The Voice Recap: Major Miner

If you’re even a semi-regular watcher of The Voice Blind Auditions, you probably know the five simple rules for ensuring a better, brighter viewing experience:

1. Don’t get attached to a contestant on the basis of his/her intro package alone — not even if she’s a sweet young woman from Coal City, WV who tearfully tells the grandparents who raised her that her audition wouldn’t be possible without them.

2. Don’t get thrown by next-level buffoonery from Adam Levine — i.e. the Maroon 5 frontman asking “Are you guys sisters?” to a duo that’s clearly comprised of identical twins.

3. Know that Blake is, 99 times out of 100, going to land the in-demand country singers.

4. Brace yourself for a chorus of patronizing “Oh, wow! I messed up!” exclamations whenever coaches lay eyes on a traditionally attractive performer whose vocal performance failed to make him or her push a button.

5. Allow yourself to get caught up in the exuberance of host Carson Daly and whatever friends and relatives are backstage, weeping and whooping over their loved ones advancing to the Battle Rounds.

While you brainstorm any additional guidelines for maximum Voice enjoyment, allow me to count down Tuesday’s nine advancing vocalists from least- to most-promising:

9. Chance Peña, “I See Fire” (Team Adam) | 15-year-old with a face that may have been created in The CW’s heartthrob test laboratory slathered on twice the necessary amount of vibrato. Considering he wasn’t any better than the lesbian pastor’s daughter who wobbled her way through “Uptown Funk,” I’m not sure how he didn’t join her as one of the earliest Season 9 evictees.

8. Cole Criske, “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” (Team Blake) | Sweet teenager who dedicated his song to his late dad was able to convey an impressive amount of emotion for one so young, but his slightly Kermit-y tone and still body language had me wondering if he should’ve allowed his talent to marinate a few more years before making a play for the big leagues.

7. Celeste Betton, “Love You I Do” (Team Pharrell) | A perfectly fine vocal, but if you’re going to cover J.Hud, you’ve got to conjure up more inner fire than a lit match getting dipped in some day-old dishwater.

6. Alex Kandel, “Bright” (Team Gwen) | There was a Florence-y lilt to the opening verses that sat right at the intersection of Ethereal Ave and Powerful Pl. Still, as Pharrell noted, her ability to sing in key got less certain as the ditty progressed. Former indie darling is going to have to conquer her insecurities about performing without her band — and quickly.

5. Viktor Király, “What’s Going On” (Team Adam) | Upsettingly handsome, U.S.-born transplant to Hungary risked his budding pop career overseas for a chance to break through in America. Yet while his Marvin Gaye cover was slick and professional — conveying a smooth tone and a true grasp of pitch — it also felt simultaneously soulless and bombastic, like he was trying to maximize his reality-show impact rather than truly connecting with his lyrics.

4. Korin Bukowski, “Cecilia and the Satellite” (Team Gwen) | Her pre-performance package could’ve benefitted from 47% less quirk, but as Gwen noted, the self-proclaimed weird girl proved to be one of those rare “character voices” on The Voice who can belt a big note, too.

3. Darius Scott, “You Make Me Wanna” (Team Pharrell) | Usher’s very first hit is no easy composition, with its start-and-stop phrasing and general verbosity, but Darius handled it all without breaking a sweat — then threw in some up-and-down-the-scale runs and a ridiculous high note just to remind everyone he’s a legit contender for Sawyer Fredericks’ crown.

2. Andi and Alex, “Thank You” (Team Adam) | Twin sisters’ masterful harmonies rightfully scored them a four-chair turn, and the way they transported Dido’s ubiquitous hit from the adult-contemporary arena to something folksier proved they’ve got creativity in their corner, too. If Adam makes good on his promise not to screw them up, they could be in the mix til well past Thanksgiving.

1. Krista Hughes, “Angel from Montgomery” (Team Blake) | If this West Virginia songbird can replicate the magic of her exquisite Bonnie Raitt cover tonight, I’m not sure a genetically engineered hybrid of Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Carrie Underwood could beat Krista.

On that note, I turn the mic over to you. What did you think of Night 4 of The Voice Season 9? Vote for your favorites in our poll below, then expand on your thoughts 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. analythinker says:

    Any singer that could rearrange songs into melodically-recognizable-but-significantly-different tunes got plus points in my book.

