The Voice Blind Auditions Recap: Phar-really Got a Hold on Me [Updated]

The Voice - Season 7

This just in: It might be time for Blake Shelton and Adam Levine to sit out a cycle of The Voice.

Seven seasons in, the show has unearthed a coach so sincere, so charming, so deeply and beautifully connected to the music, that it’s hard to imagine any sane contestant from any genre not gravitating toward him. I speak, of course, of Pharrell Williams, and thanks to my penchant for live-Tweeting reality competition series, I know I’m not alone.

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In fact, the crazy-beautiful @jaykayort shared during tonight’s second episode of the Season 7 Blind Auditions that Pharrell is “so perfect,” and “every word he says is so convincing” that if he told her to burn down her house, she’d surround her house with kindling and a light patina of kerosene and burn that mother down. (See evidence below.)

Yes, one might think the man who brought us “Happy” — and “She Wants to Move,” among many other underappreciated gems — is poised to become Season 7’s breakout star, except for the fact that he seems far more interested in the prospects of the contestants in front of him.

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Before this recap turns into the “Pharrell Williams Superfan URL,” however, let’s count down the eight hopefuls who advanced to the Season 7 Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising:

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8. Joe Kirk, “Lego House” (Team Adam) |
A gorgeous head of hair does not a viable pop-star make. (OK, yeah, it does in the soulless world of major labels, but we can do better Voice addicts!)

7. Sugar Joans, “Chain of Fools” (Team Gwen) | I liked that Gwen said she wanted to bring out the personality in Sugar’s generic soul-chick vocal stylings, because while she possessed pitch and power, her Aretha cover was ultimately as generic as store-brand mac-and-cheese.

6. Menlik Zergabachew, “Santeria” (Team Gwen) | Confession: The dad in me had a really hard time getting past the “I dropped out of HIGH SCHOOL” to gig around as a musician. (¡Ay dios mio!) But the handsome kid’s languid reggae delivery was enjoyable, even if it lacked in the dynamics department.

5. Reagan James, “Give Me Love” (Team Blake) |
Gack! How is this poised, professional vocalist only 15 years old? Still, while Reagan had major charisma and stage presence, her voice got a wee bit shaky on the big notes. I can forgive that if it was high-school sophomore nerves, but my gut says maybe she needed another year or two to be truly prepared for the brutality of the Battle Rounds.

4. Taylor Brashears, “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” (Team Blake) |
Taylor’s speak-sing twang and conversational delivery aren’t the usual tools for a reality singing competition champ — nor was her description of her face as prettier than her brother’s — but I liked her authentic connection to classic country, and the hand-on-hip confidence of her delivery. Is it crazy, though, that I think she might have fared better on Team Pharrell? I mean, dude dropped a Barbara Mandrell reference, for cryin’ out loud!

3. Taylor Phelan, “Sweater Weather” (Team Pharrell) |
Pharrell’s note that Taylor was “so melodically articulate” was bone-chillingly true. The dude took interesting liberties with the tone and tempo of his modern-rock cover and somehow made it all his own without a hint of Frankensteinian DNA alterations. He’s kind of like American Idol’s Alex Preston – without the nagging stage-presence issues.

2. Danica Shirey, “Big White Room” (Team Pharrell) | I winced a little at Gwen’s lobbying that she could help the supple-voiced Danica with her styling and overall look — maybe because there was a glaring truth to the fact that on voice alone, there’s no reason she shouldn’t already have a major label deal. Still, the slinky, soulful, sexy nuance of her phrasing, the way she chose to caress notes rather than brutalize them, makes me think she and Pharrell could be a very very very powerful pairing.

1. Maiya Sykes, “Stay With Me” (Team Pharrell) | Yes, Maiya’s backstory — “She’s not my burden, she’s my mom” — made me go a little misty, but it was her ability to unzip Sam Smith’s modern soul classic, step inside it, and completely inhabit it that got me truly excited. For a woman who’s spent years on California’s Armenian Wedding Circuit, Maiya has very few cheesy affectations. And while she lost a bit of control on the big notes, isn’t that what the song ultimately requires?

On that note, then I pass the mic to you. Who were your favorites from Season 7 Episode 2? Are you as obsessed with Pharrell as I am? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!

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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69 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Taylor Phelan stole the show tonight. Feel in love with the guy. I expect see him with the highest iTunes ranking not only of tonight, but last night as well. Breakout star.

    • Tiff says:

      Agreed. He’s an incredibly talented vocalist and it’s obvious that he knows how to change up a song. Very, very strong.

      That said, I also thought Maiya Sykes was pretty good, too.

      But agree with Slezak that Pharrell is the best. Every time he turns around, I just yell, “Pick Pharrell!”

