I am live blogging The Voice 7 premiere right here! It’s the first night of the Blind Auditions. Join the discussion.
The verdict on the new team? LOTS of chemistry! Gwen Stefani is SO entertaining, but the two singers on her team are total cannon fodder. Before I call her Shakira part II, I’ll wait to see how things go after she works with her team. If she can help the artists grow, I’ll be on board.
Pharrell nabbed two VERY talented singers for his team. I appreciate that he does not turn for just anybody. As a producer, I expect him to be a wonderful coach. Watch out Adam and Blake! Neither of you may take a contestant to the end this season.
Blake Shelton has two fine country singers on his team so far. James David Carter, at 34, is a polished, experienced performer. Allison Bray is 18 with loads of potential. Both are very talented. Blake continues to be hilarious.
Hey Adam Levine! Standing on your chair and waving your arms like a lunatic, shouting about how competitive you are, is not very convincing. It’s no wonder you lost talent to other coaches tonight. While Clara Hong is total cannon fodder, TSA agent, Damien, could be a contender.
The Voice 7: So far so good!
We kick off the premier with the Season 7 coaches–Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell Williams–performing a SUPER HOT rendition of “Hella Good” by Gwen’s band, No Doubt. Even country boy, Blake, grooves along!
Ha. Gwen hands sparkly “Team Gwen” T shirts to all the singers who choose her!
Luke Wade -31 – Dublin, TX – “That’s How Strong My Love Is ” by Otis Redding – His dad is an artist. He danced as a kid at his mom’s studio. At 13, he lost the sight in one eye in a paintball accident. Blake thinks he hears high heels. Hee. More like Cuban heels. Blake laughs when he turns around. The chairs turn QUICKLY for this blue-eyed soul singer. He’s good! He’s so mild-mannered and straight laced, you’d never guess the singer was full of so much soul. But he is. So much so, Adam and Pharrell are literally standing on their chairs. Adam wants to swing from the rafters. Blake accuses him of being high. Gwen boasts her band experience (he’s in a band too). Pharrell simply drops some names: Justin, Robin…”I know what to do with that voice,” he says. Gwen accuses Blake and Adam of calling it in! “I’m fresh and exciting.” Blake brags about his 3 wins. Ultimately, Luke Chooses Team Pharrell. That was kind of a no-brainer. Luke says Pharrell has helped make the careers of many artists he admires. – DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES
Clara Hong – 22 – “Chuck E’s in Love” by Ricki Lee Jones – She moved to America from South America when she was a little girl. American music helped her learn the language. She quit school to pursue music. She works as a banquet server to make ends meet. She’s very teary as she describes her struggles growing up and making it in the music biz.She’s got a smooth jazz thing going on. I wasn’t expecting that. She’s got a rich and pleasant tone, but I’m not convinced she’s special. Gwen, Adam and Pharrell turned for her, though. Pharrell compares her tone to silk. Gwen feels the song fits her. Gwen can help her with stage presence. She actually takes the stage to demonstrate. She sings a bit of “I’m Just a Girl” to demonstrate how to “suck them into your world.” Gwen is right, she holds back. That’s going to be a problem for her. Adam recites a lovely poem to woo her. OMG. This is pretty funny. Pharrell spits a poem off the top of his head! Clare chooses Team Adam. Which is a little surprising, because in her intro, Clara namechecked Pharrell as her fav. But later, she says Adam’s pitch convinced her. – DOWNLOAD FROM iTUNES
Bryana Salaz – 16 – Texas – “Problem” by Ariana Grande – A military brat, Bryana has moved all over the country with her family. Her dad is recovering from a bout with Hepatitis C, and can’t be with her on the audition. Wow. The coaches turn really fast for her…except for Pharrell, who doesn’t turn at all. Maybe because he realizes that the pop vibe she’s going for isn’t quite working. Her high notes are so strident. And there is a distinct lack of swag. You can’t sing “Problem” unless you’ve got swag for days. The coaches fight over who is the most qualified. Adam teases Gwen about her age “I started listening to your music when I was her age!” Gwen calls Bryana a “Sparkly princess girl.” and feels they can connect in a way the rest won’t, BECAUSE SHE’S A GIRL! Pharrell puts in a plug for his girl, Gwen. Blake notes that he brought another 16 year old (Danielle) to a win. Ultimately, she listens to Pharrell. Bryana chooses Team Gwen. A good fit. However, Bryana is total cannon fodder. – DOWNLOAD FROM iTUNES
Dennis Bell – 52 – Louisiana – “She Used to Be Mine” by Brooks and Dunn.- Look at him when he was younger! He was a regular on the Louisiana Hayride. Now he’s a dirt farmer. When his dad had a heart attack, he gave up music to run the family business. Whoa. He’s come back to music after 22 years. This guy won’t make it to live shows, but he’s got a great backstory. Hm. He’s just OK. Nobody turns around at first. The voice is thin and the tone a bit wobbly. Blake almost pushes the button, but then doesn’t. Aw. I feel for this guy. But he doesn’t have it. Right decision not to turn around. He got a minute on television, so good for him. Blake thinks he has a true country sound, but seemed out of practice. Adam felt his pain. It’s a gift to be able to move people. Adam has second thoughts. He wished he had turned.
