‘The Voice’: Christina Aguilera Is Back, 15-Year-Old Sawyer Fredericks Blows Everyone Away
The Voice’s original crew – minus “The Most Controversial” Cee Lo Green, of course – is back at it for Season 8! The “OG Blondest Coach” (Christina Aguilera) joins the “Never Ever Leavings” (Adam Levine and Blake Shelton) and “The Nicest Coach In Reality Competition History” (Pharrell Williams) in The Reddest Seats for television’s Blindest Auditions.
Let’s hope the above has prepared you for the incredible amount of superlatives said coaches will use to woo their potential team members in the Blind Auditions. One might even say they use “The Most Superlatives Ever,” but why add gasoline to that fire, right?
Before getting to the compliments, the coaches sing Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” More accurately, the producers run a pre-recorded performance (‘tis the pre-recorded Blinds, after all). Though it lacks the spontaneity and excitement of an actual live performance, it’s a fun taste of the collaborations to (hopefully) follow this season.
On to the contestants! This group had the antsy coaches leaving their seats at every possible moment. With all the Fifty Shades frenzy, there have got to be some restraints in the NBC Universal offices, no?
Sarah Potenza, 34 – Nashville, Tennessee
Before you get all “How predictable can you be, Voice?” about Sarah Potenza’s “Stay With Me” performance, check yourself with the fact that it’s not the Sam Smith version. Instead, the quirky rocker slash waitress sings a bluesy version of Rod Stewart’s hit of the same name. Who says Season 8 doesn’t have some surprises in store?
Less predictably, the first contestant of the season earns a four-chair turn. Blake tries to win Sarah over by pointing out they both wear cowboy boots. “I really think we have a connection here.”
“I’m so ready and so refreshed. Let’s do it!” says Christina.
“You gave this generation something that they have never seen before,” says Pharrell, who then walks up to her to compare accessories.
Not to be outdone by Pharrell, Adam hits the stage to hold Sarah in his arms. “After eight seasons of doing this and winning it twice, you want to go with someone who makes this work.”
Either Sarah does the math to realize Blake has won twice as many times as Adam, or she just likes his cowboy boots. Sarah joins team Blake.
Lowell Oakley, 19 – North Carolina
Nineteen-year-old Lowell Oakley mixes style, swagger and on-point vocals in his performance of Duke Ellington’s classic, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Adam and Pharrell turn their chairs.
“You charmed this crowd,” says Adam, who compares Lowell to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. “This is my world. I know what you want to do here.”
“You’re not regular. You’re not the same. You’re other,” says Pharrell.
Picking “other” over “Sinatra,” Lowell joins Team Pharrell.
Rob Taylor, 22 – Louisiana
Ensure that you’re drinking from shatterproof glass, because this next contestant pushes some octave boundaries. Former Berklee College of Music student Rob Taylor sings Luke James’ “I Want You,” and once he hits the high notes, he just stays there. It vacillates between impressive and shrill, but is enough to impress Christina, Pharrell and Adam.
Christina sticks with the theme of the evening and rises from her seat to announce, “He’s Team Christina all the way.” She then hits a few high notes of her own to confirm that the Voice Queen is back.
“I have a high voice and I was like, that’s really high,” says Adam.
“Let’s just keep winning together,” says Pharrell, who has never won The Voice.
Rob is, indeed, Team Christina all the way, and joins the pop diva.
Cody Wickline, 20 – West Virginia
If Season 7 champ Craig Wayne Boyd has a cousin, Season 8 hopeful Cody Wickline may be it. The younger, pre-makeover, cowboy hat wearing, country-singing version of already forgotten CWB performs George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and his beautiful tone almost counteracts his ill-advised facial hair. Adam needs less than a verse to turn around, and the rest of the coaches follow suit.
“That is the best country music performance I’ve ever heard anyone perform on this show, 100%,” says Adam. Citing both math and superlatives has him close to the trifecta of appeals, which he completes with the victory promise. “I think that, country or not, you can win The Voice.”
