The Voice Recap: Red-Hot and 'Blue'

In the odd Thursday episode of The Voice, Adam Levine decided to give himself a little time-out rather than risk getting his heart broken once again by a contestant rejecting his offer to join his team. And it was around that time that I started wondering if I didn’t need a time-out, too, since it seemed like, every singer or two, I had a new favorite. I mean, how fickle can one person be? Or does that happen to everybody who watches? (Reassurances welcome.)

As for the vocalist who Adam couldn’t bear to miss out on, she’s first up in the (otherwise randomly ordered) below critiques of the singers advancing from the Blind Auditions to the Battle Rounds. Back in the recaps — thank reader Logan Lawrence for the suggestion — are letter grades assigned to the performances a la my inimitable predecessor, Michael Slezak. You are, of course, not only welcome but encouraged to debate and regrade the performances in the comments as you are ranking them from least- to most-impressive.

Casi Joy (Team Blake), “Blue” — Grade: A | Adam called the yodeling that the Kansas City 26-year-old incorporated into her LeAnn Rimes cover “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” But even more noteworthy, I thought, was the level of control that she had over her voice. Though I may get momentarily carried away — OK, often, a lot — by the bombast of some of the youngsters in this competition, even I can acknowledge that it’s probably a more seasoned singer who has a handle on her pipes and what they can do that will go the furthest, right?

Ashley Levin (Team Blake), “Let Him Fly” — Grade: B- | “Understated” is the word I’d use to describe the Patty Griffin cover by this Miami 23-year-old, the physical embodiment of a ray of sunshine, according to Adam. And she has charm, for sure. But she didn’t, you know, pop for me. (Then again, you’re probably learning right along with me that, kid at heart that I am, the louder the vocalist, the better I like ’em.)

Brandon Royal (Team Gwen), “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” — Grade: C | This 31-year-old firefighter, who grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands before settling in Florida, nailed the rhythms of the Stevie Wonder hit. However, I couldn’t help but think that, overall vocally, he was really good… if I was listening to him on karaoke night somewhere. (Go ahead, eviscerate me.) Even though Blake Shelton declared, “I wanna help you hold your hose,” Brandon still went with the country superstar’s girlfriend, who called his sound “so pure.”

the voice recap julien martinez blind auditionsJulien Martinez (Team Adam), “Pride and Joy” — Grade: B+ | Determined to “let his freak flag fly,” this 21-year-old Californian hit the stage with a “devil’s roar” that made Adam expect “a giant biker.” And the scream was impressive — Blake said that it was the best he’d heard since David Lee Roth. But, as with Casi, what might end up serving Julien even better than his raw talent is the apparent control that he has over it.

the voice quizz swanigan blind auditionsQuizz Swanigan (Team Alicia), “Who’s Loving You” — Grade: A | The youngest contestant in the competition, this 13-year-old covered the Jackson 5 with a soulful abandon that sounded like it came from a version of himself that wouldn’t — hell, couldn’t! — exist for years yet. Coach Keys praised the “innocent, fluid thing” that he had going on with his voice. The rest of us probably noticed that he seemed like such a sweetie, you’d have to be pretty heartless to vote him out.

So, who stood out for you in Thursday’s Blind Auditions? Rank ’em from worst to best below, and if you so desire, affix a letter grade to boot.

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 episode was a little bit of a let down with only one promising contestant. I would not have turned for Quiz. I feel like he needs to let his voice develop a little bit more. Anyway here is my ranking.
    5. Quiz
    4. Ashley
    3. Julien
    2. Brandon
    1. Casey

  2. Justin Fields says:

    5. Quizz
    4. Casi (Kill Me, but I hate yodeling)
    3. Ashley
    2. Brandon
    1. Julien

  3. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    Julien and Casi, in that order. That’s it The rest, eh.

  4. Logan Lawrence says:

    I think Quizz did well but I’m worried he’s way too young…I don’t like that the age was lowered to 13; 15 was low enough.

    • Jasper says:

      I personally think that the age limit should be 18. We need adults and adults ONLY on this show. It’s simply too much emotional turmoil for a teenager. Plus, a bunch of these kids are not mature enough artistically to compete. That’s just me, though.

      • Me says:

        Totally agree. I was surprised they lowered it. Raising it makes a lot more sense to me.

        • Lurker says:

          Kids or young teens often get votes on these talent shows just because they look “so cute” out there performing like the stars……………..The producers are encouraging the Gwen-Blake connection because the trash-tab magazines near the grocery lines are filled with stories about them, and that helps ratings keep from declining faster than normal — at least they think so…….. I don’t miss Miley but don’t see Gwen as being very good or competitive at this coaching/mentoring Job. They should have shot for John Legend or another new face, Gwen doesn’t add anything except the gossip factor.

  5. Russ says:

    The Voice App had them rated like this tonight
    Casi 93%
    Quizz 75%
    Ashley 62%
    Julian 54%
    Brandon 54%

    • Smokey says:

      Casi Joy is the only one I cared to listen to twice. She already has a little bit of a following and is a seasoned performer. I be liking her.

  6. marie zyble says:

    Miss Miley. Gwen isn’t impressive. She seems so superficial. Not liking that part of the show. Also the whole relationship thing. Not really liking it in that aspect.

