Father’s Day came early for The Voice this Tuesday, as two different but equally emotional and devoted dads, young Malik Davage and grizzled Josh Hoyer, did their respective families very proud.
First up was 23-year-old Malik. A survivor of a rough childhood (his own father has been in jail for most of his life), Malik was performing in front of his toddler daughter for the first time, so the stakes were especially high. He delivered a solid rendition of Miguel’s “Sure Thing”… but at first, I wasn’t quite sure about him. Yes, he had a nice tone and a marketable image, but after hearing his backstory, I expected more raw emotion. Also, Miguel is a super-sexy, extremely charismatic performer, and Malik was lacking in that department.
It was only when lone coach Adam Levine turned around for Malik that I saw this man’s true passion break through.
Malik proceeded to sob so dramatically, both Adam and Gwen Stefani rushed onstage to sympathetically hug him — and Adam even let Malik calm down by offering him a seat in his red chair. It was a sweet and unguarded moment, and if Adam (who admitted that Malik’s upper register needs work) can tap into that vulnerability, Malik could be unstoppable. I think song selection will be key with this guy.
“There’s no telling where you can go with this,” Adam declared. Alicia Keys (who explained that she didn’t hit her button because she didn’t hear enough originality in Malik’s performance) gushed, “A man who can wear his emotions on his sleeve is a very special man who makes very powerful music.”
— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) March 8, 2017
On the other end of fatherly spectrum was 40-year-old Nebraskan Josh, a salt-of-the-earth roots musician, bartender, and family man who confessed that he sees The Voice as being his last shot. He zealously belted “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites, candidly explaining that he related to its “story about a man that had everything and then he’s losing it… As a father and a husband, I’m kind of tired of playing the bars. Music’s something I think that our world needs right now, and that’s why I’m sticking with this… I want to show my girls that if you believe in yourself and you work hard enough, good things can happen.”
The Otis Redding/Curtis Mayfield-influenced Josh left everything on the stage. This guy had so much soul (or, as Adam put it, “soulful wisdom”), I was shocked that it took Blake Shelton and Gwen so long to hit their buttons. But they eventually did, with Gwen raving, “I don’t have anybody like you on my team.” (This was true. Josh would have totally stood out among Team Gwen’s bright-eyed teen hopefuls.) But then Blake quipped, “We’re all gonna say that there’s nobody like you on our teams, because there’s nobody like you on the show!” And that sealed the deal. Blake made it to the winner’s circle with the soulful, rootsy Sundance Head last season, so he might do well this year with Josh.
Recapped below are Tuesday’s other successful singers — two of them just kids themselves.
This 31-year-old Nashville/L.A. rock ‘n’ roll lifer was giving me some serious Paul McDonald/American Idol Season 10 flashbacks with his raspy, faithful cover of the Rod Stewart classic “Maggie May.” While his stage presence needed some fine-tuning (he seemed to have only one signature move: swinging his right arm above his head and pointing ceiling-ward), there was no denying his star quality or that megawatt smile. And let’s face it, The Voice could use some real rock ‘n’ roll. And Johnny, whose band Runaway Saints actually opened for Rod Stewart on tour last year, was clearly the real deal — from the top of his lankly center-parted Doobie Brothers/Black Crowes hair, to the cuffs of his perfectly weathered black leather jacket.
“Your energy pops through the whole place, and your tone is outrageous,” said Alicia, who then stated the obvious with: “I kind of hear a little Rod Stewart!” (Um, kind of???) Blake played the Nashville card, but stressed, “I want you to stay in that rock lane,” even comparing Johnny to Mick Jagger. Interestingly, Adam “Moves Like Jagger” Levine was the only coach that didn’t turn around, but his fellow rocker, Gwen, played the rock-band card, saying, “That [garage band world] is where I came from.”
That line convinced Johnny, who said, “All us garage band kids have to stick together!” I just hope Gwen doesn’t give Johnny some glam, bleached-blond makeover. He already looks like a rock star, after all.
MEMBER OF: Team Gwen
This 16-year-old Utah theater/choir kid did a folksy, cutesy cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” that sort of reminded me of Gwen’s voice, with its yelpy, goaty vibrato. Gwen actually picked up on this, saying she and Lauryn have a similar “bit nasally” tone and expertly assuring Lauryn, “We can work on warming that up.” Lauryn’s decision seemed clear, and I think Gwen could’ve worked wonders with this girl’s vocal technique. However, Lauryn is so young and green, it’s unclear what sort of music she want to make, or how she will define herself, so I think it good that she ended up in Alicia’s capable hands instead. Gwen probably would have just dressed Lauryn up in L.A.M.B. clothes and dyed her hair, anyway.
MEMBER OF: Team Alicia
This girl is 16 going on 26. Sure, I understand why Caroline is already so seasoned, since she’s played with her family band the Rockin’ Robins and has performed solo gigs at festivals, benefits, and even bars. But she was remarkably poised, elegant, and mature as she crooned the Carole King-penned “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Her smoky tone and incredible vocal control drew me in. It was hard to believe she was the same age as the above-mentioned Lauryn Judd.
Gwen, a former teen singer who’s apparently made it her mission this season to build a team of sweet teen Mini-Me’s, was keen to steal Caroline away from boyfriend-turned-rival Blake, explaining, “Blake has never lived your dream the way that I have lived your dream.” Blake countered with: “I’m a coach who’s had a lot of success with young talent. No, I haven’t lived the girl dream — but I want to!”
Adam quickly noted that Blake’s girly-dream comment was “super-weird.” Perhaps Caroline agreed, because she ultimately went with Gwen. I think this is a smart pairing. If there’s one strike against Caroline, it’s that she’s a little too polished, and Gwen can probably edge her up a bit.
MEMBER OF: Team Gwen
So now that the second week of Blind Auditions has wrapped, let’s look at where the team lineups currently stand.
Team Adam has Malik Davage, Kawan DeBose, Taylor Alexander, Josh West, Gaby Borromeo, and last week’s Julien Martinez, Johnny Hayes, Jesse Larson, and Mark Isaiah.
Team Blake has Josh Hoyer, Micha Tryba, and last week’s Casi Joy, Ashley Levin, Lauren Duski, Brennley Brown, and Aliyah Moulden.
Team Gwen has Johnny Gates, Caroline Sky, Troy Ramey, Aaliyah Rose, and last week’s Brandon Royal, Savannah Leighton, Stephanie Rice, and JChosen.
And Team Alicia consists of Lauryn Judd, Jack Cassidy, Missy Robertson, and last week’s Quizz Swanigan, Lilli Passero, Autumn Turner, Felicia Temple, and Anatalia Villaranda.
At first glance, Adam definitely seems to have the team to beat — but his lineup is not very diverse (only one female contestant???), so some of his contestants could cancel each other out in the Battles/Knockouts or split the vote during the Playoffs. Still, right now I’m going to go with my gut and say Adam has a good chance of catching up with his longtime nemesis Blake’s winning track record.
See you next week, as Season 12 continues apace!