'The Voice' Recap: Season 11's Blind Auditions Conclude
At long last, season 11’s Blind Auditions came to a close on The Voice tonight, with coaches Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Blake Shelton filling the last few spots of their teams before heading into the fiery Battle Round.
The night started with the only duo of the season: sisters Shannon and Whitney. While they used to perform regularly together, the sisters haven’t sung together in over a year now that they live in different cities. But they still want to pursue music together, so they came to The Voice in pursuit of their shared dream. They sang a stunning cover of the Dixie Chicks version of “Landslide,” and their voices were so similar that the coaches did not realize at first that there were two artists. But after trading lines on the first verse, the sisters jumped in together, blending beautifully and having fun with the harmony. “You can’t teach something like that,” Levine said of their harmony. “I would be honored and proud to be your coach,” Shelton added, noting that they have a country sound. “The world needs the two of you,” Keys said. “I love y’all!” Cyrus said their harmonizing reflects an “almost psychic connection.” Every coach strongly believed in them, but the sisters had to choose their team. The two conferred before making their decision: They joined Team Alicia. Keys will be a great fit for them, and she added after that she feels like the sisters transcend genre.
Johnny Rez, who said he is influenced by his Cuban culture, turned to music during a dark time in his life. Now sober and working a day job in IT, Rez came to The Voice as a part of his new path toward a music career. He sang “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls and accompanied himself on the guitar. He had a rich tone and sounded especially strong on the chorus. Levine and Shelton seemed to be waiting to see if one another would turn. Sure enough, Levine jumped in, and Shelton immediately followed. “I got to be honest, I love country, but one of the biggest bands I cover is Maroon 5,” Rez said after the coaches gave their pitches. So his mind seemed to be made up, but he still drew the decision out, finally settling on Team Adam.
The daughter of a radio DJ, Mave Thomas was the next artist up. She said she learned a lot about different styles of music from her father, and when she married her husband, who’s in a band, it made her want to pursue music professionally. She sang “Roses” by The Chainsmokers, and she had a solid pop voice that could easily be on the radio today. She also had energetic stage presence. Levine turned first, followed by Cyrus. Shelton said Thomas had a Miley thing going on, but that was probably mostly an attempt to root against Levine. “I thought you had a different voice, but a good voice,” Levine said, adding that she was flat a few times but that he can help her with that as her coach. Cyrus praised the stage presence aspect and added that she wanted to hear Thomas do something a little less current, which Thomas was into. “We’re going to make you the gothic Dolly Parton,” Cyrus said. Indeed, Thomas joined Team Miley.
The next singer was Johnny Hayes, who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll, even though he didn’t start pursuing music in a serious way until after college, when he started touring with a band. He hopes to launch his solo career with The Voice, and he actually put his honeymoon on hold in order to audition. He sang “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton and had a soulful voice, but the coaches did not turn. “There was a lot of good there, man,” Levine said, adding that there were a lot of ups and downs. Keys thought he needed a more stripped down arrangement to really put his voice centerstage. At least Hayes will be able to go on his honeymoon now.
“I’m looking for somebody that will just stand out on my team,” Shelton said.
Could it be Courtney Harrell? Harrell is a professional songwriter who Carson Daly sat down with in the studio to learn a little more about her experience and process. Harrell has written music for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and other stars. After the birth of her son, she worked a little bit as a backup vocalist, but now that he’s off to college, she said she’s ready to really focus on her own music career. Harrell sang “Let It Go” by James Bay, and it was one of the best auditions of the season. Shelton sure enough thought her voice stood out and turned. He was joined enthusiastically by Keys, who tried to get the rest of the coaches to turn, too. But it ended up being a battle between just Shelton and Keys. Harrell let them know that it was her first time singing publicly in 15 years. “I have mad respect for your voice,” Shelton said. Harrell surprised by joining Team Blake, even though Keys gave a passionate pitch and seemed like the better fit. “I trust that I’m going to be able to flourish and thrive under his mentorship,” Harrell said of her decision. “I am shocked as anybody out there that she chose me,” Shelton said.
