Wednesday, May 4, 2011

'The Voice' surprises in second blind auditions

NBC's competition show "The Voice" produced some genuine surprises in part two of the blind auditions.

With each of the coaches having three members of their teams, they were looking to find their last five singers.

The night began with Cherie Oakley trying to impress with Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder & Lead." Since this is one of my favorite "Rock Band" songs I can tell you it's not easy to sing (apologies to my neighbors). Blake Shelton is engaged to Lambert so this was a risky choice. The song requires a certain amount of attitude and a big voice, Oakley had neither and no one turned around for her.

It's worth noting that Oakley was a very pretty girl who probably could've made it to the Hollywood round of "American Idol" based on her looks, but the blind audition took all the flirting out of the equation.

While the concept is original there were a few times that lackluster performers still made it through.

Sixteen year old Raquel Castro was sweet and talented, but lacked control on Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love." I was surprised that Christina Aguilera chose her, although working with someone with such a powerful voice may help Castro learn how to control her skills.

I was equally shocked that Julia Mason was able to impress anyone, let alone a talent like Aguilera, with her warbled version of "Mercy." It must have been the same desperation to fill out their ranks that led Cee Lo to pick sister duo Tori and Taylor Thompson. It will be interesting to see if the coaches can really find something in these rough around the edges singers, or if they will be swallowed up by more talented teammates.

In the night's most surprising moment country singer Curtis Grimes couldn't get Shelton to turn around for his own song "Hillbilly Bone," but Cee Lo chose him and said he looked forward to the challenge of writing a country song.

Call me crazy (pun intended) but I like this pairing and can't wait to see how it works out.

In the second most surprising moment of the night, all the coaches hadn't rounded out their teams, so a few of the previous contestants who hadn't made it through got a second chance.

Shelton chose rock/country singer Jared Blake, while Aguilera who regretted not picking Lily Elise earlier, didn't make the same mistake. Levine, who needed two more singers, ended up with Casey Weston and Oakley.

This time Oakley sang Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," which impressed Levine enough for him to push the magic button. This is especially surprising since she seemed to not know many of the words to the song. Though these second auditions were a surprise, contestants are usually told to have two or three songs prepared. Oakley seemed to be flying by the seat of her pants which didn't impress me.

Now that the teams have been chosen, the battle rounds begin. Contestants will sing a duet against each other in a boxing ring shaped stage and the coaches will have to decide who to keep. Helping them with these no doubt tough decisions are industry insiders and legends.

Aguilera has teamed with singer/songwriter Sia, Cee Lo with R&B songstress Monica, Levine with Maroon 5 music director Adam Blackstone and Shelton has enlisted country legend Reba McEntire. Can't wait to see what this eclectic group has to say about the coaches' choices.

In more great news for the show, the ratings rose in its second week. The program garnered a 5.6 share making it first in the 18-49 demographic. However, it still came in fourth in viewers with 12.4 million. That's huge for NBC and bad news for "Glee" and "The Good Wife."

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