There was a lot for us fans of The Voice to process going into Night 6 of the Blind Auditions. First of all, Nick Jonas taking a seat as a Season 18 coach. Big thumbs-up to that, no? I like Gwen Stefani as an artist quite a lot, but as a coach, she leaves something to be desired. And a little bit of her cooing over her “Blake-y” goes a long way.
Second, John Legend’s reluctance to turn his damn chair Monday night. He didn’t swivel for seven contestants in a row, among them Joana Martinez, whose lower register still had me high a day later. I know he wants to be selective, but weren’t Joana, who ultimately joined Team Blake, and Brooke Stephenson (Team Kelly) both more polished and impressive than Jared Herzog?
Finally, looking at the coaches’ teams going into the final full night of the Blinds, John’s roster wasn’t feeling like quite such a slam-dunk anymore. It was still stronger than Gwen or Kelly Clarkson’s, but Blake was adding serious firepower: not only Joana but Ricky Duran, who seemed to be everyone’s favorite of the night. Did John reclaim his frontrunner status Tuesday? Read on, and we’ll discuss his and all the coaches’ picks.
Myracle Holloway (Team Gwen), “When I Was Your Man” — Grade: B- | “Forty-four years young,” this survivor of domestic abuse and a drug-addicted mother at first struck me as having kind of a thin voice — not unappealing, just not terribly rich (a la Diana Ross). But then she revealed the emotional way that she could make that voice break, and I was sold. As Blake put it, it always “sounds like you’re just about to lose it.” Given her age — The Voice favors the young — I feared she wasn’t long for the competition. But, imperfect as this performance might have been, I was certainly interested in hearing her sing again.
Ricky Braddy (Team Blake), “The Story” — Grade: C | Having grown up “a church boy,” Ricky came out at age 36 and was excited to finally sing as his “real, authentic self.” I wasn’t sold at first at all; on his Brandi Carlile cover, he sounded at best affected as hell. His performance got more interesting when he started belting, but nah. No way was he gonna make it past the Battles. John praised his range, and the fact that he sounded like a gospel singer on his higher notes. Still, I didn’t think he had a prayer.
Damali (Team Kelly), “Ocean Eyes” — Grade: D | This 16-year-old told us prior to her audition that she was attending a military high school — her parents’ way of protecting her from the mean streets. On stage, eh, she lacked military precision. She came off earthy and kinda ethereal but suffered from pitch problems galore. I was sure that she’d blown it altogether when her high note went awry. So was Blake, apparently; when Damali was done, he started apologizing as if she hadn’t gotten any chair turns. (She did get one, but only one.)
Steve Knill (Team Kelly), “Up to the Mountain” — Grade: B+ | Presented at first as an actually-blind Blind Audition, Steve sounded like an old record to me. Kelly liked the Patty Griffin song that he chose to perform, so she turned her chair right away and then tried to bond with her new team member over the fact that they were both 37. (Mmkay.) Anyway, for once, it wasn’t a mistake that Kelly turned just because she dug the song, because when Steve opened up his voice and went big, good God, he went freaking cavernously big! Dude has some pipes on him!
Destiny Rayne (Team Legend), “Make You Feel My Love” — Grade: C | This newly-engaged Nashville waitress started off her performance so affected, it looked like she was in pain. As she went on, she demonstrated some control, and managed to land some nice, big notes. But there were also the kinda pitch problems that would’ve gotten her benched in a baseball game. For some reason, Gwen and John were so psyched about her that they left their chairs to model their outfits for Destiny. A non-starter. (Seriously, John didn’t swivel his chair for Joana Martinez, but he turned for Destiny?!?)
Khalea Lynee (Team Legend), “Best Part” — Grade: A- | This mother of two told us in her pre-performance package that she gave up her musical aspirations when she got married. Post-divorce, however, she’d begun chasing the dream again. As the last performance of the hour, we were primed for her to be amazing (a four-chair turn had already been teased). Aand… yeah, she was. She hit the stage radiating sunshine from her vocal cords. And she seemed to have control to spare. “You just mesmerized all four of us,” John said afterwards. Adorably, Khalea explained that she thought of Anita Baker as her auntie — and you could actually hear some Anita in her voice as well as a little Whitney Houston. Silverware only wished it was as polished as Khalea’s performance.
So, who turned your chair Tuesday — or knocked you off the sofa? Vote for your favorite in the poll below, then hit the comments with your reviews.