The Voice: Dull Encounters of the Fourth Blind

the-voice-blind-auditions-audrey-karraschEpisode 4 of The Voice‘s Season 4 Blind Auditions reminded me of one of those John Denver AM radio hits that provided the soundtrack to my grade-school years: “Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.”

That lyric definitely applies to the tryout rounds for NBC’s smash-hit singing competition: Sometimes the potential talent is staggering, and sometimes the proceedings feel all too pedestrian.

Tonight’s installment, alas, fell into the latter category. With only one contestant proving she might be on par with last week’s buzz-worthy vocalists, the whole hour fell into a predictable pattern of Carson Daly voiceovers and carefully edited judges’ banter: “Coming up…on The Voice. A fairly lengthy preview of what you’re going to see after the commercial break!” “Welcome back to The Voice! Let’s review what happened before the break!” Now we’ll cut to Shakira being adorable! “Never underestimate a 5’3″ Colombian girl!” (Okay, Shakira being adorable never gets old.)

Considering this hour won’t qualify for the Voice history books, let’s go directly to a rundown of the five Battle Rounds-bound contestants. (Me? I’d have turned for Minnesota street musician Betsy Barta, who maybe overshot by choosing an Adele song, but was more on pitch — and had a more pleasing tone — than a couple of the cannon-fodder types who advanced tonight.) Anyhow, back to the successful quintet, 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…

5) Orlando Dixon: Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” (Team Usher) | He had a nice enough voice, I guess, but for a voice major at Berklee, I thought he lacked the horsepower to be a true contender. Usher needs fodder for the Battle Rounds, though, I suppose.

4) Brandon Roush: The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” (Team Shakira) | Long-haired Louisville native who teaches music to autistic kids hit his notes, but emotionally, it felt a little community theater musical, no?

3) Patrick Dodd: Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” (Team Adam) | As Adam said, dude really does have a “density of rasp” that’s appealing, but with the exception of a few bluesy runs toward the end, it was all a little too carbon-copy of the original. It does, however, give me an excuse to link to Cher’s legendary video for her cover of the song.

2) Savannah Perry: Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound” (Team Blake) | The gorgeous break in her voice reminded me a little of Heather Nova, and while the 17-year-old seemed sweet and focused on her craft, I wonder if in a few weeks we’ll have wished she waited another two or three years to audition.

1) Audrey Karrasch: Jessie J’s “Price Tag” (Team Usher) | My ears detected a handful of flat notes toward the end, but she served her dish with enough sassy sauce that it didn’t really matter. Her courage to go full-on uptempo — and to dismiss Adam with a hilarious, “You didn’t even turn around: Why do you care?” — has me wondering what she’ll do next.

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the fourth episode of The Voice Season 4? Who was your favorite? Which coach is building the strongest team? 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!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kate says:

    A Heather Nova shoutout in 2013? Slezak, you are my everything.

  2. Jake says:

    Really liked Patrick. Also enjoyed Brandon. Liked Audrey’s voice, but wasn’t quite digging the personality (yet). I am probably (read: definitely) in the minority, but I found Savannah’s performance to be grating and not really that great. Orlando has no shot, unless Usher really does work some magic and gives him one heck of an “improvement” trajectory. Wasn’t really too sad to see any of the eliminees go. Last night >>> Tonight.

  3. forwarddad says:

    Ugh Audrey….Just ugh…..

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      Oh come on, she was hilarious. Some real personality there. Gotta love it!

      • forwarddad says:

        Audrey’s personality was all scripted. The beautiful swan with no self confidence, please.

        • HitTheGroundRunning says:

          You got that backwards, if anything, the personality is real. Maybe part of the backstory was scripted? (I ran out of the room for a minute so I missed part of her back story, but what I saw didn’t seem to be saying that she was lacking in confidence. It said that she had gone into modelling, because disillusioned with that all and was now super happy to be doing singing and that she was hoping to get a chair to turn without someone looking at her first.)

  4. rwfblog says:

    I agree; tonight’s show was a little underwhelming. I still like The Voice better than this season’s American Idol, though. The best thing tonight was no one had to tell Lazaro how “brave” he was.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Yup, last night was a snore. Yup, it’s still better than Idol.

    • allie says:

      Just about to post the same thing. All of these contestants, even the cannon fodder, are still better than the contestants on Idol this year. But you know what I loved about last night? I laughed through the whole thing because the judges are hilarious and really like each other. Idol’s lack of chemistry…and downright hostility at times between the divas – is painful.

