The Voice Recap: Chair-iats of Fire

Ever wish The Voice‘s Blind Auditions were shown in strict chronological order?

OK, sure, a straightforward just-the-facts edit might rob producers of the ability to create narrative ebb and flow over the course of two-hour episodes, but there’d be undeniable advantages, too.

Take tonight’s installment, in which soul-stirring blues rocker Kimberly Nichole managed to turn only two chairs, while significantly less-promising vocalists got three or four coaches vying for their affections.

Maybe Xtina and Adam’s rosters were full — or seriously close to it — by the time the New York City-based “rock-and-roll ballerina” made her way to the stage? In my mind, it’s the only explanation for why her audition didn’t result in Pharrell on his knees, Xtina in the fetal position, Adam perched atop his Big Red Chair and Blake digging into his bag of improv-comedy tools for a “Hail Mary” attempt at getting a major talent who falls way outside his wheelhouse.

I know, I know… there’s an alternate explanation that involves me morphing into my secret spirit animal Nina Garcia, glaring at the Season 8 panel and disdainfully exclaiming, “I question your taste level.”

Go ahead and question my taste level, if you’re so inclined, but other than Kimberly, I’m not sure any of the other successful auditioners from Season 8’s third episode hold a candle to some of the promising folks we saw last week. (Then again, I don’t have enough information in front of me to comment on the half-dozen folks who advanced via the dreaded “Montage Treatment.” Grumble.)

With all that said, let’s rank tonight’s Battle Rounds-bound singers in order from least- to most-promising:

8. Michael Leier, Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss” (Team Adam) | Friendly dude’s goat-bleat tone and dryer-lint-level stage presence had me wishing no coaches would turn — signaling to him that a return to med school would be the wisest career path. Yeah, I realize how crummy that sounds, but sometimes a “no” vote is the kindest form of cruelty.

7. Sonic, Sam Smith’s “Money on My Mind” (Team Xtina) | Her upper register came like a hunting knife for my ear-drum on the pre-chorus. Girl has some skills — when she’s not flying off the rails — but if she’s struggling on a tune she had weeks to prepare, how is she going to fare when Xtina saddles her with something daft three weeks from now?

6. Jacob Rummell, Bruno Mars’ “Count on Me” (Team Blake) | Teenager’s tale of being adopted warmed my foster-dad heart, but as Xtina pointed out, his vocal performance lacked the kind of “inner fire” that’s the hallmark of Voice champions.

5. Kelsie May — Loretta Lynn’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country” (Team Blake) | Showcased a surprising thickness of tone for a 15-year-old, but that positive was counterbalanced by some very obvious nerves that intermittently hampered her pitch.

4. Barry Minniefield, Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” (Team Adam) | I get that his song choice and delivery read high-end Vegas hotel lobby, but damn, he hit every note square on the nose — and brought the sultry-regretful vibe of the lyrics to vivid life. I guarantee if his tone didn’t tip off the judges to the fact that he’s Season 8’s oldest competitor, he’d have gotten more than one chair to turn.

3. India Carney, Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” (Team Xtina) | No doubt this formally trained music major has crazy pipes — but her excessive runs and heavy vibrato clogged up the Piano Man’s timeless melody like a clump of hair in a shower drain. OK, maybe that simile was a little uglier than it needed to be, but this charming four-chair turn still has something to prove to me when she gets to Battles.

2. Travis Ewing, Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” (Team Pharrell) | His swampy twist on an uptempo R&B classic proved he’s got creativity — and while he hit a few hinky notes, his gorgeous, smoky tone transported me to the land of “I’m Willing to Overlook a Few Minor Problems.”

1. Kimberly Nichole, Ike & Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” (Team Pharrell) | Economics major-turned-NYC club performer brought sexy fun and flawless pitch to the Blinds — and the breathy high notes she brought to the verse were an unexpected twist. If Pharrell squanders her during the Battles, I may have to reconsider my undying love for him.

OK, your turn. What did you think of Night 3 of The Voice‘s Season 8 auditions? Who’d you love? Who are you less bullish about? Take our poll 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. RawwkOn says:

    Kimberly and India were the only contestants I liked tonight. Not the best show we had today

    • I agree!!! Kimberly and India were the only ones in my opinion that blew me away the most. But MISS KIMBERLY NICHOLE just SANG THAT SONG!!! She is also best friends with the iconic Amanda brown!!! :)

      • RawwkOn says:

        Ohh that’s awesome! Looks like we’ve got a contender here :]

        • AMEN!!! :) Lets just hope she doesn’t suffer the Sam fates as Maiya Sykes, DaNica Shirey, and Toia Jones.

