Ah, the bittersweetness that comes with the final round of blind auditions on The Voice! Bitter because we won’t get that first aha! moment that we all love so much, but sweet because we’re ready to see what these artists can really do.
With only a few spots left on the coaches’ dream teams, tonight’s singers put it all out there for a chance to study with a superstar, while the coaches were choosier than ever. By the end of the night we had our full cast of characters and a taste of what this season was going to be bringing us.
First up was a brunette Taylor Swift in the making, who was hoping to make that same sweet music on The Voice stage. Even though Nathalie Hernandez was only 15, she was determined, even missing her own prom to take her chance here. Singing “White Horses,” Nathalie channelled the fair Ms. Swift, and it took coaches Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton mere seconds to turn, with Adam Levine soon following. The judges loved that she sounded so pure and honest, and maybe not quite as jaded as T Swift post-breakup. Whatever the case, Nathalie ultimately chose another (former) teen idol, Christina Aguilera, to hopefully follow in her footsteps.
The next crooner had gone from singing sold-out shows in Europe to singing in the street in America. A big hit as part of millennial-era boy band band called B3 (frosted tips and all), his fame didn’t travel across the Atlantic and he was bumming hard from being less than worshipped stateside The supremely coiffed and one gloved heartthrob had no trouble rustling up the crowd this time, with his rendition of Mike Posner’s “Please Don’t Go.” While the audience of girls were going all “50 Shades Of Grey” according to coach Adam Levine (and we’re sure he would know), the judges were less than seduced with the average performance, and passed on the Euro boy bander.
A Massachusetts native with tri-toned hair was up next. Though Caitlin Michele had struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for years, she used music to soothe her nerves and grow the confidence she needed. And taking on such a power ballad like Florence + the Machine’s “Cosmic Love,” she’d need all the strength she had-and wow did she deliver. The storming vocals and booming breath control were enough to tempt both Blake Shelton and then Adam into turning around, who then managed to ignore the end of Caitlin’s dynamic performance by yelling at each other over it. The yelling maybe threw off our girl Christina, because she actually sided with Adam on this one. The Xtina seal of approval seemed to do the trick, because Adam got Caitlin, leaving him only one more open spot on his team.
Yet another Nashville import, Nicole Johnson made over 40 trips to the city before committing to her dream and making the move permanent. After moving her whole family, Nicole was ready to make them proud and hopefully grab a few chair turns in the process. With a fiddle-heavy backing track, Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All,” turned into a sassy country tune buoyed by Nicole’s twangy style, earning her a button press from Cee Lo Green and Blake. Cee Lo readily admitted that he didn’t know a thang “about country,” but said that Nicole’s “perfect voice” made up for it. But it was no match for Blake’s “aww shucks” country-boy routine, that easily won over Nicole.
A French teacher with global aspirations, Kameron Corvet was looking trade in his textbooks for songbooks. Doing a staccato version of Seal’s “Crazy,” he captured that indescribable charm that Heidi Klum’s baby daddy definitely has, but didn’t manage to similarly entice the judges. Aw, we guess it’s back to the drawing (chalk)board for this professor.
As a background singer, Chevonne had been on stage for years, alongside pop royalty like Lady Gaga, but was ready to upstage the Fame Monster herself tonight. Dressed in a Gaga esque bedazzled jean getup, Chevonne gave us, appropriately, a gritty version of The Pretenders’ “Brass In Pocket.” Blake and Cee Lo once again faced off for this one, with Adam even taking bets on how much Blake would give to get the 26-year-old. Evidently, it wasn’t enough because the former Little Monster was striking new ground with Cee Lo Green, and maybe on the way to starting her own army?
And just like that, we were down to our final four, with each coach scrambling to end their teams on a high note.
Looking to land that note was 17-year-old Kayla Nevarez. Though she had been singing since she was 2 years old, her audition tonight was more about her parents than anything else. With a dad battling liver disease, and a mother who was supporting her entire family, a lot was riding on this one performance. Luckily her sly version of Estelle’s “American Boy,” convinced Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Cee Lo Green to press those red buttons. Since Christina was convinced she was already “her coach”, Cee Lo threw in the towel, but Adam fought even harder for the young talent. Christina’s Jedi mind tricks fell on deaf ears though as Kayla went with Adam, telling him post pick that “we better win this.” Hmm, with that diva attitude, maybe she did belong on Team Xtina.
A third generation singer who had worked her entire life to make her parents and grandparents’ legacy proud, brought it to the stage next. With her version of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” that made her sound much older than 16, Celica caught the eye of the three remaining available judges. The young star’s age surprised them all, but they quickly recovered as Christina Aguilera declared that she should be “on radio now.” Blake pulled out his down home charm and “pick me!” finger once again, but he was shot down, as Christina scooped her up rounding out her sweet 16 (most of whom had just celebrated that milestone).
Next up was Jessica Cayne, a bright burst of color who hid a dark past. Having struggled with bullying and then eating disorders for most of her life, Jessica was ready to shed her insecure skin and step into the light of The Voice stage. And Jessica turned it on to with a rumbling version of Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl,” which unfortunately didn’t rev up the judges. Taking the song a little too literally, the “good girl” took her “goodbye girl” shoes home with a smile that still lit up the room and a hug from Christina Aguilera.
A 46-year-old family man with rockstar dreams, Rudy Parris was ready to put himself first for the first time since his daughter was born. Now that she was grown up and with a baby of her own, Rudy finally picked back up where he left off and give it all another try. Blake could hear the country twang even before Rudy opened his mouth, and as he began singing “Every Step You Take,” Blake wasn’t disappointed. Guided by Rudy’s talent, The Police hit sounded concert ready from the beginning, as he showed off what 28 years of singing could do — getting a chair turn from both Blake and Cee Lo. And though he didn’t “look country,” Rudy went with what felt right and chose the country authority, Mr. Blake Shelton.
And then there was one, as Cee Lo found himself searching for his last recruit, telling the cameras in his one-on-one that he was ready for someone to “drive him crazy.” As a cockatoo perched nonchalantly on his bald head. That ship has sailed, sir.
The son of a bull rider, barn boy Cody Belew had a bit of a softer side. Admitting that he was probably an older black woman in a previous life, he had a penchant for soul and the fantastical — praising Cee Lo’s show theatrics in his pre-performance interview. And with a surprisingly rowdy version of “Hard To Handle” full of hip thrusts (better known as his “bam bam”), it wasn’t hard to see why Cody emulated the over the contestant. After turning away from the judges at the final notes, the adorable singer didn’t see Cee Lo turn around at the absolute last second. Once he realized that he had just managed to get that golden ticket, the overjoyed Cody rushed over to hug the “Crazy” singer and wore out the bleep button with his excitement.
And so ends the blind auditions! Next week, battle rounds! Punched up by a star studded cast of mentors and the new “STEAL”button, these promise to be the biggest battles yet!