  5. mia says:

    Is it wrong that I tune in *for* the carefully edited judges banter :P. Its great when there’s actual talent and charismatic contestants, but I love the banter. And Shakira has just made it even better.

    • asta says:

      I turn on just for the banter, could care less for the actual contest. And of course to watch Usher do his little dance. LOVE LOVE Shakira. Just great chemistry. Please stay and don’t let Xtina back.

    • PepperJo says:

      Yep, one of the best (the best?) highlights of this show are these judges banter! I actually always stop FF just to see/hear what they say to one another. :) Such chemistry there, respect, and they just seem like they’re having a really good time together. Just fun to watch. (Unlike the other two singing competitions which seem to feel that disrespect for one another, not liking one another, bickering (not in a joking/mutual respect way) etc. is entertaining. Trust us, it’s so not.)

      • Lee says:

        Agree! I detect HUGE tension between Mariah and Nicki. I don’t feel any tension among the Voice’s judges this season. I hope Usher and Shakira stay.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      I love the banter. Love Shakira. Surprised that Usher has a personality and it’s adorable. This panel is still the best.

      • Trent says:

        Completely agree — this panel’s chemistry is fantastic and I laughed throughout yesterday’s show. However, I have to disagree with Slezak’s harsh opinion of the singers. I really enjoyed Savannah’s haunting version of “Safe & Sound,” thought Patrick Dodd had a wonderful voice and real soul (Cee Lo would have loved him), and couldn’t believe that only Shakira turned around for Brandon Roush. How can he be only 19 years old with that voice?

        Overall, some really strong singers last night, IMO, and I howled when Audrey cut Blake off and said “okay Usher, let’s do this”….

  6. HitTheGroundRunning says:

    dang it, whenever someone is really great they just go Adam, Adam, Adam over Shakira (unless they are country and then they go Blake). How many tops can be on one team?

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Exactly. This is why I rant about contestants not knowing the history of the show. If there are two divas – they are always pitted against each other to get rid of one. If there are clear winners on a team, then other contestants are just fodder, and so on… It is now a strategical mistake to pick Adam automatically, IMO. Adam also has a history of getting rid of anyone who isn’t a cute pixie – ie, if you are a little pudgy or over 30 – you should probably reconsider picking Adam.

      • Meres says:

        We have to remember that we are seeing the edited version of the show. Many of the contestants don’t know who has chosen which coach before them. Filming isn’t done in order or on the same day, as you can tell by Shakira’s hair, so contestants don’t have the option of thinking about making strategic decisions. It’s not like they can ask a coach, “so have you already picked someone like me for your team?” Would be very surprised if someone ever did that though!

    • allie says:

      hopefully they will still have the steal this season during the battle rounds – that’s the only way some of these teams will even out.

  7. HitTheGroundRunning says:

    Loved Audrey’s fire! Awesome. Haha. I think she might actually have been better off going with Blake though, but we will see.

  8. Sara says:

    I am so excited for the Heather Nova shout-out here! I am going to go pull out my Siren album right now.

  9. Kristoffer says:

    Didn’t Michael do videos with Melinda Doolittle last year about the Voice along with American Idol? I want to see them discuss The Voice!

    • MB says:

      Yes they did Reality Check. It was a combination of the Voice and Xfactor. But Idol was not on and that is Michael’s main gig. I can’t see him mixing Idol and The Voice together.

    • dan says:

      I miss that. They should add the Voice in again, because … Idol is underwhelming.

    • Kristoffer says:

      Well hopefully they will start doing one about The Voice. Michael? How about it?

    • Mafs95 says:

      Maybe they’ll do when the live shows begin? I’d love to watch reviews from The Voice but Slezak has a lot of work and it’s not easy to make 2 shows at the same time.

  10. MB says:

    I think I am getting burned out with rhe reality singing shows. Between Idol and The Voice I am totally bored. I think what bothers me with The Voice the coaches fight to get people on their team and practically beg when you know once the battle rounds come around they will throw half their team away with a blink of an eye. So I listen to the begging and it just turns me off. There maybe a small handful that are worth all the noise but most are not and it feels kind of fake.

    • Kristoffer says:

      I agree that the battle rounds does knock a lot of good folks out of the running before they even really get started. I would rather see all of them sing so we get a good vibe of what they are about – then maybe do a battle round and have the viewers vote on who stays and who goes at least.