    • Elisabeth says:

      Taylor was my favorite tonight! His voice was amazing! Also, love Pharrell, he is awesome! And I love seeing Adam keep losing the four chair turns. The only artist I didn’t really like, although her voice was technically very good was Danica, and that’s only because she did a straight cover. She changed nothing about the cover she did from Jessie J. They kept praising her for the runs and control of her voice, which is very good, but it was just a straight cover. Jessie J did it first, and she’s just brilliant, and nothing can beat that. I wish Danica had made it a little more her own. Her voice is good, but she needs to make it more her own.

    • DL says:

      I agree. Not only did he sound great, with so much nuance in his voice, but his performance was so professional. I completely felt what Gwen said, that I forgot I was watching The Voice, and felt like I was watching him live in concert.

    • Jenny says:

      At the moment he does, at #49 on the iTunes chart (James David Carter is next, at #59). I liked him but wasn’t blown away. He falls very much in the WGWG box that we’ve seen for years on Idol, XF and The Voice. I didn’t see anything different from him that I haven’t seen many times before. I am interested to see more from him and he was my favorite from last night. But way too soon to say “breakout star”

    • Viajero says:

      Completely agree. Best of the season so far.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I didn’t love Taylor Phelan. The song sounded ok and I like what he did with it stylistically, but I have very little patience for that sheep vibrato, which only comes from improper vocal technique. Maybe he was nervous and that’s why it was happening? I’ll go into his next performance with an open mind and reassess the situation.

  2. Chris says:

    I feel like I’m the only one, but I thought Maiya Sykes was not good at all. I love that song and clearly she has a great voice, but it seemed overbaked and the ending was a bit brutal.

  3. kk3thess says:

    How can I choose 3 if the poll don’t let me? (The 3 would be Taylor Phelan – a lot of Taylors this season – Maiya and Menlik)

  4. Quinn Carson says:

    It’s hard to cover Stay With Me and not make it good. It’s not that I love the song particularly, it’s just easy to connect with the lyrics and add in a vocal run and trick when necessary. That said, Maiya was INCREDIBLE. Even for a not-so-risky song choice, she absolutely nailed it, her runs were unbelievable. Even better than Josh’s version, definitely.

  5. Evan says:

    Maiya, Taylor P, and Danica easily. I love Maiya already, and with Pharrell as her coach, I have absolute faith. And yes, shared sentiments about Pharrell. I hate “Happy,” but I love him here. I’d easily pick him as my coach.

  6. Kaba says:

    Watching Pharrell effortlessly make Adam’s words sound more insincere than they already are is probably going to become a past time for me.
    He’s so contestant oriented and has not once tried to make anything about himself, rather, what he can do for them to make them shine.
    Maybe they should just give us a panel of Producers next season, cause that’s the magic right there.
    His team is going to be a behemoth if he keeps this up. He opens his mouth and they literally flock to him. So far any combination of 3 from his 5 are, as a unit, infinitely stronger than any 3 the coaches can currently produce.

    • Amy says:

      You’ve expressed my feelings on the clear contrast between Adam and Pharrell perfectly. So glad the contestants are finally seeing through his BS this season

  7. Davey says:

    Maiya sang Stay with Me well but Josh Kaufman’s version was more soulful.

  8. JW says:

    Adam’s incessant harping on his competitiveness is not a positive. He should focus more on the artists and what he both sees in them and how he can help them. Pharrell’s responses to the singers have been incredible, including that amazing interaction with last night’s late-show rejectee. No one has been rejected with such grace and received it with such joy. Tonight, by the way, that trill from Danica Shirey was pure creative beautiful genius.

  9. Kimmie says:

    I’d probably leave my husband (if I had one) if Pharrell told me.
    Eloquent man.

  10. Jeff Marley says:

    This is my rankings from tonight

    1.) Maiya Sykes
    2.) Danica Shirley
    3.) Taylor phelan
    4.) Reagan James
    5.) Sugar Jones
    6.) Menlik Z.
    7.) Taylor Brashears
    8.) Joe Kirk

    (Just In My Opinion)

    • Kaba says:

      I’m pretty sure everyone agrees with at least any combination of the 1st 3, then do what you’d like with the other 5 for all I care.
      Though I like that Menlik guy a good bit, he could be a dark horse if Gwen does him right.

  11. Angie_Overrated says:

    Hmmm… didn’t love tonight. There were a lot of nice voices but I did not see a potential winner in this lot. Hard to tell from just one song, but I’m not seeing it yet.

    • Chris says:

      I think Taylor Phelan could have a real shot!

    • Tom22 says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you on the “winnner” of the show thing but I do want to say somewhere in the thread that I enjoyed the show and all 8 performances. They were all pleasant and professional.. the band and singers were polished. It was good musical entertainment and musical entertainment comes before the contest part of the show for me.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I don’t disagree with a word you said. Even the guy who sang Lego House was really good. I liked everyone who made it to the next round, but I don’t necessarily see bright futures for them in the remainder of the competition. Reagan in particular looks like a candidate ripe for a crash and burn.

