The Voice Recap: Blind Auditions Part 5

The-Voice-Season-4

This is the final week of blind auditions on The Voice, so it is absolutely crucial the coaches select the best of the rest to fill out their teams. While Adam has been the clear leader since the initial episode, is it possible either Shakira, Blake, or even Usher has overtaken him in the final stretch? You’ll find out after Tuesday’s show for sure, but let’s review the contestants’ performances from last night’s penultimate blind audition episode.

First up to sing for their life was golf caddy Jeff Lewis, whose song choice of “U Got It Bad” was of course meant to impress the original artist himself, Usher. His voice and delivery reminded me of Idol Season 8 champ, Kris Allen: nothing too special but personable enough for the ladies out there to pick up the phone and vote en masse. I’m always a sucker for artists who take time to enunciate the lyrics so we in turn can absorb their message, so thank you Jeff for appeasing me on that front. This performance isn’t the knockout version that Phillip Phillips’ version was back in Season 10 of American Idol, but it’s pleasant enough for now. To no one’s surprise, Lewis opts for Team Usher.

Performance Review: (***)

Next up is Shawna P, an old-school rasper who I’m sure had posters of Janis Joplin on every wall of her bedroom growing up. I wish her take on The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” was a bit more dynamic than the jackhammer-like aggressiveness witnessed. Audiences watching their television screens will likely respect her tone but find that her full throttle effect is a bit distancing, emotionally speaking. Shawna P goes for Team Shakira, and maybe her vocal antics will amuse the She-Wolf, but I don’t see a long future for Shawna on The Voice unless she shows America a softer side to her artistry.

Performance Review: (**½)

I absolutely adored the next performer, 18 year-old Caroline Glaser. Nothing eases the soul better than being whisked away by a beautiful voice singing an equally gorgeous song. So when Caroline Glaser’s magnificent instrument met Elton John’s fantastic “Tiny Dancer,” I felt like I was vacationing in heaven. The way Caroline’s voice effortlessly transitioned from her soft, mid-range tone into her falsetto was butter smooth perfection. Also pleasing was the fact that Caroline never felt the need to overcook the song. All she did was sprinkle a little bit of her own unique flavoring and voila — a four star meal. You know what that means…(Eat up, Blake!)

Performance Review (****)

I’m not really sure what Adam saw in country artist Michael Austin, who performed a karaoke-friendly version of Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You.” The whole performance was shaky, without any muscle or even that raw, Southern drawl that distinguishes many a country artist. Urban’s song has bounce to it that makes it difficult to outright dismiss or dislike, but I have to be frank and say Michael is probably Adam’s least interesting or innovative artist on his team thus far. The fact that he’s a part of a genre that isn’t in Adam’s wheelhouse makes it all the more apparent Mr. Austin is on life support and doesn’t have much longer until judgement day is upon him.

Performance Review: (**)

Fifth to shine was professional background/backup singer, Sasha Allen who left the biz for awhile to raise her children. There’s no doubt the lady can belt and appreciates music’s gift of storytelling, but I could do without the dramatics. There’s a desperation to her tone that is almost off-putting, but at the same time she does give it her all and seems prime for prime time. Sasha needs to fine-tune her lower register, because it sounded a bit wobbly and off-key on her opening verse of Dixie Chicks “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice.” Allen’s got talent, but she definitely could use some mentoring to guide her away from unnecessary histrionics. I hope Adam is up for the challenge.

Performance Review: (***)

Anybody who sings Selena is alright by me. I was riveted by Mary Miranda’s poppy rendition of the late singer’s “Como La Flor.” Miranda’s voice went to interesting places — a run here, a rasp there — and at the very least is someone who’s comfortable exploring their vocal possibilities. Miranda could’ve held her notes a bit more to stress the song’s emotion, but with Shakira on deck to help guide her to stardom, I can’t complain too much since what I heard brought me back to a great period of Latin musicianship. Here’s to hoping Mary Miranda ushers in a new Latin music renaissance.

Performance Review: (***½)

The penultimate performer of the evening was Grace Askew, who described her genre as “Bluntry” (blues + country). She’s got sass and attitude up the wazoo, and I love it but I also worry her style is going to grow old real fast. Her take on Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots were Made for Walkin” was confident and vocally on-point, though I think she rested too much on her ‘tude. I wanted some dynamism or experimentation, but there was none. Blake will probably set up her up with some cool song arrangements in the subsequent rounds, but seeing as this program is called “The Voice,” it’s hard for me to imagine Grace going the distance with her limited yet charming instrument.

Performance Review: (***)

The final dude to show us the goods was soul singer Ryan Innes. There’s nothing contemporary about him, but his voice sure is nice to listen to. He can growl, soothe, and riff to the ends of the earth. There’s no denying the man is talented but will he last on The Voice? Choosing Usher as his coach was a wise move, since the R&B megastar knows soul like the back of his hand. Then again, Usher has a penchant for championing young talent, and while Ryan isn’t Orville Redenbacher, neither is he Justin Bieber. I’m unsure of the journey Ryan is about to embark upon, but I hope it’s a grand one and maybe he’ll even discover his place in today’s music scene.

Performance Review: (***)

That’s all for my The Voice recap! Tune in for tomorrow’s recap as I dole out the complete ranking (both for teams and the contestants). As always, post your thoughts and opinions below!