      I haven’t heard them mention it this year – but are they doing ‘steals’ again this year?

    • syb says:

      Yeah, that insight came to me last week when watching them pointlessly duke it out for someone I feel pretty sure has an early expiration date. There’s some interesting enough talent on the show, the mentors are charismatic, but this show is so contrived it makes Idol seem extemporaneous. There are so many different rounds and rules, and are we rooting for singer or coach? It loses it’s appeal for me when the auditions are over pretty much. I’ll dvr FF through it to hear a few performances after that, but a nice simple singing contest would be preferable to me.

  11. Aria says:

    I love “The Voice” over “Idol” by miles, but Usher has turned out to be a real dud of a judge/mentor. I thought going in that Shakira would falter, but she’s been awesome. Usher never really seems genuine, he’s always got his foot up like he doesn’t really care, and he seems to be on a high horse a bit (which makes sense, since he’s one of the superstar judges, but the other three don’t act that way). Hopefully we’re only getting this impression during the pre-taped shows. Maybe he’s more animated and invested, but the editors have just cut those parts out thus far.

    • Kristoffer says:

      Really? I don’t get that vibe from Usher. So far I have thought he seemed more, or at least as invested as Cee Lo ever did. I have gotten the vibe that he is just very laid back. And as for Shakira I am surprised at how much I like her. I was never really into her music but I have really liked her as a judge so far. You can tell she is much more relaxed and at ease than she seemed to be on the first episode.

      • MC says:

        I’m not sure that Cee Lo (except for turning on Amanda’s audition) set a very high standard to match. Usher is at least reasonably articulate (unlike Cee Lo).

        • HitTheGroundRunning says:

          Cee Lo had like the best singer the first two seasons and, as you mentioned, was the only one that even got us the best for last season. He was also the only one to have turned his chair for all of the top few last season.

          • MC says:

            I didn’t see the first season. I know he has good musical instincts and genuinely enjoys music, but many people in the industry have those qualities. I was embarrassed for him when he misused words and expressed himself poorly and/or very hesitantly. Randy Jackson has taken a huge amount of heat over the years for his communication skills, but Cee Lo is much worse imo.

    • waterbug says:

      Wow…I don’t get that impression at all from him. He appears genuine, witty and light-hearted. I love him as a coach. I think he compliments the show perfectly.

    • Annie says:

      I mostly agree with you re Shakira and Usher. Shakira seems to be REALLY REALLY listening to the voice during each performance. Usher seems to be trying to guess what the singer’s type is rather than taking the voice for what it is… and he also hesitates until he sees what the other judges are doing in many cases. I prefer Shakira and think she’s more genuine.

  12. Karan says:

    Seriously dude, no dissing the Denver!

  13. Angel says:

    Didn’t really like anyone on tonight’s episode – the girl who did Safe and Sound was pretty good if I had to pick . . .

    But I am loving Shakira though :p She’s awesome !

  14. Debbie says:

    Savannah is excellent however so much for “blind auditions” As Blake would say “bullcrap”…Blake let it slip that she is 17 when this didn’t come up at all during their discussion on the show except in the preview video. Wonder how Blake knew…hmmm

    • dan says:

      It’s edited, I’m sure we don’t hear everything the coaches say to the contestants, though I do love a good conspiracy theory.

    • Jacob says:

      He probably knew because she told him “I’m 17” when they asked for her age, and that part was edited out. Sloppy editing, that’s all. You know these post-performance discussions sometimes go on for 10-15 minutes if they’re really into it.

  15. Spycigal says:

    Thanks for the Cher link, she was awesome!

  16. Blake Shelton finding a different award in his chair during the proceedings never gets old.

  17. Jane says:

    The best season, IMO! I hate to say this, but the judges is what makes this show amazing. The chemistry, the banter, judges being competitive, Shakira being spicy, and Adam continious flirtation with Shakira lol.

  18. Renee says:

    I am hooked! I watched maybe two episodes of the “other” show and that was when Kelly Clarkson was on. Love the judge’s how its handled etc can’t wait to watch more just me and my daughter time and the only other TV I watch is greys anatomy!

  19. Davey says:

    Well there may have been lesser singers on tonight’s episode but they are seemed to have more personality than anyone on Idol this year. Blake’s team has too many country singers. I really hope a country singer does not win The Voice this year.

