Monday’s Voice premiere was basically The Kelly Clarkson Show; the contestants, sandwiched between blooper reels of Kelly being adorkably spastic and enthusiastic, were little more than an afterthought. And to be honest, none of Monday’s hopefuls were anywhere near a Clarkson-circa-Idol-Season-1 level.
But now that Kelly has comfortably settled into her (fancy! new!) red chair, it’s time to focus on the actual talent. Tuesday’s episode, thankfully, did just that — so much so, in fact, that Kelly’s buddy Blake Shelton was acting as kooky as Kelly, hyperbolically mixing his metaphors and even making references to unicorns and Care Bears that were practically Miley-esque.
While it’s way too soon to reach Blake’s level of presumably vodka-fueled fervor, or believe host Carson Daly’s foolhardy claim that this is “THE GREATEST SEASON OF THE VOICE YET!!!” (Why does Carson always say stuff like that? What is Chloe Kohanski, chopped liver???), this was the night that Season 14 kicked into gear.
Davison, 23: “To Love Somebody”
Kelly may have met her hyperactive match with this cool cat. The dude was positively bouncing off the Universal Studios walls during his interview. But his soulful, husky performance — my favorite of the night — was surprisingly grounded and solid. Blake said Davison’s voice sounded like vintage vinyl. If Davison wins this show — and actually gets to put out a record — that record better be available in LP format.
Who turned? Adam Levine and Blake. Kelly almost hit her button, but waited too long.
Result: Team Adam. I can’t believe Davison picked someone who thought “To Love Somebody” was originally a Michael Bolton song. Even Blake knew it was a Bee Gees classic!
Jaclyn Lovey, 16: “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Every Voice cycle has a token soft-spoken old-souled teen, and Jaclyn — who cited Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash as influences — apparently fills the Addison Agen role this season. She fills it well, though; her easy-on-the-ear indie/Americana voice, garbled vowels and all, was reminiscent of both Joanna Newsom and ’60s girl-group crooners.
Who turned? Alicia Keys, who called Jaclyn “simple and pure,” and Blake, who uncharacteristically gushed, “I pictured myself riding a unicorn while you were singing — the kind that has, like, wings.”
Result: Team Alicia. Maybe Blake’s inability to differentiate between a unicorn and a Pegasus ruined his chances.
Molly Stevens, 34: “Heavenly Day”
The openly gay daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, Molly brought a soaring, evangelical quality and true grit to her Patty Griffin cover. She was a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and a whole lot of awesome.
Who turned? Blake, Kelly. It was a country battle royale!
Result: Team Kelly. Kelly’s spot-on mention of country-crossover artists Kacey Musgraves and Chris Stapleton sealed the deal.
Dylan Hartigan, 21: “Danny’s Song”
The former child actor/boy-bander claimed to love “folk-rock,” but his swaggering persona was too Bieber-esque for this mellow gold hit. He needed a guitar to ground him (assuming he plays one). Also, mentioning Loggins & Messina and Bob Dylan in the same breath didn’t help his cred. Still, the kid has heartthrob potential. If this show were called The Face, he’d win.
Who turned? Only Kelly.
Result: Team Kelly. See above.
Pryor Baird, 35: “I Don’t Need No Doctor”
Pryor is this cycle’s token bluesy guitar-slinger, aka the Laith Al-Saadi of Season 14. His workmanlike Ray Charles cover was nothing original, but his loosey-goosey shredding was impressive, and according to Blake, his rasp sounded like he’d “smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a bottle of whiskey right before he got onstage.”
Who turned? All four coaches! I’m not sure he was that good, but he’ll likely go far. Kelly called him “a maaaaaan, a sexy man!” — i.e., the teen girls at home may vote for Dylan, but their moms will vote for Pryor.
Result: Team Blake. Sorry, Adam. There’s a new bromance on the Voice scene. Pryor called Blake a “kindred spirit.” Must’ve been that whiskey/cigarettes comment.
Tune in next week for more Kelly, hopefully more unicorn mentions, and hopefully more standout contestants. (Side note: The greatest season of The Voice was Season 3. Just sayin’.)
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