‘The Voice’: Blind Auditions Close With Shelby Brown’s Stunning Grace Potter And The Nocturnals Cover
The Voice did it again! They made it through the Blind Auditions, all while keeping the coaches firmly planted in their well-established character archetypes. Adam Levine has remained the impish rock star with a heart of gold; Blake Shelton has stuck with his backwoods simpleton with a liver of alcohol schtick; Pharrell has been the quintessential creative producer; while Gwen Stefani has uttered several times “I’m just a girl” – ideally ironically.
Basically, we are all itching for some contestant story lines to mix it up in the Battle Round and beyond. Maybe the hopefuls who closed out the coaches’ teams of 12 will provide some much needed spice in the coming rounds…
Dustin Christensen, 35 – Utah
Soulful rock singer Dustin Christensen had to dig real deep to find his Voice sob story. Whereas other contestants have cited losing a parent, losing their hearing or overcoming extreme poverty, Dustin merely mentions his lazy eye. It’s really more of a Jeopardy contestant story than a Voice story, so he’ll have to rely on his talent.
Dustin sings Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” and attracts all four coaches with his deep, raspy, rich voice. He holds a strong note at the end, which has them all but salivating for him.
“I can hear your talent, I relate to you, I can tell you love singing,” says Gwen. “You are perfect for this show.”
“It became undeniable,” says Adam of Dustin’s talent, but adds, “There are a couple of moments I thought could be improved upon, and that’s something I have to offer you as a coach, which is that kind of honesty.”
“You sang with so much heart, and there was a lot of range,” says Pharrell, who compares Dustin’s tone to John Mellencamp.
“It sounds like Neil Diamond back there,” Blake raves. “I love Neal Diamond!”
Flattered by the comparison to Neil Diamond, Dustin joins Team Blake.
Dustin Monk, 27 – Florida
It’s fun to try and guess the monikers Carson Daly will use to describe the contestants the next round, which typically focus on at least one detail that has nothing to do with said contestant’s vocal ability. Enter Dustin Monk, who — dollars to donuts — Carson will introduce in the Battles as “The Drug-Free Barber.” If his future moniker is not clear enough, not only is Dustin a barber, but he also has committed to a life free of drugs and alcohol due to his mother’s experience with addiction. Alternative titles may also be “The Soulful Barber” or “The Tattooed Barber.” Just wait.
Dustin, who has a notable vibrato and a controlled range, sings Gary Clark Jr.’s “Bright Lights.” Both Adam and Blake turn around to fight for The Straightedge Barber.
“It reminded me of me in the way that I just feel like when I go out there, I do whatever I can to seize the moment that is in front of me,” says a self-congratulatory Adam. “There’s a kernel of brilliance in your voice.”
“He said he heard a kernel of brilliance in there? I heard the whole cob,” Blake retorts. “I’m just a fan of yours.”
The Soulful Tattooed Barber with the Drug Free Heart of Gold picks Adam, which is fortunate, because if he had joined Team Blake, he would have just been “Dustin #2.”
Chase Kerby, 30 – Oklahoma
The future “Candy Shop Crooner” is up next. Chase Kerby worked at his family’s candy store before his Blind Audition. Although this sweet background (eat your heart out, Carson Daly) gets the primary focus, Chase’s music credentials include opening up for the All-American Rejects with his former band The City Lives.
Chase sings Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and goes up into a really strong falsetto. He never really breaks through into a phenomenal performance, but earns a turn from Gwen.
“Your voice is really special. You have so much control and dynamics and I love how intimate you can be,” says Gwen. “I can’t wait to get to know you better.”
And Chase can’t wait to advertise for his family’s store. On the way out, he gives Gwen a box of candy, which is pretty much the best exposure a store could ever dream of.
Shelby Brown, 16 – Alabama
Small town teen Shelby Brown has only performed in small venues – namely her hometown’s bowling alley – but she’s ready for a bigger audience. She rocks an Adele-style party ponytail, but doesn’t fall into the “sacred ground” trap of auditioning with an Adele song. So far, so good.
