The Voice season 17 Blind Auditions continue with returning coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. In the wake of Adam Levine’s abrupt departure from the show, Blake gal-pal Gwen Stefani takes a seat on the panel. Carson Daly returns as host. We’ll be live blogging all the Blind Audition performances right here.
Joana Martinez – 15 – Miami FL – Call Out My Name by The Weeknd – Fifteen years old, she’s a sophomore in high school. Her dad, a drummer, is a big supporter. Jona’s superlative at her performing arts school: Most likely to win The Voice. Joana would LOVE to work with Kelly. We previewed this performance–click the link above. Joana voice is so mature and she interprets the song’s mature themes with a sophistication that’s beyond most 15 year olds.
I still think the song is too old for her but maybe that’s just me. Kelly, Blake and Gwen turn. John calls it a “near perfect performance,” but never explains why he didn’t turn. Blake argues with John, calling it “perfect.” Indeed, the young singer has a full, unique, smokey voice. And her phrasing is well developed. Kelly suggests she open her eyes more, while Blake disagrees. He thinks what she’s doing is just right. “Come with a coach that got 3 people in the finale last year,” says Blake. In the end, Joana Picks Blake Maybe she changed her mind because she fell for Blakes’ obsequious lines. Kelly wants to help make her a better singer and performer, and would have been a great choice. Hm.
Brooke Stephenson – 28 – Boulton CT – Let Him Fly by Patty Griffin – The singer was raised in a tiny Colorado town. After high school, she attended Berklee in Boston, where she majored in music business. But eventually she realized she really wanted to perform and took the leap. I wonder is she lacked the confidence to pursue a singing career at first, because she certainly has the talent. Brooke’s tone hits like a freight train the minute she opens her mouth to sing. What a gorgeous voice! Blake, Kelly and Gwen hit their buttons. John is being super picky right now. Gwen calls her voice “soothing” and “calm.” That’s a thing she has said about several contestants so far. Brooke clarifies that she considers herself an Americana artist, rather than country. Kelly declares her LOVE for Patty Griffin, calling her “gifted” and her voice “beautiful.” Blake once again claims he won’t mess with her, while Kelly promises that she WILL challenge her. Gwen refers to her crazy long career. It’s a thing she dances around. Gwen has the longest career, by far, of anyone on the panel. I wish she’d own that more. She turned 50 last week, and hasn’t been shy about it. Good for her. Brooke Picks Kelly. Yay! She wants to be challenged rather than have smoke blown up her butt. Brooke calls her a “strong woman in this industry.” YASSS.
Zach Bridges – 28 – Pearl MS – Ol’ ‘Red by Blake Shelton – The singer is not only covering a Blake song, but one that represents his bar business. Don’t bring shame on it Zach! The singer works at a VA hospital. The regular hours allow him time to gig at night. He didn’t pick up guitar until 20 years of age, after which he started a Youtube channel. His voice doesn’t really project? He’s solid, but nothing special. Ha. He’ll be sacrificed in the Battles. Blake turns, and then predictably, Gwen hits her button. This is the thing. When it looks like a one chair turn for Blake, Gwen turns just to serve the TV drama. I mean, she literally has ZERO chance with this guy and knows it. “I’m going to fight you!” she says. Zzzzz. “Stay over there!” says Blake. “Until tonight!” Gwen says, coyly. I’M BEGGING YOU STAAAHPPP. Gwen pretty much admits during her speil that she’s not at all serious. John’s only problem is the “song selection.” Har har. Blake gets serious and tells a poignant story about how he find the song early in his career. He considers “Ol Red” to be his signature. It’s likely why he named the string of clubs he owns after it. That was quite the gamble Zach took picking a song so near to Blake’s heart. But the risk paid off. Zack Picks Blake.
Elliemae – 21 – Jerome ID – Merry Go Round by Kacey Musgraves – She grew up on a dairy farm. Her parents started with three cows, and now they have 3,000. MOO! She feels the pressure to join the family business, and appreciates the support her family has given her, but she really wants to pursue music. Oh. this performance is edited down. Will she get a turn? Her performance is solid, but nobody is moving to hit their buttons. Blake turns his chair. Gwen looks shocked. Oops. Blake didn’t give her much time to chase after him. Kelly loves her tone and song selection, “You have the best coach,” she says. I like her voice. I’m surprised she didn’t get more turns.
Callie Lee – 27 – Atlanta GA – No Excuses by Meghan Trainor – She works at a gas station convenience store, waking up at 3:45 am every day in order to make the (cardboard) pizzas at 5 am. God bless her. Her family has struggled financially, always. Callie looks up to her mom, who always did her best to provide. She’s not a super-strong vocalist, but makes up for that with personality and swag. Eep. She probably should have not tried those high notes. She couldn’t really reach them. Therefore, No Turns. John calls the song “challenging.” Kelly was concerned about her breath control.
Jessie Lawrence – 31 – Newark NJ – All or Nothing by O-Town – By day, Jessie works as a commercial painter. There were dark times in his childhood–he lived in a series of group homes. He was lonely. Singing and dancing saved him. Gwen turns her chair. I’m a little surprised Gwen hit her button, actually. He’s a by-the-books retro soul singer soul singer. But Gwen found him genuine, so there is that. Kelly didn’t turn, because she is waiting for a female.
