Are we 100 percent certain that Christina Aguilera isn’t the newest and most dangerous protagonist in the X-Men universe?
When the reigning queen of NBC’s The Voice opens her mouth to sing, she possesses the brute power of Colossus, the heat of Pyro and the fantastical flourishes of Storm conjuring up a monsoon — without so much as the slightest wobble in pitch or pocket.
Yes, only the woman who brought us classics as disparate as “Fighter,” “Genie in a Bottle,” “Beautiful” and “Dirrty” could extend the word “mine” from one syllable to 47, while still managing to turn her audience into the living embodiment of the praise-hands emoji. I sure as hell am not mad at that.
So whether or not Xtina will ultimately become the first female coach to win the show after 10 seasons — spoiler alert: I’d bet heavily on “yes” — she nevertheless earns some type of trophy every time the Voice mic “spontaneously” lands in her hands and she has to show a young’un how it’s done.
So pour a cup of whatever Blake Shelton’s drinking, take a breath like Shelly Winters in The Poseidon Adventure, and toast The Lady Aguilera with a “Hey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-eyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”
In the interim, allow me to rank the episode’s 12 auditioners in order from least-to-most promising (bearing in mind that I’ll be back overnight to update this URL with more detailed performance reviews):
10 (tie). Teresa Guidry – Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” (shown in montage)
10 (tie). Chelsea Gann – Martina McBride’s “Wild Angels” (shown in montage)
10 (tie). Lily Green – Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” (shown in montage — but damn, those five seconds sounded pretty terrific)
9. Brittney Lawrence – Demi Lovato’s “Warrior” | Brittney’s persistence deserves some credit — she attended seven Voice auditions before finally making it to the blinds — but while she proved she can belt powerfully, it all came off a bit Wednesday-night karaoke to my ears.
8. Matt Tedder – Muddy Waters’ “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” | Two hours after the end of the east-coast telecast, I have to admit to only remembering Matt’s slide-guitar playing, which probably doesn’t say a whole life for his musical fortunes.
7. Jessica Crosbie – Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (Team Pharrell) | I don’t blame Adam, Xtina and Pharrell for hitting their buttons on account of this British songbird’s breathy-pretty, opening-verse perfection, but as intonation escaped her in the latter hald of the song, I began to wonder if sole holdout Blake had the right idea.
6. Justin Whisnant – Cole Swindell’s “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” (Team Blake) | Dapperly dressed former oil-rig worker proved better than average in the lyrical interpretation department, but dude will need to rein in the quivery affectations on his choruses if he wants to get to the live voting rounds.
5. Tamar Davis – Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” | Beyoncé’s childhood bandmate showcased solid pitch while tackling the Queen of Soul, but there was a light patina of nervousness — and a few too many peculiar squeaks — to describe the performance as spectacular.
4. Daniel Passino – Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye” (Team Xtina) | Daniel couldn’t have chosen a less appealing song for his audition — and that left me worried about his overall taste level. But dude’s massive range and soulful inflections could make him a Season 10 dark horse — as long as he gets more selective about his song choices.
3. Maya Smith – Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (Team Pharrell) | I loved the restraint with which Maya approached the opening verse almost as much as I loved her little tweaks to the melody on the chorus. If Coach Pharrell doesn’t let his mind wander to the fact that major record labels consider 31-year-olds to be over the hill, Maya could go far — in Season 10 and in a post-Voice situation, too.
2. Owen Danoff – Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Team Adam) | This soft-spoken transplant to NYC may not have the biggest set of pipes in Season 10 — but he infused Dylan’s lyrics with such breathtaking intimacy, I almost felt ashamed for eavesdropping. Bonus cool points for the fact that as a member of Standard Vocal Band, Owen’s dad wrote “Afternoon Delight.” (Or, well, bonus points if Adam doesn’t make Owen cover it!)
1. Joe Maye – Screamin Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You” | After delivering a very good, if slightly frenetic solo performance, the Season 9 reject was joined by Xtina — attacking every note like a mama bear whose cubs haven’t eaten for two weeks. The duo’s voices blended as easily as wasabi and soy, and with fellow Season 9-ers Mark Hood and Ellie Lawrence in his corner, Joe may get a leg up in behind-the-scenes machinations, too.