David Cassidy has been in the news for very sad reasons lately, as the Artist Formerly Known as Keith Partridge’s career is coming to a tragic, premature end as a result of his battle with dementia. (The 66-year-old ex-teen idol played his emotional final show this past weekend.) But, on a come-on-get-happy note, a younger Cassidy is now preparing to carry on the family’s musical legacy. Yes, 18-year-old Jack Cassidy — nephew of David and Shaun “Da Doo Ron Ron” Cassidy, son of Patrick Cassidy, grandson of Partridge matriarch Shirley Jones — tried out for The Voice Monday night.
To be honest, I found Jack’s Blind Audition — a slowed-to-a-crawl piano rendition of Joan Osborne’s already-rather-slow “One of Us,” with some off-puttingly yelpy, straining vocal affectations — a bit underwhelming. It didn’t have his famous uncles’ star quality or pizzazz. And it could have used Tracy Partridge’s signature arrhythmic triangle-playing, Laurie Partridge’s space-wave-transmitting orthodontia, or the thumping bass of incorrigible redhead/rocker Danny, just to jazz up the proceedings. Ruben Kincaid probably wouldn’t have signed this kid.
But then again, Jack, a Christian worship leader who has performed missionary work all over the globe, is trying to make a name for himself. He’s not a Partridge. So I probably shouldn’t have expected him to show up wearing a bell-bottomed burgundy velvet suit or feathered mullet (as groovy as that might have been). What’s notable is that the coaches, knowing nothing about Jack’s pedigree, were impressed by what they heard.
“There is such an incredible, passionate commitment to every single word that you sing, and I don’t think there’s something that’s more important than that,” Adam Levine insisted (even though he admitted that “there were moments that weren’t perfect”). Alicia Keys gushed: “This is my first time seeing someone actually choose to play only the piano, just you, which is obviously totally my heart. There is nothing like being able to just play the piano and sing what you feel.”
Pianist Jack joined Team Alicia, of course — and thus joined a long line of second-generation musicians who’ve competed on The Voice, like Season 5’s Will Champlin (son of Bill Champlin, from the band Chicago), Season 10’s Owen Danoff (son of the Starland Vocal Band’s Bill Danoff), and last season’s winner, Sundance Head (son of Roy “Treat Her Right” Head). Can Jack Cassidy make it as far as any of those finalists? We shall soon find out if America will tell Jack, “I think I love you,” or if he’ll be headed back to his hometown of Westlake Village on a big Mondrian bus. Either way, I am sure all of the Cassidys, including David, are proud of him.
One Monday auditioner who could have been The Next Keith Partridge was little Griffin Tucker, a 14-year-old multi-instrumentalist/veteran of Beatles and KISS kiddie cover bands with a voice deeper than Blake Shelton’s, a headful of hair prettier and blonder than Gwen Stefani’s (or Shaun Cassidy’s circa ‘77), and more confidence than cocky coach Adam. Griffin seemed poised to become Season 12’s token teen idol — but instead, heartbreak ensued, when no one turned around for his plucky cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” However, as Blake put it, “This kid is literally just months away from being ready for this.” So I fully expect to see Griffin back on the Voice stage in Season 13 — maybe even wearing a burgundy velvet suit.
Below are the evening’s other successful auditioners. Hello world, here are songs that they’re singing. Hopefully, they’ll make you happy.
This 24-year-old veterinary school student did a decent job with the Chaka/Whitney standard “I’m Every Woman,” but she sounded like an Everywoman. By that, I mean there wasn’t much about her performance that stood out. The arrangement was unoriginal, loungey, and old-fashioned, and Adam, the one coach who didn’t spin for Micah, even noticed a “couple pocket issues” vocally. Let’s face it, we’ve been seeing auditions like these since Star Search, when American Idol was but a gleam in Simon Fuller’s eye.
