Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Ben Taub and Adam Levine at "The… (Tyler Golden / NBC )
At the outset of Tuesday night's "The Voice" -- the fifth night of blind auditions in a mere two weeks -- Adam Levine had already landed nine contestants for his team, as had Christina Aguilera, whereas Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green each had just seven.
By the end of the night, Green had surged to match Levine with a total of 11 team members apiece. Aguilera had 10. Shelton's count, however, remained stalled at seven -- and it wasn't for lack of trying.
Shelton's ratio of button pushes to new team members, he confessed after yet another contestant had tossed him aside in favor of another coach, had left him "feeling a little bit losery."
And the nice-guy country coach's increasingly desperate efforts to woo weren't proving popular with his fellow coaches either. After trying to swipe one contestant away from Aguilera by calling the sole female coach "abusive" -- which he later admitted, just to make it clear, was a lie -- both Aguilera and Shelton besty Levine told him he'd stepped over the line.
"It's not about you and me this year, Adam," Aguilera told her former frequent co-combatant Levine. "It's about me and Blake."
Here's who stepped up and sang:
Trevanne Howell: This receptionist and single mom from the Bronx, who got pregnant with her first child at age 17, was out to prove to her kids that "if you put your mind to it, you can do anything." Unfortunately, neither her mind nor her rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" managed to move the judges to push their buttons for her. Aguilera found her voice "a little shaky" and vibrato too fast, and Green thought she'd come on to the song "too strong." Host Carson Daly, though, was impressed. The coaches, he told Howell, "don't always get it right."
Collin McLoughlin: After dropping out of graduate school at NYU and moving home with his parents to pursue his singing career, this tall, handsome 24-year-old was hoping to validate his decision in his mother's eyes. "If nobody turns for me," he said, it would mean "maybe my parents were right." But his "Wild World," on which he accompanied himself on guitar, turned Green, Shelton and then, after a bit, Levine. Despite the lag, Levine landed the sweet-voiced, sweet-faced vocalist with the best sell, calling him "one of the purest singers" he'd heard on the show and complimenting his "laser sharp" tone. Shelton was left grumbling. But McLoughlin's mom was contrite: "I was wrong," she told the cameras. "And I think what it taught me was if you really believe in something, you'll find a way to get it."
Joselyn Rivera: Music -- thanks to a Barbie karaoke machine -- helped this 17-year-old recover from "neurological deficiencies" when she was a child, so her "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" seemed like a fine choice. Aguilera spun first, joined, at the last minute, by Shelton. Aguilera clearly felt an immediate kinship with Rivera, who said she'd been singing since she was 4. And despite Shelton's attempt to derail the connection, Rivera felt it too. "I'm gonna have to go with Christina," she said, later saying Aguilera had been her "inspiration" since she began singing. Aww.
Benji: Singing was apparently the backup plan for this 24-year-old former race-car driver from Orlando, Fla., but you'd never know it from the coaches' response to his "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Levine spun early, and Green hit his button right after the singer rolled into a particularly resounding scream. Yet again, Levine did the best sales job, praising the singer's "rasp" and "range" and telling him he had a shot at winning the whole thing, whereas Green uttered something flattering but confusing. Levine landed the contestant and then observed, "Cee Lo just handed me that on a silver platter."
Lest we feel too bad for Green, the producers showed us a fast flurry of contestants joining his team -- Todd Kessler, Ben Taub, Emily Earle -- before moving on to dwell at greater length on two final contenders:
Lorraine Ferro: An exuberant 52-year-old vocal coach from New York, Ferro gushed by way of greeting: "I am so excited I can't even contain myself!" She said she aimed to show the world that it's never too late to go for your dreams. But alas, her "Skyscraper" not only failed to turn any of the judges, it prompted them to comment on her "lack of control" and "inconsistent" tone. Oh well. "You look beautiful for 52," one of them told her. And she's not giving up. "Who's happier than me?" she asked. "I mean really. This is amazing." Daly sweetly told her that she'd just inspired tens of millions of people and "should be proud of that." Good guy, that Carson Daly.
Mycle Wastman: For the show's big finish, the producers brought us a Seattle 40-year-old who had just lost the grandfather who raised him after his mother and his father died (respiratory disorder, bone cancer) when he was just a kid. Wastman served in the military, studied mechanical engineering and worked construction, he told us, but music is his true passion. He sang a fabulous "Let's Stay Together" that moved Levine, Green and finally Shelton to vie for him. This time, despite Levine's and Shelton's best efforts, Green had the better angle, pointing out that right now "nobody does soul music better than Cee Lo Green," and begging Wastman to "let me love you." Green got the guy.
What did you think of the episode? Any favorite contenders?
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