America really liked “The Voice” last week. How much did they like it? They liked it enough to watch two straight hours of programming on NBC.
Now that’s sacrifice!
And since I kinda enjoyed the premiere, it seemed only right to recap Week Two, see if interest remains. If ratings fall or nobody has anything to discuss, I can always quit next week.
I’ll be treating the second night of Blind Auditions the way I’d normally treat an “American Idol” audition episode, namely with a minute-by-minute (performer-by-performer, in practical terms) recap.
Click through for all of the fun…
9:00 p.m. When last we left things, Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine had three singers apiece on their teams, 12 down. But it took two hours to cull those 12 and in the next two hours, we’re going to have to add 20 more. Let’s get down to business, eh?
9:05 p.m. Up first is background singer Cherie Oakley, a lifetime background vocalist. She’s toured with Carrie Underwood. She’s written a song for Reba McEntire. And she’s already making an odd call by singing a Miranda Lambert song for Miranda Lambert’s fiance Blake Shelton. She’s in tears at the idea of moving out of the shadows. She gets a quick smile from Blake as she breaks into “Gunpowder & Lead.” But Blake also gives a “What the heck am I supposed to do now?” look. Cherie’s solid, but there’s a thinness to her voice that you’d never accuse Miranda Lambert of possessing. That’s why the coaches are all holding back. Christina buzzes in first and ends up being Cherie’s only supporter. Blake tells Cherie that she was unable to beat Miranda. Cee-Lo thinks it’s “cool” to see the voice come out of tiny Cherie. Adam thinks it’s a good pairing and Christina agrees. “I could just tell that you were attacking it,” Christina explains. And Christina Aguilera knows from attacking songs and beating them into submission.
9:08 p.m. Our next singer is Devon Barley and if he advances, it maybe validates the show’s premise because he’s a little bit of a nerd. He also comes from a family in the medical field and med school is expected from him as well. The Kevin Covais-esque 19-year-old goes with “I’m Yours” and turns an already sleepy song into a total snooze. The coaches bop along politely and at Blake’s urging, both Cee-Lo and Adam turn around and are notably unenthusiastic. Christina swears she didn’t push the button because she thought Devon would work better with Adam. And Mr. Levine loved Devon’s “tone,” though you can hear his lack of passion. Blake wants to point out that beyond the “tone,” there wasn’t much singing going on and Cee-Lo half-heartedly says he was “impressed.” Devon goes with Adam, who’s practically already cutting him in his mind.
9:17 p.m. Joshua Scott Hand is aggressively silly. He’s like Dane Cook if Dane Cook were a gossip blogger trying to pretend to be a singer. He’s uncomfortable with the blind process, but he thinks this will be an amazing opportunity. He annoys the heck out of already. Then he starts singing an acoustic guitar version “Paparazzi” and his mumbly, affected voice begins annoying me even more. I thought “The Voice” didn’t have joke auditions, yo? Is he singing a single word? Or is it all just slurring incoherently. It’s no surprise that none of the judges turn around for him. Because he’s awful. Blake says he was thrown by hearing a guy sing a Lady Gaga song. Christina says again that she didn’t buzz in because Josh was better suited to Adam. But Adam wasn’t impressed. Nor was Cee-Lo, who declares, “Next time, follow your heart or don’t do it at all.”
9:22 p.m. At 16, Raquel Castro is the show’s youngest competitor. She grew up listening to Christina Aguilera and she’s only been training for a couple months. Is this going to be another disaster? She does “Bleeding Love” and her inexperience is audible throughout. She sounds like every inexperienced “Idol” teen ever. But she does produce a fight between Blake, who doesn’t want her and thinks Adam should take her, and Adam, who just doesn’t want her. Will anybody take pity on Raquel? Yes. Christina makes Little Raquel’s dream come true. I know this, cuz her mom says so. Adam pats her on the head and praises her for doing so much at 16. “Great things come in small packages,” gushes Christina.
