Dial 9-1-1! A scorcing-hot firefighter in a tight black henley and white cowboy hat somehow failed to make a single coach’s chair turn on tonight’s episode of The Voice — the reality juggernaut that airs on the same network that brings us Chicago Fire, for cryin’ out loud!
OK, so maybe the guy’s upper register was wobblier than a newborn foal in a windstorm. And yeah, the dude himself admitted he hadn’t exactly rocked the mic. It’s a good thing, then, that Episode 3 of the show’s fifth season was packed with enough female talent to erase any lingering cries of “but those biceps!” or “there is no God!” after the unceremonious rejection of Zach Hinson (a man whose Google Image Search results are disappointingly slim).
But I digress…
Let’s talk about those ladies! A 16-year-old overachiever whose brain was divided between aerospace engineering and music. A 15-year-old with a monster set of pipes and a vocal instructor whose mane would leave your average male lion skulking into the brush with feelings of inadequacy. A Colorado hotel administrator who’s got me worried she picked the wrong team. Any one of ’em could be a legit contender for the Season 5 crown, and along with the other six Battle Rounds-bound contenders from tonight’s episode, made for a decidedly sweet night of music.
With that in mind, let’s cut to my ranking (from least- to most-promising) of the night’s successful auditioners:
9. Justin Blake, “Sure Be Cool If You Did” (Team Adam) | Far and away the weakest vocalist to advance to the Battle Rounds in this episode (if not the entire season), a fact made sadder by Justin’s wispy moustache, plus this dubious sound bite: “I need this to happen today because I have a little girl on the way.” Oh, buddy, supporting a newborn baby shouldn’t be an “If we build it, the income will come” kind of situation!
8. Lina Gaudenzi, “Landslide” (Team Xtina) | Former teen model has a ’70s A.M. radio vibe to her voice, but if you’re gonna cover Fleetwood Mac’s classic, you’d better at least have me scanning the room to scope out the closest box of Kleenex. And alas, Lina’s decent but ultimately surface-level interpretation never came close to activating the waterworks.
7. Ray Boudreaux, “Use Me” (Team Blake) | Cute single dad (who mows lawns to pay the bills) was described by Adam as looking like Blake but sounding like Cee Lo. And while there may be some kernel of truth in the statement, the sad fact is that this is one of those auditions I won’t remember five days from now, let alone by the end of the season.
6. Briana Cuoco, “You and I” (Team Xtina) | It was hard to root against Briana — for the sole fact that her adorable big sis Kaley (of The Big Bang Theory fame) was cheering her on with the enthusiasm of Sheldon Cooper being a finalist for the Nobel Prize in physics. Nevertheless, while Kaley’s current personal assistant hit some big notes toward the end, her obvious nerves threw off her pitch for the song’s opening half and prevented her from ever truly catching the song’s groove. Haley Reinhart she ain’t.
5. Preston Pohl, “Electric Feel” (Team Adam) | I loved the Bob Seger-y grit in the voice of this former member of Christian rock band StorySide:B — and the way he used it on the kind of funky electronic jam you normally wouldn’t hear on a reality singing competition. That final falsetto run showcased a possible Achilles Heel, and I’d be more optimistic if he’d gone with Cee Lo, but it’ll still be interesting to see what Preston does next.
4. George Horga, Jr., “Treasure” (Team Cee Lo) | Potential Season 5 heartthrob showcased fine phrasing and near perfect pitch on his Bruno Mars cover — while working the stage like a seasoned pro. Not sure why he only turned one chair, but don’t underestimate him for Adam, Xtina and Blake’s mistakes. Plus, I’d bet his hair could beat Justin Bieber’s in a coiff-wrestling match.
3. Timyra-Joi, “Girl on Fire” (Team Xtina) | I might be willing to root for Timyra just for another chance at seeing her mentor Leigh’s 27 lbs. of hair in action. But let’s be honest: The latter chica clearly knows a thing or two about vocals — seeing how Timyra demonstrated gale-force power without falling into the teen-contestant trap of muddying up the melody with too many runs. Is it too early to describe Timyra by saying, “This! Girl! Is! On Fiy-ahhhhh…”? (Probably.)
2. Monika Leigh, “The Thrill Is Gone” (Team Blake) | I thought Monika was being set up for an early exit when she revealed she’d given up her dreams of music for a few years to take a steady paycheck at a Colorado hotel. (Come on…the general theme of this show for four seasons has been “give up your home, your organs and your personal happiness, but never your music!) But then Monika opened her mouth and out came this languid, dreamy tone that dissipated into a sexy whisper on her lower register, and I thought, “If one of these chumps doesn’t hit his button…” Thankfully, all three male judges came to their senses, though I wish Monika had made her choice based on genre and vibe (Cee Lo) instead of simple flattery (i.e. Blake’s “I want to build my team around this girl”).
1. Juhi, “Mercy” (Team Cee Lo) | It’s possible I’m already a huge Juhi fan because she’s perhaps the first 16-year-old in reality competition history who publicly admitted she wasn’t 100 percent certain about her career path. “Should I really be doing this?” asked the kid who’s also mulling aerospace engineering as a possible alternative to rocking the mic. That said, Juhi’s “Mercy” was sensational — flirty without being cutesy (I loved the little squeak at the ends of certain lines) and rhythmically on point. Better still, Juhi’s claim that she wants to be like a combination of Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain hints at further, darker risks to come. And couldn’t The Voice always use further, darker risks? If Blake Shelton’s planning on songs like “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” this season, then please answer with a resounding “YES!”
And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Episode 3 of The Voice‘s fifth season? Who were your favorite wannabes? Did you disagree with any of the coaches’ or contestants’ decisions? Take our poll below, then expand on your thoughts in the comments!