VOICE OVER: With Week 4, the Teams Become the Sweet 16
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by Sally Henry
Tonight, October 1, marked the end of the blind auditions on NBC's The Voice. With only two spots left until each team had its sixteen members, the big question on every audience member's mind was, who will be the elite eight chosen tonight? Such a pressure-filled night undoubtedly made them all want to burst into singing, "I Hope I Get It."
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The first up-and-coming star of the night was Natalie Hernandez, a fifteen-year-old self-proclaimed small town girl who missed her high school prom for the auditions. "I want to do this now! I really hope I get it." She sang Taylor Swift's "White Horse," which perfectly fit her innocently young voice. She had barely sung for two seconds when Blake and Christina pushed their red button simultaneously. Adam thoughtfully took his time, then he went ahead and pushed the red button. All three of the judges vying for this contestant agreed that she was a storyteller who could connect with the audience, but forced to only choose one, Natalie chose Team Christina.
European former boy-band member Rod Michael enjoyed superstar status in Europe at the early age of 19, but when he came to the States, he discovered that no one even knew his name. Going from a sensation to a nobody overnight was a serious blow, but he said that's why he wanted to audition for The Voice. Even though his performance had the girls in the audience screaming, the coaches did not deem him up to the highly-competitive standard for their teams. Despite that, Christina told him he had some "feel-good energy," which she loved.
Twenty-year-old Caitlin Michele had a sad past, from which music saved her. She suffered through a severe panic disorder which caused her to pass out and literally feel like she was going to die at times. In lieu of resorting to drugs or alcohol, Caitlin made singing her vice, and as she continued to use it, she realized her unbelievable passion for it. And this is what she pictured herself doing for the rest of her life. So tonight on The Voice, she chose to sing "Cosmic Love" by Florence and the Machine. This performance prompted both Blake and Adam to hit their buttons. Amid lots of their usual competitive banter, Adam straight-up admitted to Caitlin that, "Because of some pitch things, which would usually hold me back for good, I was resisting a little bit," to which Blake yelled, "Like an idiot!" But Adam told her that despite that, "It was epic and awesome. And I want you... I really just care about different. And you were different." Blake told her that if she wanted normal and not crazy like Adam, she should go with Team Blake. This time, Christina even took sides, telling Caitlin, "If you want to be a risk-taker and to go with someone who understands Florence and the Machine, go with Adam." Caitlin gave into the peer pressure and chose Adam, saying, "I'm the farthest thing from normal." Agreed. Undoubtedly, this girl's beautiful style can only be described as next to normal.
Country girl Nicole Johnson, age 18, was a performer from the beginning. She wrote her first song at age seven, and realizing her passion for music, her parents moved with her to Nashville to pursue her dream as a singer. Cee Lo was the first to push the red button during her country version of Kelly Clarkson's "Mr. Know-it-All," and not surprisingly, Blake followed suit. Heaping the praise, Cee Lo told her, "I was hearing someone with a perfect voice. You just sounded like one of the best." Though that comment was hard to compete with, Blake had the distinct advantage of already being a country star, like she wanted to be. So when he told her, "I'm a believer. I'm 200% a believer in you. And I'd be honored to be your country music coach," he won her over to Team Blake.
Kameron Corvet, a 32-year-old middle school French teacher had always loved to sing, and he auditioned for The Voice to move on from teaching to the next thing. Unfortunately, when he sang Seal's "Crazy," none of the coaches helped him get closer to his new dream. Christina told him that while she liked the song, it should have had more of a build to it, rather than being pretty consistent the whole time.
Rocking what resembled Bernadette Peters's iconic hair, Chevonne told Carson Daly that after touring with Lady Gaga, whom she greatly revered, she wanted to be on The Voice so she could have a chance to be in the spotlight. In an attempt to become a star herself, she sang "Brass in Pocket" by the Pretenders. She had basically finished singing when Cee Lo and Blake pushed the button at the exact same time. Cee Lo admired the pain that showed through her performance, and Chevonne told him that her passion came from working through eating disorders in her past. Though Blake tried to convince her to join his team, she chose Team Cee Lo.
Kayla Nevarez, another young performer, had been singing since she was little through the encouragement of her dad. But her life changed when her father got liver disease. Suddenly, this role model who had always been so strong became physically weak. She used that as motivation and like so many on this show, she got through all of it by singing. As she got ready to perform on The Voice, Kayla thought of her dad, saying, "My dad is one of my biggest fans, so I'm sure he'll be watching from home." She beautifully sang "American Boy," causing Adam turned around almost immediately, then Christina, then Cee Lo. Adam reminded her, "I turned my chair around very early. I only have one spot left on my team, and I know that you're the one! I don't mean to brag, but my team did win before." Well, that was enough to convince her. As Kayla was hugging her new coach, she said, "We better win this!" and Adam assured her by saying, "We got this."
