The fourth Blind Auditions episode of "The Voice's" sixth season aired Tuesday, bringing the series' usual assortment of struggling rockers, raspy troubadours, and sob-story survivors. Oh — and there were a couple stellar singers, too. So, you know, just another typical "Voice" episode, And by "typical," I mean "pretty darn good," of course.
Here are the contestants who advanced this Tuesday:
Megan Rüger – I was excited about this Nashville rocker right off the bat. After all, not only did she profess a love for '80s rawk and Joan Jett, but she also had an umlaut in her name, just like all the greats (Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Queensrÿche, Blue Öyster Cult, Björn Again, Spin̈al Tap, my Twitter account). Umlauts are äwësömë! But then I was a little disäppöïntëd. Megan didn't do a righteously Bic-flicking '80s power ballad like "18 and Life" or "Home Sweet Home," but instead sang Pink's "Just Like a Pill," a more predictable pop-rock song choice. It was hard for her to put her own stamp on it (or top Pink's amazing original), so the performance came across as just very competent karaoke. Still, Usher and Blake Shelton obviously heard something interesting in Megan's voice, and they turned around. Megan decided to go with Blake, apparently because of the Nashville connection, but maybe in the back of her mind she remembered that Blake really championed similarly fauxhawked rock-chick Michaela Paige in Season 3, and maybe that subconsciously affected Megan's decision. As for other memorable Team Blake hopefuls from seasons past, let's hope Blake pulls a page from his Season 5/Cole Vosbury playbook, and has Megan do some Mr. Big or Extreme as this season progresses. That'd be cööl.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
Morgan Wallen – Another Tennessee contender (this time from Knoxville), Morgan also intrigued me from the start. He had a near-brush with music-biz fame as an 8-year-old, when he placed third in a talent contest and was offered a record deal; however, his family turned down the opportunity so that Morgan could enjoy a normal childhood. Probably a wise decision. But Morgan now seems ready for a record deal, and ready to re-board the talent-contest rollercoaster, judging by his Tuesday performance of Howie Day's "Collide." His sexy, husky voice made Shakira spin almost immediately, with Usher, a coach with an increasingly annoying tendency to take his sweet time when it comes to button-pushing, turning much later. "Your voice is unique. It has this raspy tone, this reedy sound to it, and I think that there are no voices like your voice on today's radio," said Shakira. But game-player Usher one-upped Shakira by saying, "There's not quite a voice like yours on 'The Voice.'" (Side note: But there totally is a voice like this on "American Idol." Morgan sounded a LOT like Phillip Phillips! Like Phillip Phillips with a cold and a pack-a-day habit.) Even though Usher admitted that "there were some moments in your performance that I felt were not properly executed," Morgan still chose to join Usher's team. That surprised me — I thought Shakira's lightning-quick reflexes and unconditional fawning would've given her the edge with this one.
MEMBER OF: Team Usher
Dani Moz, Music Box, Lexi Luca – Uh oh. Another montage. It was nice knowing you, Dani, Music (if that is indeed your real name), and Lexi, because chances are you'll all be off the show in the time it takes Adam Levine to change artfully ripped T-shirts or Blake to pour a shot of whiskey into his ever-present Starbucks cup. Anyhoo, from what I could make of this blink-and-you'll miss-'em medley, Dani Moz, who is sadly probably not related to Morrissey, had a big ole voice, but a matronly image; Music Box had a cocktail-lounge-act vibe; and Lexi Luca was one of those teen-prodigy types that usually end up on Team Xtina. None of them seemed that amazing to me, which is probably why they got montaged, but they apparently showed enough promise to get some chairs to turn. So maybe, just maybe, we'll get a better inkling of their talents on future episodes. But, probably not.
MEMBERS OF: Team Shakira, Team Shakira, and Team Blake, respectively
Emily B. – This brain surgery survivor and session singer (whose CV includes work for "Pitch Perfect," the Muppets, and ex-coach CeeLo Green's Christmas album) demonstrated both her fighting spirit and professional skills during her cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." It wasn't as sultry or smoldering as Chris's version, of course, but she brought her own quiet fire to the stage. There was a certain deliciously syrupy tone to her voice that drew me in. Blake, Usher, and Shakira all hit their buttons, and while I thought Emily's aspirations to be a "soul singer" would steer her Usher's way, she eventually signed up with Shakira, who gloated gleefully. Let the wicked games begin!
MEMBER OF: Team Shakira
Stevie Jo – I got excited when I learned that Stevie was raised by metalheads and once played hard rock himself as a preteen headbanger. (That Throwback Tuesday pic of him rocking some stringy Black Sabbath hair and a Xanadu headband was everything.) But then, just like Megan before him, he didn't do a metal song. Apparently Stevie, despite keeping his hair long, isn't so into headbanging anymore, and has gone a mellower, more blue-eyed-soulful route. Oh well. I wasn't all that impressed by Stevie's cover of Usher's "There Goes My Baby," although his faltering performance could have been attributed to nerves, since he was singing one of the coaches' songs. Incredibly, Usher turned, and he was the only coach to do so. Was it a pity turn? Was it a case of imitation is the best form of flattery, and flattery will get Stevie everywhere? Truly, I was surprised by this outcome.
MEMBER OF: Team Usher
Audra McLaughlin – All episode long, Adam hadn't picked up any team members, and as this last singer hit the stage, he murmured, "Please, let this be the one." We all knew where this was going. Sure enough, within the first verse of Audra's stunning cover of Bonnie Raitt's "Angel From Montgomery," Adam spun around, loving what he heard. But Adam had some competition, because all four coaches turned (Usher at the very last minute, of course). And they even gave Audra a standing ovation. And then poor Adam got shut down. Blake played the "wife card," saying, "I used to watch [Miranda Lambert] perform that song night after night. So when you started singing it, I was holding you to Miranda's standard. When you hit the last note, you know those fireworks that go off and they spell stuff? It said, 'Team Blake.'" Man, how could Audra resist a line like that? Adam clearly needs to up his game.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
So now, after four rounds of Blind Auditions, here's where things stand, as Carson Daly would say:
Team Usher has Morgan Wallen, Stevie Jo, the Brothers Walker, Tanner James, Melissa Jimenez, Madilyn Paige, T.J. Wilkins, Biff Gore, and Bria Kelly. Team Shakira has Dani Moz, Music Box, Emily B., DeShawn Washington, Clarissa Serna, Lindsay Pagano, Deja Hall, Kristen Merlin, and Jeremy Briggs. Team Blake has Megan Rüger, Ryan Whyte Maloney, Sisaundra Lewis, Lexi Luca, Audra McLaughlin, Noah Lis, and Jake Worthington. And Team Adam remains unchanged from Monday night, comprising Sam Behymer, Joshua Howard, Patrick Thompson, Delvin Choice, Cary Laine, Dawn & Hawkes, and Christina Grimmie.
So, who has the best team, as of this week? You know…I'd still say it's Adam. Maybe it was a good thing after all that he basically sat out Tuesday's proceedings.
But Adam won't be to able sit out next week's episodes, when all four coaches finalize their team lineups. And the game is sure to get even more wicked. See you then!