The Voice coaches were pulling out all the stops during Monday’s Blind Auditions. When Gwen Stefani and her offscreen boyfriend/onscreen rival Blake Shelton were duking it out, as they often do, for 21-year-old warbler Jared Herzog, John Legend came through by using their romance against them (“I don't want you to be the cause of any rift between America's favorite couple,” he told Jared with mock concern). And then John used his own relationship with America’s tweetheart — his wife, Chrissy Teigen — to his benefit.
“You pick me, you get Chrissy. That's pretty good!” John offered Jared. “Chrissy cooks better than anyone on this stage. We'll have you over for dinner.”
John knows what he’s doing, clearly. There’s a reason he’s a “VEGOT” winner, after all. And so, the deal was sealed with a meal. I mean, who wouldn’t want to break bread with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen? Jared, of course, chose to join Team Legend. Following this latest Voice coup, John tweeted: "Hey @chrissyteigen… looks like we’re having a dinner guest! What should we make??" Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson tweeted: "If Chrissy is cooking… I'm already there!"
As for Jared’s actual performance, of Dan + Shay’s "Speechless,” I don’t know if he can go as his former schoolmate, Season 9’s Jordan Smith, one of the most successful Voice winners ever (or, let’s face it, one of the only successful winners ever). Jared’s performance was solid, but unremarkable and lacking in overall dynamics. His performance never really took off. But even if Jared doesn’t win The Voice, he’ll be winning at life if he actually gets to have dinner at the Legend/Teigen house.
These were the other successful auditions of Monday night:
Joana Martinez, 15: “Call Out My Name”
This Miami teen won the "Most Likely to Win The Voice" award, which is apparently a thing, at her 8th grade prom. But did his high school sophomore have what it takes to graduate to the prime-time big leagues? In a word, yes. I don’t think the Weeknd’s smoldering ballad was the right song for her, but vocally, she possessed the pipes of a seasoned pro twice her age.
Who turned? Blake, Gwen, Kelly.
Result: Team Blake. I thought this baby pop powerhouse was total Team Kelly material, and I think either Kelly or Gwen would’ve been better at helping Joana with her stage presence and song selection. But I guess this youngster thought she would fare better under the guidance of the show’s “elder statesman.”
Brooke Stephenson, 28: “Let Him Fly”
I loved this earthy mountain woman’s quiet, Ronstadt-esque strength and honey-sweetness and gentleness. The Americana crooner chose her notes carefully, never showing off with shouty money notes or obnoxious runs. This was a tasteful and nuanced performance.
Who turned? Blake, Gwen, Kelly.
Result: Team Kelly. Kelly’s fangirling over the Patty Griffin song pick may have tilted the results in her favor. I’m glad Blake didn’t snag this one.
Zach Bridges, 28: "Ol’ Red"
This Blake Shelton fan took a risk singing one of Blake’s early hits (one of the first songs he ever learned how to play). I didn’t think he had Blake’s personality to make the song work, but apparently his risk paid off. I wonder if Blake would have turned otherwise. “My only problem was the song selection,” said a trolling John. “Your voice deserves so much better.”
Who turned? Blake — and Gwen, because she also loves to troll Blake.
Result: Team Blake, of course.
EllieMae, 21: “Merry Go Round”
This dairy-farm girl’s performance wasn’t shown in full, and I’d suspected she’d be a no-turn reject. Her tone was nice, but her performance was so relaxed, it almost sounded like a warmup rehearsal, not the real deal. It’s hard to imagine her not getting clobbered in the Battles later on.
Who turned? Just Blake.
Result: Team Blake, who said Elliemae “snuck under the radar.” She may stay under the radar, unless Blake coaxes her out of her shell.
Jessie Lawrence, 31: “All or Nothing”
Jessie endured a rough, lonely childhood bouncing around various group homes. Music as his salvation. I really wanted to hear a bit more of that heartache and yearning and emotion in his voice. His O-Town cover felt tepid and timid, not to mention very dated.
Who turned? Just Gwen — but she was impressed enough to turn right away, so maybe Jesse sounded different in the room and she heard something I didn’t.
Result: Team Gwen.
Brennen Henson, 20: “Riptide”
Brennen’s vibe was nice and his voice pleasant, but he was a bit too much of a Vance Joy soundalike. It would be interesting to see how he can flip a song outside of his wheelhouse.
Who turned? Gwen, and then Blake at the last minute.
Result: Team Gwen. Brennen, who defines himself as an “alternative artist,” probably would have picked Gwen anyway, but then she flirted with him — calling him “cute”! — which meant Blake had no shot. “Move over, Blakey!” Kelly teased. Hopefully Blake doesn’t get too jealous over all the time Brennen and Gwen (Gwennen?) will be spending together in rehearsals.
Lauren Hall, 25: "One and Only"
Lauren has been auditioning for this show for seven years — to put that in perspective, that means since in Season 3, before even Shakira and Usher came in to replace original coaches Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green! But this is the first time that she has gotten past the open calls. “This is a lot of years in the making. It's game day,” Lauren proclaimed. And she came to win. This was a strong and confident performance. Lauren finally seemed ready for this.
Who turned? Kelly, immediately. This made sense, because, Lauren’s voice was actually quite Clarkson-esque.
Result: Team Kelly. The seventh time was the charm. Lauren cried tears of joy when she earned that Team Kelly satin jacket.
Matt New, 29: “Sunflower”
I expected this handsome Texas dad to be a country singer, but he was more of a smooth, Nick Jonas-esque, blue-eyed soulman. (Side note: Nick Jonas will be a coach next season. Matt would’ve been perfect Team Jonas material.) Matt’s performance started off a little slow and flat, but he picked up steam and ended strong, with some well-chosen sustained power notes and slick falsetto flourishes.
Who turned? Kelly, Gwen, John.
Result: Team Legend. John had barely turned all evening, saying he was looking for “the next Maelyn Jarmon” (his winner from last season). I don’t think Matt is even close to being at a Maelyn level. vocally, but he could be the heartthrob of Season 17 and go pretty far.
Ricky Duran, 29: “River”
This Austin singer-songwriter dedicated this Leon Bridges song to his deceased parents, one whom died by suicide. “I'm definitely living the dream that my parents had for me,” Ricky said wistfully. And he definitely made his parents proud tonight. His performance was exquisite — aching, emotive, heartfelt, raw. You could tell he was feeling every note. And clearly, so were the coaches and audience.
Who turned? All four coaches, right away.
Result: Team Blake — even though the first concert Ricky ever attended, when he was 10 years old, was by No Doubt! There’s no doubt about it, Blake still has a very good chance of winning this season.
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