Kayla was the last member added to Team Adam, who thought confidently back on his group saying, "Every single person on my team can win."
Celica Westbrook told Crason Daly that she was a third-generation singer, hoping to follow in her family's footsteps. This was not the first time she tried to pursue her dream, but when a record deal fell through at age fourteen, she had to find another way to become a star. Feeling very excited, she performed "A Thousand Years." Christina turned around almost immediately, then Cee Lo, then Blake joined. This turned out to be a fierce competition among the coaches who all wanted this talented sixteen-year-old on their team. Cee Lo took the chill approach, saying, "I was watching Christina and saw that she hit her button. I would really love to have you on my team and all of that." Blake tried to use the personal strategy, connecting with her over where she had been to concerts and where she shopped, but he added a serious sentiment, "Unlike most people, you have four or five days to go til you're a star." Christina, on the other hand, went eloquent, saying, "As God is my witness, you need to be on the radio now." While the coaches disputed among each other who would have this talented performer, Adam just looked on with laughter, "I don't know what's more fun, fighting with you guys or watching you guys fight." Celica clearly struggled to choose a coach, but of course she could only choose one. "I'm all about supporting the artist in me," so she went with Christina.
Now the second team was complete. Christina reflected on her sweet sixteen, saying, "They have charisma; they have what it takes. I'm going to take it to the next level."
Though NBC did not air their full performances, it showed brief clips of Jay Taylor who sang a slightly remixed version of "Country Girl" hoping for team Blake, as well as Taylor Wagner and Jedina who sang their hearts out, but did not get a button-push.
Jessica Cayne from Grayson, Georgia grew up in a house full of music, which meant that becoming a singer seemed only natural. When she was younger, she was insecure because she was bullied for being overweight, but she said, "Music has been a life-raft for me. I think I was given the gift of music so I could later see a girl who was just like me and tell her that things get better. The Voice is providing me with an extremely unique opportunity to decide to be a fighter." She clearly had a blast singing the challenging hit, "Good Girl" by Carrie Underwood. Sadly, it was to no avail. Yet again, Christina was very encouraging, telling this singer "It looks like you were entertaining the crowd! You have a great voice. You're shining." Cee Lo said, "You did make a connection with the audience; that does count for something," and Blake told her he was impressed that she even attempted that song. Despite not being picked, Jessica delcared this experience, "the coolest thing in the whole wide world... I'm never going to forget this in my whole entire life."
An older contestant than these high-schoolers that had dominated tonight, 46-year-old Rudy Parris gave up a singing career to have a family. "I've always had this burning desire to be a singer. My daughter believes in me whole-heartedly, and I want to go out there and do it for her. I've been doing this my whole life. I've been playing locally, so this is my time to go national." He sang a beautiful country rendition of "Every Move You Make." Blake deliberated, but then pushed the button and so did Cee Lo. Blake told him, "You don't look country, but you sure sound it." And how could Rudy join any team but the one led by a country music star? "Because my roots are so deep with country music, I'm gonna go with Blake."
And that completed Blake's team of sixteen, whom he described as, "history-making, The Voice-winning artists."
With Cee Lo's team being one member shy of completion, Arkansas boy Cody Belew, age 27, came to the show hoping to be the last piece to that puzzle. The son of a bull-rider, he predicted, "I could win this with Cee Lo. Cee Lo Green is a showman; I'm a showman... I've prepared for this moment my entire life." Well his prediction came true, because when he sang "Hard to Handle," Cee Lo pushed the red button at one of the last seconds. Cody didn't even realize that he had done so at first. But when Cee Lo told him, the starstruck contestant basically freaked out, ran over, and gave Cee Lo a huge hug. Cee Lo told him, "Obviously, you've got a great voice. And now, thanks to you, my team is full."
With all of the teams complete with their sixteen members, each judge ended the night on an elated note, convinced that their team was the one that would absolutely have the winner.
So tune in to NBC tomorrow at 8/7c to see bonus blind auditions, plus behind-the-scenes interviews with the coaches and contestants!
Visit www.nbc.com/the-voice/artists/ to view the full list of mentees. You can download your favorites from tonight's performances at www.iTunes.com/thevoice, or watch their performances on The Voice's YouTube channel: www.Youtube.com/NBCthevoice. Keep up with The Voice through the week and while the show on Twitter: @NBCTheVoice, #TheVoice.