Brennen Henson – 21 – Flint MI – Riptide by Vance Joy – Brennen notes the diversity in Flint, but admit that the water crisis in 2014 was a challenge (politicians made bad decisions that resulted in the water supply becoming poisoned). He hopes to bring a positive light to the city. Singing helped with his confidence. Describing himself as an alternative artist, he has his eye on Team Gwen. Brennen has a nice tone! But he starts off tentatively. But eventually, he brings passion to his performance. It’s infectious. Gwen turns and THEN OF COURSE AT THE LAST MINUTE BLAKE. Blargh. We’re currently living in predictableville. Gwen’s dad is from nearby 8 Mile. So there Blake. “You’re so cute!” she gushes. He’s a songwriter, and Gwen loves that. Oh noes Blake is jealous. EYES ROLL. And again, Blake pretty much admits that he’s not serious about having Brennen on his team at all. Brennan picks Gwen
Jared Herzog – 21 – Niceville FL – Speechless by Dan + Shay – His girlfriend, Cree, is a huge The Voice fan. Auditioning for the show was her Valentines Day gift. OK then. A senior at Lee University, he studies classical singing where season 9 winner Jordan Smith attended. Oh nice! Jordan calls in to encourage him! Finally John hits his button, along with Blake and Gwen. John not hitting his button is a thing tonight. I’m not sure why John was suddenly moved to turn. Jared’s voice is very…whispery. That performance was underwhelming. John loved his controlled breathiness. Jared took the audience on a journey, he says. Jared turned the song pop, which impressed Kelly. Blake calls him a great singer, even if he isn’t actually country. “You pick me, you get Blake,” promises Gwen. “You pick me, you get [wife Chrissy Teigen]! We’ll invite you over for dinner,” says John. Heh. Jared Picks John. “I wanted to work with you for a long time,” he says. Also, Chrissy is supposedly a fantastic cook. Jared chose wisely!
Clayton Cowell – 27 – Hampton VA – Just Friends (Sunny) by Musiq – He’s a tattoo artist by day. Carson drops by the shop to chat about his work. Clayton does something called “portrait tattooing.” He starts off the performance with a little beat boxing. But that’s the most interesting part. The singing isn’t so intriguing. He has a solid voice, but not striking. John felt the song didn’t allow him to showcase his voice. Kelly wanted to hear longer notes. Aw. He looks so disappointed. Attempting to console the downcast singer, Gwen calls getting here is a big deal. To no avail, however. – No Turns.
Lauren Hall – 25 – West Hollywood CA – One and Only by Adele – She’s been watching The Voice since season 1 (and loves season 13 winner Chloe Kohanski!) Auditioning for the show a 7th straight year, it’s the first time she has made it to the coaches. In school she earned a soccer scholarship, but it was hard to juggle sports and music. Eventually, she made her choice. Family-wise, her dad and his 11 siblings moved to the States from Honduras. He’s worked hard, she ways. OK. I’m guessing Hall is a stage name. Heh. Kelly hits her button FAST, John seemed SO CLOSE but he refrains. Kelly is probably the best coach for her, so it all works out. John calls it “full and earnest,” he admits to almost hitting his button. Gwen thinks Lauren SOUNDS like Kelly. I don’t know about that, but their styles are similar.
Matt New – 29 – Midland TX – Sunflower (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) by Post Malone, Swae Lee – Matt grew up in the church, and in high school, be began leading music there. But at 18, he married after his girlfriend got pregnant. He put his musical dreams on hold. At first, they barely scraped by. There were random jobs to make ends meet. Finally, he opened a gym, and it’s a success. He’s ready to get back to music. His wife will do everything to support his dreams! Currently, the couple have two little boys. It sounds like they have been through so much, but managed to come out the other side. I was expecting a country singer! But no, Matt is a soulful pop crooner. He possesses a good tone, and a real sweet falsetto. Kelly, Gwen, and then John at the last minute, turn. Gwen heard so many genres in his voice. Gwen can help bring out his personality, she says. Kelly loves his voice and his passion. She appreciates his strategic vocal approach. John likes his versatility, tone and power. After bringing the family on stage, he consults with them before choosing. Matt Picks John Blake and John both thought he’d pick one of the girls.
Monty Montanero – Remedy by the Black Crowes – This throwback rock singer is straight out of the 70s. He’s got that Chris Robinson vibe going. The performance is maybe TOO much of a tribute. Also, he probably should have dialed back the runs! So No Turns. When the coaches finally face the stage, they are surprised to find a lanky and bespectacled Latino dude in front of them. And he’s from Nashville! Blake thought the singing needed more control. John liked the energy, but he agrees with Blake. He needed more finesse. Kelly wanted more dynamics. For me, it was the lack of originality, rather than control. Rock singers are expected to let loose.
Ricky Duran – 29 – Worcester MA – River by Leon Bridges – Eight months ago, Ricky moved to Austin, Texas. His song choice means a lot to him. He heard it shortly after his mom passed away. If that’s not tough enough, he lost his dad to suicide at age 22. It’s been very tough times for Ricky and his siblings. His parents came to the States from Guatemala. Both of his parents wanted him to follow his dreams. So he is. 4 Chair Turn. That happened really fast. He’s a soulful, emotive singer, with a surprising falsetto. His runs are never over the top and are beautifully phrased. John loves his control and tone. He can help him pick the right songs, John says. Gwen calls his performance “tasteful.” Kelly loves singers who can tell a story. His first concert was a No Doubt concert. But still, Ricky Picks Blake. Blake mentions that Ricky is his only 4 chair turn so far.
The standouts tonight were Joana Martinez, Brooke Stephenson and Ricky Duran. Honorable mention to Lauren Hall!