The Voice Recap: Ear Factor [Updated]

You know when your restaurant table has a wobbly leg and the waiter promises to fix it, but no amount of wadded-up napkins or coasters or old baguette can seem to even things out? That’s kind of how I felt about most of the performances from Night 3 of The Voice‘s Season 7 Blind Auditions.

Something was amiss — and not just with the ears of our four coaches, who turned their chairs with the brazen indiscriminateness of Golden Retrievers snatching dropped foodstuffs from a toddler’s high chair.

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Too many runaway runs were rewarded, too many swallowed words were ignored, too many crimes against intonation were left unpunished. But then again, considering the carnage to come in the Battle Rounds, maybe Blake, Adam, Pharrell and Gwen took advantage of the two-for-one sale on cannon fodder.

Which isn’t to say we didn’t get one or two happening hopefuls. That reggae returnee was sublime, and the wannabe comedian who got only Gwen to turn was better than I’d expected he’d be. So without further ado, let’s count down the nine vocalists who advanced tonight to the Season 7 Battle Rounds — in order from least- to most-promising.

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9. Jessie Pitts, “The Story” (Team Gwen) | Blake compared her voice to a bowl of Lucky Charms (marshmallows only). But Jessie’s off-putting melodic choices and stilted phrasing pegged her as a Caroline Pennell knockoff moreso than an artist who’s destined for the live shows.

8. Blessing Offor, “Just the Two of Us” (Team Pharrell) |
No doubt, Blessing’s got charisma — and his positivity in the face of losing all vision at age 11 is inspiring. But there were moments in the opening two-thirds of his audition where I legitimately couldn’t tell if he was attempting some kind of experimental jazz riffing or if he’d just lost control of the tempo and melody. By the time he finished, I was pretty sure it was the latter.

7. Ricky Manning, “Love Me Again” (Team Pharrell) | I have all the trust in the world in Pharrell, so I’m going to assume I missed something when Ricky’s voice struck me as thin and indistinct. Ricky’s lack of breath support on the verses, however, is a certainty that cannot be denied.

6. Mia Pfirrman, “Unconditionally” (Team Adam) |
Fits the “Generic Diva Belter” profile that never who’ll probably get booted on the first night of public voting. Yeah, she hit some really impressive notes on Katy Perry’s least interesting ditty, but there was zero personality in her delivery — and the hard ‘R’ sound she made on words like “yourrrrr haaarrrrrrrt” was supremely vexing.

5. Kelli Douglas, “Danny’s Song” (Team Adam) | Gwen was right that Loggins and Messina’s ’70s-era folkie — a big moment for The Swon Brothers in Season 4 — was an interesting, unexpected choice for Kelli. But the uncontrollable nerves that threw off her pitch in the opening verse never really subsided — making her eventual three-chair turn a head-scratcher, despite an undeniably pretty tone.

4. John Martin, “Sweet Pea” (Team Blake) | Forklift operator by day, but with a face so pretty and a swoop of hair so perfect it’d make Harry Styles envious. Alas, though, John’s choice and delivery of “Sweet Pea” was so twee, so clearly calculated to melt hearts and influence future voting patterns, that it lacked a certain sense of authenticity and connectedness. He’s not a bad singer, and his falsetto flourishes were solid, but I can’t say I’d be crushed if he was eliminated montage-style in the Battles.

3. Bree Fondacaro, “It Ain’t Me Babe” (Team Blake) | Bree’s tone was so husky on this classic Bob Dylan jam, it probably could’ve pulled an Iditarod sled. (Sorry, that joke was terrible.) Yet while her nerves shone through in places and caused her voice to tighten up a bit too much, at least she wasn’t un-interesting, right?

2. Troy Ritchie, “Out of My League” (Team Gwen) | Troy’s overzealous Family Guy impressions and insistence on wanting to be an “entertainer” set me on edge before he’d sung a note. But the croaky tone he displayed on Fitz and the Tantrum’s rhythmic hit — combined with a vocal versatility that carried him from spot-on falsetto to straight-ahead belting — immediately turned my first impression on its head. Bonus attribute: No excessive/showy runs!

1. Anita Antoinette, “Turn Your Lights Down Low” (Team Gwen) | Anita’s failure to get a chair to turn in Season 3 was a heartbreaker — especially when she nailed an a capella moment right after she’d been eliminated. Flash forward four seasons later, and it was clear the Berklee graduate had spent the interim honing her craft, perfecting her pitch and learning how to caress a lyric in a way that’s both heartfelt and polished. If Gwen proves to be a more astute song selector than, say Shakira and/or Cee Lo, Anita could actually be a contender!

On that note, then I pass the mic to you. Who were your favorites from Season 7 Episode 3? Were you bummed out by the overall quality of the auditioners — or am I just being too picky? 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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  1. Chris says:

    Are u going to do Reality Check with Melinda Doolitle?

  2. kk3thess says:

    I think that, except for the fact that Anita in #1, everything else is a matter of personal taste. Anita easily won the night, and the others were “just” good or with some potential.

