Look, I’m as enthusiastic as anybody when watching The Voice (and, judging from the comments that follow these recaps, more enthusiastic than some people). But Kelly Clarkson, as much as I love Season 14’s winning coach, has got to take it down a notch. I’m not talking about her loquaciousness when pitching to get a contestant on her team, either. Who wouldn’t try to say as much as fast as they could in that instance, especially if they cared? No, I’m talking about the way she makes a scene on her throne during the actual performance, talking, sometimes singing along (aloud). If I were the contestant, I’d be distracted, and at a moment when my life pretty much depended on my staying focused. But maybe unruly audiences are something any singer should — or eventually would have to — get used to? What do you think? Before you head for the comments to weigh in, let’s review Monday’s Blind Auditions.
Dave Fenley (Team Blake), “Help Me Hold On” — Grade: B | After working adorably hard to hide his belly during his pre-interview, this 39-year-old Texan dazzled Kelly and Blake with his heartfelt Travis Tritt cover. And, while I, too, really liked the lived-in quality of his rich voice, I didn’t hear a ton of range in his performance. He could surprise me, like Red Marlow did in Season 13, and get by on solid, sincere work. But my suspicion is, he’ll sooner than later be eclipsed by contestants that bring to the stage more firepower (Mikele Buck, Michael Lee). So maybe it was smart that he got his mama her neck hug from Blake upfront.
Steve Memmolo (Team Adam), “Spooky” — Grade: D | This 35-year-old Ben Affleck lookalike — he even has the Boston accent — was hoping that his audition would be his ticket out of his wedding band. Unfortunately, his performance, alternately dull and desperate, sounded about right for a wedding singer. Even as JHud campaigned to get him on her team, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she really wanted him at most as Battle Rounds cannon fodder. Adam more genuinely seemed to dig Steve, but I can’t see him lasting to the Knockouts. Too average, too cheesy.
Audri Bartholomew (Team Jennifer), “Never Enough” — Grade: C+ | This 19-year-old almost slayed JHud just with her selection of this showstopper from The Greatest Showman. But the coach really should’ve waited till Audri got going to get excited. The contestant had the vocal strength to shake the rafters, that was for sure. She practically knocked my TV off its perch, too. However, there were too many pitchy moments for her audition to be truly great. (See also: the fact that she only got one chair turn.) Does Audri have greatness in her? I think so. I’m just not sure she knows yet how to harness and deploy that greatness for maximum impact.
Rachel Messer (Team Blake), “I Wanna Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” — Grade: B | This small-town farm girl, who’d never actually flown before she jetted to L.A. for her audition, is so country that a chicken actually laid an egg behind her during her pre-performance interview. When she hit the stage, I was thinking that the 19-year-old couldn’t possibly sound more authentically, classically country than she did — and then she started freaking yodeling! She might not be the strongest singer overall in the contest, but you’ve gotta give it to her — that was a memorable audition down to the fringe of her vest.
Chevel Shepherd (Team Kelly), “If I Die Young” — Grade: C | Describing herself as “tiny but big” like dynamite, this 4’10”-tall 16-year-old told us that she got her unique name from her dad, who thought it sounded right for a rock star. She turned out to be a country singer, but hey, the name still works. Chevel has a powerful set of pipes and can sound really good… she just, uh, didn’t always. She has a nice vibrato to her voice, but too many off moments in her performance suggested that she doesn’t yet have the training to do as well as, say, a Brennley Brown.
Delaney Silvernell (Team Kelly), “In My Blood” — Grade: C+ | Born into a family of wrestlers, this 19-year-old befuddled her parents with her interest in becoming a vocalist. But her Blind Audition was pretty good. Not amazing, but pretty good. She sang with an appealing grittiness that suggested that she could break out during the Battles… or fade into the woodwork if that raw quality gets screechy. (Then again, that never seemed to hurt Jackie “Scream Queen” Foster.)
Anthony Arya (Team Adam), “Danny’s Song” — Grade: C | Eh. Anthony had the smile and the hair of a teen idol — and the coaches couldn’t stop raving about how cute he was — but his audition was just kinda… meh. Pleasant but instantly forgettable. What might save him going forward is the earnestness with which he performs. He didn’t deliver a vocal that was going to make anybody go, “Aw, man, wow.” But watching the way that he connected with the song, I could imagine him making viewers go, “OK, I kinda get it now.”
Natasia Greycloud (Team Jennifer), “I’m Not the Only One” — Grade: C+ | Gotta love it when a singer, as Natasia did, says they were inspired by Kelly but has to be careful not to actually mention the name of the reality show on which they’d first seen her. Anyway, after Natasia’s sad story of marrying young and losing her sense of self, she delivered an imperfect but passionate performance that demonstrated enough range to impress JHud and Kelly. There’s a solid voice in Natasia; question is, can she make it through a whole song without pitch problems so that we can really enjoy it?
Kymberli Joye (Team Kelly), “Run to You” — Grade: B+ | Sold on performing after getting a big reaction to her first solo in church, Kymberli has gone on to sing backup for acts including Childish Gambino. (The Kyla Jade Story: The Sequel?) On stage, she gamely tackled a Whitney Houston classic. And while she was no Whitney, Kymberli acquitted herself admirably, not only maintaining control of her ginormous voice but nailing the kind of runs that made Jennifer crazy that Kelly blocked her. The best of the night for me on a not-altogether-exciting night.
So, what do you think? Is Kelly a distraction during the performances? Is Jennifer an even bigger distraction? And who gave your favorite Blind Audition of Night 3? Vote in the poll below, then hit the comments.