9:41 p.m. Cee-Lo and Blake both have five open spots apiece.
9:22 p.m. Time for another “Let’s test *your* expectations!” contestant. It’s 23-year-old Emily Valentine and forget the shoes and her speaking voice, I’m judging her on the basis of the “Beverly Hills, 92010” character. Emily is from Hollywood and she’s covered in tattoos. She says that people are surprised when they hear her sing. But will we be? She does “Sober” and she’d got a really good rocker-chick voice. Blake signs on and presses his button and finally we see that Emily Valentine looks… kinda exactly like what I’d have expected her to look like. Cee-Lo also buzzes in. With two judges in her corner already, Emily’s emotional and hits some really unsteady notes. Oooh. Christina says that a couple notes were “pitchy.” Somebody’s been watching “Idol.” Cee-Lo compares Emily to Pink (not a big stretch, given the song), raving about her courage and confidence. Blake liked the rasp in Emily’s voice. She chooses… Cee-Lo.
9:33 p.m. Niki Dawson has a good voice, but no backstory worth hearing. Niki ends up on Cee-Lo’s team. Sara Oromchi, described as “bashful,” ends up on Blake’s team.
9:38 p.m. Tim Mahoney is 39-years-old. He’s had a lot of “almosts.” There’s nothing wrong with Tim’s voice, which has bluesy and androgynous, but he has no stage presence or charisma at all. Adam buzzes in and gives Tim a look of utter confusion. It’s not that he’s untalented, but I understand exactly why he hasn’t made it and why this show’s format is so silly. “Don’t be insulted by this,” Adam begins, “I thought you were a chick.” But Adam, he of the perilously high pop voice, is OK with his bafflement. “I need a woman for my team, but sadly you have a penis,” Adam continues. Tim finds all of this very funny. “I’m not as interested in talking to you about your genitalia,” Blake says. Tim and Adam share an awkward hug.
9:44 p.m. Julia Eason is a soccer player, but she’s also excited about performing for the coaches and scared that her nerves will get the best of her. The arrangement of “Mercy” has a good deal more sass and soul than Julia possesses. Cee-Lo buzzes in. After Julia tosses in a few totally unnecessary runs that don’t quite work, she gets Christina to turn around. Blake keeps talking about being glad other people buzzed in so that he didn’t have to. Christina keeps repeating words like “love” and “really,” raving about Julias “runs and ad-libs.” Cee-Lo says Julia was “clear and graceful.” Julia picks Christina, cuz… duh.
9:49 p.m. Angela Wolff, who claims that people have described her as “a Georgia peach with an edge” (I somehow suspect that “people” either means “her mother” or “Angela”), is very excited — and by “excited,” I mean “crazy” — to see Blake, who she even follows on Twitter. Angela’s also singing a Miranda Lambert song, which didn’t work out so well earlier. Nobody’s turning around for Angela. They’re apologetic. Blake says Angela went a few places, but they weren’t the right places to go. Adam’s only got three choices remaining and he’s being precious with them.
9:52 p.m. Our next singer is the dapper Tyler Robinson, who immediately announces he’s a gay Mormon and then tries to say that this doesn’t define him. Immediately my Twitter feed is full of people referring to the “Gay Mormon.” So much for not defining you? “My father does not know that I’m gay. I actually haven’t told him yet. I guess he knows now,” Tyler says. Tyler’s version of “Hey Soul Sister” excites Blake, who turns around and lets out a big laugh, before shifting into a quizzical “What am I gonna do with this guy?” expression. Blake’s the only coach to turn around and he’s forced to praise Tyler’s “solid, full voice.” He ends up comparing Tyler to Drew Carey.