“All you need now is somebody to introduce you to Nashville,” says Blake, who compares Cody to Merle Haggard.
“I went to the CMT Awards twice,” says Pharrell, which reads a little desperate.
“I would love, love, love for you to give me a shot,” says Christina.
Cody, however, would love, love, love to meet some people in Nashville, so he joins Team Blake.
Treeva Gibson, 16 – Maryland
Treeva Gibson has overcome a degree of hearing loss to make it to The Voice stage. The singer, who uses sign language to communicate with her deaf parents, has lost hearing in her midtone range – but nonetheless has honed a beautiful voice. Though there are some rough moments tied to breath control in her performance of Lana Del Rey’s “Young And Beautiful,” she soars during some powerful high notes.
Christina and Blake fight for her.
“It was one of those smooth textures that really triggers my ears,” says Christina. “I did hear a few notes that were pitchy, but hey, that’s where we work together.”
“Your voice completely just drapes over the band. It’s not something that you can just do by design. You were born to sing that way,” says Pharrell.
Signing her choice so her parents can see, Treeva joins Team Christina.
Meghan Linsey, 28 – Tennessee
Before The Voice, Blake Shelton had an epic mullet. It’s always a pleasure to be reminded of this with televised evidence, and that’s just what country-blues singer Meghan Linsey’s Blind Audition brings to the table. Meghan was once half of the band Steel Magnolia, which opened for the likes of Brad Paisley, Bob Seger, Reba McEntire….and a young Blake Shelton. Cue mullet photo!
Meghan sings Nazareth’s “Love Hurts,” and her raspy voice manages to earn chair turns from every coach, except Blake. It makes for an awkward reveal, which he tries to smooth over by saying, “She’s one of the best singers that I’ve heard in my life.”
“You are the definition of The Voice for me,” says Christina. “I am Team Meghan.”
“I felt like I sensed your soul,” says Pharrell, comparing her to Janis Joplin. “I would love to garnish you with song selections.”
“The best singers are the one that combine that raw passion and the control of their voice. I believe you are so on the precipice of that,” says Adam.
Meghan chooses the soul-searching Pharrell.
Joshua Davis, 37 – Michigan
Father of (soon to be) two Joshua Davis sings Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” which causes the first solo bro-match of the season. Both Adam and Blake turn around during the first notes and get ready for battle.
“I heard so many things going on with your voice that were so soothing and inspiring,” says Adam. “My roots are very much in everything that you love as well.”
“Adam wants you on his team so you can help him. I want you on my team so I can help you,” says Blake.
Way harsh, Blake.
Joshua helps Blake help him, and joins the country crooner’s team.
Sawyer Fredericks, 15 – New York
Fact: Sawyer Fredericks has enviable mermaid hair. Fact: Sawyer Fredericks is home-schooled. Fact: Sawyer Fredericks pulls off the casual elegance of a vest. Fact: Sawyer Fredericks has the voice of an angel. Theory: Sawyer Fredericks is a long lost Hanson brother.
Whether or not Sawyer “Not Hanson” Fredericks is related to Taylor, Zac and Isaac is for paternity tests and popular opinion to decide, but his performance of Soggy Bottom Boys’ “I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow” is MMMPressive. Much like the show began, it ends with a four-chair turn.
“I need someone to crush Blake with, which is you,” says Adam, still void of contestants. He follows that up with an impossible-to-back promise.“I promise you, you’re not going anywhere until you’re the last person standing in this competition.”
“You have to pick me. We have to be friends. We have to be buddies. We have to be roommates,” says Christina, who perhaps will make room for him in her massive shoe closet.
“It was almost as if you were singing into an old vintage microphone, because it had that distorted badass awesome sound,” says Blake. “I think you’re awesome.”
“As soon as you started singing, it actually took me to another time. This is your destiny,” says Pharrell.
Sawyer picks Pharrell, and they compare their equally impressive hat games as he exits.
Poor Adam Levine ends the night with absolutely zero contestants. Has his new marriage status weakened his crush card? He’ll need to step it up for night two of the Blind Auditions tonight!