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The Voice Recap: Season Six Returns with Blind Auditions, Four Chair Spins and Usher & Shakira

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: (l-r) Shakira, Usher, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

It’s that time of again! NBC’s The Voice is back for its sixth season and joining returning judges Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and country artist Blake Shelton are international pop stars Shakira and Usher! It is clear that with the new season, there will be more competitiveness in terms of snatching their favorite artist, and with three hours of auditions this week, it is bound to be seen who would stand out and who would fall flat. Find out some of the best and worst in this week’s The Voice recap.

Monday’s episode kicked off with an opening medley of performances from the coaches.  Blake and Shakira took to the stage; Blake performing Shakira’s hit, “Whenever, Wherever”, while Shakira belted out “The Boys ‘Round Here”.  Usher hit the stage to perform Maroon 5’s hit “Love Somebody” and season five winner, Adam, took on “Without You”.  I have to be honest in saying that regardless of the change up in coaches, the four of them these season blended well together.

Now on to the blind auditions. This time around, I’m going to break it down to the performances that caught my attention in two ways; those being on point and of course those that were a complete miss.  With six seasons of the show, those coming into the auditions clearly know that they need to bring their A game; but in the two hours of viewing, I saw a few that were stellar and some that were simply missing that special something.

What Caught My Ear?

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" Episode 601 -- Pictured: Christina Grimmie -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” Episode 601 — Pictured: Christina Grimmie — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” kicked off the auditions by Christina Grimmie, who automatically got the attentions of Shakira and Usher, and a closely followed Adam.  I loved her performance because she didn’t try to completely phone it in to sound exactly like Miley’s original vocals.  In fact, I loved it more than the original.  Christina took to the stage not just to get the coaches attention but she also poured her heart out in song to her mother, who battled cancer three times and survived.  The dedication to her just locked me in to root for her.  The coach that she chose to team with was Adam.

The second stand out performance was that of TJ Wilkins, from South Central, Los Angeles.  I’m not a huge person of hearing a backstory of every blind audition; sometimes you want to just get the artist on the stage and showcase the real reason why they are there; which is their vocals, but TJ’s backstory kept my interest.  When he took on the classic Elton John’s song “Benny and the Jets” and gave it a soulful R&B flavor, I knew he’d get several chairs turning.   TJ chose wisely in going with Usher; he fits the direction that he is looking to be in.

The third performance of last night was that of Biff Gore, who is a worship leaded and father to five children (with another on the way).  He definitely did what Usher said he did; and that was taking the audience to church with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”.  Adam may have been the first to turn his chair but he wouldn’t be the only one fighting for his gentleman.  Biff just brought so much soul into the song and didn’t have an ounce of waver or uncertainty in where his vocals should be.  He really connected emotionally with the song and that is what got him the four chair turn.   In the end, Usher took the spot as Biff’s coach.

The final artist of the night that blew me away and brought the house down was that of Bria Kelly.  She is a powerhouse that got a four chair turn.  Only seventeen, the girl showed shades of Janis Joplin as she sang Elvis Presley’s “Steamroller Blues”.  I loved her rasp and she injected it in where it fit the best.  She reminded me a little bit of Jacquie Lee in terms of showcasing  power in her vocals, however, Bria’s vocals were crisp and on point.  The funny thing is that she initially wanted to go toward choosing Adam if he turned his chair around, but Usher killed that decision when he brought the big guns: one of his GRAMMY awards.  After that, it was clear that she was going over to Usher’s team.

What Tuned Me Out

Where there are great vocalists there are also vocalists that need just a little bit more for the coach to turn their chairs.  It always sucks to see someone that tries their hardest not get a chair turn but it too is also a learning experience for them to work on what they need to in an effort to return to get a second chance.  Here were some of the blind auditions that just didn’t fully capture my attention after reviewing the episode again.

Despite liking Tanner Linford when I first heard his vocals of Rihanna’s “Stay”, after a second listen, I fully understood why he didn’t fit for this season.  He has a lot that he could learn vocally to improve; a little bit more control when he sings.   At sixteen years of age he still has a lot of time to grow as an artist.  He lacked an emotional connection with the song itself.  I didn’t pay attention to this the first time seeing his performance, but sometimes getting a second listen makes it a bit clearer to what is great artists to simple alright ones.

I wasn’t keen on Dawn and Hawkes, the duo that happen to be an actual couple.  They had harmony and they blended well, but I just wasn’t in tune with them.  They just sounded like any couple that were on stage together, especially with a classic Beatles tune, “I’ve Just Seen a Face”.  It was a given that Adam would pounce the minute he heard them singing his favorite band’s song.  I personally think that they could get swallowed up come time for the Battle Round, but again, with the correct song choice, one never knows.  I, however, do know that they just didn’t touch anything for me.

Every hit song should not be attempted on a vocal reality competition; and that goes for the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, which Leo Gallo attempted to perform.  It was too much like Robin’s and that wasn’t what I wanted.  It was clear that Leo is more of an entertainer than a vocalist and that was what hurt him.  As Adam pointed out, his dancing is what caused him to sound very winded.  Perhaps with a different song choice and less dancing, then he might have gotten at least two chairs to turn, but unfortunately for Leo, it was not his time to be on a team.

What Surprised Me

Last season’s Jake Worthington, who sang “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” didn’t make the cut, but came back to prove that he belonged on someone’s team last night.  He sang “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley and let’s just say, he took every bit of advice that the coaches gave him this time out.  Adam and Blake instantly turned for him and was thrilled to see his return.  Let’s be honest in saying that Adam was out of Blake’s league when it came to trying to win Jake over.  It’s clear that even from last season, Jake wanted to be chosen in order to become a country artist and now that Jake returned, he definitely wanted to be on the right team; and that was on Blake’s.

Tuesday night was second night of blind auditions and that means more hits, more misses and a whole lot of buttering up to get someone on their team. For a recap of Tuesday’s events, click the next page.

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