“If I was to have chosen the year I was born … I’d probably say the ’20s; I don’t like things that young people like,” chuckled The Voice hopeful Jacob Miller on Monday. A devotee of ragtime, early folk and jazz, the 29-year-old intriguingly crooned a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin'” that truly felt like it was from another era, and he seemed like a fit for just about any coach but 27-year-old former boy-bander Nick Jonas. The throwback troubadour certainly didn’t appear to be someone who’d be interested in becoming a bonus Jonas — i.e., an honorary fourth Jonas Brother. But that job offer was seemingly made — and surprisingly accepted! — during Monday’s Blind Auditions.
(Editor’s note: There’s already a fourth Jonas brother, Frankie — but the JoBros, the band, are a trio.)
Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Nick (but, oddly, not jazzbo John Legend) all turned their red chairs for Jacob. Kelly had an Elizabeth Warren-esque, extremely specific and thought-out plan to introduce Voice viewers to a “lost art” — a plan that involved Jacob putting his unique retro spin on modern hits by Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves. Conversely, Blake the grumpy purist vowed to “protect” Jacob and not “push him into experiments” or “things don’t represent who you really are.”
But Nick the guitarist, sounding more like he was still on Songland than a new cast member of The Voice, told Jacob: “I would be excited to spend some time with you, write some music, find what you want to say and who you want to be as an artist. We’re prepping for our next stage as far as music goes, my brothers and I, and your voice, mixed in with the three of ours as well, I think could be really interesting!”
“Are you offering him a position on the Jonas Brothers?” gasped John. “It sure sounded like it!” said Blake. Nick clarified that he was proposing more of a “collaboration vibe”… but then added, “‘Jacob Jonas’ does sound good!”
I’m not sure how much Jacob’s very specific aesthetic can take him on The Voice, but now that he’s Team Nick, I look forward to hearing Jacob Jonas’s jazz remake of “Sucker” very soon. And hopefully his TV exposure, however long it lasts, can lead to a collab with YouTube jazz revivalists Postmodern Jukebox (who frequently work with reality-show alumni), if not with the actual JoBros. After all, Jacob sure elicited a better reaction than the actual Bob Dylan on The Voice!
With this season having only 10 artists per team instead of the usual 12, and with all of the teams filling up, the coaches, especially John, were quite trigger-shy this Monday. This resulted in a lot of one-chair and no-chair auditions. But these were the other successful contestants of the night:
Anaya Cheyenne, 16: “I’ll Never Love Again”
This enterprising YouTuber, who left her home to attend her godmother’s performing arts camp thousands of miles away, had oodles of natural child-prodigy talent. But I feel she isn’t ready for prime time and could use a couple more years at band camp. She struggled with breath control in parts, cutting off her lines or trailing off awkwardly. However, the potential was there. “At the beginning you sounded like you might be a little bit young, a little bit shaky, a little bit nervous — but by the end, oh my God, some of those runs you were doing were just stunning,” said John.
Who turned? Kelly and Blake, both at the very last minute.
Result: Team Kelly. As Kelly noted, “Technique is my jam,” so she will definitely be a capable mentor.
Mandi Thomas: “Time to Say Goodbye”
This classically trained veteran opera singer gave a note-perfect audition, though she may not go far on The Voice; another NBC talent show that launched the career of Jackie Evancho, America’s Got Talent, might have been a better fit. (It turns out Mandi made it to Hollywood Week but then stalled on American Idol in 2007.) But Mandi said she is “excited to be different,” and Nick claimed Mandi is “absolutely what this show needs.”
Who turned? Only classical music aficionado Kelly, but she was clearly the best fit. Nick, who had “goosebumps” throughout this audition, almost pounced, but then he realized he was out of his depth.
Result: Team Kelly.
