Welcome back to The Voice. This season’s blind auditions are nearing their end — with their teams all but filled, who will be the first coach to recruit golden-throated conjoined triplets and claim they only count as one performer? (It’s inevitable, people.)
I’m only now realizing how interesting the game theory underlying the show can be. There’s no doubt that Adam and Christina win more battles for team members than Blake and Cee Lo do (I’d crunch the numbers, but I still haven’t figured out how to open Microsoft Excel), theoretically enabling Levine and Aguilera to assemble stronger teams overall. But there’s actually a sound argument to be made for joining one of the ugly stepsister teams instead — after all, you’d last longer against weaker peers. Just think: Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond, or a medium-sized fish in a comically undersized doll teacup? Let’s see what tonight’s contestants decide.
Though Sylvia Yacoub now calls Michigan home, the 19-year-old was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She explains that women face many obstacles in the Middle East — including her mother, an aspiring singer who was unable to pursue her own dreams of a performing career — but this is clearly false, because, um, Cleopatra?
Sylvia’s “Only Girl in the World” is bold and powerful, if occasionally kind of warbled. Even more than I like her voice, I love her wonderfully curly hair.
Sylvia’s Result: Team Christina
When I first lay eyes on teeny tiny IJ Quinn, my heart leaps at the thought that I might’ve found a roommate for Brendan Mahone in the Voice-edition Polly Pocket Playhouse of my dreams.
IJ (I’m assuming that stands for Indiana Jones) is a pig farmer with an unusually high, almost girlish voice. He takes on an appropriately androgynous song, “Virtual Insanity,” in a register that switches back and forth from masculine to feminine in a Michael Jackson-y style that kind of works for me.
Unfortunately, the judges aren’t impressed by IJ’s range. It’s back to the farm with him, where at least someone appreciates his talents.
IJ’s Result: Team Nobody
Carson Daly hand-delivers an invite to the blind auditions to Charlie Rey, who works on cars alongside his father in the family smog shop. Charlie goes full Bublé, crooning a pleasant (if slightly bland) version of “Home.” For reasons I can’t explain, Charlie’s performance drives the female members of the audience into hysterics, his voice having apparently instantaneously impregnated all of them.
Charlie’s Result: Team Blake
(Fun fact: this parenthetical marks my first and, fingers crossed, last mention of Christina Milian this season.)
Amanda Brown grew up listening almost exclusively to gospel — until, she says, the first time she heard Radiohead — and has performed as a background singer for Adele. Like Alexis Marceaux, Amanda has a Girls look about her, albeit in an alternate universe where someone had reminded text Lena Dunham that non-Caucasian women also exist.
Amanda’s fun, wild cover of the Zutons-via-Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” wins her a spot on Team Cee Lo. (I think her fabulous neon lipstick and hammer pants helped, too.)
Amanda’s Result: Team Cee Lo
(REVELATION: CEE LO’S COCKATOO HAS A TWITTER ACCOUNT. I can die now; this world has no wonders left to show me.)
A veteran cruise ship entertainer, Yolanda Barber has been singing for more than four decades, though lately she’s had to moonlight (daylight?) as a school bus driver. At 55, she is this season’s oldest contestant — sorry, Lorraine Ferro.
Yolanda’s version of the ballad “Get Here” proves that hers is the controlled, expressive voice of a true diva. But despite her undisputed talent, the judges don’t bite, growing ever more conservative now that only a few spots on each team remain.
Boo, that doesn’t seem fair. AARP, please cast Yolanda as some kind of spry, sexy spokesgrandma.
Yolanda’s Result: Team Nobody
If you, unlike me, are familiar with the band Hey Monday, you might recognize its lead singer, Cassadee Pope. Hey Monday previously toured with Fall Out Boy and the All-American Rejects, but now Cassadee’s ready for a solo career. Backstage, Carson pulls out some kind of prominently branded Sprint non-iPad to play her a good luck message from Pete Wentz, her former mentor.
In spite of Cassadee’s pageant looks, her tattoos and black nail polish let us know she’s Hard. (I actually think she’s totally adorable, and I appreciate her repping freckle-faced ladies like myself.) She showcases a beautiful pop voice with a slight edge on Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” — ONE OF THE FIRST SINGLES I EVER OWNED,Y’ALL — and earns a four-chair turnaround.
After each coach’s impassioned plea, Cassadee finally picks… Chr — Ad — Blake?! What an upset, sports fans, and with no replacement refs to blame. Blake is visibly shocked and delighted—the rest of his team is now the icing on the Cassadee Pope cake.
Cassadee’s Result: Team Blake
The Voice returns next Monday at 8. Until then, holla [well, tweet] at your boy [well, girl] on Twitter @mollyfitz.