Monday night on The Voice was the final push of the Blind Auditions before the Battle Round begins next week. The coaches who were so button-happy early in the auditions sure changed their tunes with limited space left on their teams. Cee Lo started off the night with three slots left. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton each had two, and Christina Aguilera was just looking for one special someone to round out her team.
The coaches went to the extremes to win the best over, with Xtina and Cee Lo trying strategies never used before. Christina pulled out her heritage — her Irish heritage — trying to win over a Latin pop singer (it made sense at the time, trust). Cee Lo tried to convince the world that the jacket he wore was a Michael Jackson original (you can never underestimate how many pounds the camera is adding). Adam stuck to smoldering looks, and Blake went “aw shucks” country, because really, if it ain’t broke…
Here’s how their strategies worked:
Matt Cermanski – 20, Pennsylvania
Kicking off the night is Matt Cermanski, a returning artist from Season 4. The season, the self-proclaimed “rock artist,” underwhelmed with Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” but found his rock genre based on the coaches’ feedback. Matt sings John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith In Me,” and it fits him about a zillion times better than “Teenage Dream.” He has a soulful voice, plays the guitar and fits in some impressive falsettos along the way. Adam turns around first, followed by Blake and Cee Lo.
“I thought you did a great job and it sounded great,” Cee Lo says, simply.
“At some point in that song you started playing around with the falsetto stuff; it was almost like watching a cat play with a mouse,” Blake says. “All of it was good.”
“I love the fact that you’re back again. That shows you’re resilient,” Adam tells Matt. “Just the amount of growth I’ve seen in two performances is exponential.”
Matt chooses Adam, because falsettos need to stick together in this world.
Tamara Chauniece – 23, Texas
Stunning Tamara Chauniece graces the stage next with her powerhouse vocals. Prior to her current desk job, Tamara had been performing gospel music since she was 7, including a self-released album of gospel music at age 11. Although gospel is her foundation, Tamara wants to expand and connect to larger audiences; hence her pick of Beyonce’s “1+1.”
Christina knows a powerhouse when she hears it, and turns around after the first line. Cee Lo turns around next, and is jazzed to see the beauty in front of him.
“It was gorgeous and so are you. It was everything it needed to be,” he raves.
“I loved it! It touched my heart” Christina says, urging Tamara to choose her because she, too, started singing when she was 7.
Tamara picks Cee Lo over her kindred powerhouse. It’s a delightful surprise, and Cee Lo couldn’t be happier.
Brandon Chase – 20, Texas
Brandon Chase is basically the Doogie Howser of The Voice. The good-looking wunderkind graduated college when he was 17, but unlike Doogie, he went to Nashville instead of medical school next. Carson Daly hit the nail on the head (surprisingly) when he tells Brandon, “You’re highly overqualified for this position.”
Regardless, the country singer’s got dreams and performs Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” for his audition. The song choice is a little underwhelming, but he gets (unofficial) bonus points for playing guitar. Unable to resist quality country, Blake turns around early. After some encouragement from Christina and Adam, Cee Lo turns around to battle for the country singer. You can see where this is going, right?
“I can also offer you advice and song and dance and flare and fabulosity,” Cee Lo declares, after which he (semi-jokingly) claims he is wearing Michael Jackson’s original leather jacket.
“Country music is not something that you can fake,” says fellow country crooner Blake. “When I heard your voice, I heard the real deal.”
Before choosing a coach, Brandon tells everyone the story about how he almost died when he was a baby. Sales 101, Brandon: once you’ve sold them, stop selling! After that unnecessary aside, Brandon turns down flare and fabulosity, and chooses Blake.
Lupe Carroll – 26, Illinois
Flower delivery man Lupe Caroll has just about the sweetest day job around. “I really enjoy making people’s day,” he says. Awwww! In addition to pedaling petals, Lupe performs at local restaurants and farmer’s markets (double awwww), and has a cello-playing wife (it does not stop getting cuter!).