Jon Mullins, 32: “Don’t Give Up on Me”
Three and a half years ago, Jon’s wife suffered a brain injury and had to learn to talk and walk all over again. So this Andy Grammer song had special, personal meaning for Jon. That being said, while his family’s backstory was moving, he seemed like s standup guy, and he had a big range and great pitch, I found his performance pedestrian and lacking in personality.
Who turned? Just Blake, who seemed thrilled that the other coaches had refrained. “This is the best day of my career on The Voice!” he shouted hyperbolically.
Result: Team Blake… though Nick claimed he might try to steal Jon later.
Jacob Daniel Murphy: “Until You Come Back to Me”
This montaged contestant came across as a lounge act, with a cheesy, old-fashioned vibe that didn’t quite match his colorful, youthful, hipster persona. But the technical skills were all there.
Who turned? Just Blake. He once again was delighted to have a contestant all to himself, saying, “I’m having the best day right now!” Nick later said he’d “messed up” by not turning.
Result: Team Blake.
Zan Fiskum, 22: “Light On”
This ethereal Seattle songstress lives in an RV, paying rent to park on her parents’ property, so she connected with Maggie Rogers’s song about trying to find one’s own place in the world. Zan wasn’t a belter, but her lilting voice was special. “Your tone comes with reverb. It’s a really cool quality…. I turned around because I think you sound magical,” raved Kelly.
Who turned? Nick, Kelly, and the very picky John. “I’ve been waiting to be inspired today,” John explained.
Result: Team Legend. “It’s such a huge honor that I’m the first person John turned around for today!” Zan exclaimed.
Roderick Chambers, 38: “Back at One”
“In entertainment years, I’m a dinosaur,” said this professional wedding singer, who was the “cute one” in a Kris Kross-inspired boy band with his older brother back in the day. Kelly loved the Brian McKnight song choice (she was even singing along the entire time), but she and most of the other coaches seemed less impressed with Roderick’s staid performance.
Who turned? Just boy band veteran Nick — but that seems like a good fit, given this contestant’s similar family-band background.
Result: Team Nick.
Jules, 15: “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”
This confident, quirky cool-girl started playing guitar age 6 and has been gigging since age 12, and she was the only contestant so far this season to drastically change up her cover song. Switching up the chord progression and adding runs to her swampy remake of Cage the Elephant’s alt-rock smash was a risk, but for the most part it paid off, and it demonstrated her impressive artistry for someone so young. Kelly, who’d assumed Jules was “21 or 22” before she turned, said, “I love anyone who comes out and doesn’t sing the song straight-up how the original artist does it.”
Who turned? Blake and Kelly, in the last few seconds of the performance. What took them so long? (John confessed he didn’t recognize the song. Surprisingly, the normally clueless Blake did know it!)
Result: Team Kelly. Blake gave a good pitch, but flattery like “you’ve got Celine Dion lungs” can Kelly everywhere.
Michael Williams, 18: “You Say”
Michael has a background in musical theater, and it showed. He possessed a huge vocal range that Kelly called an “incredible gift,” but he was stiff and didn’t seem to fully connect to the emotive Lauren Daigle anthem. He needs to get out of his head a bit.
Who turned? Just Nick. But as the panel’s youngest coach whose “first job” was on Broadway (and then obviously successfully transitioned to pop), Nick was the best match anyway.
Result: Team Nick.
Mike Jerel: “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”
This skronky, supremely soulful take on the James Brown classic was a little oddly timed to air the day after International Women’s Day, but that was NBC’s fault, not Mike’s. And this was explosive; Kelly, who had an entirely all-female team up until this point (and had just announced, “I’m looking for a man!”), told Mike he’d “set the room on fire.” Ironically, Blake had mistaken Mike for a female singer because of those wailing high notes.
Who turned? Kelly was prepared to fight for Mike, but she had competition. This was the only four-chair turn of the night.
Result: Team Legend. In the end, Mike took the advice of the most important woman in his life — his mother — and went with his fellow piano man.
The Voice Season 18 Blind Auditions continue next Monday, when the coaches will no doubt get even pickier.
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