blaine long the voice

The Voice Recap: Chair-y Pickers

The chair turns are over
The chair turns are done
Joan Jett is a’comin’
Ms. Cyrus, have fun!

Apologies to Florence + The Machine — and what I just did to the lyrics of their megahit “Dog Days Are Over” — but I’m legitimately reeling from the realization that The Voice‘s Season 11 Blind Auditions are in the books. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that the sun was still shining at 8pm and we were all worrying whether Miley was going to take a wrecking ball to the House That Still Allows Javier Colon to Sleep on a Blow-Up Mattress in the Den?

Miley, as it turns out, may have dire taste in fashion, but her sharp ear, unabashed enthusiasm, sense of humor and specific ideas for struggling arists have made her something approaching a revelation on a show where female coaches have never quite reached the levels of popularity achieved by original flavors Blake and Adam.

Miley’s fellow neophyte Alicia Keys, however, may have the strongest team of all heading into next week’s Battle Rounds. (Tuesday’s pre-veep debate installment is a “Best of the Blinds” clip show, in case you were wondering. Hrmmm… couldn’t NBC have used the hour to showcase all the singers who got stuck with the dreaded montage treatment over the last three weeks?!)

While you seethe over that injustice, let’s rank tonight’s nine Battles-bound singers from least to most promising.

9. Natasha Bure, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Team Adam) | It’s never a good sign when your own coach notes that you had a “little bit of a nervous breakdown” (vocally speaking) after his too-early turn. But even when she sang in tune, the daughter of Full House/The View star Candace Cameron-Bure tied so many knots in the the melody of this Elvis Presley classic that the end result was tatamount to torture.

8. Ponciano Seoane, “Home” (Team Adam) | His hickory-smoked tone was reminiscent of American Idol champ Phillip Phillips – but without the keen attention to the emotional spirit of P2’s breakout hit, nor to any sense of vocal accuracy. If Ponciano ends up surviving the Battle Rounds, then Adam did a damn poor job of pairing off his artists.

7. Johnny Rez, “Iris” (Team Adam) | Like your breakfast three weeks ago last Tuesday, this ho-hum, slightly behind the beat cover was perfectly OK, but ultimately doomed to be flushed from our collective memory banks by half-past now.

6. Kylie Rothfield, “Wherever I Go” (Team Alicia) | Kylie’s full, rich tone and bluesy inclinations were undeniably appealing — and as I write this sentence, I’m struck by the thought that perhaps I ranked her too low in this episode’s pecking order. Still, her cover robbed OneRepublic’s jam of any sense of urgency, making me wonder if she’s cut out for a competition in which big, bold statements are often the key to survival.

5. Whitney & Shannon, “Landslide” (Team Adam Alicia) | Texas sisters who hadn’t performed together in over a year made a fine first impression via their lilting harmonies and delicate phrasing. But I expected a little more emotional snap, crackle and pop from a four-chair turn than I got from this audition, and I wonder if the novelty of being Season 11’s sole duo created more excitement from the coaches’ panel than Whitney & Shannon actually earned.

4. Maye Thomas,”Roses” (Team Miley) | I’d accuse Adam of stealing directly from my brain the observation that Maye’s vocals were “different, but good” — except for the fact that he taped the Season 11 Blinds months ago, and I only heard Maye for the first time on Monday night. True, there were a handful of hinky notes, but Maye managed to imbue her performance with enough grit and personality that — with Miley on her side — I’m thinking she could be a longshot worth watching.

3. Courtney Harrell, James Bay’s “Let It Go” (Team Blake) | I liked the honesty — without any hokey plea for sympathy — from this experienced songwriter who put her own singing career on hold to raise the son with whom she became pregnant at 17. And while there was a hint of rustiness on a couple of runs, there was also scintillating promise in Courtney’s slow-burn, exquisitely timed take on a James Bay ballad that Jeffrey Austin nailed back in Season 9. I kinda wish Courtney had cast her lot with Alicia, but then again, it’s not as though Blake’s only prior wins came with country artists.

2. Josette Diaz, “Love Yourself” (Team Miley) | If there was a hint of tremulousness in Josette’s glory notes, let’s not forget that, as the final artist to advance in Season 11, she probably knew there was only one, maybe two coaches at most who still had the ability to hit their buttons by the time she took the stage. Her tone was so clear and bright, though, that I wondered if she’d emerged from a spring at the top of some pristine mountain range, and yet she also displayed a nifty rhythmic sensibility that brought her Ivory Girl vocals into a more modern milieu. Underestimate her at your own risk, Voice-a-loonies!

1. Blaine Long, “Have a Little Faith in Me” (Team Blake) | As a foster dad myself, I’ll admit I took an immediate liking to Blaine after he revealed he and his wife had adopted two kids who got off to a hardscrabble start at life. That said, an artist cannot live by backstory alone, and the cornfield-in-winter sparseness with which Blaine delivered his Blind Audition was a thing of true beauty. The jam-session quality of the opening verse gave way to a soulful, plaintive authenticity as Blaine dug deeper into the ditty, and if Blake places Blaine at the intersection of blues, soul and country, he should still be in the Season 11 mix well past Thanksgiving.

What did you think of the final night of Season 11 Blinds? How does this year compare to prior installments? 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. Andres says:

    this was an okay episode, no one really stood out to me. I hope the battles don’t disappoint me.

