On tonight’s “Voice” we learned three things: it’s good to be a teenager; people who had record deals and failed usually failed for a reason; and Blake Shelton is a country star—yeah, we get it.
Several under-18s made the cut on tonight’s show, notably 16-year-old Avery Wilson, a dancer who recently discovered he could sing better than Usher. Doing insanely perfect runs on “Without You,” the last audition of the night got four chair spins and selected Cee Lo Green after an impassioned plea by the coach: “Our industry is suffering. We could use you.” It’s particularly poignant that Avery won over Cee Lo by doing the Usher thing, since the news came out today that Usher will be replacing Cee Lo next season, freeing him up to spend more time talking to pretty animals and being an all around superstar. (Christina Aguilera’s also stepping aside, to be replaced by Shakira.)
A big snag for Adam Levine was Alessandra Guercio, an erstwhile “American Idol” contestant (she made it to Hollywood in season 10 and was part of the powerhouse NYC group that sang “Grendde” and included Pia Toscano and Brielle von Hugel). The 17-year-old La Guardia High School student (it’s the “Fame” school) sang “The Climb” as perfectly as someone who’s been in musical theater training her entire life. Cee Lo might have had a better chance with her if he didn’t sound stoned during his commentary (“It was like…yo…great…vocal performance…just like…awesome.”), so Adam was her pick, however mismatched.
Adam also got another 17-year-old New Yorker, Melanie Martinez. Like last year’s Lindsey Pavao, she had asymmetrical hair and she sang with that highly affected froggy voice indie girls think they are supposed to have (sidenote to indie girls: that needs to stop). She did a lounge version of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” (in homage to that other show perhaps?), and got Adam, Blake Shelton, and Cee Lo to spin for her.
Adam actually picked up four singers tonight, seemingly trying to make a dent in his order of 16 team members. He’s now tied with Christina Aguilera for nine each, while Blake and Cee Lo currently have seven—that’s less than half what those two need to get us out of auditions and into battles. Sheesh.
Adam’s picks were probably the most diverse, with the indie girl, the musical theater girl, a single dad who looks like Stanley Tucci (Brian Scartocci), and a 15-year-old who sang Lady Gaga (Adanna Duru). Christina also had an unusual pick: Beat Frequency, a husband-wife duo, in which the wife can’t really sing but sort of has a Gwen Stefani quality about her.
Cee Lo’s picks were a bit more Cee Lo-esque: offbeat and/or soul singers. The aforementioned Avery Wilson, who is certainly on the same soul plane as Cee Lo; Nicholas David, a big-bearded Minnesotan singer-songwriter type who’s been through hard times and sings with more than a hint of Aaron Neville; and JR Aquile, an Alaskan YouTube singer who says he is one of the most subscribed to musicians, after Green Day.
Blake, however, is becoming more and more one-note this season with his team. I liked how the last two seasons, despite being known for country, he always went out on a limb with his selections. That’s how he ended up winning, with not-country singer Jermaine Paul. And Dia Frampton, hello? Also not country. And I liked how other coaches occasionally picked up a cowboy or two. But now, if someone’s country, they go to Blake. This time it was Liz Davis, a Mississippian with really long legs, whom Blake courted by whipping out his ACM award. Other than his mariachi singer, Blake pretty much has all of Nashville on his team.
Marginally famous person audition of the night: Cupid, the man who brought us the “Macarena” of 2007, “Cupid Shuffle.” Trying to break out of walking it by himself, Cupid mistakenly auditioned with that very song, and got no chairs to spin. Later on, Agina Alvarez, a Latin singer who was shelved by her record label, tried to take on “Turn the Beat Around” but failed to get any judges to push their buttons, with her weird deep Cher voice.
I’m noticing in this season of music competitions, both on “The Voice” and “The X Factor,” that all of the featured auditioners who had previously had record deals but failed to amount to anything did not make it very far in the audition. Now I know the music industry is a rough one, but maybe not becoming famous when you had the support of a major label is possibly the teeniest tiniest indication that you just maybe aren’t good enough to be in the business? I don’t know, just a thought.
Teams so far
Adam (9): Alessandra Guercio: “Fame” high school, “Idol” reject; Melanie Martinez: indie teen; Brian Scartocci: single dad; Adanna Duru: 15-year-old, no airtime; Samuel Mouton: reggae in a baseball cap; Nicole Nelson: gospel hippie; Lauren Allred: wedding singer, no airtime; Bryan Keith: raspy guy coming out from under dad’s shadow; Joe Kirkland: band frontman dumped by label.
Blake (7): Liz Davis: country, legs; Kelly Crapa: 15-year-old, no airtime; 2Steel Girls: mother/daughter duo; Casey Muessigmann: wrestling cowboy; Julio Cesar Castillo: mariachi singer; Terry McDermott: Scottish rocker dad; Gracia Harrison: yodeler.
Cee Lo (7): Avery Wilson: never had a singing lesson but better than Usher; Nicholas David: the Minnesotan Aaron Neville; JR Aquino: Alaskan YouTube singer; Domo: Bronx hip-hop dancer; Mackenzie Bourg: Justin Bieber meets Harry Potter meets gnarly virus; Daniel Rosa: huggable former reject; Trevin Hunte: wailer proving his 8th-grade teacher wrong.
Christina (9): Beat Frequency: married couple; Paulina: 16-year-old, no airtime; Nelly’s Echo: Nigerian refugee, Lisa Scinta: gymnast, no airtime; Marissa Ann: 15-year-old, no airtime; Adriana Louise: Brooklyn waitress; Aquile: from broken jaw to buttery voice; De’borah: gospel church misfit; Devyn DeLoera: sang “Ain’t No Other Man” and survived.