Shelby sings Grace Potter And The Nocturnals’ “Stars” with a country-rock twang. Her voice is absolutely stunning, and her flawless execution gets a four-chair turn.
“That’s what being 16 years old, being driven and dreaming super hard gets you. It gets you everyone standing up and clapping for you,” says Pharrell.
“The brilliant moments were so brilliant that I have to be part of it,” says Adam. “I have one spot left on my team. One spot, and I couldn’t be more sure this spot on my team was made for you.”
“You sound like you have so much experience, but you don’t because you’ve only been alive for 16 years, and that’s really mind-blowing to me,” says Gwen.
“When you can just hit the huge note and just soar with it, there’s no way to learn that you have to be born with that kind of lung capacity and that kind of pitch, and you have that perfect,” says Blake. “Now, all you gotta do to do is come on my team and let’s make you a country star.”
Despite going into the audition with country leanings, Shelby joins Team Adam. The coaches are beyond shocked, as Adam celebrates the final addition to his team.
Amy Vachal, 26 – New York
Only three coaches are left in the mix when Brooklyn-based singer Amy Vachal takes the stage. Those three chances turn out to be enough for the singer-slash-painter, who gets Pharrell, Blake and Gwen to turn with her sweet performance of Doris Day/Mamas Cass’ “Dream A Little Dream Of Me.”
“I don’t have a beautiful Pocahontas fairy princess angel-like singer on my team,” spurts Gwen. “You’re creative with the way that you perform, and just seem like a real honest artist.”
“The Voice is supposed to be a diving board, and after the show you dive head first into what it is you want to do,” says Pharrell. “Let me be the guy that helps you explore that sound.”
“I know that I’m looking at a superstar,” says Blake. “I was hearing some Norah Jones and even some Colbie Calliat.”
Although Gwen gave it her best shot (if calling Amy “Pocahontas” is considered a best shot), Amy joins master producer Pharrell instead.
Blaine Mitchell – 24 – Texas
Texas-born Blaine Mitchell defines himself as an alt-rocker, but goes more adult contemporary with his performance of Train’s “Drops Of Jupiter.” Based on his aggressive stage presence, though, Blaine feels as though Train is alt rock. Yikes. Blake and Gwen turn around for total mediocrity.
“It was incredible just hearing your strength,” says Gwen. “What I really loved was the dynamics.”
“You started hitting some notes,” says Blake. “That one you hit and just held for a long time and then by the end of it you went for the extra note and your voice got gravely and raspy: I’m a fan.”
And Blaine is a fan of Blake. The “alternative rock guy” completes Team Blake.
Summer Schappell, 21 – California
Lavender-haired country singer Summer Schappell has been performing since she was 14, opening up for such big names as Little Big Town, Josh Turner and LeAnn Rimes. She even recorded her first album in Nashville around that time, but has yet to get much traction from it.
Hoping to jump-start her career, Summer auditions with Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” Having foolishly spent his last spot on Blaine Mitchell, Blake sadly watches Gwen and Pharrell compete for the solid country singer.
“I think that you have a really pretty voice that sounds really soothing,” says Gwen. “You hit some really beautiful note at one point — it was a yodel.”
“I know that this is completely out of my wheelhouse, but country is definitely something that I appreciate,” says Pharrell. “There were some impressive things that you were doing.”
Summer joins Team Gwen, closing out her team with a country artist.
Sydney Rhame, 16 – Georgia
The final contestant of the Blind Auditions is Sydney Rhame, a singer-songwriter who works part time as a children’s guitar teacher to save money for college. Sydney sings Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” in a deep alto voice, and her unique tone not only gets Pharrell to turn around, but also has the three out of play coaches peeking around their chairs to watch her sing.
“Just know that I am here to protect everything that you already are, and if there’s going to be any pushing, it’s going to be pushing to be even brighter,” says Pharrell. “I was waiting for great.”
And with that, all four teams are ready for battle — or rather, The Battles. With the help of quite a diverse group of mentors – Brad Paisley, John Fogerty, Missy Elliott and Selena Gomez – the contestants move on to the second round next week.
Who’s team is looking hot going into the next round? Let us know below!