The Voice Recap: Listen to the Blind That Left Niall Horan… Well, Like This

Ladies and gentlemen, Season 23 of The Voice may have just gotten itself a new frontrunner. Monday’s Blind Auditions introduced viewers to a contestant whose performance was so impressive that it not only got Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan to all turn their chairs, it prompted the former One Direction singer to put up his dukes to keep the standout from being swiped by Blake. “I will go to blows with him outside in the parking lot,” Niall vowed. Who was the vocalist, and who ended up recruiting him? Read on, and we’ll review not only his Blind Audition but those of all the advancing contestants.

Ryley Tate Wilson (Team Niall), “Dancing On My Own” — Grade: A | This 15-year-old was the aforementioned contestant whose cover of Calum Scott’s Robyn cover so dazzled the coaches — and with good reason. His performance was emotional, controlled and at times stunningly raw. Chance even noted that Ryley hadn’t so much done amazing runs as felt them. My only worry? Though, as Niall said, there were no nerves in the youngster’s voice, he looked pretty petrified, and it isn’t like the pressure is going to ease up any.

Jamar Langley (Team Chance), “Try Me” — Grade: B | From the second he opened his mouth, this married father of one sounded to me like a golden oldie playing in a jukebox. He was totally into his rendition of James Brown, and that sucked me into it, too. As an added bonus, Jamar demonstrated the kind of showmanship that we too rarely get to see on The Voice. Blake was especially impressed by the fact that Jamar started out a little wobbly but fought through it to get on solid footing.

the voice recap ryley tate wilson ali blind auditions Allie Keck (Team Kelly), “Paris (Ooh La La)” — Grade: B+ | This twentysomething realtor rocked the metaphorical house, serving up total Heart vibes and an ear-opening ability to send notes flying up and down like they were riding roller coasters. Absolutely fierce — and not just Ann Wilson-like but Janis Joplin-esque, too, Kelly suggested. I see an Alanis “You Oughta Know” cover in Allie’s future, especially after the two-chair turn’s eventual coach mentioned wanting to work with her on dynamics.

Walker Wilson (Team Blake), “Hurricane” — Grade: C+ | Mystifyingly, this Nashville bouncer inspired a chair turn from only Blake with his rendition of Band of Heathens’ hit. Maybe Walker didn’t show as much range as some contestants, but he definitely demonstrated that he had great potential, a terrific growl and… Was it just me? There was something just plain cool about the way that the lyrics stumbled out of his mouth like they were rolling off a turning wagon wheel.

the voice recap ryley tate wilson ali blind auditions ALI (Team Kelly), “Killing Me Softly With His Song” — Grade: C | Born with profound hearing loss, this 24-year-old nevertheless managed to develop perfect pitch, her mom said during her pre-audition interview. The two-chair turn’s take on Fugees’ take on Roberta Flack was lovely but just lovely. Were it not for the extraordinariness of the feat that she’d accomplished, I’m not sure that she would’ve made much of an impression. Nice young woman, pretty voice, cool runs… just not amazing outside of what she’d overcome to sing so nicely.

Manasseh Samone (Team Chance), “Rise Up” — Grade: A | Back after failing to get a chair turn in Season 22, this classically trained singer brought not only a moving soulfulness but a surprising operatic quality to Andra Day. And as Manasseh’s voice got bigger and bigger throughout her performance, I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t turning chairs besides Chance’s. What the [bleep] do you people want? Her audition was full of feeling, gorgeous and cool. Afterwards, Kelly said that she had had a hunch that Manasseh was fighting between technique and emotion, but I didn’t hear that; to me, she nailed both.

the voice recap ryley tate wilson ali blind auditions Jerome Godwin III (Team Niall), “pov” — Grade: B+ | This college junior and aspiring dentist had me worried when he started his Ariana Grande cover. He wasn’t bad, it just seemed like maybe he had chosen the wrong song. Luckily, when he was able to let loose and belt, he sold it and then some. Hope his coach is shrewd enough to play to Jerome’s theatrical strengths, because that’s what’s going to keep giving him reasons to flash that winning smile.

EJ Michels (Team Blake), “Easy on Me” — Grade: A- | Presented as a truly Blind Audition at first, I thought that we were listening to a female singer — and one whose voice called to mind Carly Simon’s. (Based on Chance’s reaction when he swiveled his chair, he was expecting a woman, too.) But EJ turned out to be a guy — and, helpfully, a terrific singer, too. His Adele cover was, aside from one little blip that even I heard, damn near perfect. Considering that he’d been in an alt-pop band, I’m eager to hear what he sounds like on something rockier.

the voice recap ryley tate wilson ali blind auditions Laura Littleton (Team Niall), “Sign of the Times” — Grade: B | Hailing from a small town outside of Nashville, this quirky 26-year-old, who overcame depression with the help of music, put a bluegrass spin on Harry Styles smash to ear-catching effect. She also manipulated her voice like her larynx was an instrument that she was playing. Unfortunately, she used so much vibrato that she sometimes sounded like a goat. And I wasn’t certain from this performance whether if a song called for her to go really big, she’d be able to. Kelly was sure sold, though; she even used her only Block on Blake.

What did you think of Monday’s Blind Auditions? Were you as wowed by Ryley as the coaches? Did someone impress you more? Vote in the poll below, then elaborate in the comments.

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