How do you top a premiere week for your reality TV show? For The Voice season 9, it's by bringing better talent than the week before and by offering viewers a first - a live engagement on the stage! It was a big, surprising moment when Southern rock duo Jubai and Amanda became bethrothed, but that was at the very end of the episode. First, there were a dozen performances to get through.
In its third episode of season 9, The Voice bounced back from an underwhelming night two with a night filled with unique singers and some of the best so far. It's going to be an interesting season! Let's lay it all out...
Morgan Frazier, "I Want You to Want Me": This song kicked off The Voice in a montage, so it's no real surprise that the show transitioned in with this performance Morgan Frazier. Citing this Cheap Trick classic with its love song roots, she totally made over the song with a sweet, tender fragility, which last minute turnaround coach Blake Shelton pointed out. Like every smart country artist on this show, she went with Blake over Gwen.
Lyndsey Elm, "Lips Are Movin'": It was a night of interesting arrangements - Lyndsey Elm took Meghan Trainor's "Lips Are Movin'" and turned it into a funky, acoustic jam while maintaining the original's sassy attitude. She definitely has a personality, and that's satisfying enough to earn a four-chair turn, though her voice comes off as a little generic. After a lot of pandering and basketball talk, she goes for the girl and is the second member of Team Gwen tonight.
Manny Cabo, "Here I Go Again": Manny Cabo is an emotional father to an adorable 9-year-old girl and a lover of all things hair metal. At 45 years old, it's hard to imagine why he didn't get a career in music the first go around in life - his vocal fits with his chosen genre perfectly with some really powerhouse boosts and a high note that could battle with the rest of them. It's a dated genre, so it'll be interesting to see how long he can last on this show, but his voice is golden. He got a four-chair turn and landed with his fellow falsetto singing rock guy Adam Levine.
Madi Davis, "It's Too Late": This was an example of a great song choice for Madi Davis, a 16-year-old girl from Texas. She has a really unique tone, mixing together a sweetness with a breathy nasal thing that hasn't been heard from yet in this competition. She's the sort of artist who does well on this show and she's likely to go pretty far. After a battle between Pharrell and Gwen, Davis became the first member of Team Pharrell for night three.
Amanda Ayala, "Mississippi Queen": This girl is a teenage rockist coming from a fully rockist family - "the music from the '80s just had so much more soul," she said, and her parents fought over who liked rock more. She went fully into that classic rock vibe with a take on Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," Ayala clearly had a good amount of passion behind her performance but her vocals didn't match up. She sang this song a little too straight and flat and she couldn't quite live up to the booming musicianship around her. But, she's a rocker on The Voice, and that's a unique space to occupy. Because she loves rock so much, she went with "rocker" Adam Levine.
Jeffery Austin, "Lay Me Down": Oh, we get the first Sam Smith cover of the season. GOOD. (Just kidding, it's tired out.) Jeffery Austin hasn't performed since his high school musical days. He has a tone similar to Smith's, actually, though he's missing that really rich baritone and those big heights. But, if he can work on his range, he has some good potential on this show. Gwen Stefani was the only one to turnaround for him, it seemed as though everyone didn't think he was unique enough (a valid criticism). But he's on Team Gwen.
Chris Crump, "Thinking Out Loud": WOW, they really gave this guy a long intro package, maybe because he has like three sob stories - he left his wedding reception to audition for The Voice, he grew up in a severely Christian household and in order to be the ~man~ and "provide for his wife," he's taken an endless series of odd jobs. The Voice producers are banking hard on this guy to be a hit. He and his new wife are probably banking on it, too. His performance was very dynamic - he started off very hushed and whispered but grew to a nice, warm and strong tone. Think Matt McAndrew minus all those tattoos and with a touch of conservatism. He got a four-chair turn and surprisingly, for a pop singer, he went on Team Blake.
Tyler Dickerson, "Hard to Handle": Tyler Dickerson was once signed to John Rich's label and it's clear that he knows his way around a stage and how to be a performer and singer. He has an interesting blend of country and rock, making this song choice beyond perfect for him. He seems like the total package and though Blake Shelton's team is a little crowded with A-plus country talent, Dickerson has the ability to stand out.
Jubai and Amanda, "Seven Bridges Road": Remember how duos and groups can audition for The Voice? It doesn't happen too terrible often, but it is a possibility! So, here is Jubai and Amanda, who are performing the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road," which was written by Jubai's father Steve Young. STORY! They had really nice harmonies but they could have played off each other a little better. They got chair turns from Gwen and Pharrell - and - HOLY CRAP ENGAGEMENT! WHAT! How sweet and surprising!!! That sort of washed away any sort of criticism, and they landed on Team Pharrell.
How could a performance of "Word Up!" not get a million chair turns? Joe Maye actually seemed to have a totally OK voice and plenty of attitude so maybe the "blind" part of this audition worked against him as well as a poor song choice. Come back next year, Joe. Caleb Lee Hutchinson's performance of "The Dance" was pretty but everyone thought he was a little too unseasoned. He's another one who could dominate for season 10; he is only 16, after all.