    • Sookie says:

      They seem to have brought in a lot of country singers this year and it is a little unfair to Blake. He likes to have a variety of singers on his team but if a country singer gets up there he is pressured to turn around and then the singer automatically picks him.

  20. Timmah says:

    I didn’t like the Price Tag girl at all. I would have picked the street musician over her.

  21. I think the review was a bit harsh , the show highlighted some good singers, and for those of us that watched Idol we know that a lot can happen as a singer has a chance to mature during these shows.
    I so much enjoy a show where every one is treated with respect.

  22. Lois Benton says:

    Patrick Dodd screwed himself by picking Adam. Every year, Adam has the strongest team. Adam is not afraid to turn early for a beautiful voice, and so many contestants fall into his alt-rock groove, and therefore pick him as a coach. And every year,potential finalists turn into Adam-cannon fodder before the audience has a chance to vote. Patrick Dodd wasn’t smart. Brandon Roush was lucky, like Nicholas David last Season. Only one coach turned, and it wasn’t Adam or Blake, but his tone is unique and very interesting. He has a shot, mainly because he’s on team Shakira and not Team Adam, where even the very mighty fall. Shakira and Usher may not have, so far, drawn the most promising contestants to their lair, they both still have some very promising interesting ones, and Shakira and Usher are very, very charming. Watch out, Blake and Adam!

  23. Didi says:

    I never knew much about Shakira (not my style of music), but wow, she is a pleasant surprise as judge. She is doing a fantastic job so far and seems to have a totally charming personality.

  24. Jen says:

    All the country artists that automatically pick Blake aren’t doing themselves any favors. They do realize they have to go up against each other in the battle rounds, right? Better to have the different genres spread out among the judges. Like the majority of the comments here, I too enjoy the banter and friendship between the judges, unlike Idol where they neither speak or look at each other.

  25. ES says:

    Loving Shakira as a judge so far. I thought Brandon Roush was better than you’re giving him credit for, Slezak… on my personal ranking I have him fourth after Sarah Simmons, Judith Hill and Michelle Chamuel. Fantastic tone.

    • lyn says:

      I thought Brandon was trying too hard to reach the Bon Jovi cover of that song, which doesn’t work without the harmonies. And he totally failed trying to screech like Steven Tyler on Aerosmith’s version.
      Totally loved Savannah’s voice. She reminded me of Linda Ronstadt’s version of Blue Bayou. And IMO the world could use a new Linda Ronstadt.

    • Lois Benton says:

      I also like Brandon Rush’s voice. I think I liked him the best of the night. He and Patrick Dodd have that raspy kind of voice, but I like Brandon’s voice better. And, of course, Patrick Dodd did himself in by picking Adam.

      • BrazenSongBird says:

        I did like Brandon’s voice, but, to me, his musicality was little off. Still I would have turned my chair for him and introduced him to the concept of “over-egging the pudding”.

  26. Anna says:

    I thought Audrey was no better than ok. I liked her calling out Adam, though.

    Savannah was easily the best of the night. I liked Brandon and Patrick’s voices but neither guy showed a ton of originality.

  27. tnsmoke says:

    Whoever at NBC who picked Shakira as a coach deserves a bonus! That person was very smart, considering Latino’s are the fastest growing segment in America today! Good for The Voice to open their arms to the talent in this field, which has a long history and a solid fan base that buys their music. I think Shakira can win this. Adam always starts off with a winning team but then makes bone head song choices and cuts loose stellar singers in favor of quarky ones, which you either love or hate. I hated Melanie Marshall. Blake does cut loose some country singers but he stands by singers with a CLEAR vision, like Terry McDermott. Least we forget Blake had both the winner and the runner up last season.

  28. I don’t get it. Why so down on The Voice? Idol gets all kind of praise even when they butcher (and I mean butcher) The Beatles (that is when the poor contestants even they know who they are) and The Voice is constantly being attacked for not reinventing every cover in the book. Missing notes and entire melodies isn’t actually making it your own, it is messing up.

  29. Sg. Grant says:

    Please don’t bring Christina and Cee Lo back.

  30. Maris says:

    I really liked Besty Barta, that song she sang ~in the street was flawless, I agree that the only thing she might’ve done wrong was choosing an Adele song, but I love her voice and I’d buy her album in a second

  31. Fernando says:

    I wish Michael would do Reality Check again. The Voice is so much better than AI.

  32. Volcfom says:

    Patrick will be referred to as Val Kilmer from here on out. Uncanny! I think he goes up one ranking just for that.