‘The Voice’: Returning Contestant Nolan Neal Turns Four Chairs With “Tiny Dancer”
After getting through only a handful of contestants on Monday, The Voice really picked up speed to make up for it last night. The Blind Auditions passed 12 hopefuls through to the next round, which meant that Miley Cyrus had to talk incredibly fast to get in her very long appeals for each one. Blake Shelton and Adam Levine feigned annoyance at her mile-a-minute chatter, but even they have to know that they’re in need of a season foil as their frenemy bromance storyline plays out. Meanwhile at the adults’ table, Alicia Keys stayed cool and focused. She’s the show’s new Zen master, after all, and she continued to build her strong team while the children bickered.
The in-fighting and strategizing managed to subside long enough to fit in the performances. Here’s who made it through to the next round:
Aaron Gibson, 25 – Georgia
The first contestant of the night recently quit his job at a background check company to gig full time, so basically, this better work out. Aaron Gibson sings R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” and it’s so raspy at times that it seems as though he needs to clear his throat. Aaron eventually smoothes out and earns turns from Blake, Miley and Alicia.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, I have a good track record, and I’d be proud to be your coach,” says Blake.
“Your voice has such a special, powerful tone, and I love how you sang that song,” says Alicia. “I felt like you totally made it yours.”
“You’re someone I want to listen to in my car, and I love your sound, I love your voice, and for a chick I have a gravely voice too,” says Miley, who then goes on and on in her signature babble.
Long-winded works! Aaron joins Team Miley.
Simone Gundy, 26 – Texas
Simone Gundy tries to make as much time as possible for music in her life, but it’s a challenge as a single working mother. Her parents and her boyfriend are in her corner to help as she tries out for The Voice with a soulful performance of Ben E. King’s “I (Who Have Nothing).” Both Adam and Miley turn around for the powerhouse singer.
“You were not competing at this moment, I just felt like I was at your show,” says Miley. “I have full chills all over and I want to help you win this show.”
“Right now, I am a monstrous animal, and I know I’m going to get you on my team,” says Adam. “You are going to be able to show everybody everything you can do, and you can do that on my team.”
Choosing between two ravenous coaches is tough, but Simone joins Team Adam.
Josh Gallagher, 25 – Tennessee
Baseball caps are the new cowboy hats, and former athlete Josh Gallagher proves it. The cowboy boot- and baseball cap-wearing country singer has some goat moments in his performance of Brothers Osborne’s “Stay a Little Longer,” but his performance is solid enough to earn the attention of Blake (of course) and Alicia (more of a surprise).
Alicia goes after it in earnest, even though the conclusion seems foregone. “You have a beautiful voice, and to me country, the blues, and soul are all brothers,” says Alicia. “We could really create some magic, so I’m ready to be exciting.”
“Country music is my life,” says Blake. “I’ve been having records on the radio for 16 years now. The most fun for me at this point is to be able to help this next group of country artists.”
He joins Team Blake, because of course he does.
Gabriel Violett, 28 – New York
Gabriel Violett has quite a varied resume. He was in Spring Awakening on Broadway, but having not seen any big opportunities since then, now models adult onesies. Blame Brooklyn. Gabriel’s Broadway background comes through in his performance of Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better,” which starts up the second Alicia vs. Blake battle in a row.
“I think there’s something about when a man sings in that space that just makes you feel wrapped in their arms,” says Alicia. “I thought you did a beautiful job.”
“When you got to the second half of that song, it sounded like you were singing through an Auto-tuner,” says Blake. “It’s crazy how you move up to those notes.”
Sounding like your voice is Auto-tuned could be a compliment, but the oneside model joins Team Alicia.
Michael Sanchez, 25 – California
Michael may have the appearance of a tax accountant, but this multi-talented performer turns out to be way too cool to crunch numbers. This piano-playing crooner belts out the classic Bill Withers song “Use Me,” and gets Alicia to turn around at the very last minute.
“Your voice has the ability to cross different places and the bottom of it is just big and powerful and soulful,” she says. “You ready to rock?”
Darby Walker, 17 – California
Though high school student Darby Walker has performed Alicia Keys songs for past talent shows and absolutely loves the Grammy winner, she opts for something different for her Blind Audition. Darby sings Florence + The Machine’s cover version of Ben E. King’s “Stand Ny Me,” and despite a few goat-inspired notes, she gets turns from Miley, Alicia and Blake. Miley and Alicia break out the big guns.
