A Season 2 semifinalist, I blog about the NBC competition for TheWrap
It's Week 2 of the blind auditions, and there's a lot of ground to cover. Now let's hunker down by the fireside and talk my favorite (and least favorite) moments from this week's “The Voice” on NBC.
1. Weird and wonderful
Sam Behymer is the adorable singing nanny of two boys and refers to herself as their personal Mary Poppins. All signs pointed to quirky, and her version of “Royals” didn't disappoint. While it was a touch affected with hints of Zooey Deschanel, it was also wild enough to win me over – with unexpected shifts and random squeaks that somehow worked for the song. Coach Adam Levine called it “weird and wonderful” and wisely nabbed her for his team (because he has never met a quirky singer he didn't like).
2. Favorite of the week
This would have to go to Sisaundra Lewis. The 44-year-old mother of three's “Ain't No Way” was sublime – the right amount of grit, range, joy and tribulation. THAT is the voice of someone who has lived, and her audition was (for me) what this show is about in its best moments – giving amazing singers a chance at center stage who wouldn't otherwise be deemed marketable by traditional industry standards. I was surprised it took four chairs so long to turn and further shocked by Adam and Usher's backhanded praise (which drove her straight into the loving arms of Coach Blake Shelton). Really, you guys? She has room for improvement? Well, you're both acting like that withholding frenemy who refuses to compliment their BFF on a new outfit — and it's not a good look for you.
Watch Lewis's performance again above.
3. Vintage soul done right
Sam Cooke is my jam, and DeShawn Washington's “Twistin’ the Night Away” was fantastic (making it mind-boggling that he had only one chair turn). Go Coach Shakira for getting it (and him).
4. This is war
The '90's are alive and well on “The Voice” stage thanks to Clarissa Serna's rendition of “Zombie.” I usually have a visceral, negative reaction to this song, but Clarissa made it her own – giving it more energy, range and grit than the original and garnering four chair turns. Shakira won her over to her team with a convoluted analogy about war and Hannibal versus Alexander the Great and tacticians versus strategists, and, oh God let's move on, because I can't.
5. Gargling with broken glass and other vocal tips
Patrick Thomson's gritty rendition of “Can't You See” was spirited and a little reminiscent of last season's Cole Vosbury, resulting in two chair turns via the dynamic duo Shevine. Blake complimented him on his pre-performance routine of gargling with broken glass (ouch!), and Adam promised he would never ask him to do that. Despite wearing plaid, Patrick went with Team Adam.
6. Montage madness
Here we go again with the montages. I know the show wants to fly through these blinds, but I can't imagine how frustrating it is to make a team and not even see your audition air. It's a disservice to viewers and contestants. NO ONE likes it, and I wish “The Voice” would take note.
7. Don't judge a book by its cover
Stevie Jo's ponytail screamed alternative rock, but his voice screamed “Usher!” during his assured and soulful take on Coach Usher's own “There Goes My Baby.” Stevie was the biggest surprise for me this week – another pleasant reminder that you can't judge a book by its ponytail. The other coaches gave up and let Usher have him, because – Usher.
8. Let your foot do the talking
The Brothers Walker are a duo with a twist, because they're TWINS with similar facial hair and tons of dry charm. Their “Keep Me in Mind” was strong, with solid harmonies and great individual voices (extra points for not wearing matching clothing!). Usher was so moved he pushed his button with his foot, exerting the bare minimum of energy required to get them on his team.
9. '80's rockers unite
We were visited by the best of the '80's in two different ways this week. First, Ryan Whyte Maloney served us some delicious '80's Corporate Rock by singing Journey's “Lights,” earning him a well-deserved spot on Team Blake. Then Nashvillian Meagan Ruger channeled '80's Rock via 2002's P!nk (“Just Like a Pill”), giving an energetic performance that also landed her on Team Blake.
10. You have soul. I have a soul.
Emily B.'s “Wicked Game” was my favorite song choice this week. The new mother (who previously had a harrowing encounter with life-changing brain surgery) was luminous onstage, giving us a slow burner of a performance that culminated in some dramatic notes and inspired three chair turns. While Blake had the most convincing argument (“You have soul; I have a soul!”), Emily chose the more nurturing (and convincing) Shakira.
11. Baby you're a firework
Audra McLaughlin rounded out the week with a scorching performance of “Angel from Montgomery” that was both silky smooth and wonderfully gritty. While all four coaches fought hard for her, Blake's play of the Miranda Lambert card and vivid description of the Team Blake fireworks he was seeing won her to his side. Note: Maybe those “fireworks” were a result of whatever was in Blake's cup? Just a thought.
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.