It was a night of compelling arrangements, with a singer-songwriter twist on Mandy Moore's "Candy" and a 15-year-old girl ambitiously taking on R&B classic "Unchained Melody."
As the teams are starting to fill up on “The Voice,” the night saw more contestants only getting one- or two-chair turns, including a hilarious moment where Blake Shelton finally used his Block -- on his wife.
In fact, only one artist across a two-hour show got more than two chairs to turn, and that one wound up being the big four-chair turn of the night. We found ourselves scratching our heads a few times throughout the show, though, about some of the acts that didn’t get more Coaches fighting over them.
If it’s possible to imagine burnout on a show like this, Blake certainly seemed to be showing signs of it tonight, though it may have just been a clever edit of his more lackluster pitches throughout the Blind Auditions.
It didn’t help that everyone was going in hard on him, with Camila especially brutal -- if she comes back and Kelly Clarkson is still gone, she may have earned that far seat with how she and Blake have started going back and forth. John Legend is just too nice.
There were plenty of big voices, but the more compelling moments came with unexpected voices and, in some cases, unexpected packages. Who would have guessed a 15-year-old girl would tackle “Unchained Melody”? Who would think to strip down Mandy Moore’s “Candy” into a coffee house track or jazz up Patsy Cline? Who sings true rock anymore?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Blake Shelton, Camila Cabello, Gwen Stefani, and John Legend. And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first and then see how they do as the season progresses.
(“Shallow,” Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga - 18, Howell, NJ) Manu performed on “The Voice Kids” on Telemundo at 11 and the Colombian edition at 14. So she sees this as the next step. Will the third time be the charm? She almost had Gwen at the first note, but then Gwen hesitated because Manu just doesn’t have full control of her voice. Maybe she hasn’t grappled with it fully as it’s evolved and grown with her. There seems to be a lot of power there in the bit we heard, but it veered into shrill at one point, which was a huge turn off. It just wasn’t working for her today.
Results: No Chairs Turn
(“Rescue,” Lauren Daigle - 22, Dallas, TX) She had us in the early bars of this song, but then she pushed the throttle to 11 and started missing too many notes along the way. It’s clear she has a lot of power, but she seems to have very little control of it, which is an absolute disaster. This is a song with a message of love and support, but all we got from her was belting out one note after another. It was missing that emotional component.
Results: No Chairs Turn
(“Beautiful Girls,” Sean Kingston - 18, Miami, FL) Kique has an interesting tone to his voice and a solid enough range, though we kept expecting him to reach for his head voice and a high note. He never quite went there, and his transitions from low to high weren’t totally smooth, but a lot of this is because he’s so young yet. There’s definitely a talent in there that could be molded into something great. We did appreciate the liberties he took with the melody, but it wasn’t enough to give a sense of what kind of artist he sees himself as.
(“Woodstock,” Joni Mitchell - 36, Cumberland, RI) She definitely carried the spirit of Joni into this performance, giving a very singer-songwriter vibe in her approach. It wasn’t completely consistent for us vocally, though we only got a short snippet of her performance, but we did kind of enjoy her lower natural register and that bit of smokiness in the way she sings.
Results: John Turns [Team Legend]
(“Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” Cole Swindell - 23, Nashville, TN) We didn’t get to hear a lot of this, but for us it was a matter of emphasis and power. The tone was fine throughout and he has a solid country song, but we thought he would really punch that chorus and it just didn’t happen. The vocal was a bit too weak for the song he chose. Had he gone with a country ballad, he might have gotten a different result. He revealed a weakness here.
Results: No Chairs Turn
(“Turning Tables,” Adele - 28, Saginaw, MI) It’s daunting for anyone to take on an Adele song, but even more so when it’s a man trying to tackle that soulful sound, unless they just completely tweak it and make it their own. Well, this artist didn’t do that, taking the song on pretty directly in a remarkable way. We didn’t get to see much of this, but there was a hint of grit in that voice, a lot of power and an impressive high end.
(“Candy,” Mandy Moore - 30, Glendale, CA) It wasn’t a flawless performance, but the fact that she took a pop bop and twisted it into this stripped back vocal showcase was utterly fascinating. She didn’t nail every note she sought, but the arrangement was so compelling, we appreciated the audacity of some of her choices. Her artistry is so evident, it’s just a matter now of reining in her instrument and crafting the right arrangement to really get to the heart of each song.
Results: John Turns [Team Legend]
(“Crazy,” Patsy Cline - 17, Leavenworth, KS) A little unpolished and warbly at times, we nevertheless were impressed with her take on an old-old-school country classic. She didn’t do too much with it, but there were little touches here and there to make it her own. She definitely sounds her age, with a lot of work to be done to hone her gift and get here where she needs to be, but what matters is that she has a sense of self, a real talent and a lot of heart. If she’s coachable, she could make a good run.
Results: Blake, Gwen Turn [Team Gwen]
(“Unchained Melody,” The Righteous Brothers - 15, Easley, SC) There is no place to hide on this song and it did expose moments when Ansley missed the notes she was targeting. But she still showed off an incredible instrument with a lot of power and an impressive upper range, too. She definitely sounds young at times when she’s singing, and she gets a pass for missing a big note after Blake turned because the excitement was written all over her face. We also kind of love that Blake used this opportunity to finally use his Block … and he Blocked his wife.
(“Easy on Me,” Adele - 34, West Chester, PA) We were a little surprised that no one else turned for Hillary. She was just a bit wild at times in her voice, but she still did a great job tackling one of the hardest voices to sing without becoming either a copycat or straying too far from the magic. Hillary could navigate that lane Adele works in and she also offered a higher range and plenty of power. She did slip off key a few times, but she’s definitely got an impressive instrument.
Results: Blake Turns [Team Blake]
(“You Found Me,” The Fray - 29, Lodera, CA) It would have been easy to sound just like the record, and bodie definitely has that grit in his voice. But he pushed the vocal track in a few different places to put his unique marker on it. His voice is beautifully textured with a soft rock gentleness mixed with that potential to really break out. We also appreciated that he seems to know exactly how to use it, which comes with the experience he’s had.
Results: Four-Chair Turn [Team Blake]
(“What If I Never Get Over You?” Lady A - 30/34, La Plata, MD) Two sisters from Maryland who were both Miss Marylanda at one point in their lives, this duo has been performing together as The Marilynds for a decade, but have been together in music their whole lives. Individually, we appreciated their voices but together they really harmonize in that sweet spot that’s very hard to find but often comes naturally when it’s family. The older sister is is a little stronger as a solo singer, but both of them are incredibly talented. And as a duo, they’re unique and very compelling.
Results: Camila, John Turn [Team Legend]
(“Use Somebody,” Kings of Leon - 19, Northborough, MA) There should not be this much richness coming out of a teenager’s body. Zach has so much texture in his voice, it’s like he’s a seasoned veteran who’s been in the trenches of the music industry for decades. It’s an incredibly strong and powerful tool, and a perfect fit for this song. There’s grit, but there’s also a lot of heart. We heard something amazing, but right away that texture drew us in and we felt something, too.