          • RawwkOn says:

            Definitely. Last season was by far the most unpredictable season so far, but at the same time, that led to some pretty terrible results. Fingers crossed for some more reasonable outcomes. :7

          • Slezak, I can’t believe you’re freaking so hard over someone just doing a Tina Turner impersonation. Kimberly Nicole was pure karaoke. Travis Ewing was the standout.

          • Tom22 says:

            It could be that The Voice viewers are looking more for the more vocally reserved and syncopated (hip hop influenced?) pop music on the radio today rather than to the bold ballad sounds of a decade and more ago ? The Voice viewers do seem open to some jazz sounds occasionally and also appreciate certain types of country pretty well. But then again, Tessane Chin was crowned champion not too long ago with a belter voice so I wouldn’t be too certain of that theory of mine unless things have evolved quickly.

    • Temperance says:

      Sub Travis in and India out, and you might be onto something. India’s vibrato and choices were a surprise – in the bad way. Travis was awesome in comparison.

  2. Kaba says:

    Travis made a painful mistake.
    Pharrell’s idea of arrangement manipulation is hell. Actual hell.
    Should’ve been with Xtina.
    Liked the rockerina

    • Elsa says:

      I agree, I was really hoping he would choose Xtina, I felt a connection there. Travis should have listened to his heart not his head.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      “actual hell” lol I’m having flashbacks of that Gene Kelley arrangement of Dancer in the Dark (was that the song?) and the older-looking girl who sang Radiohead with an Oktoberfest oompa band.

      • Michael Slezak says:

        “Piano in the Dark” — which is actually a lovely song in real life. (Just not that arrangement.)

      • Kaba says:

        Granmda and Jean were set for failure when Pharrell insisted that he’d done a cool retake of an already fine song…then ruined it.
        This guy may not have the best voice, but Xtina is his best bet for honing all of his skills into something polished. It’s a shame he chose to dance in the Titanic for a night. He’ll regret this all once the ship starts sinking come either Knockouts or Live rounds.

    • dan says:

      Yep, I really felt like he connected with her. That was disappointing.

  3. Jim D. says:

    I know that the idea is The Voice, but when they do turn around and start barking like seals, that may mean that there’s a star in the field of vision. India Carney is not just The Package, she’s The. Whole Boutique! Yikes!

  4. Jacob says:

    Travis! Hoping for an Xtina steal.. and I have a feeling it’ll happen.

  5. Kent says:

    I thought India was stellar and by far the best contestant of the night. Honestly I believe she’s one of the best in the competition so far and I’ll be voting for her when she inevitably makes it to the live rounds.

  6. kevstar says:

    Was Kelsey supposed to be good? I didn’t expect any of them to turn their chairs for THAT. I guess if you want to be on this show, you’d better sing a country tune.

  7. Angie_Overrated says:

    Wow, I really disagree with the rankings tonight. Travis was probably my least favorite and I was baffled why anyone turned for him or fought for him. No breath control, uneven vibrato, couldn’t stay on pitch to save his life on larger interval leaps, etc. No bueno.
    Sonic… hmmmm… agreed that it wasn’t perfect. But she chose a crazy difficult song and did pretty well with it. Those descending octaves were killer. I’m holding out to see how she does on an easier song.

    • Elsa says:

      In addition to taking a risk, what I liked about Sonic is that she agreed she didn’t do so good. This makes me believe she will put the work and I am curious to see what she will do.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I didn’t even hear that! I usually don’t pay attention to the pre- or post-performance whatnot. But yeah, that does bode well. If she knows where it went wrong, she’s probably in a position to know how to fix it.

    • Michael H. says:

      I’ve got to agree with you, at least with Sonic. Girl chose a difficult song, and she did well with it. For me, Travis is one that I want to see more of before I give a more definite opinion on. I agree that it wasn’t good, but to me, there were enough good parts that I think he has promise. Kimberly Nichole tho… That girl, can sing. Hoping she isn’t going to get the Britney Butler treatment, or the Maiya Sikes treatment. That would be really sad to me.

    • Jaszy says:

      Sonic’s voice is very interesting. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of artists. She has this unique tone, or maybe singing that unique song brought that out more. I loved her performance! Love her personality. She’s gorgeous! She was my second favorite after India Carney.

      • HTGR says:

        I can’t look at her though. Her look just freaks me out, gives me the shivers. That nose chain. Can’t.