  12. Kimmie says:

    Of all the coaches so far, a dream team of Pharrell, Usher, Christina, and (don’t shoot me, we need comedy here folks) Blake would be the utmost ideal.
    Maybe Adam can take a break, Usher can retract his statement about not returning for s8 and Gwen (love her energy, not impressed with her competence as a coach so far) can just…come back s9 or something.

  13. CKK says:

    Pharrell is just building up that good will so he can waste it all on a Robin Thicke guest mentor appearance. JK…I hope.

  14. Rowan says:

    Taylor Phelan did it for me tonight. I loved his energy. He reminded me of Kris Allen with his presence and his voice reminded me of the front man of The Fray. I think he knows where he wants to be as an artist. I loved Maiya’s personality, but I think she’s overrated. We’ve seen powerhouse vocalists on this show and I don’t think she’ll live up to Tessanne or Sisaundra.
    Pharrell’s team is looking so solid right now. He’s so sincere and his career is just. Everything he touches turns to gold (Blurred Lines, Get Lucky, Happy) all within a year. The Voice was so lucky to get him on the show.

    • Tiff says:

      Not to mention hits as a Neptunes producer – I’m a Slave 4 U, Boys, Hot in Herre…I think a big part of the reason why he’s working so well is because he IS a producer, and he understands and loves a lot of genres of music. It’s clear that he also understands how to nurture talent much better than the other coaches. I loved when he said that he hadn’t mentioned any of his labels – because he’s too busy focusing on the actual people in front of him.

      I fully agree with you on Taylor Phelan – that guy will go far and he knows who he is. Maiya is a good singer, but I agree with you that powerhouse vocalists have it rough on this show…you need to show a lot of creativity. I do think, however, that Maiya’s background in music composition should help her in taking risks.

    • nurul says:

      You took the words out of my mouth.
      Taylor Phelan was great. He has the voice and is very good in stage presence. I love his version better than the original. And Maiya was okay. Stay With Me is a great song and I just can’t run away from the original version of the song.

  15. Robin says:

    I’ve never seen this show, but after this recap, I’ll check it out!

  16. Angie_Overrated says:

    I’m curious to know if Gwen Stefani has any awareness that saying “you already have the voice, but what I can help you with is the look. I just want to turn back around and continue listening to you sing!” is not actually a compliment.

    • sheba says:

      I think she’s thinking that she’s communicating to them specifically how she can help them grow as artists. Unfortunately, often people don’t really want to hear what they need to do to improve, they just want to hear that they’re great. Gwen’s diagnoses have usually been spot-on, and pretty gentle, but she’d probably be better off keeping them to herself, especially since no one else on the panel is giving such honest feedback.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I’m not sure focusing on makeovers and indirectly slamming their looks is helping them grow as artists. I fully understand that looks matter in this business, but it seems pretty disingenuous for her to be so blatant about it on a show that prides itself for being about “the voice” and even makes the auditions blind.
        Not saying I hate her. I love her! But her pitch to contestants is a bit thoughtless and haphazard.

    • analythinker says:

      All I could think of during her pitch was “Why would you want to focus on my fashion style? I came here so people could judge me for my voice.”

  17. HTGR says:

    You have Reagan way to low!
    Yeah, yeah slightly forced on the loudest high note, whatever. Did you not hear the rest?

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      You liked Reagan? I didn’t quite understand Reagan. Not the best voice but it was an interesting sound. She reminded me a bit of Bjork oddly enough. I’ll reserve judgment for her next round. I honestly don’t know where I stood on her after her audition tonight.

  18. Taylor Phelan was the best. Danica or Maiya were decent.

  19. NotSo says:

    If Gwen Stefani feels the need to tell me yet one more time that she’s was in a band at 17, my ears will start to bleed

    • Kaba says:

      Impressive they aren’t bleeding from hearing Adam’s typical shtick, along with Blakes too.

      • analythinker says:

        I’ll give credit that Adam (probably more than Blake) use many variations throughout seven seasons. I heard very similar thing from Gwen in just two episodes.

      • CantWait says:

        I’m thinking that Stefani annoys me more because at least adam and blake spread it out at least. Stefani is just lather rise repeat. And we’re still wondering why she felt the need to tell Maiya about how much she could help her with her apparently much needed (in stefani’s mind) makeover. That was a true WTF moment

    • Sara says:

      I think she is just trying to reiterate that she understands where the younger artists are coming from and also pointing out that she has been working for over 25 years in the music business. I don’t really mind it at all.

