With the blind auditions halfway over, last night's episode of The Voice raised an interesting question: What happens when the coaches hit their buzzers too soon?
Because that's exactly what happened in the case of recycled Season Four reject James Irwin, who went from turning no chairs to four chairs.
Last season the 31-year-old father of twins who died right after birth failed to entice any of the judges and left empty-handed. This time around, though, his initial rendition of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion," which started out as a slow jam, had them all hitting their buttons within seconds of each other – only to see his performance fall apart once he started rocking out. Their stony-faced expressions said it all: They had buyers' remorse.
It even seemed like Adam Levine was trying to make the guy run the other way with his critique, saying James "started super strong" but that there were still "some things that need work." When Adam pointed out that James "lost it emotionally," the returning contestant admitted he "got distracted" by all four coaches turning around at the same time. Fair enough, and possibly the reason why his performance went downhill so quickly. But we can't help but think that since he didn't make it last time, he shouldn't have made it this time.
In the end, he surprisingly picked Adam, despite the harsh critique, calling him "honest" and hoping he could help him work out the kinks. Now we'll see if he has what it takes to make it through the next few rounds.
And so the night went, with more mediocre contestants making it through. Begging another question: In its fifth season, has The Voice reached its talent saturation point?
The best of the night came in the form of 25-year-old Olivia Henken, mainly because she's a stereotypically pretty blonde country girl who sang a Carrie Underwood song ("Two Black Cadillacs"). Hate to boil it down to that, but let's be honest: that's who usually makes it far in these competitions. While they couldn't see her at first, both Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green turned their chairs – and once he saw her, Blake Shelton wished he had. When she picked Christina, Blake admitted he was "scared" because he'd hate to let a winning country artist slip through his fingers. And Christina twisted the knife just a little bit, saying, "Those dimples are going to win over America."
Other artists who made the cut included 30-year-old Will Champlin, the hipster son of Chicago guitarist Bill Champlin, who landed on Team Adam; 29-year-old cruise ship lounge singer Stephanie Anne Johnson, who went with Christina; 25-year-old Michael Bublé wannabe Sam Cerniglia, who wound up with Blake; and 23-year-old Ashley Dubose, a single mom who impressed all the coaches with her rendition of Rihanna's "Diamonds" and who gave Adam one of many "four-chair finalists."
However, not everyone was so lucky, and we kind of wonder if when the judges turned around they regretted overlooking Jason Kertson, who at 16 is such a guitar virtuoso that he can play two instruments at a time, and who caught the attention of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine with a YouTube clip of the feat. With his Bieber-esque good looks and deep, deep voice, the kid could make a killing in the viewer-voted live rounds. But his mature voice may have hurt him, since the judges thought he was older and, as Blake put it, "a big, burly bearded guy."
Then there was Robyn look alike Jennifer Newberry, who didn't have the vocal chops to make it through, and who brought the whole show back to reality again when she burst into tears after no one turned around. "I hate seeing people cry," Christina said as the defeated 32-year-old Swede walked away.
Now the question is: Did the coaches make the right calls?
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