we mcdonald

The Voice Blind Auditions (Night 2) Recap: The Wé, The Truth and The Light

Pay no attention to Carson Daly’s lack of hyperbole.

Sure, Tuesday’s installment of The Voice may not have included color commentary from the relentlessly upbeat host touting “THE AUDITION THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING/ REDUCE YOU TO A PUDDLE OF TEARS AND PLASMA/ ALTER THE FABRIC OF HUMANITY.” But nevertheless, two or three contestants came roaring out of the starting gate with such gale-force gorgeousness that it’s hard not to envision ’em staying in the competition well beyond Pumpkin Spice Season.

[Please forgive my use of “spice” prompting an inevitable link to the new Sporty Spice single “Anymore.” That Mel C really can sing though.]

Here’s hoping the fact that exec producer Mark Burnett doesn’t already have his hype-o-meter cranked to the max means that Season 11 will be more of a horse race, rather than a coronation march to victory for some pre-ordained favorite (a la Sawyer Fredericks, Jordan Smith and Alisan Porter).

Oh look, I’m not casting shade on any of those worthy champs, I’m just saying The Voice is a lot more addictive when the outcome isn’t obvious by the end of Episode 3.

With that said, allow me to rank Night Two’s Battle Round-bound artists from least- to most-promising, bearing in mind I’ll be back in about 30 minutes to update this recap with more detailed performance reviews.

9. Andrew DeMuro, “Vienna” (Team Adam) | In the spirit of brutal honesty, I can vividly recall dude’s grey-striped sweater, but not one detail about his vocals.

8. Dan Shafer, “Marry Me” (Team Blake) | On a show where twentysomethings decalre their audition as their “last chance” at success in the music biz, I’m always eager to support someone in his fifties. Unfortunately, Dan’s choice of Train’s worst piece of musical pablum and his overall lack of “oomph” proved far less memorable than his anecdote about being the voice behind the “Transformers… robots in disguise!” theme song.

7. Brendan Fletcher, “Jolene” (Team Adam) | With its smokey, appealingly acrid top notes, his NYC bartender’s tone recalled a big, roaring bonfire. Unfortunately, his dubious enunciation rendered the lyrics of “Jolene” (not Dolly Parton’s, but somebody else’s) borderline indecipherable.

6. Ethan Tucker, “Roxanne” (Team Blake) | I completely understood why Blake and Adam turned their chairs for this affable Washington native with a voice so husky it could compete in the Iditarod. But as Alicia pointed out, Ethan needs to explore more shades and colors — and not simply rely on his raspiness — if he wants to go deep in the competition.

5. Sophia Urista, “Come Together” (Team Miley) | No doubt, Sophia’s got stage presence and personality — and I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge she’s a darn good vocalist, to boot. Still, while girlfriend captured the trippy essence of The Beatles’ weirdest hit, I wish she’d dialed back on the squeaks-and-croaks affectations and waded a little deeper into the funk-swamp of the melody.

4. Lauren Diaz, “If I Ain’t Got You” (Team Alicia) | Plenty of tecnically outstanding divas have made a big audition splash — only to get ignored by the voting public — over the last half-decade of reality singing competitions. Lauren, though, brought a fearlessness to her cover of Alicia Keys’ monster ballad that made me think she could stretch beyond the borders of balladry and become a genuine contender. Whether or not Ms. Keys feels the same could determine whether Lauren is destined to thrive or collapse once the voting rounds begin.

3. Billy Gilman, “When We Were Young” (Team Adam) | Pre-teen country star who’s now an out-and-proud 28-year-old not only survived, but actually thrived, while scaling Mt. Adele. Billy’s pitch perfection and polish were impressive, but his emotional vulnerability soldified his four-chair turn — and his position as a bone fide Season 11 front-runner.

2. Sa’Rayah, “Drown in My Own Tears” (Team Miley) | Is it too late for Sa’Rayah to adopt a stage name that differentiates her from Empire’s also-unimonikered Serayah? I sincerely hope so! Because The Voice’s Season 11 chanteuse was so exquisite in her Gospel-blues rendering of a Ray Charles chestnut that I actually seconded Miley and Alicia’s decisions to hit their buttons within the first couple lines of the ditty. Don’t ask me why Sa’Rayah’s incredible range and enviable texture didn’t result in a four-chair turn, but maybe Adam and Blake are subliminally hinting that they’re due for a one-season hiatus?

