The Voice is trying something different in the final round of the Blind Auditions. The first hour is devoted to the customary chair swiveling, coach praising and team picking of the audition process. The second hour launches right into the Battle Rounds and there’s no explanation given for the absence of Pharrell’s hat, the fact that Adam’s hair is once again blond and awful, or where Christina found her new weave.
While the schizophrenic nature of the episode keeps things moving, it’s a bit bizarre, especially in the first hour. The Blind Auditions feels more like a chore than ever with the coaches literally just picking the final few members of the team, usually without arguments or fights. It’s weird, but at least The Voice moves on to my favorite part of the season — the Battle Rounds — with the promise of the Knockouts to come.
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Jared Harder (“Merry Go ‘Round”)
Before Jared’s audition, Blake brags about how he has only one spot on his team and everyone else on his team is amazing. This is a huge overestimation of Blake’s team, in my opinion, since only half of them are what I’d consider true contenders, but whatever. It isn’t Blake if he’s not blowing hot southern air up everyone’s bum.
This statement about Blake’s team becomes important, though, once Jared takes the stage. Jared sings a country song and Blake presses his button. Though Jared is actually quite good, this is about as complicated as it gets. Blake is the only coach to turn around and this means that Blake’s team is full.
Result: Jared goes to Team Blake
Moushumi (“Wicked Game”)
Moushumi’s audition immediately makes Blake regret filling his team and he has a good reason to feel that way. She is really good. The coaches tell every artist in every Blind Audition that there is no one in the competition like them, but in Moushumi’s case, that is actually true. Moushumi gets the three other coaches to turn around, with Blake admitting that he would if he could. Though Adam probably has the best argument, saying he only has one more spot on his team and wants Moushumi to fill it, she goes with Pharrell. This is surprising because Pharrell tells Moushumi that he has never heard an Indian singer like her. This statement is strange at best and mildly racist at worst.
Result: Moushumi chooses Team Pharrell
Katie Basden (“Midnight Rider”)
Katie is a bit of an interesting nut to crack. She is good but not enough to deserve the basic four-chair turnaround she gets when all three remaining coaches press their buttons. Maybe they are just that starved for country artists and are jumping at the chance to get one with the slightest amount of potential free of Blake’s influence. Despite Blake’s efforts to prevent it, Katie goes with Adam.
Result: Katie chooses Team Adam
Jonathan Hutcherson (“You and I”)
Jonathan rounds out Team Pharrell with an okay voice. This is not to say that Jonathan is bad; with the right amount of coaching, especially on Pharrell’s team, he could be great. He just feels like a lot of potential right now, but he is only 16. Still, I have a feeling that Jonathan might be in store for Adam to steal in the future.
Speaking of steals, though, someone in Jonathan’s family needs to keep a look out for Carson after this thing is over. The way Carson grabs Jonathan’s little brother Eli, hugs him and swings him around when Pharrell picks Jonathan is not okay. Bad touch! No, Carson!
Result: Jonathan goes to Team Pharrell
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Ayanna Jahnee (“Skyfall”)
Xtina fills her team with Ayanna, who breaks the cardinal sin of reality shows as far as I’m concerned and sings Adele. I will say that Ayanna’s version of “Skyfall” is actually creepy, which I hope that’s what she’s going for and she’s not actually terrifying. The version isn’t better than Adele, but at least she is not trying to be Adele.
The scariest thing about the whole audition isn’t Ayanna’s singing. It is when Xtina gets up to sing that her team is full and Carson starts singing along backstage. Carson is so white in this moment that it honestly damages my eyes to look at him directly.
Result: Ayanna goes to Team Christina
Katie Basden vs. Ryan Quinn (“Maybe I’m Amazed”)
With that, the Blind Auditions are over and we move on to the Battle Rounds. Time has jumped forward, the coaches are 50% blonder and Carson still makes me 100% uncomfortable. Team Adam starts things off by throwing his newly recruited Katie to the wolves. Adam pairs Katie up with a guy who he literally calls the frontrunner of his team, Ryan. It’s not quite a slaughter. Ryan is better, though not by a whole lot, but Adam clearly favors him. Adam picks Ryan, leaving Katie out alone. Katie gets two steals from Blake and Xtina. Katie picks Blake, which is honestly where she belonged all along.
Result: Adam chooses Ryan; Blake steals Katie
Brittney Lawrence vs. Paxton Ingram (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”)
Blake, as you probably already know, brings on Gwen Stefani to help mentor his team for the Battle Rounds. Blake says he picked Gwen since she knows how to win the competition. I’m not sure how Blake works that one out since Gwen has never won. Let’s face it; he just picked Gwen to spend time with his girlfriend.
Blake isn’t the only one who is saying confusing things because Paxton calls his Battle partner, Brittney, an amazing vocalist. This is simply not true. Brittney’s initial practice session is incredibly awkward. While she gets better with more time, Paxton completely outmatches her. It’s no surprise that Paxton wins — and he should.
Result: Blake chooses Paxton
Bryan Bautista vs. Malik Heard (“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”)
Finally, The Voice offers up a proper battle with two contestants who actually match one another. It could just be because Bryan and Malik sound shockingly similar to one another or they are just that good. The point is that it is a very good battle and credit goes to Xtina for putting this together. Actually, Xtina might have just deserved me calling her Christina now, so there’s that. Congratulations, Christina; I will now deem to call you by your real name. It is a high honor. (It really isn’t … like, at all.)
The most entertaining thing about this battle has nothing to do with Malik or Bryan’s performance. It is the fact that the coaches immediately start pitching for the artist who doesn’t get picked for Christina’s team. This is amusing in multiple ways, not only because the coaches have no idea who is actually going to be picked but also because of Blake’s desperate attempt to jump in. Blake can’t pronounce Malik’s name, but he knows he wants him on his team. Christina ends up choosing Bryan. All three of the other coaches press their buttons, obviously, and Malik goes with Pharrell.
Result: Christina chooses Bryan; Pharell steals Malik
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)