    That’s all.

  2. Florence+TheMachineRules!!! :) #MariahSlays says:

    My favorites were Andi & Alex, Korin, Krista, and Viktor.
    They brought some creativity and emotion through their performances.

  3. Nemma says:

    Oh Michael. Your hatred of Adam is so always obvious hehehe… BTW, I have a best friend who has a younger sister whom most people thought was her twin. So you’ll never know. :) I loved Krista and Andi/Alex!!!

    • analythinker says:

      Yeah, I myself thought they were best friends at first. Until I saw the resemblance and even then, I thought they were sisters.

  4. Ange_Overrated says:

    Strongest night thus far. Krista was outstanding. Much like all the strongest singers this season, she’s in desperate need of a makeover and some charisma. She’ll go deep if not win the whole thing. I think she has what people tried to claim Sawyer Fredericks had, except she actually understands the lyrics and is a much better technical singer. She is the perfect antidote to all these snoozefest, middling “talents” The Voice regularly showcases in the country and folk genres. I’m excited about her.
    Confused by the hyperbolic praise for the duo. For people who call themselves musicians, the judges shouldn’t get too excited by two people who know how to harmonize. It wasn’t that special, people. Harmonizing is kinda what musicians regularly do. Or should be able to do, at the very least.
    Other standouts for me were the R&B guy (Darian?) and the indy chick with the polish name.

    • analythinker says:

      About the duo, for twins it’s probably easier because they’re connected “internally”? I’m just comparing them with the engaged duo and… yeah.

      I’m not too excited about Krista being on Team Blake though. I wouldn’t mind her winning because she’s good. But I can’t help but think every member of Blake’s team who advanced, did so either because they’re already good or because people voted for Blake, and not necessarily because of Blake’s mentoring. (*ready for tomatoes*)

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I know what you’re saying, but I’d be perfectly fine with Krista doing well despite who her coach is. That girl would do really well with any coach, and given how specific Blake’s musical knowledge is and how he sucks at picking non-country songs, I think he’ll do right by her.

      • Somebodyllbuyit says:

        You are completely right about everybody picking Blake. It is not due to his coaching ability. And that is not what got him a”win”. Country today is super easy make it in after all Blake is a star…. Sorry but he really not that great of a singer.

        • P-Applecakes says:

          I totally disagree and luckily, many others do also. He has such a smooth delivery in his voice and all his songs DO NOT sound the same, like so many artists out there…. I find myself totally singing along with his up tempo and my knees totally melting with the slow ballads. But onnce again, we country fans are all lumped together, as if we only have half a brain and can only manage to vote for the coach, and not the contestant. I for one, think that Chris Jamison should have won last year. But, I will say that last night Krista was awesome, if country is your cup of tea.

        • I grew up on classic country, and I think Blake Shelton has it all: a smooth, soulful voice and amazingly varied songs. I was listening to his “Sangria” hit while driving this morning and almost swooned. I want to hear Blake reprise Conway Twitty’s cover of “Slow Hand.” Now THAT’s swoon-worthy.

    • Scott says:

      I do agree, Angie. Harmony is a very basic musical skill, but regardless when done well, it’s beautiful. And some duos on the show prove that they can’t even do it well. Really like their voices together, hope they keep it up and do well.

  5. JM says:

    Andi and Alex at #2??? Did anyone else want to barf everytime they answered and giggled in unison? And their voices were just too sickly sweet. Honestly I liked Chance Pena, who is ranked dead last, better than them. (Of course, I have to admit to loving ‘I See Fire’ and the movie associated with it so perhaps I’m biased). Anyway, I liked Viktor, Alex, and my fav was also Michael’s – Krista.

    • Gailer says:

      The giggles were very annoying

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I found everything about the twins annoying. I was not into that at any level. I’m sure they’re lovely people, but I’d be perfectly happy to never hear them sing or watch them perform ever again.

      • Greta says:

        And yet Andi & Alex are far and away the biggest sellers of the night. Here are the iTunes rankings as of 9am Eastern time, Wednesday morning:
        48 – Andi & Alex ‘Thank You’
        148 – Krista Hughes ‘Angel from Montgomery’

  6. Andres says:

    Not the best episode.
    Probably two people were promsing and a lot of mehs.
    To be honest I can’t connect to Krista. I think she has a really pretty voice but I feel like something is missing. Is there something I’m not seeing?

