‘The Voice’ Recap: This Isn’t Blake Country

Katrina on 'The Voice'
Read the inaugural blog from S2 alum, Katrina Parker.
Any Day 1 jitters are a thing of the past on NBC’s fourth season of The Voice.

New coaches Shakira and Usher shook off any newbie hesitance on Tuesday’s episode. And, clearly, they (plus vet Adam Levine) have their sights focused on developing diverse teams and what that means is that Blake Shelton doesn’t own country artists anymore – to his chagrin.

Nobody made that more clear than the night’s first artist. Nashville singer Tawnya Reynolds feels stuck in her career after being turned down by every label she has approached. She needs The Voiceto break her career from its rut. And, you would think she’d be a shoo-in for Blake…

She’s tried the traditional route. Tawnya calls herself “country to the core” and proves it by auditioning with Ed Bruce’s “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” Surprisingly, Adam is the first to turn his chair with Shakira quickly following. And while this is clearly a Blake candidate, Usher brokers a deal with the country coach, “I mentor one of yours, you mentor one of mine.” Very smart. But, it actually doesn’t work. Despite Usher’s agreement and his clear dedication to making this youthful voice a classic, Shakira swoops in.

“I’m dying to have a country artist, I’m dying to have a country artist like you,” she tells Tawnya. And after doing everything she could with country music folks, she says she wants to try something different and picks Shakira. I think it’s a surprise pick, but makes total sense.

A model singer. Some people just have everything. That’s the case for Josia Hawley. He’s a good Christian boy, has a beautiful and loving wife, he’s handsome and, yes, he can sing. You can hate him, but he’s way too pretty. Raised around jazz music, Josia gives Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” a jazzy, soulful sound. And while it’s clearly a nod to Adam, Blake turns first, then Usher. Finally, Josiah wins Adam over. But while the frontman is impressed by Josiah doing one of his songs, he admits there were some areas that didn’t work for him. At the same time, Adam says he heard his own voice in Josiah at time. Blake tries to soften the blow by saying he didn’t hear any of the bad stuff and calls the singer a “badass.” What’s Usher’s m.o.? He sells “information” — I though, “wah, wah, wah,” but it’s an effective hard sell he’s giving. And… it works – Usher gets Josia. And we even get an Usher dance move as a result.

Folk isn’t quite country. Idaho’s Midas Whale is a pretty dynamic duo. One was brought up around music, the other is a geologist. And, there’s plenty more tricks up their sleeve. They sing “Folsom Prison Blues.” Adam says they’re good, but doesn’t turn. That gives Usher the chance to push his button first. The other three coaches follow. Here’s another trick: The duo are both fluent Spanish speakers, having lived in Spanish speaking countries. That, of course, gives Shakira a way in. But, Usher reminds them that he turned first and the guys agree that means something to them. But in the end, they pick Adam, who they say made a compelling case.

If Oprah was a coach. L.A.’s Abraham McDonald apparently won a national karaoke contest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. But, does that mean he’s good enough for The Voice? He sings Beyonce’s“Best Thing I Never Had.” And it’s not the best thing I ever heard. His voice really isn’t that strong. It’s cracking and thin at times, which makes me wonder if he’s nervous. It just isn’t enough and no one turns. Usher calls it shaky, while Shakira tells him he’s excellent. At least he’s greeted in the back room by a very supportive group of friends and family that still thinks he’s No. 1. Them and Oprah, of course.

It’s a foreign language to us. Bronx’s Cathia – yes, just Cathia — has a very inspiring story and comes from a mother who moved to this country with nothing and speaking no English to attending college and owning her own business. Did I mention this episode is very feel-good? I don’t believe there was one sob story in the bunch, which makes me ask why talent shows feel they have to have so many of them.

I digress; Cathia makes the bold choice of singing in Spanish. Her rendition of Luis Fonsi’s “No Me Doy Por Vencido” gets Usher’s attention quickly, turning his chair first. He’s followed by Shakira, then Blake. “You were phenomenal,” Shakira tells the singer before emphasizing that she knows exactly how to make her a success in both the US and world markets. Blake admits he might be in over his head, and then decides to point out the other coaches’ lack of experience when it comes to mentoring on The Voice. Clearly, Usher is having a hard time explaining how he can make Cathia a star. So, smartly, she picks Shakira. It’s the obvious choice and there’s no shame in that.

The real X Factor. Memphis music student Sarah Simmons is just a breath of fresh air on an episode that really emphasized the singers’ genres. She sings Joan Osbourne’s“What If God Was One Of Us” and it’s unlike any version I’ve ever heard of the song. Sarah has all kinds of levels to her voice and she travels from soft to belting and rock-n-roll raspy with very little effort. Adam and Shakira turn right away and they both look very intent on adding Sarah to their team.

I have to admit that I got chills listening to this girl and where she took a pretty standard song. “You can 150 percent win this show,” Adam tells her. Blake calls her one of the Top 3 singers who have ever auditioned for The Voice. But, Adam’s passion for her must have really clicked, because Sarah goes with the pop rocker.

And, in the end, despite what seemed some obvious picks for him, Blake walks away with zero new team members. It’s good to see the game is on.

Were you impressed to see how Shakira and Usher really dug their heels in on Day 2 of blind auditions? Are you feeling bad for Blake? Sound off below.

Watch Christian Porter redefine “Sexy” again below.

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