Lupe performs the Tim Hardin song “If I Were a Carpenter” (made popular by Bobby Darin). It’s a bit shaky to start, but he catches Cee Lo’s attention by the end.
“I may be a little crazy, but I ain’t stupid,” Cee Lo says of being the only coach to turn around. “You sound damn good!”
Grey – 25, Florida
Grey (no last name needed) grew up singing country before studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since graduating in May, she has been singing in a wedding band and working at Anthropologie (who doesn’t envy that discount?). She’s all stocked up on peasant skirts and a-line dresses, though, and ready to say goodbye to retail.
Grey sings Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath” and it’s not long before she proves she’s ready to be put in her notice at Anthropologie. Adam turns around, followed by Blake and Cee Lo. Before they can get to arguing for Grey (no last name needed), Blake’s chair malfunctions. After an angry-looking PA fixes it, the battle begins.
“My heart’s pounding right now. This only happens every now and then when I hear a voice that could go ahead and win this thing,” Blake raves.
“I just thought that it was very matter-of-fact,” says Cee Lo. “It was plain and simple and polite and accommodating and warm and friendly.” Then he runs out of adjectives.
“Maybe I missed out, but there’s always Battle Rounds,” Xtina says.
“I would be thrilled and ecstatic to steal you away from these guys — that I love so dearly — because I think that you’re extraordinary,” Adam says. Then he works the smoldering eyes, and it’s over. Grey (no last name needed) joins Team Adam, which closes out his team.
Michael Lynch – 27, Illinois
Irish-American Michael Lynch is an aspiring Latin Pop singer. Originally from Chicago, Michael studied music in Mexico City, where he tried to break into the scene. Now back in Chicago, he’s still focused on Latin pop fusion. His performance of Enrique Iglesias’ “Baillamos” is a little ’90s pop star nasally…which immediately attracts Christina. Blake and Cee Lo follow suit.
“Your pitch is so amazing,” Blake says. “You’re so rhythmic, so much fun.”
“You’re so taken with Spanish for an Irish white boy,” Christina marvels, then points out that she is half-Irish too.
“I’m half-amazing,” Cee Lo retorts, but to no avail. Michael picks fellow Latin fusion singer Christina. Having just completed her team, Christina is so inspired that she joins Michael on stage, salsas with him and sings along. Life may have just peaked for Michael Lynch.
Brian Pounds – 24, Texas
Full time county musician Brian Pounds is ready to hit the big stage. The denim tuxedo clad performer sings Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Unable to resist the song that’s too damn catchy for its own good, Blake happily turns around. After some encouragement from Adam and Christina, Cee Lo turns around for the fight.
“You have a great pitch,” says Blake. “What a great freakin’ sound this guy has.”
Christina tries to convince Brian that Cee Lo would be the better coach for him, and Adam agrees. They really do not want Blake to win a fourth trophy!
Cee Lo makes the excellent point that a good producer doesn’t have to produce within genre. “Rick Rubin, who produced the Beastie Boys and Run DMC also produced Johnny Cash,” he says.
The logic doesn’t work on Brian, who takes his denim tuxedo to Team Blake.
Shawn Smith – 32, New York
The final performer of the night is a singing bartender who calls himself Big Sexy. He even wears a belt buckle that says BIG SEXY, which must be custom made. Before you start to hate him from the get-go, he’s got a back story. Shawn Smith served for the US armed forces in Iraq in 2007. There, he ran over an IED, which caused him to lose 80% of his hearing. See? Can’t judge Big Sexy before you have all the details.
Shawn “Big Sexy” Smith sings Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried,” and it’s a solid performance from the heart. As you may imagine, Big Sexy sings his way into Cee Lo’s heart. “I was country before country was cool,” Cee Lo claims.
Shawn, coincidentally, the second veteran to join Team Cee Lo this year.
It’s off to the Battle Round next week, where the 48 contestants will be whittled down in half, plus four steals will happen (28 for those having too long a day to do math already). Who do you think has the strongest team going into Round 2?
You might also like