Blind Auditions are OVAH. With last night’s episode, every one of the coaches—even ol’ impossible-to-please Christina Aguilera—has a full roster of 12 singers, and now it’s time to get on to the competition stage. Next week, such celebrity guest vocalist trainer coach instructor people as Lionel Richie, Kelly Clarkson and even Mrs. Blake Shelton, better known as Miranda Lambert (who we really hope is assisting Adam Levine’s team for maximum rivalry effect) will be introduced to our 48 contestants, then summarily ripped from their lives as those contestants are eliminated from the show one by one until one of them turns out to have had The Voice all along. But before all that mess, one final Ten Things That Happened recap of our first round:
1. A singer named Whitney looked a lot like You-Know-Who. OK, maybe not really, but her hair color and style reminded me a lot of her namesake’s do from the “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” video—maybe the lighting director just used the “Whitney” shading filter or something. Anyway, New Whitney sounded really good on a Mrazzy version of Alicia Keys’ “No One,” prompting Adam to give her his hardest sales push yet (“You can win this whole thing, I know that you can”) in recruiting her for his team. Could be right, we’ll see.
2. Back to the salt mines with one contestant. 27-year-old David Dunn was this season’s second “This is Who I Am, Mom and Dad!” contestant, following last week‘s Mathai, with his dad making an only half-joking “David’s following the music passion…and we’ll see how long it lasts” comment. Unlike Mathai, however, David did not get a chair to turn, which we can only assume means that it’s back to Dad’s company with that engineering degree (with honors!) for a lifetime of hard work and intellectual compromise. Hope you’re happy with yourself, Cee Lo Green.
3. America got punched in the face with Rock and Roll. Such was the stated mission of Norman and Tristan, known as the Shields Brothers, a duo of farm boys with a Grohlian passion for the old-school rocking and rolling. To my mild surprise, their performance of Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” was actually quite good, and though it’s hard to see them going too far in the competition, their performance was too squarely in early-MTV-junkie Cee Lo’s wheelhouse for him not to turn around (and sing along with the rest of the song from his seat.) “That’s what the world needs right now,” said Cee Lo. “Some good old-fashioned rock and roll, right?” It was what The Voice needed last night, anyway.
4. The King of Beale Street made an appearance. 64-year-old Memphis blues musician Preston Shannon, with the self-assigned regal title, took the stage to perform Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” and sounded very much like a 64-year-old blues musician. The coaches gave The King a good deal of respect, referring to him as “the real deal” on numerous occasions, though none of them turned around for him—because what chance exactly does a 64-year-old blues musician have of winning The Voice? This show does a pretty good job of cutting out frivolous auditions, but you gotta wonder sometimes about the plausibility filters of the process.
5. A contestant was encouraged to be less like Adele. Yeah, right? Hard to believe, but the coaches were so enraptured with the lower-register beginning to 24-year-old Lex Land’s rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that they turned up their noses on her 21-sized climax. “Adele is so big right now,” explained Adam. “And I would kinda like to steer you away from that. I was kinda hearing Sade, or some sorta cool subtle thing, and not that big thing that Adele does.” Woah, shots fired! Why not just come right out and say it, Adam? Adele is so 2011—in 2012, we’re all about Sade and Toni Braxton again.
6. We had our first genuinely unlikeable contestant. The halls of Idol are littered with the corpses of cocky bastards like last night’s Cameron Novak, who believe themselves to be God’s gift to reality TV music competition, but The Voice is too nice to enjoy cutting these delusionals down to size. It was surprising then, to see Novak bragging about how he “literally do[es] sing everything,” calling himself a “triple-threat…if that’s as far as you can go” and claiming “If a coach doesn’t hit a button, I would be shocked…in this competition, people really should be worried about me.” Were we finally gonna see a contestant get the Voice smackdown?
