Several "American Idol" contestants have crossed over to the "The Voice" in the past, most notably Frenchie Davis and Jamar Rogers. But on Tuesday night, the first actual former "Idol" top 10 finalist competed on "The Voice," and he was so fantastic, I hope he goes a lot farther this time.
That contestant's name was Jon Peter Lewis--affectionately known as "JPL" to longtime superfans like myself--and there are undoubtedly many fans out there who will remember him as the lovably dorky "pen salesman" of "American Idol" Season 3, even if Carson Daly conveniently failed to mention this on "The Voice's" Tuesday episode. Anyway, back on "Idol," JPL only made it to eighth place, and his independent solo career didn't really take off after that. But now that JPL has joined forces with a similarly cool, similarly shaggy dude named Ryan Hayes to form the brilliantly named duo Midas Whale (say it out loud and have a chuckle), he may be unstoppable. JPL FTW!
Here is Jon Peter Lewis circa 2013 in Midas Whale, nine years after he first tried out for "Idol," still so awesome that he inspired all four "Voice" judges to spin their chairs around on Tuesday night:
And here's Jon back in his 2004 "Idol" prime, in case you forgot how awesome he was:
Sure, JPL looked a little different when he returned to TV this week, but his quirky charm was still very much intact. Midas Whale's Mumfordian cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" was a raucous delight (accordions rule, in the right hands--amirite, Weird Al?), and when JPL started speaking fluent Spanish with coach Shakira, that was muy rad. (Jon went on a Mormon mission in Spain in his pre-"Idol" days, just FYI.)
Shakira wanted Midas Whale for her team--and so did Usher and Blake Shelton, the latter of whom sternly warned, "I hope you make the right decision and don't screw up the rest of your lives by going with someone else!" But the duo eventually decided to go with Adam Levine, and I don't think they screwed up at all with that decision. I believe Adam is totally going to do right by these guys, and they have a whale of a chance of winning, if he gives them the right songs. JPL may soon have all of America lining up to buy his pens…and Midas Whale's albums! Watch this space.
Here's who else successfully auditioned on Tuesday's "Voice":
Tawnya Reynolds - This "country to the core" Nashville veteran and regular gal performed the Urban Cowboy-popularized, cryin'-in-yer-beer classic "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys"--and I appreciated hearing a woman perform the grizzled, good-ole-boy Gilley's hit that has been famously covered in the past by the likes of Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson, Mickey Gilley/Johnny Lee, and even the Chipmunks, but rarely by a female artist. I also liked Tawnya's old-school country style, which Usher (one of three judges who eventually turned) compared to Dolly Parton's. I wasn't at all surprised that three judges wanted Tawnya on their respective teams. What did surprise me? That Blake wasn't one of them! I can only assume his red button was malfunctioning or something, because he really missed out. Recognizing this as her opportunity, Shakira swooped in for the hard sell. "The most country one here is me. Blake knows I'm his successor. I ride horses. I play the harmonica. I like country music," Shakira argued, pulling out her "English To Country" prop dictionary and drawling, "I reckon that you wanna join Team Shakira." Apparently nothing was lost in translation here, and Shakira reckoned correctly.
MEMBER OF: Team Shakira
Josiah Hawley - With his model looks (literally: This guy's a model), Josiah at first gave me a Dez Duron vibe. But thankfully, he was more than just a pretty, pretty face. (Or pretty hair, which Blake seemed so fixated on, he may as well become a judge on "Sheer Genius" now.) This boy could also sing. Josiah's song choice, Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning," was a risky one, and at first Adam didn't seem interested in recruiting a mini-me for his team. But eventually Adam did spin around, somewhat narcissistically saying, "There were moments that were not working for me…but then I heard a quality in your voice that did remind me of mine--and you've got a great voice!" But Josiah eventually went with Usher, a guy who knows a thing or two about being a heartthrob and appealing to a female fanbase. Ladies, watch out: With Usher in his corner giving him swag lessons, Josiah could prove irresistible this season.
MEMBER OF: Team Usher
Cathia - This beautiful music-biz student and El Salvadoran-American singer stood out on the show by singing a Spanish-language song, Luis Fonsi's "No Me Doy Por Vencido" (or "I Won't Give Up," a fitting talent-show choice). And of course, she seized Shakira's attention right away. But the judges didn't have to know a word of Spanish to recognize Cathia's talent or fall in love with her vivacious, made-for-TV personality. This girl was a phenom, with a versatile voice that could work in pop, R&B, or rock. "I didn't understand one word, but I loved everything you sang," gushed Blake. However, it was Shakira, naturally, who really wanted to take Cathia under her wing, the way Gloria Estefan had guided her own career back in the day. "You are meant to be global. You can take the world by storm!" declared Shakira. Cathia made the right, no-brainer decision, and of course picked Shakira to be her coach.
MEMBER OF: Team Shakira
Sarah Simmons - On Monday night's "Voice" premiere, Judith Hill stole the show and was practically already declared the Season 4 winner, especially by her smugly confident coach, Adam. But just one day later, suddenly it was all about Sarah. The young music student's performance of Joan Osborne's "One Of Us" was absolutely lovely--amazing control, unique phrasing, lots of quiet strength and effortless grace--and all four judges wanted her for their teams. Adam, the guy who would "claw people's eyes out" if he had to, got all hyper-competitive again, proclaiming, "That was incredible. You 150 percent can win this show. [Editor's note: Sorry, Judith.] I KNOW you can. I only fight for the ones I am dying to have." Blake was equally enthusiastic, even saying, "You may be in my top three singers I have ever heard audition for 'The Voice.'" But Adam won this one. And he just may have won Season 4, because his team is looking REALLY strong right now.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
So, if you're trying to keep track, the frontrunning Team Adam now comprises aforementioned powerhouse Judith Hill, eccentric folk-rock duo Midas Whale, and belter Sarah Simmons. Team Blake picked up no new members on Tuesday, but Blake still has a strong crop with his earlier recruits: the Morgan Twins, country teen Danielle Bradbery, and bar-band goofball Christian Porter. Team Usher now has hunky blue-eyed-soulman Josiah Hawley, along with Monday's auditioners, indie crooner Jess Kellner and R&B/pop singer VEDO. And Team Shakira has throwback-country lady Tawnya Reynolds and Latin singer Cathia, along with previous recruits Kris Thomas and Mark Andrew. So far Team Adam seems like THE team to beat, while Team Shakira looks a little weak...but come back next Monday to see if the next crop of Blind Auditions can change those odds.