Season 7 of The Voice cont. with blind auditions for two hrs. on Tues. Sept. 23, and the four coaches/judges (Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani) grabbed up seven more singers for their teams:
1. Danica Shirey is one of several white soul singers that this season already promises to be loaded with. As an example of her style, she sang at the Apollo when she was a teenager, although she’s white and most of the time the Apollo books black artists. She hooks Adam on the first line, then Gwen and Pharrell both turn their chairs on the chorus. “Gorgeous!” Gwen exclaims, “Your vibrato gives me chills!” Adam tells her she could sing a dictionary and sound good. However, Danica, who turns out to be a huge Pharrell fan, picks Pharrell.
2. Joe Kirk, the first teen-idol type of this season, sings “Lego House” (that’s a popular song on TV talent contests) and gets a four-chair turn. Adam promises to treat him like a little brother, so he picks Adam.
3. Menlick Zergabachew (did I spell that right?), a young Ethiopian-American reggae singer with dreadlocks, auditions with a Sublime song, “Santeria.” (Did I spell that right?) Halfway through Blake (of all people) turns his chair. It looks like this is a new Team Blake member–until the very last note–when Gwen pulls a buzzer beater. Blake praises the reggae man for a “technically perfect performance.” However, everyone is talking about how Gwen’s former group, No Doubt, was supposed to be reggae-flavored. (I never heard any reggae in them.) Since the guy wants to do reggae, of course he picks Gwen.
4. Reagan James, a fifteen-year-old girl from Kelly Clarkson’s hometown, has a rich, full, mature-sounding voice–a little like Kelly Clarkson, in fact. Once again here’s a white singer in the R&B/jazz mold. Her audition gets Blake and Gwen to turn their chairs right away. Gwen praises Reagan’s voice as being better than her own at 17. However, perhaps because of the Texas/Southern connection, Reagan picks Blake. Pharrell says he’d like to steal her if he gets a chance. (She would match well with his team member Luke Wade.)
5. Taylor Phelan is a young man with the type of backstory TV talent contests love–his father’s in jail, and he had to give up music temporarily because he’s got a wife and baby to support. He auditions with an alternate version of “Sweater Weather” (another song that’s very popular on TV talent contests) that manages to be stripped down and rocked up at the same time. His style’s the closest thing to rock this season’s seen so far. During the song, Adam turns, then–in short order, Pharrell, Blake, and Gwen. Of the way Taylor only played his guitar at the song’s climax, Adam comments, “That’s the coolest thing you can do a guitar–nothing.” Adam likes the stage moves, too, “Elvis-ing out,” he says. Pharrell praises Taylor, too, with, “Melodically articulate.” (Pharrell’s use of musical terminology makes him sound like Harry Connick, Jr. sometimes.) Taylor must have liked what Pharrell said, because he picks Pharrell.
Side Note: Usually I only comment on the singers chosen but Katelyn Lucia provides a particularly glaring example of an unsuccessful audition. She says she couldn’t sing in the choir at her Catholic Church because her voice was “too different.” Distinctly different it is–and it would be just perfect for the women’s music scene. However, she made a boneheaded-bad song choice–she tried to turn “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease into Lilith Fair fare. Not only is it a particularly trashy seventies’ Broadway number, it’s a duet! Despite what Pharrell afterward calls her “beautiful tone,” nobody bites. Pick a better song next time, Lady!
6. Sugar Joans auditions with the soul classic, “Chain of Fools.” Her father played sax and sang for Sergio Mendes. For most of the audition, it looks like Sugar will get no more attention than Katelyn Lucia. Then, at the last possible moment, Blake and Gwen push their buttons. They take turns talking about how perfect and unique she was–then why did they hesitate so long? Sugar picks Gwen.
7. Taylor Brashears, a young female vocalist from Nashville, calls her style, “retro-country.” (Side notes: she works a day job on a food truck, and she plays fiddle/violin.) Her song choice–Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” couldn’t be better, and she sings with a classic country voice. Adam turns first, then Pharrell–then on the last note, Blake joins in, and Adam has a fit. Blake says he had to hear the entire song in order to decide. So, yes, this Nashville singer picks Blake. After the audition, he comments that she’s got a voice that just doesn’t exist much any more.
8. Last singer of the night is Maya Sykes, one more singer in the R&B/jazz/blues mold. She talks about how her mother worked three jobs to get her into Yale–ostensibly for law school and other majors but what turned out to be music. (And her mother says she doesn’t mind!) Her father was a pro sax player, her mother a pro back-up singer. (Her father appears to be African-American, while her mother appears to be Armenian-American, if Maya talking about singing for Armenian-American weddings is any indication.) Her audition doesn’t impress me (I think this season has enough singers in her style already) but all four judges turn their chairs on the first line. This is the audition that’s been teased in the commercials for weeks. Gwen offers to take Maya shopping for her clothing lines. Pharrell counters the singer doesn’t need his brand because she’s her own brand. Adam boasts of his two Voice trophies. Blake blurts out, “I have three Voice trophies and a credit card! I’ll buy you some d*mn clothes!” Maya politely says she’d be honored to work with any of them–but she picks Pharrell.
Running tally of teams:
Adam now has teen-idol type Joe Kirk to go with young Korean-American jazz singer Clara Hong and R&B singer Damian.
Pharrell now has R&B singer Maya Sykes and alt-rock singer Taylor Phelan, along with white soul stylist Luke Wade and dude-sings-like-Beyoncé Elijah Rene.
Gwen now has R&B singer Sugar Joans and reggae singer Menlick Zergabachew to go with jazz-flavored Brianna Solis and alt-flavored Taylor John Williams, who could be competition to Taylor Phelan.
Blake’s got another country singer, Taylor Brashears, to go with country singers Alison Bray and James David Carter. He also stepped outside country (somewhat) to pick up soulful young Texas girl Reagan James, who’s more in the Kelly Clarkson mold.