Carson Daly will never cop to it in one of his ALL CAPS introductions, but it’s got to sting everybody at The Voice — at least just a little — that despite its monster ratings, the show has never produced an artist who’s gone on to achieve household-name status.
It’s not exactly rocket science, topping the charts nowadays. J.Lo’s done it with a voice thinner than a Pepperidge Farm “Brussels” cookie. Silentio has pulled it off with lyrics so juvenile — “Watch me whip/Watch me nae nae” — even my four-year-old twins have to throw the occasional “is this all there is?” side-eye. Justin Bieber’s managed it, too — despite the fact that Kate McKinnon’s SNL parody of him contains five times the natural swagger.
Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time — and timing — before The House That the Blake-Adam Bromance Built launches a contestant into Kelly Clarkson-, Carrie Underwood- or even Daughtry-level fame. And during Tuesday’s final set of Season 9 Battle Rounds, several hopefuls proved they’ve got the chops that kind of breakout status. Now, all they need is a little cross-promotional love from the Peacock Net, Mark Burnett and anyone who’s ever held court in one of those spinning red chairs.
But seeing how the Season 9 coronation is still a good two months away, let me not get too bogged down in building a post-competition wish list. Instead, let me get to ranking tonight’s Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising winner:
3. Team Pharrell: Amy Vachal defeats Jubal & Amanda on “To Love Somebody” | I said it last night, and I’ll say it again: I hate judging Battles that pit solo artists against duos — mainly because it gets too hard to unwind a single strand that’s all intertwined with two others. To be certain, Amy’s Susanna Hoffs-y delicacy proved vastly more interesting than Jubal & Amanda’s solid-but-unspectacular belting, but I’m not sure the Bee-Gees’ most done-to-death reality-show cover gave The Artist Gwen Keeps Describing as Pocahontas a real chance to break free, either.
2. Team Blake: Emily Ann Roberts defeats Morgan Frazier on “I’m That Kind of Girl” (Morgan stolen by Pharrell) | If Morgan had rightfully been declared the winner of this Battle, I’d have ranked her No. 1 by a slight margin over Shelby. I mean, the girl has such a rich and gritty tone — and such a devastating mastery of the big notes — that Blake Shelton’s Carrie Underwood comparison seemed apt. Emily Ann is no slouch, either — her upper register appears to have no kind of reasonable limit — and she’s got enough more charisma than the Republican Party has presidential candidates. To be honest, it wouldn’t be a shock to see one or both of these country blondes last all the way to December.
1. Team Adam: Shelby Brown defeats Amanda Ayala on “Edge of Seventeen” | I wish Adam hadn’t been so insistent on Shelby and Amanda singing in unison — which, while aurally pleasing, kinda defeated the purpose of their Battle. Still, even saddled with the Stevie Nicks I’d Least Envision Her Nailing — please, next time choose “Gold Dust Woman,” Mr. Levine! — Shelby’s chill-inducing tone managed to cut through the clutter and remind us of her specialness. She put a little stank on it, too, with the rocker head-bob and the sassy stage strut. Amanda certainly hit most of her notes and showed some vocal horsepower, too, but this turned out to be the night’s biggest mismatch despite her best efforts.