Nope. Novak’s skin-crawling performance of “You Oughta Know”—complete with beatboxing breakdown—was not met with derision by the coaches (none of whom turned around), but rather bemused incredulity (“I did not expect you to look that way! How are you not a woman!“), even when Novak broke out unprompted into a shitty freestyle rap about not getting picked (“You don’t need to pick me / It don’t matter ‘coz you know I go swiftly/ Looking for the audience / I don’t need the ambience…”) For some reason Cee Lo was impressed enough to ask for a one-time cheat exemption to had Novak to his team, with the crowd and Adam Levine picking up the charge, Adam repeatedly hitting Cee Lo’s button in vain. Novak’s face tensed up in nervous anticipation. Was Voice history about to be made in the name of this idiot?
Nope. “I’m so sorry,” consoled Cee Lo. “We can’t do it that way…it ruins the integrity of the entire show.” Novak, clearly smarting over getting burned twice, walked off in stunned silence, while I cackled in sweet, sweet schadenfreude from the privacy of my bedroom. “Their loss, for real,” remarked Novakaine to his girlfriend backstage. Keep telling yourself that, loser.
7. The Lorax‘s presence was felt. They promised it last week, and indeed, The Lorax showed up a couple times at the beginning of commercial breaks this week. There was a too-cute moment of the Danny DeVito-voiced orange environmentalist critiquing the performance of the live-in-the-flesh DeVito (singing The Commodores’ “Three Times a Lady”), persuading him to try acting instead, but that was only the second-most-groanworthy Lorax appearance of the night. The first came with cast member Zac Efron’s performance of “Let’s Get It On” getting interrupted by—you guessed it—Betty White. HILARIOUS! Do they just keep this woman backstage at The Voice at all times, just in case? Someone hit the fucking gong already.
8. Cee Lo got the slightest bit misty over Amy Winehouse. Did you know that Cee Lo and Amy Winehouse were supposed to work together before her death? 18-year-old soul singer Wade from Harvest, Alabama didn’t seem to, though it may have helped him get Cee Lo to turn around for his fine old-school soul cover of Amy’s “Rehab”—”a Stax version of a Motown-inspired Amy Winehouse song,” as Green aptly described it. “We were just about to work together, and then we lost her,” Cee Lo explained if his collaboration-that-wasn’t, a sad note for the evening made positive by Wade filling out the final slot on Green’s team. (“O boi!” tweeted Purrfect. “Papa is done filling his team, now time for a serious cat nap.”)
9. The most bullshit “SUSPENSE” commercial break ever happened. Blake and Christina, each with one spot left on their team, were in the heat of battle over country singer Adley Stump after her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name,” Aguilera preaching technique with Shelton preaching emotional honesty. Adley swore fandom to Christina, and talked about how she and her sorority sisters used to rock out to “Lady Marmalade.” “But I have to go with my heart, and my heart is telling me…”
What is the suspense here, exactly? Only two coaches picked her, or have open slots on their team, and she already did her “I love you Christina, but…” thing. How many choices are there for what the end of that sentence could exactly be? “I love you Christina, but I have to go with my heart, and my heart is telling me actually yeah Christina let’s do this thing?” “I have to go with my heart, and my heart is telling me that I should kill one of Adam’s contestants and force my way onto his team instead?” “I have to go with my heart, and my heart is telling me that my priest was right that I’m wasting my time with all this music nonsense and it’s about time I gave up on college and joined the convent?”
No, instead Adley went the more traditional route, and ended with “Blake, you’re my guy.” Much rejoicing backstage after, as Adley rhapsodized over having to make the choice between the two: “My idols! My two idols!” A likely story.
10. It all ended with a duet. With Christina the last coach with an open slot on her team, it was a rather cathartic moment when Sera Hill, 24-year-old hotel worker and general pop music gamer, won the coach over with her rendition of Rose Royce’s (possibly via Mary J. Blige) “I’m Going Down.” “I’ve really been waiting for something to come along and excite me as much as you did,” explained Aguilera. “At the end there, I just wanted to get a mic and get up there and sing it with you, ‘coz I love that song.” Sera, an avowed Xtina fan, yelped “Please do!,” Aguilera was handed a mic, and the two staged a prompt on-stage diva-off, with protege more than happy to let mentor take the lead.
It was a sweet moment, and a nice capper to the show’s Blind Audition stages. Sing it with us now! “My whoooole wooooorrrrld’s UP….”