The Blind Auditions continued Tuesday night (Sept. 27) on The Voice, with one artist impressing Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys so much that they were inspired to take the stage. Meanwhile, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, despite a brief moment on the same side Monday night, were back to their old bickering ways.
The night’s first artist was Aaron Gibson, who has already been working as a musician but came to The Voice “looking to get a wider audience.” He sang “Losing My Religion” while playing the guitar. He had a haunting voice with a beautiful natural rasp to it, and Keys seemed to be vibing with the song, but the coaches took their time, listening carefully. Cyrus and Shelton turned first, quickly followed by Keys. Levine did not enter the fray but admitted that he was jealous of his voice. “I know people trip out over your voice all the time,” Keys said, praising his powerful tone and noting that it’s one of her favorite songs. “You’re someone I want to listen to in my car,” Cyrus added. Shelton pulled out a megaphone to poke some fun at how intensely Cyrus talks, but she shut him down, calling him a bully and reiterating how much she prefers Keys. Cyrus is keeping it real this season. And her charms worked. Gibson joined Team Miley.
Simone Gundy, who got her start in music by singing in various choirs and still does musical theater, was up next. “I think she should have more opportunities to sing,” her young son Isaiah said. “This is as much in my DNA as he is,” Gundy said of singing. She sang “I (Who Have Nothing),” and right off the bat, she had an incredibly powerful voice that filled the room. It was somewhat evocative of former The Voice coach Christina Aguilera. She sang with convincing emotion and really strong stage presence. Surprisingly, only Levine and Cyrus turned. They both rushed up to give Gundy, who was immediately emotionally overwhelmed, a big hug. “I felt like I was at your show,” Cyrus said. “I want to help you win this show,” she added. “I’m going to get you on my team,” Levine said confidently. Shelton took Cyrus’ side, naturally. And the audience was on her side, too. But Gundy went against their advice and joined Team Adam, which her son was happy about.
Samantha Landrum followed, singing “Man I Feel Like A Woman,” and she didn’t have enough control on the low notes. She was a natural entertainer, but she just didn’t have the technical skills to sing that song. Cyrus remarked that it’s her go-to karaoke song and gave Landrum some advice about how to improve.
Hoping to turn things around, Josh Gallagher was up next. He auditioned with “Stay A Little Longer” by Brothers Osborne, and he proved to have a solid country voice, so Shelton turned. Keys surprised Shelton by jumping in as well. Cyrus admitted that she didn’t turn because she assumed Shelton would just automatically win, and she regretted her decision. “Y’all are so cute together,” Gallagher said when Levine and Shelton started bickering. Keys stressed the fact that she’s not the obvious choice but that soul and country are related genres. Shelton stood by his belief that country singers don’t necessarily need to think outside of the box. Gallagher fell for that and joined Team Blake. “His devotion to strictly country music is what I’m after,” Gallagher said. “I’m going to try again,” Keys threatened.
The next artist, Gabriel Violett, has a rather interesting day job, working as an adult onesie model. He also was in the original Broadway cast of Spring Awakening, but he wants to transition from musical theater into becoming a pop star. And so, he sang “Treat You Better” in his Blind Audition and got an early turn from Keys. Perhaps feeling cocky about their previous battle, Shelton jumped in at the last second. Violett shared that he wants to sing R&B and pop with a twist, which definitely makes him more suited for Keys’ team. “Sometimes, it doesn’t need to make sense,” Shelton said, trying to get Violett on his team. But Violett had common sense and joined Team Alicia. Keys won this round.
Michael Sanchez, who plays piano and sings at restaurants for a living, said going into his audition that he sings a lot differently than people expect him to when they see him, making him the perfect artist for The Voice’s “blind” audition conceit. He sang “Use Me” and had a gritty, soulful voice. Keys turned on the final note, and Sanchez jumped with excitement. “Where is the guy that was singing?” Levine said. The coaches were indeed surprised by his look. “He had this growl, and he had this big voice,” Keys said. He joined Team Alicia by default, but it’s a good match.
High school student Darby Walker said the stage felt like home to her at a young age. She also said that Keys’ “No One” will always be her song, but she did not choose it for her Blind Audition. Instead, she sang “Stand By Me.” She brought a lot of originality to the classic, showing off a strong indie pop voice that did a lot of interesting things over the course of the performance. Cyrus liked what she heard, turning first. Keys and Shelton followed suit, with Shelton saying “I’m not afraid” as he turned. “I want to sing with her,” Cyrus said, noting that she feels like they have similar voices. She hopped up onstage, and the two sang “Jolene.” Indeed, they sounded great together. When Cyrus poked some fun at one of Shelton’s singles, he took out earmuffs to block her out. Walker mentioned her love for “No One,” and Keys decided to try the same strategy as Cyrus, hopping up onstage to sing a duet with Walker. They sounded great together, too. Cyrus said she’d be sad if she picked Shelton but would be OK with her choosing Keys. Cyrus and Keys have been working together all season despite being each other’s competition. Walker joined Team Miley.
Austin Allsup, the son of rockabilly singer Tommy Allsup, came to The Voice hoping to live up to his father’s music legacy. He said he is following in his dad’s footsteps but also hopes to blaze his own trail. Eleven years ago, Allsup played a show with Shelton and got a kiss on the cheek from the coach. For his audition, he sang “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones and played guitar. Sure enough, Shelton turned for him. Allsup brought up the fact that he played with Shelton in 2005, and Shelton remembered talking to him backstage. “That’s nuts, man. You’ve grown up,” Shelton said. Allsup joined Shelton’s team by default, but he probably would have chosen him anyway.
Khaliya Kimberlie was up next, singing “Dibs” and showcasing a strong country-pop sound. Cyrus and Shelton turned at the same time. Kimberlie’s voice was actually evocative of Cyrus. Shelton asked Kimberlie what she wants to sing, and she said she wants to bring an indie twist to country. That’s much more up Cyrus’ alley than Shelton’s. Shelton was frustrated by how much Cyrus was talking, but she didn’t back down. Kimberlie picked Team Miley, which was the right choice for her.
Cooper Bascom grew up around music, with a grandmother who taught piano and a grandfather who taught trumpet. In high school, he led a rock group, and having recently graduated college, he hopes to continue his music career. He sang “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and played guitar, bringing his own sound to the song. He had a an interesting growl, but the coaches did not turn. He wasn’t what they were looking for at this point.
The daughter of professional choreographers, Halle Tomlinson’s performance career started when she was on Barney & Friends. She also teaches at School of Rock in Boulder, Colorado. She sang “New York State Of Mind” and got an early turn from Levine. Keys followed shortly after, and Tomlinson had two coaches interested her before even hitting the chorus. Keys tried to get Cyrus to join, but she didn’t, leaving Levine and Keys to duke it out. Both made passionate pitches, but Keys was the clear choice. Tomlinson indeed joined Team Alicia. Keys and Cyrus were both having another good night, landing lots of artists. “We’re getting clobbered, Adam,” Shelton said
Nolan Neal, who auditioned during season 10 but didn’t turn any chairs, returned to The Voice ready for a second chance. He heeded Levine’s advice last season and picked a song more suited for him, auditioning with a rock version of “Tiny Dancer.” It was a strong arrangement and Neal showed some improvement. He made up for last time and got the only four-chair turn of the night. It’s always fun when an artist returns to The Voice for another chance. Levine doubled down and said Neal could win this time around. Neal became starstruck by Keys talking to him, which was very cute. Shelton played the experience card. There really was no clear frontrunner, but Neal ultimately went with Levine.
Next week marks the end of season 11’s Blind Auditions as the coaches fill the last few spots on their teams.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.