1. Wé McDonald, “Feeling Good” (Team Alicia) | After mocking Mark Burnett’s hype-o-meter, I’m reluctant to wax too ridiculously poetic about Wé, a 17-year-old girl whose raw, rumbling voice cut straight through my soul like a Ginsu knife through a ripe tomato. But dang, the way her lower register registers a 3.2 on the Richter scale, the way her flirty upper register floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, the way she shifts the phrasing of a lyric to give it her own special interpretation… it wasn’t hard to understand Alicia’s post-performance whisper into Wé’s ear: “I got you for real. I heard you just now.” Oh, we did, too.

What did you think of Season 11’s Night Two auditions? Who were your faves? 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. Michael H. says:

    I need Dan Shafer higher. I don’t know what it was, but I instantly connected with his voice in a way that I didn’t with Lauren or Ethan. That being said, Wé and Sa’Rayah both KILLED it, and I’m so glad that they’re on the show.

    • JMark (formerly JM) says:

      Agree. I was shocked only Blake turned around. I thought his voice was beautiful. I would rank him 5th after We, Sa’Rayah, Billy and Sophia.

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      Also agree, It was not the best song choice but he did a great job delivering. He shaded it beautifully and his falsetto is absolutely gorgeous. I think the plainness of the song hurt his chair turning, but that man can flat out sing, It gets better when heard a 2nd and 3rd time.

  2. Kaba says:

    Send the top 5 of this list to the lives now for all I care. They were freaking phenomenal.
    This season is shaping up impressively well already.
    Sophia and Sa’Rayah were my favorites of the night. Honorable mention to We cause I saw her olympics night and omit her for this session.
    Lauren was great as well.

    • davmon says:

      Exactly right! Five strong contenders tonight–Sa’Rayah, We’, Billy, Lauren, & Sophia. Have to hear a few times to calibrate talent order.

  3. Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

    OMG I like loved this episode!!! Wé, Sa’rayah, Billy, Lauren, and Sophia were the best!!!!! All 5 have a strong chance to win it all!!! Wé has so much potential!!! She’s incredible!!! Sa’rayah was taking us to church and I LOVED it, Billy was giving me a little Mariah tease lol. Probably because in Mariahs prime she has so much resonance and freedom in her voice that, that’s why bully has similarities. Loved it!!! Lauren and Sophia SLAYED as well!!! ❤️❤️❤️😇

  4. Angie_Overrated says:

    Wow, good night! Much better than last night.
    I don’t have too many problems with Slezak’s heirarchy, though I would put Roxanne guy in last place. I bloody hated that. But the rest looks more or less correct.
    Looking to be a decent season if this keeps up!

    • davmon says:

      Yeah, almost too early to worry about hierarchy. These top five were def better than anyone first night. And all could be eventual Top Ten. But we know it depends on coaching, song choice, steady nerves, avoiding flat notes and overcooking, runs and flourishes that are meaningful and felt, and vocal character–pocket, tone, range,

    • Barry says:

      Hey there Angie! Just wanted to say that I love your posts, I almost always agree with you, more than with Slezak and even Ms. Doolittle. Are you into anyone so far? I wasn’t blown by anybody yet (except Alicia Keys <3), but I liked Wé, Billy and Ali so far.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Thanks, Barry. :)
        My early favorites would be Sundance Head, We and Billy. All three of them have the goods. There are quite a few who are also very good but I’m waiting to see what they bring on songs later, particularly the girl who sang the Ariana Grande song and the husky-voiced contralto whose dad was an NBA star.

    • analythinker says:

      Hi!!! Starting this season agreeing with you. I couldn’t get into that Roxanne thing at all and I think Adam was kind of relieved he didn’t get the guy (maybe I was seeing things).

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Hey! We’re back to agreeing on almost everything again.
        Not sure what it was about that Roxanne performance. It was so… jarring. I didn’t like anything about it.

  5. Becky says:

    Billy Gilman should of picked Miley. She walked in his shoes

  6. Gailer says:

    Great to see Michael back!

  7. Predicting it now. Billy makes it to the finale.

  8. So far this season stinks. Two nights of auditions and not a single standout

    • Timmah says:

      I haven’t been very impressed either. There have been some decent singers but no one so far has even made me want to push rewind. Hopefully they’re saving the really good ones for later.