10:02 p.m. Heh. I like the Chewbacca-esque Nakia, who thinks it’s a good idea to sing “Forget You.” Carson Daly’s all, “Are you crazy?” Nakia’s version is perhaps a bit bluesy than Cee-Lo’s, but you know who isn’t immediately impressed? That’s right: Cee-Lo. Even as Blake and Adam look in his direction, Cee-Lo holds out for at least 30 seconds before inevitably pushing his button. Blake joins Cee-Lo and is amused by the hairy dude in the suit and Chucks. “What’s up, big brother?” Cee-Lo asks, adding “Of course, you have great taste in music.” But their similarities go deeper: They also like red and black. “It takes a lot of guts and balls to do a Cee-Lo song,” Christina says. Blake pleads his case, saying “You looked nothing like I expected. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect to turn around and feel threatened,” before adding his real argument, namely that his rival, “dresses like a peacock.” But Nakia chooses Cee-Lo, who praises his new charge’s balls.
10:07 p.m. We’re only exposed to 10 seconds of over-singer Serabee, who becomes the sixth person on Blake’s squad. We also don’t get much from Adam’s sixth selection, Casey Desmond, who is described as a glam rocker, but doesn’t look or sound like a glam rocker. And finally, since she’d only selected caterwauling divas previously, Christina picks her first guy, a dude named Justin Grennan, who isn’t as cute as Christina probably thought he’d be.
10:11 p.m. Time for a montage of people the judges didn’t select. Because this isn’t “American Idol,” they’re not bad. In fact, Levine’s got some fighting words, declaring, “The people we’re not turning our chair to could win ‘American Idol.'” The hell you say, Maroon 5.
10:13 p.m. Dia Frampton is 23 and she writes childrens’ novels. She’s also going to some extremes to seem homely, practically wearing a burlap sack as overalls and talking about her cripping nervousness. Whether she’s playing up the “mousy” role or not is unclear, but she’s *very* attractive and has a great voice. Blake buzzes in just seconds into her version of “Bubbly.” Dia has super tone, a beautiful smile and expressive eyes and merely having the support of one coach is enough to visibly raise her confidence. Cee-Lo also buzzes in, much to Blake’s chagrin. “When I heard you begin to sing, it made me smile,” Blake says, calling her “earthy,” which he compares to country music. “You look just like that song,” Cee-Lo says, calling her “cozy” and “cuddly.” Dia chooses Blake. I like Dia. I could root for her.
10:21 p.m. Self-described “down-home country boy” Curtis Grimes wants a place on Blake’s team. He’s singing a Blake Shelton song, which gets an initial smile from The Man Himself. But after the initial smile, Blake becomes broody and contemplative. And he doesn’t reach for the buzzer. He doesn’t want to waste that last position on his team and all of the judges are looking down the row at him. In a shocker, Cee-Lo makes the first move. “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” Carson Daly says, earning his salary. In the end, it’s only Cee-Lo turning around. Blake tells Curtis that there wasn’t enough cockiness and anger in his performance. “You sound like you were putting on any fascade,” Cee-Lo says, as Curtis puts on a fake smile and pretends this was exactly what he wanted. Then did Curtis snub Blake as they were leaving?
10:26 p.m. Uh-oh. There’s only one audition left. But several people haven’t filled their squads. In fact, there are five spots left. That can only mean one not-at-all-contrived thing: Second chances!
10:31 p.m. But first, it’s Tori and Taylor Thompson. To 99 percent of viewers, the names mean nothing. But to somebody who covers as much reality TV as I do, a lightbulb goes off immediately. “American Juniors”!!! Tori was the little pageant queen and Taylor was the sister who required reassure of her value in the family. They made it all the way to the end on “American Juniors,” but they’re sure not admitting it. They’re performing as a country duo now. But some of us remember back when they performed with a young “Pretty Little Liars” star Lucy Hale on FOX’s first attempt to clone “American Idol.” They’re still pretty decent and Cee-Lo presses his button for him. He’s all, “Awww yeah. Jailbait.” Levine compliments them with, “That was the most adorable thing I’ve heard.” Christina Aguilera compares them to a bubble gum commercial. Again, we heard all about Frenchie’s experience on “American Idol,” but “American Juniors” gets nary a mention? [Seriously, though, watch a couple “American Juniors” clips on FOX. Who the heck thought that was a good idea?!? And some of us had to write about it for the better part of a summer. True story.]
