For the second time in The Voice history, Blake Shelton failed to turn his chair for a friend. But in the case of former Steel Magnolia singer Meghan Linsey, whose audition aired on Monday night’s season premiere of the hit NBC show, the country singer stood by his decision to be the only coach to keep his back turned.
“Now I bet you feel extra bad, huh?” Adam Levine barked at Shelton after hearing that he and Linsey once toured together.
“Actually no, I don’t, because if she hadn’t have picked me I’d have been really pissed off,” Shelton retorted. “She’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my life.”
And one of the most versatile. Linsey traded country for a delectable marriage of rock & roll and soul on the classic Nazareth hit, “Love Hurts.” Her unique spin on the song resulted in chair turns from Levine, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell — who all hit their buzzers at the same time, as the song almost came to an end.
“You made me believe that love hurts. I was so enraptured,” Aguilera gushed. “You are the definition of ‘the voice’ to me. . . Forget Team Christina, I’m Team Meghan.”
But it was Pharrell’s words, comparing Linsey to Janis Joplin, that struck the Voice hopeful the hardest. She chose the “Happy” singer despite literal begging from the other two — and despite the strategy she’d had in mind before the audition.
Linsey is a reality competition show veteran. Steel Magnolia got their start on CMT’s Can You Duet?, winning their season and scoring a record deal with American Idol mentor Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group. They hit the Top Five in 2009 with “Keep on Loving You” and released a self-titled album in 2011. Just months later, Linsey’s singing partner/ex-fiancé Joshua Scott Jones entered a rehabilitation facility to treat drug and alcohol addictions, which ultimately led to their breakup. Both have since pursued solo careers, with Linsey releasing an EP in 2014 that spawned the buzzworthy, left-of-center hit, “Try Harder Than That.” Jones released a critically acclaimed solo album, The Healing, last summer.
As for Shelton, the four-time Voice victor — with three of his winners going on to have country music careers — says his strategy this year is to find singers in different genres. It was back in 2013 when he also kept his back turned to a blast from the past: Julie Roberts. The “Break Down Here” singer didn’t make it past her blind audition.