      • MC says:

        Exactly. I’ll bet that she would “annoy” some folks even if she chose every word perfectly. The females judges and coaches are always the ones who are the most overly scrutinized on these talent shows.

  20. analythinker says:

    It’ll be interesting which of Pharrell’s team (plural) will get stolen in the coming weeks.

  21. Ok I liked female Taylor and male Taylor (forgot their names and then found out they are both Taylor, and Maiya, and for sure the little 15 year old Reagen that blake got on his team,. Pretty good night tonight!

    • Chris says:

      We’ve had 3 Taylors in only 2 nights!
      Taylor Phelan, Taylor Brashears, and Taylor John Williams.
      Jeez…

    • Jill Moy says:

      BECCA,

      Left you a comment after first day of The Voice. Please go back to the 1st day’s show, where I answered one of your comments. Good to see you out here.

      I did see a performance on You Tube of some skinny female sounding singer, black, who was awful and should be in the circus. I think it was from the first episode. Where do they get this talent, from Rising Star leftovers…LOL?????? I don’t watch The voice but I hope there is some good talent on it.

      Take Care!

  22. Coal says:

    The Voice is probably NBC’s best sitcom.

  23. WL says:

    Michael? You are slipping in my estimation, if you don’t think Danica was the most interesting vocalist last night. Sure, a lot of great voices but Danica’s vocalization – the interp of the song was stellar in my ear.

    • Ashley says:

      YouTube the original version. Danica essentially copied it. Big White Room was only ever a live release, never studio. Everything Danica did was a karaoke version of Jessie J.

      • Jeff Marley says:

        I’m so sorry, but I strongly disagree. I felt Danicas Runs were precise and her voice is just beautiful but REALLY POWERFUL!!! Although I truly respect your opinion.

  24. OhMy says:

    Not a gret night, but early in the rounds so one hopes they are saving the talent.

  25. analythinker says:

    I had to listen to my Jessie J’s Big White Room and gotta say… Danica’s tone pleased my ears more.

  26. Just sayin says:

    If anyone is going to make a star out of the eventual winner it’ll be Pharrell. He’s been producing hits for years, and nobody knows what resonates with people more.

  27. COLTON says:

    Taylor Phelan , the best in the night, Danica Shirey and then Reagan James

  28. Viajero says:

    Team Pharrell really is stacked. He got the top 3 of the night according to your poll, plus a couple of really good people from Monday night. Anyway, this is my ranking for this second episode (from best to worst):

    1. Taylor Phelan
    2. Maiya Sykes
    3. Reagan James
    4. Joe Kirk
    5. Danica Shirey
    6. Sugar Joans
    7. Taylor Brashears
    8. Menlik Zergabachew

  29. mara says:

    I hope Pharrell allows his brain to be studied and be genetically cloned. He MUST live on!

  30. Chris says:

    Are you doing Reality Check for the Voice Season 7 this year/semester?

  31. JVee says:

    Michael – would love for you to comment on the singers NOT chosen, too!

  32. Tom22 says:

    @Michael I love Your positive comments about Pharrel. They will really help other judges on all the shows to listen to him again and step up their game ! (I hope : ) ) . I also think he was spot on and really helped the contestants know what they were doing right, encouraged those that he did not turn for to work on specific things or to keep singing even if he subtlely inferred by ommision where exactly he could have hoped for something more unique that it takes to stand out in such a industry full of talent of that can sing strongly on pitch.. .it takes more and he expressed it with more than general banalities without overwhelming with technical talk.
    .
    As for the show(my general 2cents to all), I really enjoyed both nights. As I’ve commented many times I enjoy these shows really for the competition element but as much for their musical entertainment and upbeat variety show comedy(I’m one that likes the judge banter when it doesn’t get too repetitive).
    .
    I haven’t really answered to myself why exactly I enjoy undiscoverd pros(yes they almost all have had years of earning money singing on The Voice.. which is ok with me as long as we know that upfront) instead of actual professionals.. maybe for one because there aren’t weekly shows of professionals singing songs without gaudy back sets and just simply singing us songs instead of marketing an album(which in some sublte way comes out emotionally in their renditions). So while I’m not in it for the competition I am in it to hear people who love singing looking for a shot.
    .
    I thought the band, musical director and contestants managed to pick out songs and arange/accompany in way that highlighted the contestants voices. Certainly they’ll cover things that have been done before often, but often and “3 billions times” are starkly different. You’ve done a great job at calling the producers on that aspect on idol especially and I think you helped them take notice. I hope they will continue and encourage Maiya not to do too many overdone songs as stay with me was slightly on the edge of that category, especially when sung fairly straight. Just hoping for the future not criticizing for one night alone.

  33. Jeff Marley says:

    I am praying and begging that pharrel keeps both Maiya and Danica!!! :)