10:34 p.m. Cee-Lo is the only coach with eight people on his team. Adam needs two more and Blake and Christina are bout short by one. Regardless of Adam’s contention that booted “Voice” contenders would win on “Idol,” the only person I’m sure I’d want to bring back is Sonia Rao, who can finally be judged for her hotness instead of her talent. Yup. It’s time to invalidate the entire premise of the show!
10:39 p.m. The judges have picked eight singers who they remember from earlier. Ah, but we’re keeping up the “blind audition” lie. The eight singers are going in different orders and singing different songs. Yup. That’ll fool the coaches.
10:40 p.m. Up first is Lily Elise, who Christina felt guilty for not selecting earlier. She does “If I Ain’t Got You” and I’ll politely assure Adam Levine that this gal wouldn’t win “American Idol.” She’s got an OK voice, but her version of “performance” strongly resembles The Pee-Pee Dance. But Lily is in luck. Christina presses the button and adds Lily to her stable of women. “I got you back,” Christina growls, before lurching onto the stage to hug Lily. Or devour her. Or whatever. And that’s it for Christina. There are three spots left and seven singers.
10:43 p.m. Sonia Roa! Her first version of “If I Ain’t Got You” was much better than Lily’s. She’s also stunning and internationally friendly. Will she win friends with “Chasing Pavements”? Sadly, she was better the first time. Much better. This is nasally and all-too-sharp. But Blake is lured to her siren call. Blake looks ready to turn, offers Adam the chance to turn first. Adam declines. Blake declines. Nobody turns. “It hurts as much the second time,” Sonia says. But Adam and Blake put on a big show of being unhappy. Once again, we’re reminded of what is either good or bad about this BS “Blind Audition” format.
10:46 p.m. Jared Blake — the bald rocker who wasn’t in Chris Daughtry’s league — is next. It’s not that he’s bad. But he’s not exceptional. One growl is even to sway Blake to press his button. Adam sits back and Jared joins Blake’s team. That means Adam has to select two of the next five people. But first? More commercials!
10:51 p.m. Shelton keeps saying how happy he is. I believe that’s his way of saying that he wishes he hadn’t turned for Jared.
10:51 p.m. Casey Weston’s back. And seriously, who’s not going to recognize her hight nasal twang and low goat vibrato? Adam buzzes in. This was a mistake on his part. He doesn’t know who the other four were and I’m betting he could have done better. Casey’s parents would probably disagree with me. Casey’s giddy at being on Team Adam.
10:54 p.m. Angela Wolff give us our latest version of “Rolling in the Deep.” Don’t do it, Adam! Don’t! Yes, Angela’s cute. And yes, her voice is OK. But wait! See if there’s somebody better in the wings. Somebody who doesn’t wear double-headbands like it’s 1984 in The Valley! If Adam’s last name weren’t “Levine,” I’d say he probably didn’t wait til Christmas morning to unwrap his presents. Seriously, that’s just an itchy trigger finger that made those last two selections. So we’re never gonna find out who the other second-chancers were? Or did they cheat and not show us a few?
10:57 p.m. Next week? BATTLE ROUNDS!
10:59 p.m. Wow. They really front-loaded the talent in that first episode, didn’t they? Last week, we saw between five and 10 really good performers. Tonight? Ummm… I guess Nakia was solid? Tyler seemed like a nice kid? And I was amused by the presence of the Thompson sisters? I think Dia Frampton was the singer I liked best tonight, but I’m not sure any of these singers could have made the Top 10 on “Idol” this season or any other season. And I know it’s wrong to keep comparing “The Voice” and “Idol,” but NBC keeps doing it and the people involved keep doing it. And tonight? Fell short. And when the talent falls short, the entire premise falls short and the whole thing becomes flimsy.
So who’d you like from Tuesday’s episode? And which coach ended up with the best team?