The Voice Recap: Handle With Chair

This just in: We’ve made it through the first four hours of The Voice‘s eighth season without a single, unwelcome contestant montage! To quote Jay-Z and the MIA (but forever fabulous) Amil, “Can I get a what-what?

Yeah, OK, the next couple weeks of Blind Auditions are almost certain to deliver multiple instances of Battle Rounds-bound singers getting introduced via 0.387 seconds of footage, but let’s take our victories where we can find ’em.

To that end, Tuesday night’s episode also packed in plenty of good vibrations (a phrase that conjures up images of Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg in his shirtless youth, at least to anyone who came of age in the late ’80s/early ’90s) and at least a half dozen contestants with enough talent to crack the Live Playoffs (should everything break right).

With all that said, let’s rank tonight’s Battle Rounds-bound singers in order from least- to most-promising, in a Twitter-friendly 140 characters or fewer (when possible):

8. Blaze Johnson — The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” — (Team Adam) | Nice kid, but his woeful breath control had me wondering how he managed two chair turns, while the vastly superior Bryan Pierce (bearded dude who covered”Rocket Man”) got none.

7. Brook Adee — Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” — (Team Blake) | Sixteen-year-old with a silky tone infused Bon Iver’s big hit with a little piano-driven drama, but I didn’t feel her connection to the lyrics quite as deeply as I wish I had. On an average episode, though, she’d be in the Top 3 auditioners for sure.

6. Gabriel Wolfchild — Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” — (Team Xtina) | Charismatic fella from a hippie-collective family delivered a folkie staple with earnestness and solid pitch. Gotta admit, his choice of Xtina over Adam or Blake makes him 10x more interesting to me.

5. Anthony Riley — James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” — (Team Pharrell) | Longtime street performer had all four judges turning within seconds, but while he was pretty much note perfect, I didn’t hear as much originality or oomph as I’d expect from a contestant getting this much hype. Battle Rounds will prove whether I’ve got a tin ear.

4. Mia Z — B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” — (Team Pharrell) | I’ll be the first to admit this 15-year-old needs to iron out her mushy-mouthed Winehouse-ian affectations, but her sultry tone and ability to hit Mariah-level dog-whistle notes — combined with Pharrell’s mischief and magic — has me definitely (Sugar) Jones’in for more.

3. Deanna Johnson — Kodaline’s “All I Want” — (Team Adam) | The Voice loves its returning auditioners and their tales of redemption — and this Season 5 evictee delivered the goods by bringing emotional and tonal shading to a song you don’t expect to hear on a reality singing competition. I’d like about 25% more swagger — at least in Deanna’s uncertain facial expressions — but that kind of thing can change drastically after a few weeks of mentoring.

2. Joe Tolo — The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” — (Team Xtina) | College student’s lower register was as itchy and scratchy as a Simpsons interlude, then gave way to creamy soul-man intonations when he reached the chorus. Sure, he only got two chairs to turn — and one of ’em (Blake) didn’t seem all that enthusiastic — but if Xtina can upgrade his stage presence, he might be the Season 8 dark horse.

1. Tonya Boyd-Cannon — Pharrell’s “Happy” — (Team Adam) | I swear there was an actual wink in Tonya’s voice as she upgraded Pharrell’s feel-good ditty with intriguing runs and a side order of attitude. And yes, while her work with a prison choir gives her a winning backstory, it’s her ability to know how much extra sauce is just enough (without being too much) that could make her a true contender.

On that note, I turn the mic over to you. What did you think of Night 2 of The Voice Season 8 Blind Auditions? Vote for your favorites in our poll below, then expand on your thoughts 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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33 Comments
  1. Tonight was on fire!!! One of the best in seasons. What makes this episode better was that there were NO MONTAGES!!! YESSSSS!!! Anyways, my top 3 were in this order
    1.) Tonya-Girl can sing and she has spunk for days!!!
    2.) Deanna-The fact that yes, she is a fan of the fantastic Florence + The Machine, but also her tone and her control!!! Genius!!!
    3.) Anthony-This guy has EVERYTHING!!! The chops, the stage presence, the emotion, just all in one embodiment!!!
    Honorable mentions-Brook and Mia have huge potential going into the battles, both are EXCELLENT in their own styles!!! :)

    • MC says:

      This two night premiere was awesome. The coaches have been fully engaged and I appreciate the comedy bits, especially the ones from last night. Obviously, the cupboard was overflowing with great talent tonight. I was a little surprised that Xtina did not turn for Mia. I’m actually going to listen to all eight of these performances again because everyone was so good.

  2. Christine says:

    Thanks for adding the teams!!! So much easier to figure out who’s who!!!

  3. Angie_Overrated says:

    Huge improvement over last night. Other than Blaze, I loved every person who got a chair turn. Not bad, The Voice. Let’s try to keep this up please.

