A contestant from Team Kelly Clarkson past returns to "The Voice," this time as part of a vocal group, but it's Niall Horan's perfect use of the Block that leaves her enraged.
Kelly Clarkson was dragged through the emotional wringer on the latest episode of "The Voice" as a surprise celebrity guest left the entire panel in stitches.
The biggest surprise for the returning Coach was when her chair turned to reveal a former member of Team Kelly from way back in Season 16, only now part of a singing group. It was a fun and shocking moment for her, but her euphoria wasn't too last.
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Clearly, the panel is a little nervous about Kelly's epic return after one season away, because for the second time in as many weeks, she was the recipient of an expertly-timed Block. This time, it was even more effective because the incredible artist was definitely hoping to be on her team.
Later, a surprise guest appearance by a celebrity impressionist -- that fooled Chance the Rapper! -- left the audience dying in their seats, and Blake absolutely refusing to turn his chair because he knew exactly who it was.
There's been an interesting progression across these two episodes with Niall Horan and his relationships with both Kelly and Blake Shelton. Not only do he and Blake have a cute father-son thing going on, but he's started sparring with Kelly in a fun way.
Blake leaving is potentially a huge blow to the show, but the strongest dynamic in the past several years has been his banter with Kelly. If she sticks around, and there's every indication she will, a new sparring partner for her could be just what the show needs. Could this be Niall's trial by fire for that position?
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, Chance the Rapper, Niall Horan, and Blake Shelton. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are, and then see how they do as the season progresses.
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("She Had Me at Heads Carolina," Cole Swindell - 24, Belmont, NC) Alex needs to work on breath control and not swallowing his words into that affected country twang. It sounded too much like trying too hard to sound authentic. He's already from that world, so just be himself and let the song come through him. It sounded like he was singing from the back of his throat, creating a sound that was ultimately just not compelling enough. His pitch was a little shaky and by the end it sounded like we were bellying up to the karaoke bar while a guy was having a great time on the stage.
Results: No Chairs Turn
("I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," Michael McDonald - 48, New York, NY) As expected, Jimmy delivered a pretty spot-on impression of Michael for this track -- an impression we've seen him do before. It's always fun when a celebrity shows up to try and trick the Coaches, taking advantage of the "Blind" part of these "Auditions."
Results: 4-Chair Turn (Jimmy pressed Blake's button)
("Change the World," Eric Clapton - 28, Wilmington, NC) It was all very sweet tonally until he got to the chorus, when he added a little extra salt into his performance. That layer was so important to see, as it felt very one-note up until that point. But that note proved enough to get Blake to turn. It took seeing all the layers he displayed as the routine progressed, which included some power, some grit and finally, finally some authenticity and belief in what he was singing to get a turn from Kelly at the last second.
Results: Kelly, Blake Turn [Team Blake]
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("Sara Smile," Daryl Hall & John Oates - 25, Virginia Beach, VA) Magnus has had some success singing in choirs, but he never got his solo opportunity. Chance wasted no time taking a chance on Magnus, turning within the first few syllables. But it was immediately clear that silky texture in his voice. It's a classic soul and R&B sound that's become so rare in modern music. We'd have liked a little more on the upper end of his range, as he seemed to stop in full voice before really pushing himself (though he compensated with a bit of falsetto). He needs to be pushed to open up more vocally and challenge himself, but he's definitely someone to watch if he can embrace his own potential.
Results: Chance Turns [Team Chance]
("Leave the Door Open," Silk Sonic - ss) Each of them is compelling and interesting and so different with how they use their voice individually, and then they come together with this really interesting harmonizing. They took a song with a distinct cadence and rhythm and turned it up a notch as a trio. Honestly, we could get on board with each one of them as a solo artist -- you know, like Season 16 Team Kelly contestant Jej Vinson. His soaring falsetto and tone are beautiful, and it's only grown stronger with this new partnership. The other two were also there when he got that four-chair turn.
Results: Kelly, Chance, Niall Turn [Team Kelly]
("Both Sides Now," Joni Mitchell - 24, Windermere, FL) Kala hasn't performed since her days in competitive a cappella in college, letting her career take over. Her dream was to work with Kelly, making her over the moon when she found out Kelly was back this season. Unfortunately for Kala, Niall and Kelly were so in the same lane with the artists they were looking for -- and he was faster on the trigger. It's easy to see why, though, as Kala has everything you'd want in a singer from her haunting and ethereal gentle side to that beautifully rich tone when she hit the chorus. It was a perfect song choice to show off her mix of singer-songwriter and folk vibe. It's almost an angelic performance that makes you feel lighter for hearing it. By the end, Kelly was even shouting at Blake for not turning for her, and we'd have to agree
Results: Kelly, Chance, Niall Turn (Niall Blocks Kelly) [Team Niall]
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- "They did not turn around, that's crazy!" --Chance (about Magnus)
- "You turned around and you were so excited about it that I didn't want to take that from you." --Kelly
- "I don't feel bad at all." --Chance
- "We would have been beautiful together. I'm going to be stealing you, mark my words." --Kelly (to Kala after Niall Blocked her)
- "I can't stand you, Ireland." --Kelly (to Niall after Block)
- "Where's my lawyer?" --Niall (after Kelly smacks him with her jacket)
- "These are the Coaches you should be choosing from, so you're going to have to take your Chance here." --Blake (to Kala)
- "What are you doing?!" --Niall
- "Oh my god, there's, like, another one. I can't fight One Direction." --Kelly (comparing Niall to Blake)
- "I'm proud of you, son." --Blake
- "He's no good. Awful." --Blake (about Jimmy Fallon, with his back still turned)
"The Voice" continues Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.