'The Voice' recap: Blind auditions bring Pip and pickiness
The third round of blind auditions on "The Voice" brought us another procession of mildly good to pretty-good singers, more inter-coach sniping and, for some reason, Internet gossip guy Perez Hilton. Hilton was apparently there to support a friend of his: tattooed, buxom, blue-haired beauty Winter Rae, an L.A. bowling alley waitress who is precisely the sort of hopeful who justifies the "blind" part of "The Voice's" blind auditions.
Rae looked every bit the rock star -- and it's easy to imagine, say, the "American Idol" judges putting her through to Hollywood had she auditioned for that show -- but without the boost her arresting looks might have brought, her voice alone didn't compel the coaches to push their buttons. Afterward, as Rae hugged her family, we were treated to an awkward moment where Hilton, who presumably had expected to be celebrating her victory, was called upon to offer comfort. "You're still a star," he said, moving in to join the group hug after a brief hesitation. I'd probably feel sorrier for Rae if she kept humbler company.
Auditionees who had better luck included …
Sarah Golden, a woman whose face and possibly gender were obscured before she took the stage to sing "You and I." She explained that she'd had some interest from the industry, but that she'd been asked to change her look and had declined. Would she be hideous? No, in fact, she was a perfectly pleasant-looking woman with a perfectly pleasant voice that spun first Cee Lo Green, then Blake Shelton around. While Shelton complimented Golden on her "honest" and "refreshing" sound, Green, to whom looks are not immaterial, played hard to get "I only want who wants me." Cee Lo's tactic worked: Golden chose him.
Pip, a bow tie-and-suspender-sporting 19-year-old who told us his voice didn't match his looks. He was right: Though he looked like he might sing tenor in a barbershop quartet or be part of a boy band, in fact, he ripped through "House of the Rising Sun," prettily balancing passion and grit while strolling the stage in his orange Chuck Taylors. Adam Levine spun first, then Shelton, then in rapid succession Christina Aguilera and Green. After enduring a fair amount of coach bickering, Pip took a first-spun-first-served approach and went with Levine.
Erin Willett, a 22-year-old from Gaithersburg, Md., whose dad, she tearfully revealed, had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She hoped "The Voice" would provide something positive for the family to focus on at a difficult time. Would the coaches make her dream come true? As it turned out, only Shelton spun. "You have a very powerful voice," he told her, adding that Willett was on his team "whether you like it or not." She seemed to like it fine.
Katrina Parker, a North Carolinian who moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams but found only toxic mold and a soul-crushing cubicle job. Still, she has managed to retain her sense of humor, telling us her job as an underwriting assistant included copying, scanning, filing and "all the fun stuff." Host Carson Daly, surprising her at her bland office in the middle of her bland workday to present her with a blind auditions invitation, whispered, "We've got to get you out of here," before Parker's confused coworkers crowded around to applaud. Her "One of Us" spun only Levine, who declared, "I win," but then told Parker her song included "moments that weren't perfect." Daly reassured her afterward that Levine is "the most picky of those four coaches," which was a kind thing to do.
Geoff McBride, a father of three gorgeous children, Zoe, River, and Hunter, looks like the epitome of cool, but explained that he wears his sunglasses not to make an impression, but rather due to an old kickboxing accident. He also told us his late father, a singer, is present whenever he sings, but when he opened his mouth to perform "Higher Ground," it was Stevie Wonder we seemed to hear. Green and Aguilera contended for McBride. He opted for Aguilera.
Erin Martin, a former model with a big smile and a look she described as "Egyptian warrior princess." Those of us who suspected her voice wouldn't measure up to her looks were soon proved mistaken. She had an unusual and unusually appealing voice, singing "Hey There Delilah," and a disarming stage presence, shooting the coaches straight lines about her legs shaking. Green called her "a wonderful creature of a woman" and then tipped over into cat-strokingly creepy territory. "Quite naturally, you belong to me," he said. Both Shelton and Aguilera also vied for her, though not Levine, who said her singing had left him "confused and a little bit scared." For some reason, she went with Green, who then proclaimed, "She was given to me. I deserve her." (I really can't decide if Green's pussycat-petting lech shtick is funny or creepy. Thoughts?)
James Massone, a 23-year-old kid (he looked like a kid in his letter jacket) with slicked-back hair and one heck of a Boston accent who wants only to leave his family auto body business (he preps "cahs") behind and make a play for musical success. Honestly, his "Find Your Love" sounded shaky and pitchy to me, but Shelton, Green and Aguilera ate it up. Initially overwhelmed, Massone ultimately picked Green as his coach, bursting backstage to greet his family with a triumphant, "How do you like them apples?!" Cute.
Chris Cauley, who played a video of his late, bluegrass-playing grandma for Daly before taking the stage and singing a solid "Grenade." Levine and Green spun, sparred, and called Cauley's performance "smooth" and "amazing." He went with Levine.
Then, after a montage in which we saw three contestants get picked up -- Nathan Parrett (Levine), Brian Fuente (Blake), and M.C. Moses Stone (Aguilera) -- we finally arrived at the last contestant of the night: Jordis Unga, a woman of exotic descent -- her mom is Swedish and I couldn't quite catch where her dad was from.
She sang "Maybe I'm Amazed" with crouched-on-the-floor energy, prompting Shelton to declare that hers was the voice he'd been "waiting to hear" and that it made him "want to push myself to be that much better of a singer." Aguilera and Green also did their metaphorical fan dances, but Unga opted for Shelton, since he was the first to turn his chair.
Phew! Are you still enjoying the blind auditions of "The Voice" (no, they're not over yet) -- or are you eager to move on to the competition's next phase?
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: From left, Adam Levine, Carson Daly, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. Credit: Art Streiber / NBC.