    • JMark (formerly JM) says:

      Agree. Looking forward to the battles where some singers, who let their nerves get the best of them in the blinds, shine.

  2. betsi says:

    I thought Whitney & Shannon picked Alicia. Did I miss something?

  3. Mge says:

    In my opinion, Blaine, Whitney and Shannon, and Courtney were the stars of the night. Everyone else was okay but not really special.

    • OhMy says:

      Yea, I thought Blaine was good. You know it’s odd — changing the melody of a song sometimes works, sometimes not. While I agree he has a pretty good voice — I think the melody change wasn’t great. And I also know that it isn’t fair to compare a show contestant to the original artist, but . . . still

      But, as I said, i do think he has a pretty good voice and I hope he can find his voice on the show.

    • davmon says:

      I’m with you on Whitney and Shannon plus Courtney…but I had Kylie as my 3rd. I did like Blaine though.

  4. Mag says:

    I think Whitney and Shannon are on team Alicia not Adam…

  5. dlraetz says:

    No comments on the top three singers? Weird recap

  6. Omarr says:

    I’m VERY curious as to why you ranked Josette above Courtney. Josette didn’t sound that good

  7. analythinker says:

    Not impressed by Team Adam this season, but hopefully this will keep the real stronger singers (Billy & Nolan) in his team instead of cutting some great ones like in seasons past.

    • davmon says:

      Yeah, Adam seems to only have two strong artists in Billy & Noel–probably Top 10 or 12 talents at least. Will see if a Riley or Simone or Natasha can break out to join them.

    • Mge says:

      Keep your eyes on Bindi Liebowitz, too. I think she could be this season’s dark horse. Otherwise I agree with you.

  8. davmon says:

    Seemed the Blind nights were very uneven. Nights 2 & 4 were strong, whereas Nights 1,3, & 5 were weak. Even so, I preferred this to all the hype of recent years, with all the pimp slots. And I love that they are not already beaming a winner into our brains. So far, so good.

  9. Michael H. says:

    Josette reminded me quite a bit of Avalon Young, from this last season of American Idol. Young, fresh tones that may not be vocally flawless but offer a lot in terms of creativity and fresh feeling. I’ve got hopes for her. Blaine, on the other hand… Seven shades of smooth and a helping of chocolate silk pie. That’s how rich his voice was to me, and the feeling he imbued in his voice was simply sublime. He’s one to watch for me.

  10. Conne says:

    Blaine Long was amazing. His voice just went right through me. Way to go The Voice. You have finally got to the heart of music.

    • davmon says:

      Blake helped himself tonight. I had him with almost nothing. Blaine and Courtney give him two solids from tonight–and Dana on Night 1 turned 3 chairs. But 2 black females making it out of his team might be hard. Likely a 2-chair country guy will get in instead–like Josh or Sundance.

  11. Angie_Overrated says:

    I’d put Josette below May, but this looks about right.
    It was a fight to see who the worst was, but those are definitely the bottom two.

    • John Anthony says:

      Hi Angie. This season is going to find it hard to produce the super star the Voice is looking for. Haven’t heard much from the past winners lately, have you?

  12. davmon says:

    Miley was OK first time out—her team is stronger than that of Adam or Blake. Ani from Night 1 turned 4 chairs. On Night 4, Aaron and Darby turned 3; but their talent is more quirky, so will have to prove to be steady against Sa’Rayah and Sophia from Night 2 who were quite good, but only got 2.

  13. davmon says:

    Aliciia is killing it! She has 3 of 6 who turned 4 chairs–We’, Dave, and sister duo Whitney & Shannon. And 3 of 8 who turned 3–Christian, Lauren, and Josh H. 4 of the other 6 turned 2 chairs; and among them are two rather solid candidates–Halle and Kylie. Heck, Halle could be a threat to go deep, if she survives her own team. After We’, Halle may actually be best on the team.

  14. I thinks it is BS that they show performances of acts that didn’t get any chairs over people that did get chairs.

    • Voice Fan says:

      It is cruel to put both the performer who didn’t get a chair to turn and the audience through listening to their back story and watch their humiliation. It also humiliates the performers who got on the show because NBC producers thought their performances weren’t good enough to show to TV viewers. Like Michael Slezak pointed out, NBC has plenty of time to show all of the performers who made it to the show if they’d cut out this constant repetition of repeating the same performances tonight

    • Blueme says:

      NBC and “The Voice” producers have no intention of ever airing a “Best of the Rest” show.

      It’s easier, cheaper, and lazier of them to run a clip show promoting their Chosen Ones again.

  15. Timmah says:

    Didn’t care for the duo at all. I don’t need to hear another ok cover of Landslide for the one millionth time on these shows, be more creative. Nonetheless, I thought it was a good night overall. Favorites were May and Courtney.

  16. Blueme says:

    I would be concerned about Natasha Bure. If she makes it to the live rounds, she has the fan base of the conservatives and viewers who are fans of her mother, her mother’s show, and her (yuck) uncle.

    Ms. Bure comes from a notoriously fundamentalist (and anti-gay) family.

  17. Kristin Rose says:

    I thought the sister’s duet was stunning. I’ve watched it 4 times now, thinking I might be hearing something that isn’t there….but each time it sounds just as amazing.