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The Voice, Season 9: Blind Auditions, 9/22/15

September 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

As the blind auditions continue for The Voice Season 9, Blake Shelton’s starting to fill what the other judges call his country mafia, but Gwen Stefani is proving to be a very popular choice for contestants this season:

1.  Blind Joe (just Blind Joe) is a hardcore classic country singer from Oklahoma who’s just right for Blake, who turns early. However, Adam wants to fight about it, and Gwen and Pharrell pull buzzer beaters. Adam and Pharrell think the contestant’s unique and original, despite the traditional country sound. Then Blake takes charge, “You and Ronnie Milsap jammin’ … after you win,” he cajoles, and promises to introduce the singer to Nashville.  Yes, Blake’s the judge/coach for Blind Joe.

2. Ivonne Acero is the gawky 17-year-old Mexican-American who didn’t attract a judge last season but was encouraged to come back. She sings a Taylor Swift song, “Style,” and this time attracts Gwen and Pharrell on her first note. She picks Pharrell, however, her voice sounds strained to me and I doubt she’ll go deep in the season.

3.  We find our first front-runner of the season when 51-year-old radio personality Regina Love auditions. She made three gospel recordings under a prior contract, and she says she was encouraged by what Blake did with Sisaundra Lewis in season 6. Like Lewis, Love is a singer that can blow the doors off the place, and she souls out with the classic R&B of “Rock Steady.” About halfway through, she attracts Adam and Blake.  Afterwards Pharrell admits he made a mistake, while Gwen explains she was wondering what she could do to coach her. Despite Regina’s stated interest in Blake, she picks Adam, leading Blake to retort, “She may do well in spite of Adam.”

4.  Zach Seabaugh, 16, from Marietta, GA, doesn’t “look” country (Adam says he looks like Superman, meaning Clark Kent, but I’m thinking more Justin Bieber).  He sings country-pop, however, with a fairly deep voice that sounds influenced by Johnny Cash. The judges all wait on Blake, and he turns on the last line. Then Pharrell and Adam want in on the action on the last notes. Even though Pharrell makes a pitch, this is a Blake-Adam showdown. Adam asks Seabaugh to consider who would be the best coach for him. Seabaugh picks Blake, who says, “He’s one people are gonna fall in love with.”

5.  Viewers get a tease that Gwen may want teen idol type Evan McKeel, a smooth Southern pop singer. Blake tries to persuade Gwen this is a singer for her, but then he pushes his button. Only then do Gwen and the remaining judges join in. Gwen says, “I couldn’t figure out what style you were.” Pharrell asks him about style, and he says he likes Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Pharrell asks him to sing that, so in effect he gets a second audition–this is the song he should’ve auditioned with. Then he picks Pharrell, not Gwen.

6.  Blake has a history of doing well with teen country queens, and this season he gets Tennessee girl Emily Ann Roberts, 16, who sings classic “old soul” country. Her audition is the overdone “I Hope You Dance,” but Blake and Adam both like her enough to fight over her. Adam’s determined to lure a country singer away from Blake.  The rock singer offers Roberts a choice:  she can be one of many country singers on Blake’s team, or the only one on his. “I’m sorry, I pick Blake!” she drawls.

7. A Georgia girl named Ellie Lawrence prefers to sing indy alt-rock despite her country roots. Her voice is raspy, strained, and nasal but also distinctive. She gets three judges’ attention–Blake’s the holdout. Adam notes she was straining on her high notes. Pharrell likes her raspy voice. She loves Gwen and picks her.

Montage:  Gwen picks up three more contestants, Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas, and Hannah Ashbrook who may be called a female Sawyer Fredericks.

8.  James Dupree from Louisiana got started on You Tube, then had a Nashville record contract for a while, but his You Tube popularity didn’t translate to sales.  He says his influences are Vince Gill and James Taylor. Instead of doing a country song, he does a country-flavored version of “Let Her Cry,” originally by Hootie and the Blowfish. All four judges turn but make no mistake, this is another Adam-Blake showdown over a country artist. Dupree picks Adam, but watch for a Blake steal should Adam let him go. Adam’s track record with country singers isn’t notable. He grabbed a country guy last year only to drop him in the battle round. He coached Amber Carrington to fourth place in season 4, but he coached her to go pop, diluting her country identity. Maybe Blake’s right when he suggests Adam will have Dupree singing Sublime covers.

Running tally: 

Blake gets Barrett Baber, Blind Joe, Emily Ann Roberts, and Nadjah Nicole.

Gwen gets Kota Wade, Ellie Lawrence, Noah Jackson, Tim Atlas, Hannah Ashbrook, and Braiden Sunshine.

Adam gets Jordan Smith, Regina Love, James Dupree, and Keith Semple

Pharrell gets Mark Hood, Evan McKeel, Ivonne Acera, Zach Seabaugh, and Siahna I’m.


Tags: The Voice