The Voice's ninth season is already 80 percent of the way through its blind auditions, and the show is clearly looking to shake things up a bit this year by emphasizing that, no, you don't need to be a solo artist to audition. You can even be twins!
As the teams of Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams fill up, the coaches get pickier and more biting with why you should pick them. As always, Stefani was annoying ("I'm a mom!" "You inspire me!" "I've been in a band since I was 16!"), Shelton and Levine threw light jabs at each other and Pharrell was a little bit swarmy. But, whatever. That's apparently the charm of this show.
As per usual, in the fourth night of the blind auditions, things were a little more muddled. While we saw some of the best talent thus far (from duo Andi & Alex and Hungarian pop star Viktor Kiraly), there were also some totally forgettable acts and those who you just know are around to get knocked out in the battles.
Check out how it all went down with our breakdown below:
Andi & Alex, "Thank You": TWINS. This is the second duo of The Voice season 9 (after that newly engaged couple from Monday night) and they're a good one. Their voices are pretty much identical, though the twin with the curly hairstyle clearly has a bit more range to her. But, these girls know their strengths and they emphasized that with the genre-bended, countrified version of this Dido classic. But, wow, was this pretty. These girls could give First Aid Kit a run for their money. They got four chairs to turn and went with Adam Levine when he promised them that he would help them pick good songs.
Krista Hughes, "Angel from Montgomery": Krista Hughes is so country that she can't even connect with whatever people in Los Angeles call pop (soda? Coca-Cola? Coke?). But her voice isn't that deeply Southern. She has a highly unique and throaty tone that could span genres, but boy, is she country. Her honesty transcended the blind part of the audition and she managed a four-chair turn. Her old school country roots highly appealed to Blake Shelton, and he nabbed her right up.
Viktor Kiraly, "What's Going On": Viktor Kiraly is already a pop star in Hungary, apparently winning that country's version of American Idol in 2008 and competing in Eurovision twice. But, apparently there's nothing like making it in America, so Viktor came to familiar territory on TV for The Voice. With the Donny Hathaway version of "What's Going On," he cemented that there's a reason for that. His vocal is seasoned, as Blake Shelton pointed out, and smooth. His experience showed, and he easily landed a four-chair turn. After lots of pandering, he went to Team Pharrell.
Darius Scott, "You Make Me Wanna": From the first few notes, there seemed to be nothing particularly special about Darius Scott and his take on this Usher classic. Maybe it's the song itself, but this felt particularly flat, uninspired and a weird way to kick off the fourth blind audition episode. But, soon, Darius took off on this song, adding in runs and a power that previously seemed impossible. It was, dare I say, buttery and soulful. What started off as bland turned into a very dynamic, engaging performance that piqued the interest of Adam, Pharrell and Gwen. After all of that pandering we love soo much, Darius ended up on Team Pharrell. He has a N.E.R.D. tattoo, after all.
Cole Criske, "Dreaming with a Broken Heart": This is a kid who clearly loves him some soft rock - I mean, just look at that face. So, it's no surprise that he tackled John Mayer for his audition. His vocal was fittingly soft and drippy. He's going to need to prove that he has more flexibility as an artist and a singer if he wants to make it far on this show. After turning three chairs (sans Adam, who would have been a natural fit), he went with his fellow balloon enthusiast Blake Shelton.
Chance Pena, "I See Fire": We have yet another Ed Sheeran song for this season from 15-year-old Chase Pena, whose father is his roadie. How cute! His performance was good, though he could never hit the note right on the head. He always had to decorate it with a run or a vibrato. And while that is very welcome in moderation, when used constantly, it just seems like he can't just tackle a note straight. But, his tone was pretty. Adam Levine was the lone coach to turn his chair, so that's where this little bro ended up.
Korin Bukowski, "Cecila and the Satellite": If you couldn't tell by the Zooey Deschanel outfit and a childhood love of bugs, Korin Bukowski is the ~quirky~ girl, who was bullied by her teachers in school. Her performance of "Cecilia and the Satellite" was pretty and straightforward but her vocals are a little too on the nose to be anything nearly as special as her personality. Gwen Stefani was the lone coach to turn her chair, but that's basically a match made in heaven.
Alex Kandel, "Bright": WAIT, what?! Sleeper Agent is not a thing anymore? I played them regularly back on my college radio show. Damn. Well, here is Sleeper Agent lead singer Alex Kandel, and she sounds just as good here on The Voice as she did back in 2011. But, this Echosmith song didn't seem to show the true range of her voice and it didn't seem like either Adam Levine or Gwen Stefani really even wanted her *that* bad, or maybe they just don't have the sort of banter-y relationship. Between the two "alt-rockers" Adam and Gwen, she couldn't really go wrong. She went for Team Gwen, however.
Celeste Betton, "I Love a Perfect Man": Celeste Betton is the sort of soul singer who is thus far missing from this season of the voice. I mean, she sang a Jennifer Hudson song, after all. She delivered this was the right amount of rasp and gusto, but at the end of the day, the most memorable thing about her was her ADORABLE daughter. Call it The Voice fatigue, but that's really all I can recall (and I'm writing this like 90 seconds into the commercial break). Team Pharrell.
"Uptown Funk" is an amazing song and Bruno Mars is a great singer, but it's maybe not the best audition song for The Voice. While Janae Strother was very in to her performance, dancing and clearly having fun, he voice was a little too odd and she only showed one part of her abilities. Julie Broadus took on "Brand New Key," and frankly put, it was a bad song choice. She needs more control and has potential to grow and go somewhere one day because she has a distinctive voice that could take her places. Tom Rhodes, Junior Reed and T'alia Scott also got the boot.