        Her studio look was totally hot though.

        Her voice was great other than the weird high stuff, which was like the nose chain for me. I’m really mixed on her voice. Most of it was awesome but the weird high things were super bad.

  8. Wayne Cochran? Last Kiss is a Pearl Jam cover of a Frankie Wilson & the Cavaliers song.

    • smschira says:

      According to Wayne Cochran’s Wikipedia page, he wrote and released the song first, but Frankie Wilson & the Cavaliers had more success with it, as did Pearl Jam, which is the most familiar version of that song to me.

  9. Mike says:

    So by my calculations there’s only one episode left and 18 spots to fill. Isn’t that a lot for 2 hours?

  10. danin says:

    I didn’t think India was all that..her vibrato was too fast. Think she’s a better opera singer.Liked Kimberly and also wondered why they all didn’t turn for her. Loved the old soul guy.Maybe my fave of the night.And I dug the voice of the kid who sang the Pearl Jam cover. Terrible performer but an alluring voice. Also liked Sonic somewhat.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      You might not like India’s quicker vibrato. I get that. A quicker vibrato isn’t to everyone’s liking. But I can say with 110% certainty she’s not an opera singer. Like, not even close. Her voice would need to grow about 5x to sing with an orchestra unamplified. Her voice is perfectly suited to popular music. I could easily hear her singing r&b type pop or even jazz.

      • Sharon says:

        Possibly one reason why she said she doesn’t want to pursue opera, but feels at home in pop. Her vocal training is standing her in good stead in terms of technique and control.

  11. DarkDefender says:

    Also nice Nina Garcia Bomb.. When things got too matchy, matchy.

  12. NotVirgin Mary says:

    Really loving Kimberly’s style.

  13. TinLV says:

    Although some of tonight’s contestants were good enough to turn a chair or two, none really had much ‘wow’ factor, at least not for me.. even India and Kimberly, the best of the night, don’t seem likely to last very long. Kind of a “blah” show tonight..

  14. I just loved Jacobs (young Michael J voice). That is almost exactly what Michael sounded like when he was young. I know he prob wont go far, because there are so many others better, but his high notes were soooo pretty! I agree that last weeks show was way better. Well lets hope tomorrow night rules!

  15. Craig says:

    You are on crack to put Kimberly above India. That’s all I want to say.

  16. analythinker says:

    India Carney looks a bit like Gina Torres.

  17. Timmah says:

    What a terrible night. They should have just skipped ahead to the battle rounds.

  18. Zack Quinti says:

    where is Realty Check this week?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      • Zack Quinti says:

        Thanks Matt, some of us don’t do the twitter

        • Jaszy says:

          “the twitter” LOL…that’s hilarious…I love when people add “the” in front of words that don’t necessarily have it…like the Walmart or the Facebook…it’s endearing.

  19. D says:

    I love this article! Kimberly Nichole was phenomenal. The inflictions in her vocals were timeless, they told the story of the song. And INDIA…WOW!…Her timbre is sickening!

  20. Pearl says:

    Where’s my reality check??? i.i

  21. joey says:

    I vote for Blake’s team no matter what.

  22. Randomdude says:

    Lmao, one of my favorites is always at the bottom of these rankings.

    • Jaszy says:

      Who? Michael Leler? Slezak must not have been fully paying attention to this episode because I thought Michael had an amazing tone and he did not sound like a freaking goat, Slezak!
      I also thought India should’ve been number 1..not 3.
      I think Michael and Sonic should’ve been higher up in the list.
      The weakest performer this episode was little Kelsey and like Christina said, Jacob Rummell had no “inner fire.”

  23. Jaszy says:

    This just might be Christina’s year to win. The vocal beast is here ’till the end! If India doesn’t win, that shows that she’s going to have some tough competition.
    Those runs were so smooth and so tasteful…India brought it! Looking at the potential winner right here!

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  25. pancake says:

    Najlepszym tego przykładem jest słynna sukienka Marylin Monroe z filmu „Słomiany Wdowiec”, którego premiera odbyła się w 1955 roku.

  26. HTGR says:

    India all the way tonight (although I do agree that she did go a bit much with the runs, however, I will say that her embellishments at least made more musical sense to me than a lot of what Candice added, so it’s weird that you were so crazy cray for Candice for all her extras and then were dogging India for her extras ??? ).

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  28. Quest says:

    The voice is getting so racist I’m about to stop watching. Kimberly Nicole blew that boy away

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  30. Timmah says:

    I couldn’t agree more.