  7. Sally says:

    Why do all the contestants now have to have a sob story or tragedy to get on the show. It’s gotten so bad my husband and I tape the episodes and fast forward through every introduction. Also it’s beginning to seem like the “banter” is scripted. You can’t tell me Blake didn’t know about the surprise engagement when he asked if they were married.

    • Gailer says:

      It’s worse when one with a sob story doesn’t get picked. I feel bad

    • Margarethe says:

      There seems to be an excess of scripted “banter” this year. Contestant contracts have leaked over time, none of these shows – including The Voice – are quite how they present themselves to viewers. When they are choosing singers, they are actually casting a TV show. Producers make the determining decisions, ensuring that the show has what they believe will be a good cast that will bring in ratings in the desired demographics. High ratings = ad revenue. It’s why The Voice has never concerned itself with finding a recording star (even more so than other talent competitions). They’re concerned with ratings. The show is incredibly entertaining and at least doesn’t cast horrendous singers as American Idol has each season, but there are subpar ones for Battle Rounds cannon fodder, as well as for their entertaining back stories, etc. But because The Voice’s main cast is the judges, the show does cast much better singers than other talent shows. But it’s all about the judges and entertainment and ratings – the competition aspect is just a framing device for the entertainment package.

      • HTGR says:

        Yeah all true points. Fact is all TV is scripted and cast even The Voice. So they don’t necessarily just pick the most promising voices to send up and that is that, but also do at least some sorting for story and so on. But yeah at least they don’t totally over the top trash people to bits if they start threatening the show pick or something, like say Idol has done more than a few times.

        In the end it’s a game and show, not a truly serious contest, it can be hard, but have to keep that in mind and also that voting on these shows tends to change as the shows get a few years in the voting tends to become more disappointing, but you have to try to always remember what it is and not take it entirely seriously and just enjoy those you like while you can even if it can be frustrating, especially in later seasons to see so many crazy goods dumped so quickly.

        • Tom22 says:

          I’m with both of you and I think we’ve all said a number of the things before but, as long as it’s the subject at hand may as well be sure it’s in thread as you guys have.

          On Michael’s question of how to enjoy the show, recognize that it is a variety show, not a focused singing competition and you’ll enjoy watching it more. “Game show”, Variety Show, maybe a Talk Show with guest entertainers. it bridges between those just being what it is.. a musical review where amateur singers perform. There is a bit of voting regarding which amateurs and semi-pros will come back but it is more about the people looking for a professional break singing than about which ones progress…

          If you view it as a random occurrence in terms of which of the singers outside of a favorite or two will get eliminated it is Much easier to watch than if you tried to equate talent to the equation. It is about viewer taste and song choice and charm of contestant with enough talent evaluation to make it vaguely a contest but not more than that.

          The show itself recognizes it is more about performances than competition with it’s heavy front loading of full performances of 50 people, and stopping the “competition” with 3 or 4 performers left at the finals and who actually gets the “hey you won” in the final minute out of something like 2000 minutes of tv a completely minor event.

          Enjoy the singing. Muse slightly about which singers other people may or may not like.

          Enjoy the arrangements and the band and the creative staging… all of that stuff takes talent too and appreciating talent shouldn’t only be focused on the contestants.

          And finally, I really do think they try to give all of the contestants a chance to do their best with the exception of the battle rounds where they are still looking for many really good performances but will choose songs in the interest of giving one singer a really good performance that they hope to stay on the show instead of selecting a more “fair” song that neither might excel at. Even then I believe there is room for upsets if their presumed better singer flounders and the presumed second tier one shows some charm and some voice.

  8. Gailer says:

    4 chair turn for Viktor?! Whatever….

  9. joan says:

    Night 4 and Gwen is wearing the same outfit everyday?

    • Paige says:

      It’s all filmed on the same day.

    • Outfits and TV – I don’t know about Gwen, but at 15, my neighbor was a featured dancer on Bandstand, in the 60’s. The month’s shows were all taped on one Saturday, so they had to bring an outfit for each ‘day’. She had her hair piled up in big ringlets, for a wedding that evening. So all month long – viewers saw her with the same extravagant ‘do! She was very attractive, and would have been noticeable.

