Right now, the big question about Season Five of The Voice is: Can Blake Shelton continue his winning streak? An artist from the charismatic country star's team has won the past three seasons (see: Jermaine Paul, Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery), but now it seems like it's in the best interests of the show to hand the win to a different coach.
Of course, Middle America – this kind of show's core audience – and Blake himself might not see it that way. In fact, when frenemy Adam Levine admitted he and the other coaches are "gunning" for Blake, the three-time winner fired back: "If I win Season Five, there'll probably be a riot on the set, and Adam will probably quit – and that's my goal," he said.
So far, though, unlike last season, neither he nor any of the other coaches have any runaway standouts on their teams yet. (Comparatively, by this time last season frontrunners Bradbery, Michelle Chamuel and Judith Hill had already been discovered.) And the start of the second week of the blind auditions didn't offer any clues as to who might make the finals.
One person who did stand out, although not for her voice, was 24-year-old Briana Cuoco – personal assistant for and sister of Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco, who actually showed up backstage just like any other family member. We're not sure how or why Briana got Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green to turn around for her rendition of Lady Gaga's "You and I" since it was low and pitchy, but she did. In the end, Briana wound up picking Christina and her lazy eye, which we're finding very distracting this season. (We still love you, Xtina.)
There were a few other acts who also made it through for unknown reasons, including 20-year-old Justin Blake, who landed on Adam's team after singing a decent but ordinary version of Shelton's "Sure Be Cool If You Did" (which Adam didn't even know was Shelton's), and 28-year-old Monika Leigh who hit a few bad notes in an otherwiseOK rendition of "The Thrill Is Gone" that landed her on Team Blake.
Then, on the flipside, only Cee Lo turned his chair for 19-year-old George Horga Jr., who did a crisp, nearly pitch-perfect rendition of Bruno Mars' "Treasure." Plus, his boy-band good looks had the women in the audience on their feet (something Christina noticed, yet still didn't prompt her to turn her chair). However, the first-generation American's plight of "carrying the Romanian community on my back" doesn’t seem likely to rope in fans. But this is The Voice, not the History Channel, right?
Other highlights included 15-year-old glamour girl Timyra-Joi, who sang Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire" to the delight of Christina, Blake and Cee Lo, who all turned their chairs. Christina's women-should-stick-together spiel – "I started young, and it's different for a woman in this business," etc. – finally seemed to work, as the powerhouse teen chose Xtina to be her coach.
Another "get" was 16-year-old super-cute super-geek Juhi, whose fall-back plans are to go to college for either aerospace engineering or computer science. Her unusual voice gracefully swung between high and low notes, leaving her new coach Cee Lo to call her "wacky." And it certainly was a little unsettling that she chose Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain – two notorious heroin addicts who died at the age of 27 – as artists she looks up to and hopes to mimic. Though Christina thinks "that's awesome."
Then there was 25-year-old "young father" Ray Boudreaux, whose "blue-eyed soul" landed him on Team Blake; 23-year-old model-turned-musician Lina Gaudenzi, whose spot-on rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" led her to Christina's team; and 26-year-old hipster Preston Pohl, who previously played guitar in a semi-successful Christian rock band and who decided to go with Adam.
Now, as the teams fill up, only time will tell which coach has the winning combination. Could it be Blake again?
Previous recap: Christina Aguilera Eager to Win Season Five