Hi, Blake Shelton. I think it’s time for us to have a little chat. Look, I think you are very charming. I actually laugh out loud every time you stand up and take a bow after saying something sassy and/or self complimentary. I deeply appreciate that you feel the need to fill the unbranded blue glass in the cupholder of your spinning chair with whiskey or sarsaparilla or whatever. I will even let that vaguely homophobic remark about how “men shouldn’t touch each other’s buttons” slide. (For all I know you could be talking about how men shouldn’t touch each others’ romantic partners? Probably not, but I’m still a bit foggy on the actual logistics of the button-as-sexual-metaphor joke you and your fellow judges have going.) But please, please, if you want me to take you and your show even slightly seriously, Do. Not. Mention. Xenia.
I keep asserting my opinion that The Voice is a much more fun, pleasant, and watchable show than its competitors, and I’m starting to wonder if a lot of that has to do with the fact that it doesn’t try to paint itself as the same kind of powerhouse starmaker that Idol and X Factor do. (In Idol’s case, that’s not completely unfounded. All jokes about the show’s track record aside, this past Grammys did feature a total of three alums, so there is an arguable precedent for success.) And sometimes, bombast for the sake of bombast can be its own sick kind of pleasure as well, as X Factor proved in its more dramatic and satisfying moments. I enjoy The Voice in a different way, more on its own terms as a show, and not as a cultural institution. Because as a cultural instituation, it still has a lot to prove. When the judges forget this and start to talk about previous contestants like they matter, I simply cannot take it seriously anymore. Maybe The Voice will eventually have its breakout star, but for now, that’s not why we like the show.
This week, we were treated to more “bad” auditions than usual, at least by The Voice’s standards. There were more than a couple performances that I was wincing through, including the histrionic performance of “We Are The Champions” by Broadway star Tony Vincent (who, among other things, just got done playing St. Jimmy in the original Broadway production of American Idiot.) Okay, former Mickey Mouse Club members are one thing, but bona fide theatre professionals? You’re pushin’ it, Voice. I also didn’t care for Dylan Chambers, a petulant, hammy little asshole whose sob story was that he grew up in a single parent household, and “no young boy wants to spend time with his mom.” (Cut to Dylan’s perfectly sweet looking mother cheering him on backstage with Carson Daly.) And Erick Macek, with his screechy, breathlessly off-key “Free Fallin” (P.S. never ever sing “Free Fallin” on these shows unless you really want me to picture you in front of an overhead projector at Wednesday night Youth Group) was the first truly terrible hopeful we’ve seen this season. Tony made it through and joined Team Cee Lo, and even though I wouldn’t have turned around for him, I respect the outcome seeing as how HE’S A VERY SUCCESSFUL BROADWAY ACTOR AND IT’S KIND OF RIDICULOUS THAT HE’S ON THIS SHOW. Dylan and Erick were sent packing.
We also had another batch of pretty female singers with highly affected vocal styles, and while some of them I look forward to seeing in the coming weeks, I’m beginning to think that Goat Throat is the blind audition’s equivalent of wearing a short skirt for Steven Tyler. Original vowel pronunciation does not an original vocalist make. Just putting it out there. Charlotte Sometimes’ ridiculous Cure-inspired “name,” ridiculously obscure malady (caudular absorption, which I either am misspelling or is just too alt to turn up any Google search results) and her ridiculous pronunciation of “fayte” (as in, “Holdin’ on your rope, got me ten fayte off the ground”) were too much for me, but the judges ate it up. All four turned around and she eventually picked Team Blake. However, final auditioner Mathai was able to pull off the quirky thing without bludgeoning it to death. Her silly little poses during her performance of “Rumour Has It” could have easily been obnoxious but came across as tossed-off and a sign of confidence.
I was also a big fan of Monique Benabou—so charming!—and sandwich artist/WGWG Jamie Lono. What is it about these Midwestern guys with thankless food service jobs that just steal my heart? (See: Krajcik, Josh) But you don’t need to tell us about the pneumonia you had when you were a baby in order to inspire sympathy, darling. That shot of you at your place of employment playing guitar from some dusty, asbestos-ridden loft while a bunch of confused, bored looking patrons look on was plenty. For his audition, Jamie sang a downtempo version of “Folsom Prison Blues,” and Cee Lo snatched him up, seemingly as much for his musical talent as for the possibility of free sandwiches.
There weren’t a whole lot of four-chair judges’ battles tonight (I counted two, Charlotte and Mathai), and whether or not this was edited in chronological order, it seems the judges are getting more selective as the audition process goes on. That’s fine by me. I talked last week about how refreshing the selectivity on this show is, and I don’t derive a terrible amount of joy from watching Christina and Adam bicker. I suspect the producers are saving the most contentious contestants for the last blind auditions episode next week, plus something involving Betty White and The Lorax. Because like a parent of a junior high girl interrupting a slumber party with leftover meatloaf and baby pictures, NBC wasn’t about to let The Voice have four solid weeks without anything embarrassing happening.
- The Voice doesn’t really explicitly set up any of its contestants to be loved or hated, but there had to be some assistant in the editing room responsible for that nasty mustache closeup during Ducky’s intro package.
- Nicolle Galyon better bring that piano to the battle rounds. I really need to know what offense piano playing looks like.
- Cee Lo: “I pushed my button for you.” Crusty Dreadlock Girl: “Cee Lo, you push all my buttons.” Me: (vomit sounds) Adam: “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard overt flirtation coming from the other person.”
- Christina: (slowly, slurring) “In my world, in my genre, in my tours… I've gotten to know some of the best choreographers that have been… in the business. I want to mold you and package you and do the right things by you.” (pause) “You guys are perverted!” Nope, Christina. Just confused.