Ivonne has glasses and braces, she’s unique and that makes her perfect for his team. I love Pharrell, but seriously? A teenager with glasses and braces is something special to you? This might just be coming from the fact that nothing in the world would keep me from getting close to Gwen Stefani, but Pharrell could make a way better argument. Ivonne obviously is not me and disagrees.
Result: Ivonne joins Team Pharrell
Gage Navarro (“Ain’t No Rest for Wicked”)
In an effort to destroy my heart and faith in humanity, The Voice introduces Gage Navarro. Sob stories are nothing new on The Voice, but Gage’s history seems particularly sad. Gage’s biological father abandoned him at an early age. Now he struggles to make ends meet with his mother and step-father. They’re very close to losing their business.
Sadly, Gage’s voice is not enough to win over the judges. No one turns around for him. The judges give him some feedback. Gage promises to harness that criticism and return for next year.
Regina Love (“Rock Steady”)
Regina is a 51-year-old radio host and former artist on Evander Holyfield’s record label. If you’re like me and have never heard of Evander Holyfield’s record label, don’t worry. It folded relatively soon after Regina joined, hence her appearance on The Voice. In her pre-audition interview, she seems to be leaning towards Blake. Naturally, during her audition, it’s Blake and Adam who turn around. Though I’m pretty sure Blake turns around purely to spite Adam despite Regina’s powerhouse voice. Anyway, Adam fights hard and his efforts are rewarded.
Result: Regina joins Team Adam
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Zach Seabaugh (“Take Your Time”)
I’m 23 but look 16; Zach is 16 but looks 23. Zach also has the singing voice I like to imagine I have in the shower. Needless to say, I kind of hate Zach. He sort of mumbles through the beginning portion of the song but finishes strong enough that he manages to turn all of the male coaches’ chairs. Zach is a country artist, though. So the end result of this whole thing is pretty much predetermined.
Result: Zach joins Team Blake
Evan McKeel (“Typical”)
The second four chair turn of the night is young Evan McKeel. I relate to Evan immediately because he is one of my people. A 20-something who looks like a teenager. All that being said, it’s surprising to me that Evan turns four chairs. Evan sounds good but not great in his audition. Adam points out that he got progressively better with every chair turn. This is true, but I’m still skeptical of his four-chair status. Then Pharrell asks Evan to sing his favorite Stevie Wonder song and it is far better than Evan’s actual audition. Evan’s voice reduces Gwen to tears, in a good way, but he doesn’t go with her. He goes with the guy who made him sing Stevie Wonder in the first place.
Result: Evan joins Team Pharrell
Bryan Bautista (“Locked Out of Heaven”)
Bryan is introduced already having some level of fame. He is an usher at a sports arena and ended up singing the national anthem before one of the games. Bryan became a bit of a public interest media story afterwards, but this isn’t enough to impress the judges. Bryan tries to perform a Bruno Mars song during his audition and comes up short. The only person who can sing as high and fast as Bruno Mars is Bruno Mars. Bryan gets no chairs, but Adam tells him to come back next year.
Emily Ann Roberts (“I Hope You Dance”)
Emily Ann Roberts is up next and she’s a cute country singer with a sweet-as-molasses voice. Essentially, though, Emily is just a delivery vehicle for a lovers’ quarrel/name-calling fight between Adam and Blake. Adam and Blake are the only two coaches to turn around for Emily. Adam fights hard to win over Emily and almost manages to sway her. As always, though, the country force is strong with Blake. After it’s all over, Blake leaves the stage, telling Adam he needs to go throw up because Adam “disgusts” him.
Result: Emily joins Team Blake
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Ellie Lawrence (“We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off”)
Ellie Lawrence is basically tailor-made for Gwen. Everything from her hair, story and song choice just screams Gwen. Ellie herself even screams Gwen during her audition. Ellie almost immediately turns three chairs during her song with Adam, Gwen and Pharrell. As soon as Ellie sees Gwen’s face, she’s ecstatic. At this moment, Adam and Pharrell basically give up but halfheartedly try to sway Ellie. Their arguments are just drawing out the inevitable.
Result: Ellie joins Team Gwen
Team Gwen Building Spree
After Ellie, it’s basically a montage of artists that join Team Gwen. This section is heavy on Carson and light on actual singing. In other words, it’s The Voice version of a living nightmare. Nevertheless, Gwen adds three artists to her team. Their names are Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas and Hanna Ashbrook.
Natalie Yacovazzi (“Oh! Darling”)
Natalie swings for the fences with a Beatles song. I think she does a fine job, but the coaches find some minor quibbles that keep them from pressing their button. Natalie understands and even agrees with their criticisms, but her Voice journey ends before it even begins. She gets no chairs and goes home empty-handed.
James Dupre (“Let Her Cry”)
The last contestant of the night is divorced father and country singer James Dupre. Before James starts singing, he says he is going to go for Blake. Yet James gets the three non-Blake coaches very early in his song. Blake finally does turn around. So in the coach decision process, it’s Adam, Gwen and Pharrell competing against Blake. Adam is on the verge of tears as he makes his plea for James.
So as ever, it’s down to Blake and Adam, and Adam is finally victorious. Adam rushes up and hugs James, repeating lines from Titanic. Adam fiercely whispers to James that he will never let go. Let’s hope this doesn’t actually turn out like the movie, with Adam clutching a door in the Arctic Ocean and prying James’ frozen dead fingers off his makeshift raft.
Result: James joins Team Adam
The Voice airs Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)