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In its third round of blind auditions, The Voice featured several performers who pretty much live up to the competition’s promise. There were several acts whose sound didn’t quite match what we’d typically expect from the person’s appearance.
To hear the contestants talk about it, the music industry looks to marketing first and talent second. In that way, The Voice delivers on its vow to introduce America to the best singers in the country without consideration to whether they’re traditionally good-looking or if their style matches the genre in which they sing.
With Sunday’s Grammys, this idea is especially timely. Does Nicki Minaj have to outdo Lady Gaga’s gimmicks or does she just need to perform well? If so, she failed on both accounts. Why do we focus so much on Adele’s weight when her voice is one of the best of this generation even after risky throat surgery?
It’s something to consider when one watches The Voice’s coaches close their eyes – even while their backs are already facing away from the contestants – in order to really make their choices on the quality of the sound they hear and the connection they feel to it.
The Voice brought back its blind audience challenge to see if the viewers could do the same thing the coaches do with folk singer Sarah Golden masked in shadows. It may not have been the best attempt at totally blinding us to the fact that she’s a masculine lesbian, but it was a surprise to hear her high folksy voice on Gaga’s “You And I” instead of maybe another thumping rendition of, say, Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over.” Apparently, that voice was good enough to almost get Sarah signed twice… if she’d get a makeover. On The Voice, it got her coach Cee Lo Green.
Then, you have bow tie-wearing Pip from Marietta, Ga. Here you have a 19-year-old with an amazingly mature and soulful voice. Yet, he confesses some people can’t get past his very youthful personal style. Even Cee Lo said it was a surprise to turn around and see someone so young and fresh. His take on “House Of The Rising Sun” turned all four coaches around and gave Adam Levine another team member.
And how about Boston’s James Massone? I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 23-year-old who works in his family’s body shop business. When he opened his mouth, out came the smooth R&B on “Find Your Love.” It got Cee Lo, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton to turn their chairs. The odd man out, Adam blurted out later, “And he’s white?!” And then James’ tears started flowing and you realize how big a moment this is for the undiscovered talent. Cee Lo nabbed that one.
Then there’s Chris Cauley, the 27-year-old from Atlanta. He was inspired very deeply by his grandmother’s professional bluegrass singing career. But when he hit the stage, he delivered a slowed down soul-pop version of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” that inspired Cee Lo and Adam to fight over him. Looking at him, I have to admit I saw some very cheesy boy band-style performance moves. But, all that doesn’t matter if you can’t see him. Let’s hope Adam works on that with him.
And what if your exterior is money in the bank, but your sound is just tough to nail down? That was former model Erin Martin’s cross to bear. She says that she’s gotten a lot of comments that she needed to be developed. Yet, not one of those people sought to take her under their wing? “That sounds like I need a coach,” the singer who correctly described her look as “Egyptian warrior princess,” surmises. Her otherworldly take on the Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” won over Cee Lo and Blake. Adam said he liked what he heard, but he was scared as his inability to identify what she was serving up. “Quite naturally you belong to me, don’t you think?” Cee Lo, who liked what he saw very much, said in a successful bid for the singer.
And finally, the blind auditions also work the other way around. Blue-haired, tatted Winter Rae had a lot going on all at once. She even called in her buddy, gossip blogger Perez Hilton, in for some added star power. Yet, all that didn’t matter when her take on Rihanna’s “Take A Bow” failed to inspire any of the coaches to turn their chairs.
Do you think The Voice is accomplishing its mission? What’s your take on the talent discovered so far? Tell us in the comments section below.
Also, watch Pip’s “House Of The Rising Sun” again below.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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