    • AniBee says:

      Totally agree with you. I can’t help a creepy feeling I get knowing that Gwen and Blake were both recently married to other people that we even saw on the show, and now they are like a couple of love struck teeny-boppers. I wish they weren’t together in the same season, and I wish Miley was back!

      • kevstar69 says:

        Gavin cheated on Gwen with the nanny. This was WAY before the two of them got together.

      • PrincessO says:

        Don’t let it “creep” you out. They have moved on (to me it’s sweet) from some pretty horrible break ups. Miranda moved on just as quickly. (maybe even while she was married). Ha! If she had media following her, you would see the same thing with her new man. I’ve watched them in concert and they are really cute, as well. The amount of time spent with Blake and Gwen is really minimal. I see just as much with Adam and Blake. I have been really enjoying the new talent we are seeing!

  7. Kevin B says:

    And that ends the worst first week EVER in Voice History!

  8. Presumably lowering the age limit is intended to increase younger viewership, but I agree that it means kids who are not really ready are in the mix. As for the Gwen and Blake love story, I’m happy they’re happy, but I wouldn’t mind if we could cut down to fewer than a dozen references to their relationship per show…to be fair, Adam brings it up more often that Gwen and Blake combined.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think it’s the producers who are pushing the love story. It’s like they’ve told all the coaches they have to mention it over and over – poor Alicia looks totally uncomfortable with it. And then there’s the editing – I’m sure the producers are pushing things that way, too.

      • Ah, yes, that makes sense. I did notice that Alicia didn’t look thrilled when she mentioned it. I think the banter between the judges can be fun and funny, but there’s just too much of it. When it results in almost no feedback to some poor contestant who has just sung his/her heart out and is either trying to weigh which coach to pick, or is about to leave the stage without having had a chair turn, I am irritated. I appreciate that Alicia does try to make sure everyone gets some sort of specific comment about their performance.

  9. Voice Fan says:

    In other seasons, the males have dominated and we are lucky if we see a female in the finale. In 11 seasons, only four females have won. If the first half of the contestant pool is any indication, this season seems to be the season of the female and teenagers. NBC must be trying to encourage more teenagers to compete since they lowered the age to 13. If they really want a teenager to win, they need to limit the contestants to amateurs who have never performed professionally. Sawyer Frederichs and Danielle Bradberry were the only teenagers to win. Javier Colon, Jermaine Paul, Cassadee Pope, Tessanne Chin, Josh Kaufman, Craig Wayne Boyd, Alisan Porter and Sundance Head all were thirty something performers who won the Voice after performing for many years and either losing a record contract or producing their own album.

    • jb says:

      tessane chin was 28 when she won. cassadee pope is 27 right now.

      • Voice Fan says:

        You missed my point. Age wasn’t the point. Experience was. Cassadee Pope and Tessanne Chin may have not been 30 but they were both seasoned singers with record contracts regardless of their age. It is unfair to expect teenagers to compete with singers that have performed for years and have had record contracts.

  10. Aeol says:

    I thought they all sucked or were little to write home about.
    1. Ashley…meh. Will fade into oblivion alongside every other decent female country singer Blake snags.
    2. Brandon…he has a good voice, but he’s not a star in any way, shape or form.
    3. Julien…as a diehard SRV fan, I hate when people think they can do justice to such an iconic sound. Poor attempt to copy SRV.
    4. Quizz…what more can this kid do beyond poorly copycat the Jackson 5? Terrible.
    5. Cassie…stood out only because everyone else was so terrible. She’ll probably go far, as an above average country singer, but personally she’s just not my cup of tea.

  11. Yvonna says:

    I don’t care for the whole Gwen/Blake scenario. Bring back Miley! I am an avid Voice fan, but I did not enjoy this first week at all. It’s iffy if I’m going to continue to watch.

  12. MAS says:

    I loved the banter. It was all over the top, ridiculous and silly. I laughed all week. It was nice to see people happy and laughing with no one taking any of it seriously. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun watching TV.

  13. Trey says:

    1. Brandon

  14. Sandra says:

    The voice used to be a very entertaining professional show. This season are you here is Adam whining about not being picked and how Blake and Gwen are boyfriend and girlfriend. The only one that continues to focus on contestants and remain professional is Alicia Keys. It’s time for new coaches.

  15. Lauren says:

    I’m not watching The Voice this year. Gwen and Blake can slobber all over each other without me watching them. Disgusting.

  16. Lauren says:

    Gwen and Blake should get a room instead of being on The Voice for all of their slobbering for us to see. Count me OUT!

  17. loisbea says:

    I liked Quizz best. Casi suffered from the too-perfect-little-visible-soul-or-charm syndrome. (I’m always fascinated how a singer’s personality comes through in the voice.) Yes, she had great control, but she didn’t make me feel anything. And you can’t yodel every song. This song didn’t get Haley Reinhart raves on American Idol and she did a bang up job of it, yodeling and all. Garcia Harrison’s yodeling one of the earlier seasons was even more impressive and that didn’t help her advance very far.

  18. Wobegon says:

    I think they lowered the age to accommodate Gwen because she does best with the kids by doing makeovers in hair, glasses, clothes etc. but she hasn’t been successful with those over 16yrs. old.

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  20. Jokim says:

    1.Quizz Swanigan all the way