by Lyn Jensen
Teams on Season 12 of The Voice are about half-full by now. If the format is the same as past seasons, the four judges will soon finish selecting singers to coach, and they’ll start cutting their teams in the battle rounds. Front-runners are starting to emerge as auditions continue:
1. Micah Tryba (a 24-year-old veterinary student) sings a lush ballad, attracting Blake and Gwen. Blake gushes, “I can’t even think of those notes, let alone hit them.” Adam, who’s not bidding for this contestant, says there were “pocket issues but those can be fixed.” Tryba picks Blake so he now has a female vocalist who’s not a country singer on his team.
2. Troy Ramey was in a rock band for about five years. He’s from Woodstock–Woodstock, VT, not Woodstock, NY. He sings a bluesy version of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World.” Blake’s in from the very first line, but Adam soon bids as well, much to Blake’s chagrin. Almost three-quarters of the song go by before Gwen decides she, too, is interested. Alicia turns around on the final chorus, making this a four-chair turn. Alicia says, “I can hear lifetimes in your voice” and calls Ramey, “cool.” (He says, “Alicia Keys just called me cool!”) Adam thinks Ramey could be a major contender to win. Blake thinks he sings “like a man” and asks to meet the man’s family. They come out to meet him, and Adam jabs, “Blake sinks to new lows!” Just as we’re thinking Blake (or Adam) is getting this contestant, he picks Gwen. (He must really, really like her.) Adam or Blake may want to steal him–but Gwen may not let him go.
3. Jack Cassidy is the 18-year-old grandson of singer-actress Shirley Jones (and the nephew of David and Shaun Cassidy). He says his influences include Elton John, Billy Joel, and the Beatles. He plays keyboards and sings passionately “What if God Was One of Us,” the nineties’ Joan Osborne hit. Adam turns on the second verse, but Alicia turns at the song’s climax. Adam says he heard, “incredible passionate commitment to every word.” Blake suggests Cassidy and Alicia could duet at facing pianos the way piano men Elton John and Billy Joel do on tour together. Maybe that’s the seal on the deal because Cassidy says, “I love you, Adam, but I’m picking Alicia.” If Adam wants him, it’ll be a steal.
4. Kawan DeBose is a professional R&B singer who got started singing in the choir at his grandfather’s church. Now he sings at hotels, weddings, churches, and other gigs in Los Angeles and San Diego. He sings Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it on,” and his vocals are the male equivalent of the great R&B divas. Adam likes him right away, Gwen turns after a few vocal runs, and Blake soon follows. Although Alicia is this season’s R&B coach, she doesn’t bid. Adam says, “The only man who can do the same kind of falsetto is [the late] Prince.” Alicia advises, “There’s nobody like you on Adam’s team,” to which Blake retorts, “There’s hardly anybody on his team at all!” (Not quite true, Blake, you all have about the same number of team members.) Blake is so impressed he states, “All your coach has to do is get out of the way!” DeBose picks Adam because, he explains, “You have one of my favorite keyboard players in your band.” Sounds like Adam’s attracted another Maroon 5 fan.
5. Taylor Alexander is an outside-the-box Nashville country singer. He’s a white guy with a guitar (WGWG) who combines genres–a little cowpunk, a little folksiness, a little pop, a little hardcore. He started out as a punk-rock singer, then switched to country, so he wouldn’t have to do so much punk-rock shouting. Instead of auditioning with a typical country song, he gives one of Cher’s nineties’ hits a country arrangement. Adam turns on the first verse. Blake sits and sits–and does not pull a buzzer-beater. Blake explains to Alexander that Team Adam may be a better fit where “there’s a wide-open lane.” It’s a one-chair turn, so Alexander is on Team Adam. It’ll be interesting to see how long Adam hangs onto him, and what direction he coaches him in.
6. Gaby Borromeo (I hope I got her name right, it’s pronounced more like “vermeil”) is a Filipino-American New York City waitress, looking for her big break. She’s got working with John Legend on her resume. Even though her upbeat singing attracts Blake and Adam, she’ll probably be better remembered for her striking combination of purple hair and yellow skin than her performance. Blake says, “I’ve got a bunch of country singers but I don’t have nobody with purple hair.” Despite Blake’s pitch, Gaby picks Adam, giving him a girl pop singer. Depending on how the battle rounds are matched, Blake may decide to steal her.
7. Missy Robertson, 34, a church singer from Sacramento, California, is in a band, Outgo, with her sister. Her R&B vocals show some resemblance to Adele. For about 88 seconds it looks like she’s going to get no chairs–but then Blake and Alicia both turn on the very last note. She picks Alicia.
8. Aallyah Rose (uncommon names are common this season) has round babyish bleached-blonde curls around a round babyish face and she’s only 14, but she’s a big girl, so she resembles a queen-sized bleached-blonde Shirley Temple. She’s already a star on social media–You Tube videos, things like that. She sings Andrea Day’s “Rise Up” and shows a very mature voice. Gwen likes her on the very first line, and it’s a one-chair turn, so Gwen gets the young female pop starlet she’s been saying she wants.
9. Now comes the four-chair turn that’s been hyped all night. Josh West, 17, is in a rock band with his father in Glendale, Arizona. Instead of blues-shouting rock, however, he auditions with Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World,” demonstrating a retro-eighties (or nineties) vocal. After the four-chair turn, he and Adam start comparing favorites–West likes Soundgarden–leading Blake to ask if this is a record store. As the judges bid, it becomes apparent, however, this long-haired kid and Adam are a natural match. Adam even says, “It’s like talking to a younger me.” So West is on Team Adam.
The teams so far:
Alicia: Lilly Passero, Autumn Turner, Felicia “Keys” Temple, Anatalia Villaranda, Missy Robertson make a crowd of female pop/soul vocalists. Piano man Jack Cassidy and young Michael Jackson impersonator Quizz Swaningan are her only male vocalists so far.
Gwen: Rocker Troy Ramey, R&B vocalists J Chosen, Brandron Royal, female pop vocalists Savannah Leyton, Stephanie Rice, Aallyah Rose.
Blake: Female country vocalists Allaya Moulden, Brennley Brown, Lauren Dusky, Cassie Joy, Ashley Levin, female pop vocalist Micah Tryba.
Adam: Rockers Jesse Larson, Josh West, Johnny Hayes, Mark Isiah, Julien Martinez, male R&B vocalist Kawan De Bose, female pop vocalist Gabby Borromeo, country singer Taylor Alexander.