Adam Levine generated controversy last season on The Voice for throwing one of his contestants under the bus, but this season, it seems his shadiness is working for him. After 16 seasons, he has either become a master of reverse psychology … or maybe, just maybe, on an enabling, coddling, everybody-gets-a-cookie singing show that features “coaches” instead of “judges,” some thicker-skinned contestants actually find Adam’s brutal honesty and tough love refreshing.
On Tuesday’s Blind Auditions episode, 29-year-old church belter L.B. Crew was the only four-chair contestant of the night, thanks to his beautifully nuanced rendition of Mr. Probz’s “Waves.” Adam was the last coach to turn for L.B., and the only coach not to lavish LB with praise. In fact, while Adam found L.B.’s smooth soul voice “99 percent unstoppable,” he chose to focus on the 1 percent in need of improvement.
“I think that one of my best skills as a singer is falsetto, and that’s the one area that wasn’t as good as it could be,” Adam told L.B. bluntly. “When someone has the gift that you have and someone is so incredible on every level, and there’s one little, tiny thing that I have right skill set to help you with — that’s why I turned. … I’m coming at you real with it. Just want to be straight up about it.”
Surprisingly, L.B. ended up joining Team Adam — even after the coach that he’d claimed was his first choice, John Legend, had called him “magnificent” and “powerful.” L.B. maturely and thoughtfully explained to host Carson Daly, “I picked Adam because he gave some constructive criticism and it was honest, and I appreciate that. I don’t mind getting help where help is due.”
Good-cop coach Kelly Clarkson was incredulous, exclaiming, “I’m gonna try that. I’m gonna try to be like, ‘You really weren’t great.’ And then hopefully they’ll pick me!”
But let’s face it: Kelly, America’s sweetheart, is more of an if-you-can’t-say-something-nice type of coach. And that approach did work for her Tuesday, when the panel’s other incumbent coach, Blake Shelton, tried a negging strategy similar to Adam’s — and it spectacularly backfired.
Sure, Blake may have meant it in a good way when he told 18-year-old Reba-like country diva Rebecca Howell (after she confidently and note-perfectly belted “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and turned three chairs), “The thing that I love about Georgia vocalists is that whiny, nasally sound.” Gasped Kelly, “Is this your sales pitch?” If it was, Rebecca wasn’t buying, so Rebecca joined Team Kelly instead.
These were Tuesday’s other successful auditions:
Betsy Ade, 40: “Hunger”
The lesbian single mom’s Florence + The Machine cover definitely had a hunger and passion to it, but she sounded like a Florence Welch impersonator, right down to the strange British-accent affectations. (FYI, Betsy is from Wisconsin.) I was hoping that someone with her edgy look, fearless stage presence, and life experience would have a more unique sound.
Who turned? Adam and John, though they both noted the copycattiness of Betsy’s performance.
Result: Team Legend. John played the Chrissy card, mentioning his wife and saying, “I love a dynamic, strong woman!” That probably helped his cause, as did the fact that Betsy’s son is a major John fan.
Dalton Dover, 20: “Don’t Close Your Eyes”
I was really rooting for this trailer-park-raised factory worker, who got married at 17 and dropped out of school in the 11th grade to raise a family. A classic all-American hardship tale. Thankfully, Dalton was promising, even if his voice sounded strained and uncontrolled from (presumably) nerves. His natural, soulful tone and earnest delivery may make him this season’s diamond in the rough.
Who turned? Only Blake, surprisingly.
Result: Team Blake, obviously. But that’s the team on which Dalton belongs. Not only was Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” the first song Blake learned to play on guitar, but Blake described Dalton as “one of the better country singers we’ve heard audition this year.”
Kendra Checketts, 19: “Sober”
Kendra totally tore into this raw and emotional Demi Lovato ballad, showcasing massive pipes and massive potential.
Who turned? Just Blake, again! I thought Kelly would go for Kendra, but Kelly didn’t hear enough “ache” in this performance. Hmmm. I heard plenty of ache myself.
Result: Team Blake. Blake got as honest as Adam for a moment, stating, “Our jobs here are to coach. It’s to take people that are good and help them break down that last wall. Instead of sitting here waiting for people who are ready at this moment, I’m excited about coaching some people!” Honestly, I don’t think Kendra needs that much help.
J.T. Rodriguez, 28: “Higher Love”
I adored this Nashville crooner’s quirky indie voice, which reminded me of Daniel Bedingfield, Jamie Cullum, American Idol Season 15 champ Trent Harmon, and the O.G. Idol, Pop Idol Season 1 winner Will Young. John thought J.T. sounded “unsure,” and Adam and Blake thought he sounded like a senior citizen, but I found J.T.’s feathery vocal quality pleasant and distinctive.
Who turned? No one! Boo!
Result: Team Bebe. For the first time ever, I was happy about the Comeback Stage, overseen by fifth coach Bebe Rexha. J.T. got a much-deserved second chance as he was dispatched to Bebe’s Island of Misfit Toys for an online-only battle against Monday’s failed auditioner, cruise ship singer Kanard Thomas. And I was actually emotionally invested enough to head over to YouTube to find out JT’s fate.
Over on the YouTube, Kanard stepped it up with “Let’s Get It On,” a much better performance than Monday’s B.B. King cover. But he disappointingly shied away from the falsetto that he’d practiced in rehearsal. (Adam would not approve!) J.T.’s raspy “Stormy Monday,” on the other hand, was simply cool. There is no one this season, or any season, that sounds like J.T. He has what Bebe called an “amazing recording voice,” and this song stylist isn’t the kind of guy you’ll see playing on some Lido Deck.
But, of course … Bebe picked Kanard. This is the second week in a show that I have disagreed with her decision. Grrrr. It was a stormy Tuesday, indeed.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
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- New ‘Voice’ coach John Legend is in search of his ‘VEGOT’ on Season 16 premiere
- Is Domenic Haynes the best singer in all 16 ‘Voice’ seasons? Adam Levine says yes
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