The Voice Recap: Second Chance Sweepstakes
One of my biggest fears in life is running out of food when I’m hosting a party. In the past, this overarching concern has spiraled out of control, resulting in industrial-sized batches of homemade salsa, entire refrigerator shelves devoted to housing containers of potato salad, and and grumbles from my husband about having to eat turkey burgers for a fortnight’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. But as I like to argue, at least you’ll never see one of our guests scrape the bottom of the bowl.
Unfortunately, the creators of NBC’s The Voice don’t share my particular neuroses. Tuesday night’s episode — the conclusion of the show’s “Blind Audition” rounds — found the show running out of vocalists while judges Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton had yet to fill their respective eight-singer teams. And that meant a group of previously rejected contestants got to return for a second chance at making the cut.
On paper, that shouldn’t have been too much of a problem: The do-over auditions stayed true to the show’s central conceit — that its judges must turn their backs to auditioners, and decide based on singing ability alone whether to press a button and throw their hat in the ring as a potential mentor to said singer. (If no one presses the buzzer, the audition ends with all the judges turning around and offering explanations for their decisions.) My problem was this: If Christina, Blake, and Adam recognized a particular voice on its second go-around — and I’d guess they probably did — then they already had a face with which to pair it. Plus, from the corners of their eyes, they could see the reaction of fellow judge Cee Lo Green, who — with his team of eight already selected — got to face forward for the second-chance sweepstakes.
I can’t say this little glitch in the integrity of the show’s premise was an unforgivable one, but it certainly seemed unnecessary. Next time around, here’s hoping NBC stocks The Voice‘s proverbial fridge. Who’s with me?
Okay, with my griping out of the way, it’s time to rank each of the judges’ five picks from last night in rapid-fire style. (With half of the 32 singers about to get guillotined in the battle rounds, it’s too early to get overly attached). I can’t help but feel the talent pool from last week’s episode was perhaps a bit deeper, but there were nonetheless a few legit contenders who emerged in episode two. Let’s review:
1) Lily Elise: Xtina regretted passing ob her the first time, but added the husky voiced diva after her do-over audition to “If I Ain’t Got You.” That lower register had me pulling an Aguilera (aka throwing both hands in the air and shouting “woo-hoo!”).
2) Justin Grennan: Only heard a few seconds of the window installer’s “Drops of Jupter,” but it sounded kinda great, no? Lone dude on Team Xtina: Will that help or hurt him?
3) Raquel Castro: Youngest singer in the competition (she’s 16) sounded rock solid — till Xtina turned her chair around and the kid’s vocal runs crumbled like chips at the bottom of the bag. The fact that her mentor complimented her hair and overall look more than her rendition of “Bleeding Love” could be problematic?
4) Cherie Oakley: Wrote Reba’s “Turn on the Radio” (covered on Idol this season by Lauren Alaina), but not sure she had the proper breath support for her Miranda Lambert cover. Adam was right: Vocals could use more refinement.
5) Julia Eason: Wasn’t loving the tone of the 18-year-old soccer player’s voice on Duffy’s “Mercy.” Anyone else feel like Xtina’s lineup has a little too much quaver, and not quite enough power?
1) Tim Mahoney: Displayed a lot of soul on “Bring It on Home to Me”; maybe feeling like the show was his last chance at success helped propel the 38-year-old’s performance? Adam inexplicably thought he was “a chick,” and looked disappointed when he turned around. “I need a woman for my team, and sadly you have a penis.” This set up Blake for the segue of the night: “I’m not as interested in talking to you about your genetalia…”
2) Casey Weston: Second-chancer’s acoustic “Stupid Boy” started a little wobbly, but she’s got a distinctive sound that could help separate her from the pack in the early rounds.
3) Angela Wolff: Shocked no one picked her after a subtle, tender “The House That Made Me.” Even more shocked that her far less convincing ”Rolling in the Deep” got this self-described “Georgia peach with an edge” onto Team Adam. Poor man’s version of last week’s show-stopper Rebecca Loebe?
4) Devon Barley: Son of dietitian and chiropractor put his med-school dreams on hold to deliver a too-languid take on “I’m Yours.” Managed to get Cee Lo and Adam to turn their chairs, so either they heard something I didn’t, or they needed cannon fodder for the battle rounds.
5) Casey Desmond: Only heard a few seconds of the pink-haired glamster’s “Born This Way,” but wasn’t struck that her instrument was anything particularly distinctive.
Team Cee Lo
1) Nakia: Bearded, burly, unimonikered dude was appropriately gruff and didn’t seem to miss a single note of “Forget You,” even if he was coloring strictly within the lines of the original. Love how NBC doesn’t make a big dramatic backstory out of contestants being gay.
2) Curtis Grimes: I sort of liked the lazily quiet vibe the country dude brought to “Hillbilly Bone,” and sort of loved that he’s wound up with soul man Cee Lo as a mentor. Will this be chocolate and peanut butter, or Cap’n Crunch and jalapeño?
3) Niki Dawson: Adam had to punch Cee Lo’s button to get his fellow judge to say yes, but the 0.8 seconds of her voice did manage to make a positive impression.
4) Emily Valentine: Tattooed beauty with Vargas Girl vibe made it to Hollywood Week on Idol a few seasons back as Emily Wynn-Hughes. Gave a passionate rendition of “Sober,” but hit a few rough patches; later admitted to her mother she had a case of “nervous” voice.
5) Tori and Taylor Thompson: Sister act that previously had success on Fox’s 2003 Idol spinoff, American Juniors (a show I flat-out refused to watch). More memorable for their tales of raising a pig to take every summer to the county fair than for a cutesy rendition of “Stuck Like Glue” that Xtina said could’ve fit into a great bubblegum commercial.
1) Dia Frampton (pictured): Children’s author with a faint resemblance to Jessica Alba showed off a lush, distinctive tone on “Bubbly,” and performed it with restraint and great phrasing. Loved her admission she usually feels like she’s going to die the first five seconds of every performance.
2) Jared Blake: His second-chance pick of “Not Ready to Make Nice” was a far better fit than last week’s “Good Girls Go Bad.” Father of six has a meaty voice with an appealing growl, but a terrible soul patch that almost negates it.
3) Tyler Robinson: I agreed with Cee Lo that the 20-year-old who dressed from the Dalton Academy collection and copped a few of Darren Criss’s Glee moves was more solid than stellar on “Hey Soul Sister.” Way to come out to your dad on national TV, though!
4) Serabee: Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about a preacher’s daughter singing “Son of a Preacher Man.” But from the tiny snippet of her audition, I sorta liked her pronunciation of “ever” as “eyyy-vuh.” Weird, I know, but this is my brain on reality TV.
5) Sara Oromchi: “Imagine” singer was described by Carson Daly as “bashful,” and apparently the producers respected her need for privacy with a blink-and-miss-it tryout clip.
Anyway, that’s my take on this week’s contestants. What did you think of The Voice? Did the second-chance round bother you? What did you make of Adam’s put down of a certain competing series (“The people that we’re not turning our chairs around for could win American Idol: We’re looking for that extra thing, that unbelievable, mind-blowing, spectacular thing”)? And how about poor Sonia Rao, rejected twice on her decent voice, then facing the judges’ ultimate disappointment in themselves after turning around and witnessing her undeniable hotness? Sound off below in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!