The Voice: No Country for Ol' Gwen

We’re still weeks away from The Voice‘s Season 9 Battle Rounds, but Tuesday’s episode included a tense showdown between cantaloupes and raisins.

Indeed, we all knew what was up after the show presented back-to-back auditions in which the contestants’ backstories revolved around produce-aisle staples — returning contestant Ivonne Acero’s family makes its living harvesting the world’s most frequently tapped* melon, while newcomer Gage Navarro hails from the dried grape capital of California: Only one could survive.

Well, to be more accurate, savvy viewers knew Gage would go the way of Christina Milian’s Sprint Skybox residency, seeing how he was following Ivonne’s two-chair turn, effectively stealing any thunder from his pre-audition package.

Tuesday’s episode also found Adam Levine continuing a multi-season quest to steal away a coveted country contestant from Blake — one that finally bore fruit (sorry) at the very end of the two-hour telecast. Meanwhile, Pharrell and Gwen (who’d also turned their chairs for Ellen DeGeneres Show vet James Dupré) waved their white flags, then waited for their honorary certificates of participation from the Academy of Country Music.

Look, I’m not saying a contestant with twangy tendencies shouldn’t zag hard and choose the woman responsible for “Hollback Girl” or the guy who’s up all night to “Get Lucky,” but if we’re being honest, that’s more of a Season 17 story arc, no?

With that said, let’s count down Monday’s eight Battle Rounds-bound vocalists from least- to most-promising:

8. Blind Joe, “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” (Team Blake) | Touching backstory aside — though, to a certain degree, aren’t all the backstories touching? — the blind North Dakota native’s clipped phrases and wobbly breath control make it unlikely he’ll survive Blake’s deep country bench.

7. Zach Seabaugh, “Take Your Time” (Team Blake) | Perfectly coiffed teenager possessed the face of a CW supernatural drama, but the voice of someone who hadn’t yet figured out how to handle the quick cadence the verse on the song he chose. The performance got better on the chorus — when Zach had a chance to open up and belt — but methinks there’s too much work ahead for him to emerge as a win candidate just a few months from now.

6. James Dupré, “Let Her Cry” (Team Adam) | Scored the end-of-episode pimp slot and a coveted Four-Chair Turn, but to me, the one-time Ellen Show fave’s tone was as indistinct as a navy blue Gap polo shirt (no disrespect, I own three). I’m not sure Blake should really be upset he lost this fella to Adam.

5. Emily Ann Roberts, “I Hope You Dance” (Team Blake) | When Emily kicked off her Lee Ann Womack cover, I thought the verse seemed pitched a tad high for her comfort level, but the chorus soared like a raptor leaping off the edge of the Grand Canyon. (Sorry, Carson Daly’s hyperbole is contagious!)

4. Ivonne Acero, “Style” (Team Pharrell) | There was a hint of nervousness percolating through the teenager’s Taylor Swift cover, but if Pharrell can make the most of her rich lower register and slinky phrasing, she’s a potential dark horse. Adorably enthusiastic family won’t hurt her appeal to voters, either.

3. Evan McKeel, “Typical”/”Overjoyed” (Team Pharrell) | Tuesday’s episode was sickeningly sweet with saccharine-coated tales from the contestants’ pasts, but Evan singing for Alzheimer’s patients in Richmond, VA still managed to be uplifting. And while his tone wasn’t entirely distinctive during an otherwise passionate rendition of “Typical,” his response to Pharrell’s request for a few bars of Stevie Wonder exposed him as a soul singer whose voice can move like water through the crevices of even the trickiest melodies.

2. Regina Love, “Rock Steady” (Team Adam) | I may be somewhat biased by Regina selecting one of my favorite funk jams of all time — and by “may be,” I mean “definitely am” — but the Atlanta radio DJ’s groovaliciousness and vocal boom-boom-pow are the kinds of ingredients that we need in the live voting rounds, no?