After telling Darby, “I want you on my team so bad and I feel like our voices have that similar vibe of that shaky vibrato,” Miley gets up on stage and duet’s Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with Darby.
Not to be outdone, Alicia gets up with Darby and sings “No One.” She tells Darby, “The power in your voice was controlled, and this gorgeous tone that you have. You are such an individual, and I would help refine that individuality.”
“When you started the song I really could hear the indie pop, and by the end of the song I heard the ‘Jolene’ aspect of your voice when you started going big,” says Blake. “It was just beautiful.”
Despite her love for Alicia, Darby chooses Miley as her next coach. Full credit goes to “Jolene.”
Austin Allsup, 32 – Texas
Austin Allsup has music in his blood. His dad, Tommy Allsup, not only performed with the likes of Buddy Holly and Merle Haggard, but was on the losing end of the coin flip with Ritchie Valens for a seat with Holly and Big Bopper on the plane that ultimately crashed The Day the Music Died. The country rocker goes more toward rock, singing “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones, and impresses Blake. Incidentally, he had performed with Blake back in 2005. Small world, that country circuit!
“Welcome to The Voice,” he says, adding later, “He comes from a good bloodline, and I think it will be fun to see him on a national stage.”
Khaliya Kimberlie, 16 – New Mexico
Aspiring country singer Khaliya basically screams Blake Shelton. She’s a country singer and she’s a teenage girl, which is pretty much his sweet spot for contestants. He’d have to really mess up to lose against Miley for this one. Khaliya sings Kelsea Ballerini’s “Dibs,” and despite a shaky start, her nerves subside when Blake and Miley turn around.
“When I was here to mentor, I spent extra time with every single person because I thought it was important too for them to know you want to make it your own,” says Miley. “I have nothing to do but play with my cats at home. I’m going to stay so much longer to work with you!”
“I can get you a trophy,” says Blake. “I can win this show.” Cocky, Blake. Cocky!
Despite screaming Team Cowboy, Blake’s cocky lack of a compelling argument loses Khaliya, who joins Team Miley.
Halle Tomlinson, 18 – Colorado
Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez aren’t the only musical talents who emerged from Barney. Make way for former child Halle Tomlinson, who now teaches at the School Of Rock in Colorado. Halle sings a stripped down version of Barney’s “I Love You,” and – kidding! (but that would have been trainwreckingly perfect). She actually sings Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind” and really impresses the judges once she ditches her whispery indie voice for a strong powerhouse. Adam and Alicia both turn around.
“Your voice is an instant recognizable signature,” says Alicia. “I loved it. I was so happy to hear you sing the song of my city.”
“It was a totally different way of approaching the song,” says Adam of her sweet style. “I think that you’ve got some things to work on. You’re young, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Nolan Neal, 25 – Tennessee
I know: two weeks into The Voice and there still hasn’t been the most loved return after rejection contestant? Never fear: Nolan Neal is here to fill the void. Nolan had his dreams dashed during last season’s Blind Auditions, but after taking some constructive criticism to heart, he’s back and presumably better than ever. The Tennessee native sings Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” and not only earns turns from the two coaches who rejected him in the past, but also Alicia and Miley.
“You’re going to be the first guy who went home last season and who won this season,” says Adam, who more or less credits himself for Nolan’s improvement. “I started coaching you almost a year ago, and I do not plan on stopping right now.”
“Something about your voice took me home, because my dad actually has a voice like yours,” says Miley in an achy breaky semi-compliment. “I have a good team and I’d like to keep all the aces with me.”
“You are made of the thing that inspires the next generation to reach inside of themselves and find their voice,” says Alicia. “Together we could make a classic all timer.”
“You’re already an accomplished vocalist,” says Blake. “What I think you need is a rock solid position on this show,” he says, calling out Miley and Alicia’s newbie status.
Stamping two Voice bingo squares in one episode, there is a quick montage of un=televised performers who make it to the next round. Blake picks up pop singer Christian Fermin and country singer Preston James. See you in the next round, boys. Maybe.
The teams are just about complete, and the Blind Auditions wrap up next week. Whose team do you think looks the strongest thus far? Hit us up below!