  10. DarkDefender says:

    If Viktor doesn’t get cocky, he can probably ride his RPatz good looks to the live shows. But no way he wins, IMHO.

  11. tigerbelle says:

    Michael Slezak, your dislike for Adam is so obvious. You never has a good word to say about him and even when you’re talking about his choices you have to throw in a dig for the coach. You, Mr. Slezak, need to give the man some credit for taking his teams to the finals each and every season. He even had 3 team members one year…something that’s never been done before or since.

    • Alan Dvorkis says:

      Adam is annoying, never has anything original to say. When he stopped getting the best of the show, he started whining and groveling. Last year, when it was clear he had no chance, he mailed it in. And when he had 2 of 3 in the final and told the guy that he should be content with just getting this far and the other how she should be the winner, well that just put him over the top of rudeness.

      • Alan Dvorkis says:

        Oh and Michael as far as Cole goes, do you think it would be appropriate for a sad song about loss to be done with a kid doing a lot of moving. What is wrong with taking his beautiful voice and singing the hell out of a good song. It is called The Voice.

  12. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Also felt Andi and Alex over rated. They did nothing wrong but any harmony done well sounds great. There is nothing unique to what they do. I enjoyed it but it is nothing I would go back to. Cole on the other hand offers a unique tone, effortless emotion and sings in tune. I think he was the best of the night. Michael does not agree.

    • Timmah says:

      I thought Cole was the best too. He sounded like a young Art Garfunkel. The twins on the other hand sounded very pedestrian.

  13. Viviana says:

    I think the sisters select the wrong coach. They will be better with Pharrell. Adam said he is the best picking songs, but previous seasons showed differently. He always goes with what he likes instead of what the contestant wants.

  14. Louie says:

    You forgot…
    6. If the contestant says they’re going to pick such-and-such artist for their coach in the intro package, they will not pick such-and-such artist as their coach

    • JP says:

      and 7. If a city or state can play into the Blake/Adam banter, it WILL absolutely be asked, ie Green Bay? Blake is not a Packers fan!

  15. When will people realize that “Angel From Montgomery” was written by John Prine? You’d think on a show about MUSIC, SOMEbody would get that.

  16. Jo Winslow says:

    I agree with comments about Adam. He looks and acts like a teenaged, not a grown married man. His poor wife. Guess she has seen something we have not. Sexiest Man Alive, not sure how the hell that happened either. He doesn’t have a one pack, much less a six pack….. GO FIGURE?????

  17. Margarethe says:

    “If Adam makes good on his promise not to screw them up…” And therein lies the rub. I think in many ways that Adam’s wins in the past came despite him, not because of him. I like Adam, but he seems to have the attention span of a goldfish.

  18. Fifi Lahkay says:

    It may just be me, but I’m getting a bit of a Bowersox vibe from Krista; so far, she’s my favorite. Can’t say why, but I’m liking this season a lot more than the last.

  19. Jules says:

    Aw, I liked Cole and Viktor way better than you did. Krista was fine and I love that song, but I didn’t think she did that much with it. I would probably put Andi and Alex first, then Cole, then either Viktor or Darius..

  20. Timmah says:

    “Darius… threw in some up-and-down-the-scale runs”. That’s exactly why I couldn’t stand him. This panel needs a Simon Cowell to tell them when they’re being self-indulgent.

  21. kyriosity says:

    Every season, I go through my ritual of searching for that guy who writes that great commentary on “The Voice,” whose name and website always manage to escape me, and I have a moment of panic when I think I won’t find him again, and then I do. Sweet relief. It’s phrases like “a face that may have been created in The CW’s heartthrob test laboratory” that keep me coming back.

    I also tend to forget who the singers are by the time I get around to reading your articles, and, sure enough, I couldn’t have told you Krista Hughes’s name fifteen minutes ago, but I remembered being floored by her performance, and am delighted to have you confirm my high opinion.

  22. Meg says:

    I listen to Krista and think about Crystal Bowersox. Her voice is similar and seems just as wonderful.

    • Fifi Lahkay says:

      Check her “Me and Bobby McGee” on youtube–strong Bowersox thing going, but Krista’s got her own vibe too.

  23. HTGR says:

    For tonight gonna have to go with Andi & Alex and also Krista Hughes.