1. Ellie Lawrence, “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” (Team Gwen) | Aside from her A+ reimagining of an uptempo ’80s classic, Ellie’s emotional connectedness and dynamic range — ooh la la, her rasp is lovely — have me thinking that perhaps my prediction about a Gwen Stefani win in Season 9 may not be totally absurd.

On that note, I turn the mic over to you. What did you think of Night 2 of The Voice Season 9? 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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  1. Andres says:

    I loved ellie. Her tone is amzing. Gwen better keep her.

  2. Kim Moores says:

    Regina won’t be my favorite of the season, but for the night I appreciated the Holleration she brought. Channeling her inner Mary J yes girl.
    Ellie was the highlight of the night, that rasp at the top of her voice was wonderful and much appreciated.
    What was the big fuss over that last country guy? He was no more worthwhile or interesting than the other lame Country guy last night. Boring.

    Anyways, I can’t wait to watch Ellie knock out that Great Value Holly Henry with the silver hair from last night

    • Florence+TheMachineRules!!! #MariahSlays says:

      did you also like ivonne and blind joe, I did. However, my ULTIMATE favorite even though the show hasnt shown her her name is Shelby Brown, she is a Powerful 17 year old rock, bluesy, country artist.

      • Kim Moores says:

        I actually did! I like Ivonne a lot and I also liked Blind Joe even though I know he has a snowballs chance in hell of winning. Like Jim more than all the country guys tonight.

        • Florence+TheMachineRules!!! #MariahSlays says:

          i agree. also i liked that ellie picked a song that was complety unexpected and flipped it into her own. I feel like my overall favorite of the week is between Ellie, Regina, Jordan, and Siahna

  3. DL says:

    Surprised to see Regina Love score so high. I was watching with my family and we all thought the performance just sounded like yelling. To each their own.

  4. Christian says:

    Regina and Ellie were probably my favorites. Regina was just a powerhouse and slayed that song. I should give a quick shoutout to Emily Ann. I actually really liked her voice and she reminded me of Maddie Walker from American Idol. I think she has tons of potential.

  5. Angie_Overrated says:

    Hmm… wasn’t into most of that yet again. I guess I somewhat liked Evan Mckeel? That Ellie girl was too throaty for my tastes but she wasn’t bad. And Regina Love was all about the screaming. It sounded like Megan from last season singing Amazing Grace.

    • Kim Moores says:

      I’m so backwards lol. I didn’t mind the holleration, maybe my ears can tolerate Meghan if I give her a re listen now.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        It was loud. I’ll give it that.
        And she literally made the worst possible coach selection. Older? Black? Overweight? Adam? Really? Adam was your choice with his track record on those criteria? To be fair, he’s probably going with what he believes is marketable and I get that, but he doesn’t take too many chances during those early rounds and weeds people like her out rather quickly.

    • Ginger Snap 101 says:

      So far, The Voice is just background noise.

    • analythinker says:

      Come on now, why do we have to like the same person again?? :D

  6. JMay says:

    Who are these people that didn’t dig Blind Joe?

  7. antisocialbutterflie says:

    I will admit that the four chair turn on Blind Joe seemed forced, and he is probably doomed in knockouts, but I have to admit that I really loved his sound. It was my favorite performance of the night by far.

  8. janecek456 says:

    good show tonite first time i ever cussed at the show breakin for a commercail before finding out what judge the boy chose….dont do that again i dont even have a jar to put a dime in for saying bad words

  9. janecek456 says:

    hey i hated the share picture of that woman so much i wouldnt post it on my page i didnt vote for her and she didnt represent who i voted for wasnt even my secon ellies unique voice and charming personality was way better please dont put everybody in a box with your choice voice i like to show my friends my choice not yours why did you do that especially when adam got his first country singer i have no understanding why dont you explain it to me and apologize that is wrong in so many ways

  10. sistia says:

    I’m already sick of this show and the 3 against 1 ganging up on Blake. It was tiresome on Season 8 and is even more boring this season. The attitude is childish, but I was surprised that Pharrell and Gwen jumped in with Adam. It all comes off like the contestants are second in importance, and Adam’s beating Blake is what the show is really about. The best part of this show anyway is the Battle Rounds. After that they can show reruns of the Best of the Voice. There hasn’t been anyone so far this season I would vote for anyway, even if I could. This is just another singing reality show going down the drain because of the behavior of the judges.