    • Jeff Marley says:

      Anita’s in my overall top 4 of the season so far along with Maiya, DaNica, and Taylor P. :)

      • Trecia Smiley says:

        I’m loving this! Go girl, Jamaica loves you and we’ll be supporting you, just like we did with and for Tessanne lol, thank. You guys for loving her

        • Raoul says:

          I don’t think there is the same support for her from JA strangely …. But I hope it picks up soon. I remember TESSANNE was trending on Twitter on the opening night last year of season 5 and there was a huge disappointment when she didn’t perform that night. This girl is special, Lauryn hill / Tracy chapman style

    • Trecia Smiley says:

      Thats true, big up Anita

  3. Quinn Carson says:

    Great ranking. Not a great night of talent, but a few stood out.

    • Tyler says:

      I liked episode 3. I felt the contestants had more character, style and personality than the previous episodes. Definitely rooting for Anita. Also liked John and Troy. Besides Anita reminding me of Tracy Chapman, tonight’s episode had Tessanne Chin written all over it. Jamaica stood proud. And I thought Tessanne did a better version of Unconditionally.

  4. Brian says:

    the love me again performance was mediocre

  5. Angie_Overrated says:

    I’m getting that sickening feeling in my gut like I did last season for Idol. This season simply isn’t good. No one tonight was anything I’d ever care to hear again. And I’m not rooting for anyone out of the 3 episodes I’ve seen air. Not a good start, guys! I’m holding out hope that it gets better from here, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

    • analythinker says:

      I hope so too! The only person I was excited about was probably Danica, I don’t even know why except I think she has great potential to do all kinds of music.

      I like rare four chair turns more.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I didn’t love Sisaundra or Josh after their blind auditions last season, and they proved me very wrong in subsequent rounds. There’s still hope!
        Who’s Danica? lol Yeah, not loving this so far.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I didn’t love Sisaundra or Josh after their blind auditions last season, and they proved me very wrong in subsequent rounds. There’s still hope!
        Who’s Danica? lol I’m sure she was probably on my list of “not bad but I’ll reserve judgment for next round.” There’s a few pretty good ones, and I hope they can step it up.

        • analythinker says:

          She sang Jessie J’s Big White Room. First contestant of the day. On the preview video, they showed her battling Toia and they dressed her like a 40yo woman. I think she’s toast. Oh well.

    • The Beach says:

      Agree with you, A_O. This season has been missing that Wow factor. Tonight was especially underwhelming. There are several that I want to hear more from but the quality in general this year has been a bit spotty.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Seriously, right? I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has been “meh” this season. Last season had phenomenal blind auditions from Delvin, Christina, Kat, etc. I was so excited to see what happened. This season, I’m looking forward to it being over.
      Which one was Danica? lol I’m sure she was good, but I don’t remember her. There are quite a few good singers, and hopefully they step it up soon.
      On a more positive note, I did like the really pretty black girl tonight in the turquoise pants suit. She was wildly off pitch at times, but her voice is very pretty. I’m hoping the pitch issue was nerves, but time will tell.

  6. Andres says:

    I loved Anita and Troy. Hopefully Gwen keeps them. Sucks that the three people got the dreaded montage.

    Here are my person top three for each team so far:
    Blake-James David Carter, Reagan James and John Martin
    Pharrell-Mayia Sykes, Taylor Phelan, and Danica Shirey or Elyjuh Rene
    Gwen- Anita Antoinette, Troy Ritchie, and Menlik Zergabachew
    Adam- Kelli Douglas, Clara Hong, and Damien Rice

  7. Absolutely loved Anita – everyone else? Cannon fodder…not very memorable.

    • Trecia Smiley says:

      Love you Anita. I pray and hope your coach will help you to choose the right songs and I know you will go far. Jamaica is behind you hun.

  8. Trecia Smiley says:

    Mi seh mi waan big up Anita Antoinette. Though living abroad for years the Jamaican roots still came out in your voice girl. No matta wah, Jamaican’s can’t hide, we have a naturally God given Talent. All the best girl and I hope and pray you will even do half or more than What Tessanne Chin did. One Love, Jamaica to di worl.

  9. Chris says:

    How much u wanna bet that Anita Antoinette and Menlik Zergabachew are going to be paired up in the battle rounds.

  10. I was trying to remember where I had seen Blessing before… thanks to a quick Wikipedia search I discovered he was on the only season of Platinum Hit (Bravo’s song writing comp w Kara Dioguardi as main judge). Jackie Tohn from Idol (Season 8 I believe) was on the series as well.

  11. Heidi says:

    Troy was amazing – He was the only one I really remembered everything about the next day. I think he’s going to shock them and wish they’d turned around. He’s a dark horse, I think. I’m interested to hear what he sings next.

  12. Heidi says:

    I forgot to say that so far I’m putting Troy and Taylor at the top of my list.

  13. Delante says:

    Anita, Troy, & John were definitely the best ones last night…everyone else….I was a little confused by quite a few getting 4 chair turns! I think the judges are a little too trigger happy this season!!

    • Adam says:

      Wow, I kind of heard a different show. Most of the guys were pretty forgettable to me, but my favorite tonight, easily, was Kelli Douglas, followed by Anita Antoinette and Jessie Pitts.

  14. Adam says:

    I hope the coaches treat Blessing fairly and do not advance him simply because he is blind.

  15. HTGR says:

    Kelli Douglas was awesome, how is she #5??