'The Voice': New Artists Fight to Stand Out During Blind Auditions
The Blind Auditions resume tonight on The Voice as season-eight coaches Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine continuing to shape their teams of artists, with Levine particularly feeling the pressure after turning up empty last night.
The first artist of the night is Anthony Riley, a 27-year-old street performer from Philadelphia who hopes to bring his talents from the sidewalks to the The Voice's stage. With one of the best voices in the season's competition thus far, he gets a four-chair turn almost instantly with his soulful performance of "I Feel Good" by James Brown, and all four coaches beg for him. But he goes with Pharrell, who he admires creatively.
Gabriel Wolfchild brings along his guitar for an indie folk performance of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan, and gets chair turns from Aguilera, Shelton, and Levine, but Pharrell doesn't think Wolfchild would ever pick him, so he doesn't hit the button. Aguilera gets the audience to rally behind her, and it works, so Wolfchild becomes the newest member of Team Christina.
"I don't even know what I'm doing here anymore," Levine says, still artist-less. But there are plenty more artists to go, and even though Shelton rubs salt in Levine's wounds by encouraging the audience to start chanting "Blake" should he and Levine be the only chairs to turn, Levine's bound to find a team member soon. Right?
Well, Levine and Shelton are in fact the only chairs to turn for 16-year-old Brooke Adee's rendition of "Skinny Love," but it doesn't look like she's going to be the answer to Levine's deficit. The crowd starts chanting Shelton's name just like he instructed them to, and it sways Adee into his corner.
Dylan Dunlap hopes to shake things up with his rectangular traveler guitar and innovative arrangement of Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty." It's an interesting and unexpected choice, but creativity alone isn't enough to turn chairs. Dunlap struggles with vocal control and enunciation, going home coachless.
Self-proclaimed "Mississippiousianian" Tonya Boyd-Cannon makes a bold move by singing Pharrell's own ultra-popular hit "Happy." Levine turns right before the first chorus -- a full 58 seconds between Aguilera and Pharrell join, as he's quick to point out in his pitch. Picking Aguilera or Pharrell are the most logical choices for Boyd-Cannon, which Levine also acknowledges, trying to convince her to go with the more unexpected choice. It's not the most coherent pitch, but it works, and Levine finally has his first artist.
Before we see the next contestant, Shelton tries to shake things up behind the scenes by going to Aguilera and telling her they should try to get under Pharrell's skin. He then turns right around and warns Pharrell about Aguilera. These kind of cutthroat games the coaches play make things a little more interesting, even if Shelton seems to be getting a little dirty.
Next, Joe Tolo shows off his huge range with "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees, and even though Shelton says he's a four-chair singer for sure, only Aguilera and Shelton hit their buttons. Tolo picks a coach with a range to match his own and joins Team Christina.
Small-town farm boy Drew Parker doesn't win the coaches' love with Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man Blues." Even though this isn't necessarily something the coaches are able to see with their backs turned, he completely lacks stage presence, and it's possible the coaches discern this from the lack of energy from the crowd during his performance. In any case, they send him back home with plenty of advice for how to shape his voice as a country artist.
Aguilera makes a pretty questionable mistake when she doesn't turn for 15-year-old Mia Z, who thrives in the lower parts of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" but also hits the highest note of the night. Aguilera really beats herself up for not pressing the button once she finds out that Mia is also a Pittsburgh gal like herself. Mia Z picks Pharrell, whose hand immediately floats to that red button when she busts out her upper range.
Levine and Shelton have to duke it out yet again over Blaze Johnson, who brings a lot of life to The Fray's "How To Save A Life." "You don't fit the mold," Levine tells Johnson. "You exist outside the box." He strikes a connection, and Johnson becomes the second artist to join Team Adam.
Bryan Pierce is the third artist of the evening to not turn any chairs. He gives an inconsistent performance of "Rocket Man" by Elton John, and the coaches don't hear something that moves them. But he's followed by Deanna Johnson, who returns to The Voice after auditioning back in season five and failing to turn any chairs. She's back for another shot, and she's got it! Her performance of "All I Want" by Kodaline gets a triple-chair turn from Shelton, Aguilera, and Pharrell after they contemplate what they're hearing for about 20 seconds. Levine joins at the last second, and it's a four-chair comeback for Johnson, who picks Team Adam, even after Pharrell gets out of his chair to try to persuade her. It looks like Levine is making a comeback.
The Blind Auditions resume when The Voice returns next Monday. Which coach do you think has the best team so far?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.