Blake, who eventually persuaded Micah to join his team with an overly aggressive sales pitch, told her, “I truly think you could be standing in the winner’s circle” — but I have a feeling this girl is fodder. We’re only in the second week of this season, and I’ve already seen stronger diva types who could go farther than Micah.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
I perked right up when I saw a flashback home video of Troy singing the ‘80s rockabilly classic “Stray Cat Strut” with his dad. But the 32-year-old went with another cat class and cat style for his audition, doing one of his late father’s favorite songs, Cat Stevens’s “Wild World.” Troy’s performance was understated and workmanlike but sincere and sweet, with a pleasantly gruff baritone and a lot of heart; I could see this guy occupying the Joshua Davis/Brendan Fletcher slot this season.
All four coaches turned for Troy, starting with the ever-eager Adam, who raved, “It was almost like you were indestructible with that really naturally, good, beautiful temperament. You just absolutely came out here and showed all of us you are a major contender to win this thing.” Gwen loved Troy’s “intention to the lyric of that song.” Alicia told him, “You have lifetimes in your voice.” And the always macho Blake declared, “You sing like a man!”
But surprisingly, Troy went with Blake’s very feminine girlfriend, Gwen. Everyone, including Gwen, was surprised by that outcome, but with her gentle, motherly demeanor and penchant for confessional lyrics, Gwen just might be the ideal match for this sensitive lug.
MEMBER OF: Team Gwen
This charismatic Miami showman sang Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” which could have easily veered into cruise-ship/karaoke territory. But Kawan brought something fresh, swaggy, and cool to the classic makeout tune, giving me a sexy Miguel/Weeknd vibe. Adam went even further and compared Kawan’s impressive falsetto to the voice of His Purple Majesty, the almighty Prince Rogers Nelson. That was going a little too far. But there was no denying Kawan’s sex appeal and star power.
“The only man that can do the kind of falsetto with the same kind of ease and the same kind of range is Prince. When you go up top, the way you cascade down, the way you maneuver around … that’s the best thing ever. I can’t even believe that you can do that. You are the No. 1 priority on Team Adam if you come to me,” said Adam.
Kawan, of course, went with Adam, explaining, “I’ve rocked with this dude since [Maroon 5’s debut album] Songs About Jane,” and expressing his admiration for Maroon 5’s keyboardist, PJ Morton. So now I bet the rest of Adam’s team members — knowing that Kawan is supposedly Adam’s pet this season — are already worried about possibly facing off against Kawan in the Battles or Knockouts. Because their only hope will be the Steal.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
This twangy, 25-year-old former “punk screamo” rocker did exactly what I’ve expected — nay, demanded — of all singing-show contestants since Blake Lewis covered Bon Jovi on American Idol 10 years ago: He took a song, completely flipped it, and “made it his own.” The Georgia-bred, Nashville-based country crooner turned Cher’s Hi-NRG ‘90s club smash “Believe” into a rootsy Americana ballad, and it totally worked.
I was convinced that Blake would spin around so fast he’d spill his drink; the man is a major Cher fan, and he even had Cher mentor his team in Season 5. But surprisingly, only Adam turned around, winning Taylor by default. Adam might make a good coach for Taylor, but the fact that he had absolutely no idea what Blake was talking about when Blake compared Taylor to alt-country band BR549 was worrisome. I’m kind of hoping Blake steals Taylor in the Battle Rounds.
(Side note: Taylor explained to host Carson Daly that when he tired of playing punk, he “started looking back to [who] a lot of the punk bands that I was into were influenced by. I kept seeing names like Johnny Cash pop up a lot, and so I really rediscovered my love for classic country music in a very roundabout way.” I bet Taylor was a big Social Distortion/Mike Ness fan as a teenager.)
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
This violet-haired, 22-year-old waitress has been pursuing her dream and paying her dues in NYC for a while now: She started singing demos at age 15, briefly worked with John Legend when she was 17, then signed a production deal that apparently went nowhere. I think still she has a way to go — the beginning of her performance of Leona Lewis’s “Happy” felt tentative and shaky — but she finished strong and showed potential.
