The Voice Season 19 Blind Auditions wrapped Monday, and with the team slots nearly filled (and this season’s teams reduced from the usual dozen contestants to 10), all of the coaches were being super-selective. However, there were three singers who jointly earned the Blinds’ last four-chair turn: a mother-daughter country trio aptly named Worth the Wait. Gwen Stefani in fact turned around when she heard the group’s first solo voice, before their harmonies even kicked in, and she was determined to recruit them as her final contestant — even if that meant playing dirty against her own fiancé (and the most obvious coach pick), Blake Shelton.
After teen sisters Mia and Jacy Matthews and matriarch Mama T (stepping in for older sister/original group member Sadie, who had to quit to care for her special-needs infant) wowed the panel with the Linda Ronstadt version of “When Will I Be Loved,” Gwen first tried to play the family-band card. “I also was in a band [No Doubt] with my brother [Eric Stefani] for nine years,” she noted. “We wrote ‘Don’t Speak’ together. We wrote a bunch of songs together. So, I know the family thing as well.” Once Gwen realized that Worth the Wait wanted to focus on the country music genre, she predictably also played the country card, bragging that she recently topped the Billboard country chart with two Blake duets, “Nobody But You” and “Happy Anywhere.” But when neither of these tactics were entirely convincing, she pulled out the big guns: a surprise pro-Gwen testimonial from a country legend.
“I have a lot of support from the community, the country community. Play the video that I have here, of just some of the support that I have!” Gwen boasted. And then… Trace Adkins randomly popped up on a widescreen monitor. “What the hell is this?” barked Blake, amusedly or bemusedly.
“So, clearly you're torn,” Trace began, directly addressing Worth the Wait. “I believe that every person is allotted a certain amount of good luck in his or her life. And, as is evidenced by his girlfriend, Blake has used his up completely. I’m just sayin’.”
I personally thought the best argument came from Blake’s real rival on The Voice, country-dabbling singer Kelly Clarkson, who noted that there had been “parts where it's not completely sync” during Worth the Wait’s performance, but then promised, “If you pick me as your coach, I will definitely push you like a choir director.” But of course, the Matthews ladies went with the safe choice, filling the final spot on Team Blake. Contrary to what Trace had just claimed, apparently Blake’s luck hadn’t run out yet.
These were the other final successful auditions of Season 19:
Julia Cooper, 21: “Alaska”
There was an effortlessly cool Lisa Stansfield vibe to this groovy indie crooner, who showcased some intriguing creativity with her runs and ab-libs. John Legend was awed by Julia’s seamless shifts from her head voice to her chest voice, and called her a “revelation.” Kelly called her “powerful in a poetic, chill way.” And then Kelly tried to play dirty herself, by warning that another Team Legend contestant, a similarly ethereal songstress named Cami Clune, might steal Julia’s thunder.
Who turned? Gwen, Kelly, and John.
Result: Team Legend, because Julia said she has always admired the “vulnerability” of John’s music. So, Kelly’s dastardly tactics didn’t work any better than Gwen’s.
John Sullivan, 32: “Operator”
This ex-baseball player had a pleasant, lived-in voice with an intimate tone, but he didn’t exactly make this Jim Croce classic his own. But Gwen said his gentle, laid-back performance “gave her peace,” and Blake told him, “You have perfect pitch, and I think you’re a storyteller.”
Who turned? Blake and Gwen.
Result: Team Blake. There was no peace for Gwen, who lost out despite being John Sullivan’s childhood crush.
Skylar Alyvia Mayton, 15: “Blinding Lights”
This Kelly superfan had the right idea by actually trying to make a song her own, but I don’t think her sleepy folk/lounge take on the Weeknd’s hit really worked. Skylar sapped all of the energy and angst from the nervy new wave club banger.
Who turned? Just Kelly, almost right away. Kelly has won this show with two teen-girl contestants and she was Skylar’s top pick anyway, plus Kelly knows how to reinvent a song properly, so it all worked out in the end.
Result: Team Kelly, obviously.
Lain Roy, 22: “Someone You Loved”
The Berklee-schooled soulman had a beautiful rounded tone and seemed to feel every note and syllable was he was singing. He brought just the right amount of angst, edge, and ache to this overdone Lewis Capaldi ballad.
Who turned? Gwen and John.
Result: Team Gwen! That was a big surprise, considering that Lain had just cited John as one of his “musical heroes.”
Emmalee, 20, “How Will I Know”
Emmalee claimed to have come up with this slowed-down arrangement of Whitney Houston’s classic herself, but I thought it sounded pretty close to the version that Sam Smith recorded way back in 2014. That being said, her a cappella intro showcased a magnificent instrument. “You have no vibrato, and I mean that as a compliment! You have air for days! Are you a swimmer?” Kelly marveled.
Who turned? Kelly, who said this was the song she sang the first time she auditioned for anything, and John, who said he’d been waiting for someone to do a ballad version of this song on The Voice for years. (Considering the Sam Smith background, I’m surprised that no one had until now.)
Result: Team Kelly, making Emmalee Kelly’s final recruit.
Bailey Rae, 18: “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger”
This rodeo girl and former competitive clogger spat Miranda-style gunpowder and lead during her feisty cover of Lee Ann Womack’s woman-scorned classic. I am sure Blake and Kelly would have spun around at a whiplash-inducing speed if they hadn’t already filled their teams.
Who turned? Just John.
Result: Team Legend. This makes Bailey John’s first-ever country artist, but Blake was already planning his Steal strategy, telling her, “I want to put my chips in for the Battle Rounds. when John completely screws this up!” Watch this space.
Tori Miller, 26: “When You Say Nothing at All”
I thought Tori was a little snoozy, and that her performance lacked diction and dynamics. There was some raw talent there, but I suspect that she will become Battle Rounds montage fodder soon enough.
Who turned? Just Gwen.
Result: Team Gwen.
James Pyle, 30: “Watermelon Sugar”
This drummer-turned-secret singer certainly didn’t have Harry Styles’s charisma or swag (who does, really?), but his runs were tasteful and his falsetto was impressive. John called this a “masterful performance.” James could be a Season 19 dark horse.
Who turned? Just John, by default, as he was the only coach who still had an open spot. Everyone else on the panel claimed that James would have earned a four-chair turn under different circumstances.
Result: Team Legend.
The Voice won’t be on Tuesday night, because NBC and every other television network will be focused on a much more important nationwide competition, so to speak. But do come back next Monday, Nov. 9, when the Battle Rounds commence.
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