Damien – 35 – Monroe Louisiana – “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men – He works for TSA in LAX. He was involved with a well reported shooting at the airport. His partner got shot in the leg, another was killed. He sang at his funeral. That’s intense. After the shooting, it inspired him to go even harder for his dreams. Those 3 chairs turned fast. Blake took a minute, but he turned too. The Voice has had better soul singers, but Damien is solid. Nice tone and phrasing. After he finishes, he breaks down in tears. “I’ve been told no so many times, it feels good to have you guys turn around for me.” Pharrell tells him that his voice is amazing. Blake complains that TSA took his pocket knife. “That’s over,” says Adam. “You’re a singer now.” Gwen believes she could learn a lot from Damien. Adam loves his passion. Blake compares him to Bill Withers. Damien chooses Team Adam – DOWNLOAD FROM iTUNES.
Allison Bray – 18 – Louisville, KY. – “Merry Go Round” by Kacey Musgraves – She auditioned for Season 6 and didn’t get a chair turn. I thought she was robbed back then, to be honest. I’m glad she’s back. Since last season, she’s got a rock/country band together! She’s graduating high school this year. Gwen and Blake turn pretty first. Much to Blake’s dismay, Adam eventually turns. She needs some work, but there’s something about her voice that I like. She knows how to turn a phrase. She’s got potential to be a great storyteller. Blake calls her a breath of fresh air. He’s really excited! Pharrell thinks she’s destined for Blake! She probably is. Blake calls P his “boo.” Gwen chastises Blake for passing up good singers. “Don’t speak!” he sings. Gwen stresses that she knows how to go outside of the box. Adam wants to shake things up. And bother Blake at the same time. But in the end. Allison chooses Team Blake. – DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES
Megg – 23 – Redondo Beach – “Celebrity Skin” by Hole – She’s a musical theater gal. She’s starred in several musicals. She’s got pink hair! She loves Gwen Stefani and is in a band called Party of One. Wow. This is actually…terrible. As a musical theater vet, I expected some incredible singing. But this is pretty pitchy. There’s lots of scratchy shouting, and not much else. And as a rock singer, she’s not compelling. I love this song. She’s not pulling it off. Not surprisingly, no one turns. Blake didn’t care for her enunciation. Pharrell thought her pitch was ok, but missed subtlety. Gwen thinks the visual might have sold her more. She likes the aggressiveness. Pharrell tells her to come back. Gwen is looking for a singer with their own unique sound. Ouch! I hope Megg doesn’t feel bad when she watches that back.
Taylor John Williams – 23 – Portland OR – “Heartless” by Kanye West – Aw. He works at a dog hotel. Happy hour for the owners and their pooches! That’s hilarious. He sings a SUPER DUPER SLOW cover of “Heartless.” He’s very jazzy there on his guitar. Adam and Gwen turn around. I’d probably pay attention if he was playing in a club, but his voice and performance are pretty non-descript. This song has been given the white-boy treatment many times. He brings nothing new here. The version from Season 1 runner up, Dia Frampton showed more artistry and originality. Adam calls him the real deal. Hm. Gwen feels he made it his own. She can tell he is an artist. “Every single note was perfect,” says Adam. He’s a songwriter, apparently. Gwen says she needs to be around artists like Taylor, who will inspire her as she writes her next record. She’s good! Pharrell didn’t press his button, because he thought Adam understood his voice, but Gwen understood his future. Eh. He’s cannon fodder. Taylor chooses Team Gwen. – DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES
Elyjuh Rene – 18 – Long Beach, CA – “XO” by Beyonce – Oh no. Dude has a momager. Never a good sign. His dad left the family when he was 4. Music was his outlet. He’s no stranger to performance arts competitions. Adam and Pharrell turn pretty quick. And for good reason. He’s good! A very smooth tone, beautiful phrasing. He’s got charisma and can sell a pop song with emotion and vulnerability. Before he turned around, Blake believed he was listening to a girl. Gwen loves his emotion (he teared up). Adam loves his vulnerability. Pharrell calls him “anointed” and can tell he’s been through a lot. Adam loves his joy and passion. Adam screams “I’m competitive!” That’s not really convincing. Elyjuh chooses Team Pharrell. No surprise. Pharrell’s pitch was convincing. – DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES
Bianca Espinal – 21 – New York City – “Foolish Games” by Jewell – Her dad is a musician. They busk together in New York subways. Pretty successfully! Oh. No. This is not good. Her pitch is ALL OVER THE PLACE. She’s not pleasant listening. Nobody turns a chair. Bianca felt she could do better. What she was feeling (general unease), the coaches were feeling too, says Pharrell He’s extraordinarily kind to her. He suggests, that when she returns to audition again, that she makes sure to have a good time. She’s crying. Pharrell takes the stage to give her a big hug. Poor thing. She was obviously really nervous. She’s got to find that inner confidence before she returns to audition again.
James David Carter – 34 – Atlanta GA – “Nobody Knows” – He played football in high school, but his career ended when his knee snapped. After, James pursued music. He has been opening for big acts for years now. WOW THOSE CHAIRS TURNED FAST. James is polished, confident, and possesses an incredibly commercial sound. Years performing on the road has served him well. Not only is his voice radio friendly, but he’s also a charismatic performer. The judges give him a standing ovation. James thanks Gwen for teaching him to spell banana. Ha. Adam stands on his chair. Gwen stand on the BACK of her chair! Adam does too. Eep. Somebody is going to break a chair, or maybe a leg. Pharrell calls James the “total package” and is impressed with his lack of nerves. Blake calls him the best country audition he’s ever heard on The Voice. Oh. James opened for Blake when he had a mullet. Blake feels he needs a coach who will understand where he’s coming from. Adam guarantees victory if James chooses him. Wisely staying in his lane, James chooses Team Blake. That seems to be the only choice, really. – DOWNLOAD FROM ITUNES
- Clara Hong
- James David Carter
- Allison Bray
- Bryana Salaz
- Taylor John Williams
- Luke Wade
- Elyjuh Rene