  9. dj says:

    My favorites were Wé and Billy. Both of them had so much purity, control, and emotion in their vocals. It was a joy to listen to them.

  10. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Billy Gilman won the night. His tone is pure gold. His voice is both strong and beautiful. He used enough vocal tricks to keep things interesting, but knows he does not need unnecessary runs or yodels, now when you sing in tune and as beautifully as Billy did tonight. He took on Adele and killed it a feet rarely accomplished. I typically would not enjoy a singer in this vein, however Billy is very special, one of the very best auditions ever on this show.

    • Venee says:

      Billy is a legit contender. He is already burning those itunes charts up! I admit that I still have his CD in my collection, but if he hadn’t said his name was Billy Gillman. I would never have known. Good on him for getting back in the game. To heck with the haters that say he shouldn’t be on the show. The music Industry does not have a Freshman category. The winner will get thrown out there to compete with the top music stars in the world. if you can’t hang with someone with some experience on this show alone, then no need to enter the game. In contrast if you can hang, that means even more, because you are ready! This looks to be a good start to the season. We speaking vs singing voice is the biggest trip ever! (just had to add that)

  11. Emily says:

    Brendan sang Jolene by Ray LaMontagne (and did a bang up job of it).

    Billy did great. I appreciated how he made the Adele song his own. It actually took me half the song to realize who he was covering.

    Loved, loved, loved We.

  12. Allie says:

    On another thread people are complaining about how Billy already had a chance and shouldn’t be on The Voice. That viewpoint always drives me nut but particularly in this case since he was only 11 when sang One Voice. I had never heard of One Voice before last night and looked it up…wow. Do yourself a favor and listen. SO GOOD. This guy is seriously talented.

    • JM12 says:

      People complain about that every season. But it’s like this: the show’s producers go out and find talented, unsigned singers and invite them to be on the show. That’s why the Voice has more good singers than American Idol. It’s certainly better to watch/listen so I am glad.

      For the most part, the “second-chancers” got their FIRST chance b/c they are tremendously talented. They just got derailed along the way b/c show biz is ROUGH. I’m all for giving them another chance.

    • analythinker says:

      He was kind of big in Asia (and country music has never been *that* big there) and I still jam to his “I Wanna Get to Ya”. I hope this proves that he can do uptempo songs too, not just ballads.

  13. Jenna says:

    To me, I thought Brendan and Andrew were by far and away the standouts of the night, and the only ones I could see actually buying a record of (maybe billy, depending on genre/song choice).

    That reggae Roxanne was awful, and I hated drowning in my tears!

  14. The Professor says:

    Tangential, I know, but surely “I Am the Walrus” is the Beatles’ weirdest hit (although, granted, it was a B-side).

  15. Robyn Stanford says:

    As a faithful watcher of the voice……very disappointed so far….all the crying and sob stories..I thought I was watching american idol…..Miley needs to be quiet and Adam and Blake are
    taking it to far….not sure when I will watch again….but for sure will tape and watch when Im

  16. Susan Sporran says:

    We’ is the real deal. Her voice and rendition of Feeling Good gave me goosebumps on top of goosebumps and that is rare. I cannot wait to see if she goes as far as I hope she does, and how Alicia coaches her there.

  17. Cldahlman says:

    Did hey ban country music this season?

  18. Voice Fan says:

    From the NBC commercials promoting Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keyes as the new coaches, it looks like NBC is trying to amp their ratings by pulling in fans of both female singers. I hope NBC continues to promote the coaches and doesn’t shamelessly promote one contestant over the others like they did Sawyer Fredericks, Jordan Smith and Alysan Porter. Even though Miley looks like a clown in a denim suit decorated with flowers, as long as she stays fully clothed and doesn’t coach her team members to twerk and stick out their tongue as they perform, I will just ignore her motor mouth. With no makeup and baggy clothes, Alicia Keyes is a refreshing change from Gwen Stefani, who turned The Voice into a fashion show, and Christina Aguilar, who turned it into a peep show. But I don’t know how much longer I can take Keyes telling every contestant, whether she turns her chair for them or not, “you have a beautiful voice” and “you are have to be who you are” and “I feel you” or “I didn’t feel you.” She sounds like a drugged up Hippie from the 60s.

  19. Leslie says:

    It is a rare time when I am in such total agreement on a T.V. show! You nailed this one for me. Scary