Is anyone else getting anxious for the battle rounds on NBC’s The Voice? The talent keeps pouring in during the blind auditions, which means it’s just going to be more difficult to narrow the contestants down. Fortunately, coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton seem to be super-charged with enthusiasm for season 16, so it’s shaping up to be the most exciting season yet.
And they wasted zero seconds getting right into night five of the blinds with 46-year-old Beth Griffith-Manley. The Detroit native was already quite at ease on the stage singing Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back.” It turns out that Beth provided background vocals for Anita Baker for five years and her father at one time played piano for Aretha. While only John and Kelly turned, there was remorse from Adam. “I missed my opportunity and I regret it deeply because you are amazing,” he said. Both John and Kelly were complimentary, but Kelly was shocked when Beth chose her. She leaped from her seat screaming, “Oh my god, are you picking me? You’re picking me?”
The next performer had a definitive southern accent. A very southern accent. Hailing from Durbin, South Africa, 31-year-old Selkii showcased a unique and dynamic vocal on “I Try” by Macy Gray. Adam didn’t waste much time hitting his red button, but in the last second, Blake also threw his hat in the ring. “I have never been to South Africa and I like to imagine that over there, you’re country,” he told her. “I’m a huge fan. I think what you did was incredible. I’d like to be a part of your journey on ‘The Voice’ and a part of your journey when I open for you in South Africa.” Unfortunately for Adam, Selkii revealed that her husband had chosen her coach before the young singer even hit the stage…and it was Blake.
However, when Chicagoan Denton Arnell finished up his cover of “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake, John was the clear-cut winner of the talented 31-year-old. “Your tone is wonderful. You took a song that could have been a lot less exciting, but I think you were really creative with the melody and made it your own,” John. And since John gave Denton a “yes,” he brought his girlfriend, Tiffany, on stage to see if she would give him a yes, too. Dropping to one knee, she nodded enthusiastically making Denton a two-time winner.
Kernersville, North Carolina’s Ciera Dumas seemed like the typical 21-year-old until she opened her mouth to sing Demi Lovato’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” Then all bets were off as she demonstrated an enviable range and natural rasp in her upper register. Both Adam and John turned almost simultaneously and they could hardly wait to give their feedback. “Adam and I turned at the same time because we were mesmerized by your voice,” John told her. “You have a story to tell and I can’t wait for you to tell it on ‘The Voice.’” Adam added, “Your voice captures the entire room. You’re unstoppable.“ Although Blake didn’t turn for the talented young lady, he did tell her, “That Bonnie Tyler part of your voice when you get up there and it starts to shred a little bit, that’s the money for you.” It wasn’t an easy decision for Ciera, but when the chips fell, she chose Team Adam.
The coaches seem to have decided that if a contestant sounds like a country music performer than they are going to automatically choose Blake. That’s how 22-year-old Andrew Sevener’s choice was made. Delivering a rousing, rocking rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women,” only Blake made the turn. John admitted, “We’re intimidated by you, Blake.” And Kelly confirmed, “I’m tired of country artists just laughing in my face and choosing Blake.” She then added, “You sang your tail off.” And with that, the Alvarado, Texan was Team Blake.
When Clermont, Florida’s Mari hit the stage, things chilled out quite a bit. Performing Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up,” the confident 20-year-old had mature vocal runs and a lilt in her melodies that earned her three chairs to turn almost immediately: Adam, John, and Kelly. Even though John had a duet with Ella Mai on her new album, and Blake was campaigning hard for him, the incredibly talented young lady picked Adam as her coach for the season.
We often hear the coaches express remorse when no chairs turn for a young singer who has left it all on the stage, but we rarely see an open display of emotion from the contestants. However, 26-year-old Crystal Rose became a little tearful after her performance of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” failed to earn her an immediate spot on the show. As she exited the stage and tears began to roll down her cheeks, John couldn’t help but jump up and gave her a hug.
With the teams filling up, the coaches were getting pickier and looking for very specific things. Kelly has been wanting a country artist, but while she, Adam, and John have bemoaned the fact that Blake always gets the country singers, she couldn’t help but give it a try when 20-year-old Abby Kasch hit the stage. Singing a gutsy rendition of Gretchen Wilson’s “Here For the Party,” both Kelly and Blake hit their red buttons for the Palos Park, Illinois native. Sharing her appreciation for Gretchen, Kelly told her, “Is that why you chose that, you love all that ballsy country? I do, too!” Blake, on the other hand, argued, “I turned around out of excitement and passion and desperation to have you on my team, Abby.” It was obviously difficult for the young woman to choose, but after Blake called Kelly a first cousin to country music, he may have helped Abby pick Team Kelly.
It’s hard to narrow down what was so remarkable about Mikaela Astel’s performance. It could have been that her voice was melodic, confident, and unique. It could have been her beautiful musicianship on the guitar. Or it could have been that she is only 14-year-old but nailed her performance of Borns’ “Electronic Love” like a music industry veteran, but it was enough to make Kelly and John go toe-to-toe. “Your tone cannot be taught and it is beautiful,” Kelly told her. “It is so interesting and vibey” She also reminded Mikaela, “I actually won with a 14-year-old.” John told the young singer, “Special voices are hard to find and I think you have one.” With Adam advising her to close her eyes and follow her heart, Mikaela picked Team Kelly.
The night couldn’t end without a four-chair turn, and 33-year-old Houston, Texas native Shawn Sounds earned it. Performing “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo, Adam, John, and Blake all hit their buttons early on, while Kelly waited until the last second. All four coaches gushed with praise for the vocalist’s effortless runs and broad range, but Blake also pointed out, “You may think, ‘Why would I go with this country guy as my coach.’ We seem very different, but none of that matters.” My job isn’t to be like you. We’re not meant to be in the same genre. My job is to help you be the best you.” As compelling as that argument is, Shawn still chose Team John Legend.
Due to time constraints, viewers were unable to watch performances from Anthony Ortiz and Oliv Blue, however, the two are moving on in the competition with Adam and John respectively.
The Comeback Stage also earned two new performers: 18-year-old Kayla Seeber and 26-year-old Crystal Rose. Be sure to check out the YouTube channel for The Voice to see how their work with singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha progresses.
A quick team tally shows the following:
Team Adam: 9
Team Blake: 10
Team John: 11
Team Kelly: 9
The Voice returns on Monday, March 18 for the sixth night of blind auditions.