“I think that you can win The Voice, no problem,” claimed Adam, apparently already forgetting all about poor Kawan DeBose. Then Adam bonded with Gaby over crappy production deals (he had one in his pre-stardom, Kara’s Flowers-era teen years), sympathizing with: “Production deals are the worst, because they basically don’t have to commit to you, and they ‘develop you,’ and then leave you high and dry. Just leave you in the dust. I understand it. I’ve been through it. And I would love nothing more than to help you get to the top of that mountain, because it’s exactly what I went through in my life and in my career.”
That was a really good pitch, I must say. Adam totally sealed the deal. Blake may have praised Gaby with, “It sounds like you’re smiling when you sing,” but it was Adam who was smiling once Gaby made her decision.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
This likable pastor’s daughter and special-needs employment counselor poured all of her heart into Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” and while she had some pitch problems, she possessed a big set of lungs to go with that big heart — and an obvious connection to the song’s uplifting lyrics. Alicia appreciated Missy’s positive and inclusive message, but I really don’t know how far Missy can go from here. I have a hunch she won’t make it past the Battles, but maybe this underdog’s fighting spirit will help push her through.
MEMBER OF: Team Alicia
Aaliyah is a 14-year-old YouTube star with 95,000 subscribers and several videos that have racked up more than 1 million views. (One of her Meghan Trainor covers is actually at 5 million and counting, and Meghan sent her an encouraging pre-audition video message this week.) Obviously, Aaliyah perfectly represents the youthful demo that The Voice is trying to court with its newly lowered age limit. But, like Griffin Tucker, Aaliyah may be a little too youthful. She has a massive voice and a massive personality, but her cover of Andra Day’s gospel-tinged R&B anthem “Rise Up” did have some wobbly moments.
“The first half of the performance was crazy,” said Gwen. “You’re so talented and gifted. I feel like when I turned around, I don’t know if you got in your head a little bit, because it started getting just a little less control. And then at the end, it came back into this beautiful place again.” Gwen was actually the only coach who turned around, but it all worked out for the best. Gwen had been going on and on about wanting a “little girl” contestant to mold and bond with, and Aaliyah seemed delighted to fill that role.
“I’m not sure the world is ready for this much sparkle,” joked Adam, as Aaliyah glittered in her metallic pewter skirt and Gwen dazzled in her bugle-beaded flapper frock. We’ll soon see if Aaliyah is ready for primetime.
MEMBER OF: Team Gwen
Back to the subject of heartthrobs: This 17-year-old, theater-trained rocker covered a song by ‘80s pinup boys Duran Duran while sporting some shaggy ringlets that looked like they’d been plucked straight off the head of ‘90s grunge hunk Chris Cornell. (Seriously, this kid’s hair was even more impressive than Griffin Tucker’s.) Actually, this entire audition was totally ‘90s, because Josh sang Duran Duran’s 1993 hit “Ordinary World,” a song that he explained “really showcases where I want to go, with a profound blend of rock but also a commercial pop viability.”
Smart kid. Smart move. When he nailed that helium-high money note at the end — you know, the one even Simon Le Bon himself sometimes struggles with in concert — a four-chair turn ensued.
Adam and Josh immediately geeked out over their shared love of Soundgarden (I am fairly certain this is the only time that Screaming Life/Fopp has been mentioned on any TV show other than 120 Minutes), and actual 1990s icon Gwen played the ‘90s card too. Then Blake blew whatever chance he had when he admitted that he was unfamiliar with “Ordinary World” — which is way worse than being unfamiliar with BR549, in my opinion. (“I love both of the Durans,” Blake shrugged.) Josh’s decision was clear. Now can Josh please do “Loud Love” or “Jesus Christ Pose” on the live shows?
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
Come back Tuesday, when we hope we’ll see surprise auditions from members of the Osmond, Gibb, Travolta, Baio, or Garrett families. See you then!