“The Voice” judges Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green proved as picky and discerning as ever on Monday night’s fourth round of blind auditions. Several strong performers were turned away as the judges continued to carefully select the contestants they hope will go all the way to the finals — and in turn, win bragging rights for the last judge standing. And Cee Lo continued to inexplicably stroke a white cat during his to-the-camera interviews. “The Voice” is so weird and wonderful … now, on to the show.
Aguilera got off to a strong start, scoring the night’s first two contestants (well, the first two who got picked at all, that is). First up was Jonathas, a 23-year-old father of two who moved to the U.S. from Brazil at age 5 to escape poverty and violence. Sounding so much like Usher with his rendition of “U Got It Bad,” Jonathas fooled the judges at first. “I thought that was a prank,” Cee Lo told the singer. “I thought that was actually Usher.”
Again distinguishing what sets “The Voice” apart from its competition, Aguilera, who turned her chair for Jonathas at the last minute, noted that as a pop singer, she has experience with choreography and the inner workings of pop star packaging, things that could aid Jonathas in his quest for stardom. “She’s got packages on her mind,” Cee Lo joked, trying to steal away the crooner. But it didn’t matter, he picked the big-voiced Xtina.
Aguilera didn’t have to win the night’s next contestant, Monique Benabou — she was the lone judge to turn her chair for the singer on Shelton’s recommendation. The country star felt Aguilera could shape Benabou as a vocalist. In a rare non-bickering moment, Shelton even called his fellow judge the best female vocalist of her generation.
In another last-minute chair swivel, the “Beautiful” singer also picked up the Texas-born son of a mega-church pastor, Anthony Evans, who sang Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On.”
Shelton, who worked well with female vocalists last season, played to his proven strengths and added two unique-sounding ladies to his team: Naia Kete and Charlotte Sometimes.
Host Carson Daly hand-delivered Kete’s invitation to the dreadlock-sporting street performer on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, where she performs with her brother and boyfriend. The singer’s textured delivery of “The Lazy Song” earned an immediate chair turn from Blake, who took another atypical vocalist, Dia Frampton, to the finals last season (and on tour with him this year).
As interesting as Sometimes’ voice also was, her backstory was arguably even more compelling. As a child, the singer suffered from a jaw problem that nearly left her unable to sing and required surgery and several weeks with her mouth wired shut to correct. Her throaty, rock-rooted take on Timbaland and OneRepublic’s “Apologize” got every judge’s approval. While it seemed for a second like she might go with Cee Lo, Sometimes ultimately surprised and chose Shelton — after he reminded everyone that his unique-voiced ladies from the show’s first season earned recording contracts, of course.
Team Cee Lo
The always colorful Cee Lo Green assembled what was easily the night’s most diverse team, ranging from a flamboyant Broadway showman to a guitar-strumming sandwich shop worker from Chicago.
Green was the sole judge to turn his chair for theater vet Tony Vincent, who has starred in “Rent,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “American Idiot.” For his audition song, he chose Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and he did so with good reason: He was lucky enough to get to work on the song with the surviving members of the band when he went to London and later Las Vegas to work on their musical “We Will Rock You.”
He also snagged Jamie Lono, whose take on “Folsom Prison Blues” got Adam to turn his chair immediately. When Lono announced his profession as a sandwich maker, Cee Lo joked, “We should hook up then, ’cause I eat sandwiches.” The music Renaissance man — a trait that continues to prove itself his biggest draw as a mentor — also picked up a favorite of Daly’s, 30-year-old Justin Hopkins.
Hopkins used to play in the house band for Daly’s late-night talk show, “Last Call With Carson Daly,” and the host couldn’t help but pull for his old buddy, saying, “I’m rooting for you, selfishly.” Hopkins was also really hoping Cee Lo would turn around for him, gushing about the “Forget You” singer in his pre-performance interview. He got his wish.
The always charismatic Maroon 5 frontman was basically shut out until late in the show, picking up the night’s final two contestants. The two lucky ladies to join the handsome singer’s team couldn’t have been more different.
First up was Nicolle Galyon, a classically trained pianist who sings country. Defiant that she would not have to change her instrument of choice to suit her genre, Galyon sang a fine rendition of “You Save Me” that nevertheless brought out her nerves. “I lose my voice when you’re around too,” Shelton jokingly said of his bro Levine (they seem a little bro-y these days, yes?).
Adam also added onetime med school student Mathai to his team, though he had to fend off Cee Lo and Blake to win over the young singer. Mathai only recently chose to break from the conventions of her conservative family to pursue music. Her performance of Adele’s latest single, “Rumour Has It,” inspired Blake to declare, “Attention: We are looking at a star.” But ultimately, Mathai went with Levine, who now only has two open spots remaining on his 12-person team.
A few other singers were picked up by the judges, though their full performances did not air on the episode. Blake added Jordan Rager, whom he called a “true country singer,” which is no doubt a mighty compliment coming from one of the most successful singers in the country game, as well as rocker Alyx. Adam seemed quite happy to add Karla Davis to his roster.
The judges were very picky Monday night letting many talented singers walk away from the competition. First among them was the artist Ducky, whose moustache Blake complimented before offering the rocker a drink to ease the pain of not getting picked up. Also given their walking papers were Erick Macek, who brought his own distinct acoustic flair to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” Dallas-born Eric Tipton and 19-year-old Dylan Chambers, who Aguilera liked but ultimately decided needed a few years to let his voice mature.