Is three-time winner Blake Shelton getting too big for his britches on The Voice? His fellow coaches seem to think so. Christina Aguilera even called him “so cocky” on Monday night’s episode, which finished off the last of the blind auditions. (To be fair, Blake called frenemy Adam Levine cocky, too, but it didn’t have the same bite.)
With the teams almost full, the coaches were less inclined to push their buttons. But enough people made it through to fill up all the remaining spots, natch.
This season the coaches seem to be more evenly matched, and no one team is stacked with obvious standouts. If anyone has a leg up at this point, it’s Christina. She’s packed her team with powerhouse female vocalists and a few choice men. Adam, however, has the most memorable contestants – from Asian Jamaican Tessanne Chin to mouth-trumpet player Barry Black – whom he calls a “diverse, eclectic, all-over-the-place bunch of misfits.” But never underestimate the power and appeal of Blake – he’s easily got Middle America snugly tucked in his back pocket, and that’s exactly who casts votes. That leaves Cee Lo Green with possibly the weakest team – because, well, someone’s got to bring up the rear.
But Cee Lo proved he’s not going down without a fight, and if the other coaches have anything to say about it, they’ll cut Blake down till someone, anyone, else emerges victorious.
Still, when Blake and Cee Lo went head to head over two contestants, Blake walked away victorious each time.
First, the easy fight: 22-year-old Brandon Chase, who graduated college when he was just 17 and almost died when he was born. After performing Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” while strumming a guitar and wearing a plaid shirt, Blake asked, “Do you want to be a country singer?” To which he replied, “Yes, sir.” And with that, it was obvious Cee Lo was doomed.
By the time 24-year-old Brian Pounds rolled around, Cee Lo had had enough. After finishing “Wagon Wheel” while dressed like Blake’s twin (plaid shirt, check), the jock-turned-musician looked at Blake with a big smile and said, “It’s really good to see you.” An exasperated Cee Lo – still decked out in his bright red leather Michael Jackson “Thriller” getup – threw up his hands. When Christina tried to sway the contestant toward Cee Lo, saying he’d be able to “experiment,” Blake was quick to defend his turf. “I’d hate to see you experimented with,” he said. A clearly annoyed Cee Lo snapped back: “Why would you make experimentation sound so terrible? Rick Rubin, who produced the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C., also produced Johnny Cash. You can do whatever you want to do.” And what Pounds wanted to do was “keep it country” by going with Blake. When Blake got up to do a victory dance, Cee Lo muttered that he was starting to “not like this guy.”
However, Cee Lo did score someone that made Blake jealous in the form of 32-year-old Shawn Smith, a.k.a. Big Sexy. The bouncer-sized war veteran sang the spirited, all-American “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, and Blake loved the way he “hammed it up” for the audience. But, by this point, all the coaches’ teams were full, so Smith automatically wound up on Cee Lo’s team because he was the only one able to turn around.
Earlier in the night, Cee Lo scored another catch in 23-year-old Tamara Chauniece, whose religious upbringing led to her recording a gospel album when she was just 11. When she jokingly told Cee Lo to “come to Jesus,” he smiled and said, “Jesus look gooood.” Yet despite his cutesy-creepy advances (or maybe because of them?) she still decided to roll with Team Cee Lo.
Meanwhile, over on Adam’s end, he picked two more recruits for his army of misfits. First was 20-year-old Matt Cermanski, who failed to turn any chairs last season with his”weird” rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” but had three coaches interested in his more toned-down second try, “Have a Little Faith in Me.” (Not so enticing though was a pre-performance home video clip of him as a toddler singing while sitting on the toilet with his pants down around his ankles. Classy.)
Then there was 25-year-old Grey – yes, just Grey – a wedding singer who performed a crystal-clear, country-tinged version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath” that made everyone but Christina, who was saving her last spot for a guy, turn around. (And, in a mechanical glitch, sent Blake whirling backward again at an inopportune moment.)
We wonder if Xtina has any regrets about saving that spot for 27-year-old Michael Lynch, a 100 percent Irish bilingual singer who performed Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos.” While his voice was kind of sharp and nasally, the judges ate it up, with Xtina, Blake and Cee Lo all turning their chairs. Once those chairs turned, though, there may have been some buyers’ remorse, as his performance quickly turned into a stomping, screechy mess. “It started out so simple, almost like a Michael Jackson tone, I didn’t know you were a white boy,” Christina noted. Still, she took it in stride when he chose to join her team, getting up to do a duet with him.
Now, with the blind auditions over and the teams filled up it’s on to the next step: The battle rounds!
Previous recap: Second Time a Charm for Rejected Contestant