It’s not every day a reality singing competition audition can make you feel like you’re about to burst with excitement when, deep down, you not only know the immediate outcome for the contestant, but also his or her long-term prognoisis.
And yet that’s exactly what happened tonight on The Voice when Blake Shelton and Adam Levine played an extended game of chicken — AKA “if you press your button, I’ll press my button!” — over Florida music teacher Karina Iglesias’s
pitch-challenged peculiar rendition of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One.”
Of course the bromancing buddies turned around at the last possible second. And of course they put on a show trying to win over the chica whose wheelchair-bound grandma was overcome with emotion from seeing Karina’s big shining moment. It doesn’t really matter if Adam’s grand plan involves using Karina as cannon fodder for a Battle Round showdown against Judith Hill or Sarah Simmons: The Voice is a series of peaks with no valleys; some of those peaks are just higher than others. (Heck, even the episode’s rejected auditioners — a former Gold-record-selling country artist, a Minnesota furniture mover playing his first public gig, and a Brazilian native who got Shakira speaking Portuguese on network television — were given some reason to smile and feel hopeful.)
Karina was part of a two-hour episode where we saw full auditions for eight Battle Round-bound singers (plus snippets of three other contestants who got at least one chair to turn). My overall impression is that we didn’t witness the eventual Season 4 champ in action — which is another way of saying last week’s episodes were significantly stronger — and thus, I’ll jump directly to a rundown of the aforementioned octet. I’ve ranked ‘em in order from least- to most-promising, and tried my best to keep my reviews down to a Twitter-esque 140 characters or less. Here we go…
8) Karina Iglesias: Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” (Team Adam) | Did some, uh, interesting things with the melody, which is another way of saying her pitch was shakier than a hairless cat in subzero temperatures. Cute vest, though!
7) The Swon Brothers: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” (Team Blake) | Bro-klahoma banter was more distinctive than their fine (but not spectacular) vocal tone. Which isn’t to say the banter couldn’t carry them a ways.
6) Warren Stone: Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather” (Team Adam) | I thought there was too much warble and not enough polish on the opening two-thirds of the tune — so imagine my surprise when everyone except Usher turned their chairs for him. Can’t discount how far his rugged good looks might take him if he survives till the voting rounds.
5) Taylor Beckham: Rose Royce’s “I’m Going Down” (Team Usher) | Usher fought much harder than Shakira for the former gymnast whose squeaky upper register made me think she could’ve used another year (or three) before bringing her act to prime time.
4) Garrett Gardner: The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” (Team Shakira) | Scored points with a creative, reggae-flavored rearrangement and a gravelly tone that prompted me to scrawl the word “werewolf” in my notes. (It made sense at the time!) Still, pitch was more a B/B- than a solid A.
3) Holly Tucker: Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” (Team Blake) | Impromptu “Amazing Grace” with her parents was stunning. Solo audition didn’t stir me quite as deeply, but college-band saxophonist sings with a ton of passion at the tender age of 19. Pretty tone, too.
2) Michelle Chamuel: Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (Team Usher) | Geeky chica brought a harder rock edge and sneaky sexual longing (not just a depressing “I did it for my boyfriend!” party-girl joke vibe) to a Katy Perry track I usually dislike. Will be interesting to see what happens if she makes the voting rounds.
1) Monique Abbadie: Shakira’s “Loca” (Team Shakira) | Loved how the former child star brought lightning tempo to the auditions while managing to showcase a big range and enviable vocal accuracy. One of the few genuine threats on Team Shakira so far.
Okay, your turn. What did you think of the third episode of The Voice Season 4? Who was your favorite? Who got a spot on a coach’s team that left you scratching your head? Who got unfairly snubbed? Take our poll below, then expand on your thoughts in the comments! And for all my reality TV recaps, interviews, news and exclusives, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!