the voice recap valerie ponzio blind auditions

The Voice Recap: Blind Ambition

As The Voice neared the swan song of its Season 12 Blind Auditions Monday, we were treated to a bevy of contenders covering everyone from Justin Bieber to Johnny Cash. But were any of the vocalists the kinds of talents whose hits future wannabes would cover during their Blind Auditions? Read on for my randomly-ordered reviews of the nine performers (whose full auditions were shown) advancing to the Battle Rounds, then hit the comments to critique and grade them yourself.

Kenny P (Team Gwen), “Hello It’s Me” — Grade: C+ | As quirky as the charming tiny-house-dweller from Cleveland came off in his introductory video — the hipster mustache alone… I mean, come on — his rendition of the Todd Rundgren gem was about as straightforward as it gets. Pleasant, yes. Absolutely. But not really the kind of earth-shaking audition that makes you (or at least me) go, “Holy crap! A star is born!”

Valerie Ponzio (Team Blake), “Ring of Fire” — Grade: B- | After a first verse that sounded a little affected and unsure, this 32-year-old Texan (Johnny) Cashed in on her potential with a soaring second chorus that showed us how intoxicating her honeyed-whiskey voice could really be. Now would somebody please — no, seriously, I’m begging — tell me whose vocals hers so reminded me of? It’s going to drive me crazy until I figure it out. Natalie Merchant maybe?

the voice recap blind auditions rj collinsRJ Collins (Team Alicia), “Purpose” — Grade: B- | Motivated to pursue music by the death of his encouraging older brother, this 18-year-old Chicagoan made a Belieber of Adam within his first handful of notes, with Alicia following shortly thereafter. But as sweet as his vocals were — and as sweet as he seemed — it didn’t really scream “special” or “unique,” did it?

TSoul (Team Blake), “Take Me to the River” — Grade: B+ | After hearing this 29-year-old Virginian’s impassioned take on the Talking Heads, I understood immediately why his viral videos have amassed him an army of TSouldiers — and why Blake called him “one of a kind.” Great voice, memorable style, potential galore.

Hanna Eyre (Team Adam), “Blank Space” — Grade: B | This sunny 15-year-old California girl started off singing Taylor Swift clear as a bell, faltered (maybe when Adam turned his chair?), then not only regained her composure, she gained momentum as she went on. An impressive feat, especially for one so young. But that exuberant inexperience could also be her undoing in the long run, no?

the voice recap blind auditions enid ortizEnid Ortiz (Team Blake), “All I Ask” — Grade: B- | I suspected the hints of theatricality in the powerhouse’s voice — husky and huge as it is — were going to repel the coaches. They don’t generally seem to like anything Broadway-y, right? But, at the last second, Blake sneakily swiveled his chair, giving her take on Adele the thumbs-up.

Hunter Plake (Team Alicia), “Carry On” — Grade: A- | Singing for the first time outside of a church, this Baton Rouge native poured enough passion into his fun. cover to bring to mind Freddie Mercury. A lesser Freddie Mercury, sure — his performance wasn’t 1000 percent polished — but even a lesser Freddie Mercury is pretty damn good.

Nala Price (Team Adam), “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” — Grade: B+ | When this small-town Florida teen went big with her vocal, it seemed to get a little out-of-control (although Adam was impressed by the way she maintained her composure). Still, there was no denying that she had a strong voice and lots of potential.

Sammie Zonana (Team Gwen), “Dangerous Woman” — Grade: A | When you look at this Austin wedding singer, you think “adorable.” (I did, anyway — she reminded me somehow of Alia Shawkat.) But when you listen to her, you think, “Whoa — there’s enough sexy smoke in her voice to fill a bar back before smoking in bars was banned.”

We were also informed — without seeing the full auditions (gyp!) — that Blake had recruited Andrea Thomas (“Baby Now That I’ve Found You”) and Gwen had rounded up Davina Leone (“Cheap Thrills”) for their teams.

So, what did you think of tonight’s singers (at least the ones whose auditions we were shown)? Rank them below from least-impressive to most-, and, if you’re so inclined, assign a letter grade while you’re at it.

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. jr. says:

    Bring on American Idol! I think this season shows, that The Voice needs to be cut back, so that it can find better talent Glad Dancing With The Stars is starting up! And this season there will be no temptation to switch between the two shows, which have always been aired opposite each other.

  2. Andres says:

    The two girls that were montaged have the full auditions on youtube.
    Hunter way the best of the night.

  3. Kimmy Moores says:


    • Smokey says:

      SAMMIE ZONANA has a number of songs available on itunes and some on YouTube.

      • kevstar69 says:

        Too affected, phony. Who is she trying to be, Lorde?
        Where are people saying, “just sing it straight.” I enjoyed Ring of Fire much better.

  4. Smokey says:

    Nothing tonight was extra special IMO, I still liked the Casi Joy audition the best so far, from a couple weeks ago

  5. kevstar69 says:

    I was going to come through the Tv if no one turned around for Enid.

  6. SMD says:

    Valerie reminded me of Dolly…

  7. Carla Krae says:

    Had to mute Sammie half through. That tone hurts.

  8. Jobless says:

    How the f*** did Enid get a one chair turn at the last second and a B- grade from you? “All I Ask” is an impossible song and she killed it. I was losing my mind.

  9. Scarlett says:

    I thought I heard a little bit of Janis Joplin in Valerie at one point… and I agree with your Freddie Mercury analysis for Hunter.

  10. analythinker says:

    I’m actually a little surprised that you guys don’t talk more about Sammie. She’s the first contestant that really piqued my interest this season. Others are just… blah.

  11. Russ says:

    Here are The Voice App results.

    Hanna 82%
    Tsoul 79%
    Valerie 79%
    RJ 72%
    Hunter 72%
    Nala 68%
    Enid 59%
    Sammie 59%
    Kenny 49%

    The App voters did not feel the love for Sammie I guess.

    • Smokey says:

      Far as I know, none of these made the regular top 100 on itunes, but some made it in the genre category for their song. ……………………………….Thing is, the voice artists songs often fade really fast out of the top 200 , and the big name artists , even their older hits, crowd-out the voice entries rapidly.

  12. Pretzel says:

    So ready for Adam and Blake to go. Pretty much only Alicia has anything insightful to say to contestants, the rest are so vapid and self-absorbed, I can’t deal with anything else along the lines of “listening to you is like hearing a young version of myself.” Also lol at Adam for jumping on all the black guys now so indiscriminately like his team last season wasn’t all white guys.

  13. Sally says:

    Enid was the best singer of the night – and of the season so far. IMO.

  14. Gail says:

    The highlight of all the blinds, someone singing Todd Rundgren

  15. tvlover44 says:

    charlie, i appreciate your reviews – but surely you know that “take me to the river” is by al green (originally)! memphian here, so have to call you out on that attribution…

  16. Rivka Simons says:

    Slezak? Valerie? And you had me thinking you had a good ear. If that performance was any indication of talent-she should not have turned a single chair. That was an impression of Reba McIntyre and it was weak at best. Blake knows.

  17. JudyVee says:

    Valerie Ponzio ….Lucinda Williams?