The Voice is all about great singing, of course, but like any reality show worthy of its four Emmys, it’s also about great stories of triumph over adversity. This season’s first such feel-good tale came Tuesday, courtesy of 22-year-old Hurricane Harvey survivor and quadruple-chair-turner Deandre Nico.
Last year, Deandre’s family lost their Port Arthur, Texas, home after being stranded there for two days with no food, electricity, or water. “I thought we were really going die in that house,” Deandre told Voice host Carson Daly. Luckily, the community came together to save the Nicos via boat, and since then, Deandre has been sleeping on neighbors’ couches while gigging where he can. “It’s really all I have, is music,” he said.
Deandre poured all that heartache into his cover of Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man,” and he reminded me a bit of Aaron Neville — masculine but feminine, soft but strong, gruff but high-pitched all at the same time. Adam Levine buzzed in almost immediately. (“I heard the greatness in your voice early,” Adam later noted.) Blake Shelton hit his button with such brute force, he hurt his hand. Jennifer Hudson praised Deandre’s “range, depth, and soul.” Kelly Clarkson just flat-out told him, “I think you’re really rad!”
Deandre ultimately went with Adam, after which Carson said, “After Hurricane Harvey, I’m glad that you and your family got some good news.” But Deandre is no charity case getting the sympathy vote. He could win this thing.
Adam didn’t have such a successful night for the rest of Tuesday’s Blind Auditions. Here’s who else made it through to the Battle Rounds on Teams Blake, J.Hud, and Kelly:
Keith Paluso, 30: “Way We Go Down”
This bird-obsessed Memphis park ranger was giving me Will Forte-as-the-Falconer vibes during his bio package, but his muscular voice gave me (and Kelly) Marc Broussard vibes on his Kaleo cover. His rumbling low growl was affected, but it was distinctive. Keith was smart to start the song a cappella and grab the audience’s attention.
Who turned? Blake, Adam.
Result: Team Blake — because Blake blocked Adam. The “winningest coach” knows how to play the game.
Claire Dejean, 17: “Hurt Somebody”
This Dallas theater kid with the sweet vibrato sounded frightened and wobbly at first, but she made the nerves work for her, bringing a raw, fragile quality to the Noah Kahan ballad.
Who turned? Blake, Kelly.
Result: Team Kelly. Blake’s strategy of comparing Claire to Taylor Swift backfired in a big way. Kelly seemed more willing to let Claire just be Claire.
Franc West, 38: “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay”
The Navy veteran/worship leader chose a tired old song and then totally oversang it. But between all those superfluous growls and runs, there was a good voice in there. I actually think his voice might be more suited to rock (he certainly looked like a rock star, with all those Steve Tyler scarves and baubles), or at least something more modern.
Who turned? Jennifer — at the very last minute. “That squeal got me,” she said.
Result: Team J.Hud. Of course.
Michael Lee, 30: “The Thrill Is Gone”
This season’s token bluesman also did the a cappella intro shtick, and it once again worked. This wasn’t a particular creative or groundbreaking performance, but Michael had a big voice and bigger presence.
Who turned? Adam, Jennifer, Blake.
Result: Team Blake. Jennifer threw one of her shoes, and Adam noted that he has a history of working with blues guitarists on this show — but Michael was won over by Blake’s comment, “You literally beat me to death with that vocal performance.” Apparently the misuse of the adverb “literally” — don’t worry, Blake is still alive and unbloodied — doesn’t bother Michael.
Ele Ivory, 20: “Jump”
Ele is clearly this season’s token manic pixie indie girl. I wanted to like her, but her diction on the Julia Michaels song (sadly, the Van Halen tune by the same title) was mumbled, her delivery was so rushed that she was literally gasping for air. (That’s a correct use of “literally,” by the way.) Ele pulled it together for the chorus, but it was too little, too late.
Who turned? No one. “You have a voice, and it’s a beautiful voice, but it took a minute for you to find your pitch,” Jennifer told her.
Result: Team Kelsea. Ele became the second contestant to join new fifth coach Kelsea Ballerini on the Island of Misfit Toys, aka the Comeback Stage, where she’ll have a chance to rejoin the competition. Maybe she can do some Van Halen then.
Come back Monday for more Blind Auditions, and probably more heart-gladdening tales of redemption and tenacity.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
- ‘The Voice’ Season 15 premiere recap
- ‘The Voice’ Season 14 winner Brynn Cartelli on her never-seen first audition: ‘I blacked out that whole thing’
- Christina Aguilera slams ‘energy sucker’ show ‘The Voice,’ says she felt ‘suffocated’
- ‘Voice’ winner Chloe Kohanski explains why she lowered her voice to be heard