After breezing through some of the unaired auditions, The Voice got back to business with just five spots remaining. Hoping to fill one of those spots was Kylie Rothfield, whose music career was derailed by a vocal hemorrhage, recently got her voice back and is ready to use it again. She sang a bluesy rendition of “Wherever I Go” by OneRepublic that she felt put her own twist on the song. She had an original sound and showcased impressive musicality, accompanying herself on an electric guitar. Shelton and Keys both turned at the last second. Cyrus sang the praises of both coaches, but she also noted that she would especially love to see Team Alicia with a woman who plays guitar. “You are so completely yourself,” Keys said. “And that’s what I’m all about.” “I respect both of you so much,” Rothfield said, struggling with the decision. But this time, Keys beat Shelton, and Rothfield joined Team Alicia. And with that, Keys’ first team on The Voice was full.
The next artist fighting to get into one of the final four spots was Natasha Bure, the daughter of Candace Cameron from Full House. Bob Saget and John Stamos pre-recorded a video wishing Bure luck. She sang “I Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley, and like Rothfield, she revamped the song to make it her own. It caught Levine’s attention, and he turned. “I heard this self-assured girl singing really well,” Levine said, but he also noted that her nerves kicked in once he turned for her. That will be something they’ll have to work on before the Battles. Bure joined Team Adam by default.
Singer-songwriter Blaine Long, who has worked a whole slew of day jobs in order to be able to play music and write songs, was up next. He brought a lot of experience to the table, singing “Have A Little Faith In Me” and playing the guitar. Shelton and Cyrus turned together, and Levine joined by the end. Keys immediately remarked that she would have turned if her team hadn’t been full. Cyrus praised the simplicity of his performance. “This dude is one in a million,” Levine said. Shelton leaned on his connections. Long ended up joining Team Blake, capping off Shelton’s team.
Next up was wedding singer Nicholas Ray, who said going into his audition that he really hoped to join Team Adam. It was immediately clear why he felt that way, because his rendition of “I’ve Got The Music In Me” was a little theatrical and showed off his falsetto. He didn’t really stand out on this night of incredible performances, but he definitely had a lot of power behind his voice. Levine loved the falsetto ending, but it wasn’t quite enough to get a chair turn.
“I want to be blown away,” Levine said, feeling the pressure to fill his last spot.
Ponciano Seoane hoped to have a better fate than Ray, singing “Home” by Phillip Phillips. “I’m trying to keep a level head,” Seoane said heading into his audition with the knowledge that there were only a couple spots left. “Pretty,” Shelton remarked after the first few seconds. Levine and Cyrus turned right away. Seoane had a gorgeous tone, and both coaches wanted him to fill their final spots. “You feel everything you’re singing,” Levine said, praising Seoane’s introspection. Cyrus seemed to understand that she wasn’t winning this one, but she still tried to fight for Seoane. He ultimately became the last member of Team Adam.
Cyrus was the only coach left with a spot. “My team is the young, fun team,” Cyrus said as she reflected on her artists so far.
Cyrus passed over the next three artists, remaining extremely selective with her last pick. The last artist to audition in season 11 was 17-year-old Josette Diaz, who said she has been singing for her whole life and taught herself to play guitar and piano in her youth. For her audition, she sang “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, playing guitar and putting her own twist on the hit. Even though she took her time listening, by the end, it was what Cyrus was waiting for. Keys gave her an encouraging nod, and Cyrus finally turned for Diaz, effectively choosing her as Team Miley’s final artist. “I’ve looked up to you since I was a little girl,” Diaz told Cyrus.
"I'm definitely ready to battle," Cyrus said, her team complete.
Tomorrow, The Voice will revisit the best moments of the season so far and also offer a brief sneak peek of the Battles, which will begin in earnest next week.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.