  4. SaraPo says:

    I would have definitely ranked Brooke higher, as she was the only one who warranted a rewind for me tonight, loved her!

  5. Anthony as #5? His voice is phenomenal, he can dance, he’s got the attitude, he’s got the wardrobe, and he’s got star quality. Whole package right there. Michael’s got some ‘splainin to do.

  6. Andres says:

    a really good episode tonight. I can’t believe that the rocket man guy didn’t get in, I thought he was good. My favorite of the night was Deanna. Toia and Joe where sublime as well. Mia has some good potential. I felt Brook could have benifited more by picking Adam in my opinion but I like her voice to. Figers crossed that the future episodes get better and better.
    Also I am staying cautiously optemistic about the no montages, cause they seem to appear on week two just like last season.

  7. Kaba says:

    Wasn’t digging Tonya all that much…idk nobody screamed to me as a yasss, but they’re all really good!

  8. Christian C says:

    Most of the poll agrees (at this moment in time 10:33 P.M. Central TimeZone) but Deanna is my number 1. There is just something about that girl that I love!!!! I really want her to make it deep into the competition. But overall there is just so many good people this season!

  9. wild_child says:

    Deanna #1? Really? Am I hearing something the rest of you aren’t. I would easily have put Brooke as #1. Her voice is just gorgeous and I think we’re only scratching the surface. Deanna’s tone hits my hear wrong. I also love Joe. He was fantastic.

    • Christian C says:

      Well Brooke definitely does not deserve to be #7, she needs to be higher, but I love love love Deanna. Joe was pretty good to. But Deanna is my favorite for now.

  10. Sharon says:

    Loved Deanna and Joe especially. The way Deanna and her dad dug in to work on what she was told to do after her last Voice appearance was pretty special.

  11. NotVirgin Mary says:

    Mia’s modulation is crazy for her age. Her ad-libs didn’t feel right, though. Not enough emotion for the blues, but that note was crazy. I’m excited for this season.

  12. analythinker says:

    I feel like contestants from the first night have more potential to go further than the second night, but we’ll see. So far I mostly agree with the no-chair-turn, even though I often look away because I feel bad seeing hopes get crushed.

  13. I watched the episode and I agree with Tonya and love all that she represents. But i would put Blaze higher. I wrote my own impressions on my blog The Recommendation Nation. I thought the second episode was much stronger than the first. I like Deanna quite a bit as well. Love The Voice.

  14. Craig says:

    1. Deanna
    2. Joe
    3. Anthony

    Tonya was good, but hardly the best of the night.

  15. backpackkat says:

    I’m actually loving Christina this season–I don’t know if it’s motherhood or the fact that she feels threatened by how likeable the other female judges are on the off cycles of this show, but man, she wants it! She’s outgoing, engaged, and relatable. Kudos to whatever happened in her because she’s really fun to watch!

  16. Oh, Christina… why didn’t you pick that Pittsburgh girl. You better steal that.

  17. dagargia says:

    I love Tonya and think that last night’s episode was stronger than the first which to me is a good sign. I hope it keeps getting better and better. I actually wrote my own impressions in a post on my tv blog TheRecommendationNation.com. I kinda missed Christina. I just hope she doesn’t get carried away like in some previous seasons. Love the show so far this season.

  18. christopher bee says:

    That´s how you do musicshow tv.

    I do not agree on your poll Michael this time (and that´s a very very rarely moment in 5 Years of following your allways xcellent articles ) but Brooke has a tone that meltetd in my professional platin record ears. She will be great on the show as Anthony will do.
    This Guy has it all.

    I see a battle between Blaze and Tonya on the horizont.

    Loved all of the banter, great choaches chemistry, best season ahead.

  19. kitkat says:

    Why do they say that these “nights” of performances occur over a variety of days, yet the judges don’t change clothes? They even capture conversations with the judges saying “you schooled me yesterday.” I can’t believe that they would wear the same thing over many days – especially the ladies (same hair, make-up, etc.).

  20. WWP says:

    Mia has a pleasant voice, but lordy, her enunciation just plain sucks. If they hadn’t told me what song it was I would never have been able to know she was actually saying The Thrill is Gone — nothing about that sounded like actual language.

  21. saiber says:

    Best season so far after 2 episodes. The mixture of the coach is just perfect, the teasing comments, the fight of words for the talents, the conniving of Blake – absolutely brilliant! I love it and can’t get enough. Please continue!

  22. just_jenni says:

    I agree with the top three but can’t wait to hear more from all of these contestants. They were freaking awesome!

  23. Viajero says:

    This is one of those rare occasions when I completely disagree with Michael’s ranking. I thought Brook, Anthony and Wolfchild were the best of the night (in that order), while Joe and Tonya were among the weakest.