The Voice: Blind auditions continue
Is there anything quite as daunting for an aspiring singer as the backs of those four red chairs on The Voice?
I was pondering that as I watched Monday's blind audition episode. There's no begging for second chances as the song plays out and the judges' chairs remain motionless. The unlucky ones take their leave and save their tears for their loved ones waiting backstage.
And again, we're not talking bad singers here since the auditioners need invites to hit The Voice stage. Among those unable to turn chairs on Monday were Neal Middleton, 33, who gave a CCRish rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and was longing to support his wife and child through music; Aly Jados, who made it to Hollywood on American Idol last season; gorgeous Pamela Rose, whose pitch wasn't good enough for the discerning Voice judges; handsome Dez Duron, 21, who skipped out on the Yale football team to audition and came oh so close; Hoja Lopez, a 25-year-old who hoped to prove size doesn't matter but got torpedoed by her nerves on "Teenage Dream."
Even some of the ones who did get chosen had to wait an agonizingly long time for a chair or two to turn. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for someone to push a button for Jamar Rogers, 29, from the Bronx. He was jamming away on "Seven Nation Army," had the crowd eating out of his hand, but Cee Lo Green didn't turn for ages despite his fellow coaches urging him to.
You'll remember Jamar from Idol. He auditioned with his friend Danny Gokey in Season 8 and didn't make it past Hollywood, tried out again in Season 9 and dropped out of the competition. We heard things about him Monday that I don't recall hearing about on Idol, that he was once a crystal meth addict, that he was homeless for a while, that he's HIV positive.
I was captivated by his back story, by the excitement on his face when Carson Daly hand-delivered his invitation, by his mother's tears and by the way he bounced across the stage like he had springs in his feet after he was chosen by his idol Cee Lo.
By the end of the two-hour episode, Cee Lo had filled three of the 12 spots on his team; Adam Levine, 3; Blake Shelton, 3; Christina Aguilera, 4.
The entertaining rivalry between the coaches continued, but they also entertained with a medley of Prince songs. Cee Lo was in head to toe red glitter; Christina looked like a dominatrix in a leather dress and spiked leather hat; Adam was in a tank top and Blake just looked like Blake.
As an aside, is anybody else loving Cee Lo's Dr. Evil-like bits, where he makes pronouncements for the camera stroking a large white cat? The man is seriously eccentric.
Back to the singing. Here's a brief look at the contestants who joined the coaches' teams.
The Line: Duo Hailey and Leland, who insist they're not a romantic couple, had all four judges turn their chairs for their take on Tom Petty's "American Girl." Blake was the first to hit the button and was dying to work with them, but Christina reminded them "last year ... he had a (duo) and he ended up sending them home." They picked Christina, with Leland marvelling, "It was four of the biggest names in music fighting to work with us." Blake, in arguably the best line of the night, said, "I actually feel bad for that. I think they were fooled by flash and boobs."
Gwen Sebastian: This 37-year-old from Hebron, North Dakota, put her desire to start a family with her drummer boyfriend on hold to give The Voice a shot. She displayed a sweet voice on Sugarland's "Stay," good enough to have Blake, Adam and Cee Lo turn their chairs. Blake won this one, though. "You are a great country vocalist," he told Gwen. "If you look across this panel here, you'll see spikes and you'll see tattoos and things like that. I'm your country guy. I'm your man."
Kim Yarbrough: You want to talk perseverance? Kim is 50 and she's been singing since she was 18, supporting herself in between gigs with jobs like working in a potato chip factory and doing security for the Dave Matthews Band. But all the judges knew was that she brought a giant voice and the appropriate amount of funk and sex appeal to Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good." Part of the joy of this show is seeing the coaches get as excited as the contestants when they find a voice they like and Adam was practically giddy when Kim picked his team over Christina's.
Angie Johnson: She's a 31-year-old military staff sergeant in an air force band, whose claim to fame is a video that went viral of her and the band singing "Rolling in the Deep." That brought her to Carson Daly's attention and to The Voice. Carson was really invested in this one, yelling, "C'mon, somebody turn your chair!" at the backstage monitor. I didn't love her take on Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," but it was good enough to get Cee Lo to push the button. "Are you as beautiful as I think you are?" he asked, replacing his customary dark glasses with an even bigger pair of dark glasses. "I love a woman with guts, with power, with confidence."
Lindsey Pavao: This 22-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., had never sang in front of more than 40 people and was understandably nervous, but Blake, Christina and Cee Lo all turned their chairs, intrigued by her Fiona Apple-like take on Trey Songz' "Say Aah." Cee Lo called it "probably the coolest thing that's ever happend on the second season so far." He and Blake fought hard, but Lindsey picked Christina's team.
Jermaine Paul: Not many people audition with the blessing of Alicia Keys, but this 33-year-old family man has been her backup singer for years. He did a blistering verison of the Avril Lavigne hit "Complicated," but only two coaches turned their chairs, Cee Lo and Blake. Jermaine wasn't content just to accept Cee Lo's praises. "You said you want me on your team. Want is a cool word, need is even a better word, but I want to hear that word keep. I want to be kept," Jermaine said. But Blake gave him the straight goods: "I think the word keep is up to you. You still got a lot of work to do." Jermaine went with Blake, "another tall brother to another," as he put it.
Angel Taylor: The 23-year-old from Los Angeles is the youngest of five daughters who fled their abusive father with their mom. She brought emotional resonance if not vocal purity to Adele's "Someone Like You." Adam, Blake and Cee Lo were all vying to recruit her. "I don't know what I can do for you, but I'll be damn proud to try," Blake told her. "I do know what I can do for you. I did do well last year," said Adam, referring to his win with Javier Colon. Angel overlooked her admitted crush on Blake to pick Adam.
The blind auditions continue Monday at 8 p.m. on CTV.
(The photo of Cee Lo is courtesy of Bell Media. Sorry, I'll work on getting new photos by next week.)