    • Katie Killjoy says:

      That’s your complaint? That’s the biggest thing bothering you? Lol, goodbye hon; you won’t be missed. What a limp complaint

    • Timmah says:

      The judges’ antics are why people tune in. It certainly isn’t because the show is churning out stars.

    • Jill Moy says:


      Do you really believe all that….IT’S ALL A PUT ON! Ganging up on Blake? They all get a great laugh after each taping. All for ratings.

  11. Coach Taylor says:

    These ranking are absurd! Do you watch the show sir?

  12. bos4ny3 says:

    “the woman responsible for “Hollback Girl””. Glad I’m not the only one who holds her “responsible” for that.

  13. JM says:

    Ellie and Evan were the standouts for me. Too much shouting from Regina, and I don’t get the appeal of James.

  14. Linds says:

    On Ellie Lawrence, “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” – I’ve got a feeling she was strongly influenced by Ella Eyre’s version of the song. Not quite the ‘reimagining’ it might seem like – though well executed by Ellie Lawrence!

  15. Lloyd says:

    LOL, the title of the recap made it sound like Gwen didn’t get anyone.
    Blind Joe – sounded nice and soothing. Gwen’s speech when she was talking to him seemed totally insincere. Kinda sounds weird to incorporate “blind” in his stage name (reminds me of Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect).
    Zach – nice tone, although sounded pretty unconvincing on the verse.
    James – that hair was straight out of 90s, lol He sounded pretty good. I preferred his speaking voice to his singing voice, though. If I were him, I’d find it pretty off-putting that Adam seemed more interested in beating Blake than mentoring him.
    Emily – she looks somewhat like Maddie Walker from AI14. Her voice sounded a bit whiny. As for Blake… “idioticy”?
    Ivonne – A strong high register. Other than that, I didn’t really like the performance, or the song choice.
    Evan – kinda fitting song choice, since his voice sounded pretty typical throughout. I agree with Michael, he sounded much better on the Stevie Wonder song.
    Regina – looks amazing for a 51 year old. A shouty performance.
    Ellie – I get that it was a creative rearrangement, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Cool rasp, though.

  16. Timmah says:

    I liked Evan. He reminded me a bit of Steve Hogarth from Marillion. Everyone else, meh.

  17. Miss O'Ginny says: Ellie, Callum Scott from Britain’s Got Talent did that song so much better.

    • Don says:

      Despite which I thought she was still the best of the week. A sad commentary on the poor level of talent so far this season.

      • Miss O'Ginny says:

        It’s nice to see you’re still hopeful for the season by your use of “so far…” and yes, I concur, she was the best of the week’s offerings. There’s been so many average voices I mean even the kids version of The Voice – Germany are more entertaining.

  18. Mrendy says:

    what happened to reality check???

  19. RT says:

    I heard Gwen screwed up again and cut Ellie. No save. Gwen did this last time to Beth Spangler and still haven’t forgiven her. She likes the young boys.

  20. Lisa says:

    This show needs to get more diverse singers. I am so tired of all of the country crooners. Considering 3 of the judges are more pop artists than anything, is it really fair to have 75% of the contestants singing country? That gives Blake an unfair advantage every season, so it’s no wonder why he has won more than anyone else. It definitely seems like 3/4 of the contestants are hailing from the southern states and I find it hard to believe there aren’t more great singers from the north or west.

  21. HTGR says:

    Yeah gonna have to go with Ellie Lawrence too. There were other nice ones too though.

  22. Janet Ratliff says:

    Ellie was awesome and really special. She had a beautiful and unique quality to her voice. I also loved the way she presented herself on stage.