Amanda Brown auditions on 'The Voice' (Tyler Golden/NBC )
After three weeks of blind auditions on "The Voice," the coaches' teams are finally filling up. Though they began with different numbers of contestants (Adam Levine had 14; CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera had 13; and Blake Shelton had just 12), by the end of Tuesday night's show, the counts were even: Each coach had 14 singers in his or her stable, meaning each had just two slots apiece to fill for a complete count of 16 to take to the Battle Rounds.
Shelton had a great night, adding two strong singers. Levine, who missed out on a few, ultimately adding none, not so much.
Here are the singers who made it through -- and a few words about one who didn't, but should have:
Sylvia Yacoub: This Egypt-born 19-year-old, who now lives in Michigan, has been inspired to pursue her passion for music (though she's studying law in school) because her mom wasn't allowed to pursue her own singing career as a young woman in Egypt. Her spirited "Only Girl in the World" spins three out of four of the coaches: Aguilera, Shelton and Green. Aguilera and Shelton make strong pitches. Aguilera says that musically, she and Yacoub have "a lot in common." Shelton said he would be "honored," "thrilled," and "excited" if she picked him to coach her. Green makes a big deal about getting a chance to speak, and then underwhelms with "I want you to be on my team." Yacoub goes with her heart and picks "my girl Christina," who then compliments her on her hair. "I'm not as eloquent" as the other coaches, Green says later. But really, it seems he's lost his taste for the hunt.
Charlie Rey: At some point, Carson Daly describes Rey, 21, as a "smog technician heartthrob," and that unusual label pretty much sums it up. Rey has been helping out at his dad's smog shop, apparently measuring car emissions, in Long Beach, but he's dreamed of taking his singing "from the garage to the stage" since he was a kid. He'd like his big break to happen sooner rather than later, so he can stop breathing in carbon dioxide all day long, which is taking years off his life, he tells us, and also killing his voice. (Can't he and his dad wear some kind of protective mask or something?) Shelton and Levine end up duking it out for Rey, but Shelton fights with more urgency. "Come on, Charlie. Charlie, come home," he begs, arms extended. Rey expresses respect for both coaches, and then concludes "but Blake is holding his arms out, so I've to to go with Blake." Well played, Shelton.
Amanda Brown: This 27-year-old singer from the Bronx grew up singing gospel in church, but then Radiohead blew her mind and she started getting interested in other sorts of music. Like last season's "The Voice" winner Jermaine Paul, Brown has had a successful career as a backup singer for major musicians, including, in her case, Adele. She's ready to step into the spotlight, but she seems to hold back her power on "Valerie," at least until the very end, and only Green turns for her. If she'd unleashed her full potential "10 seconds earlier," Levine tells her, "I think we all would have turned around." No matter. Brown seems pleased with Green, who seems pleased with her.
Cassadee Pope: The 22-year-old "full-time musician" from West Palm Beach, Fla., was part of a band called Hey Monday that toured with Fall Out Boy, whose bassist Pete Wentz she considers a mentor. Following the breakup of her band, she's looking to make it as a solo artist, and her "Torn" spins all four coaches and earns her standing ovations from Levine and Aguilera, who battle over who could do more to help Pope go solo. But Shelton tells her he believes "with 200% of my heart" she's a "superstar," unlike any other artist. Shelton gets the girl – and bragging rights. She goes with her "gut instinct" and chooses Shelton.
And the one who didn't make it, but should have? That would be Yolanda Barber, who at 55 is this year's oldest "Voice" hopeful. With more than 40 years of experience in the music business, Barber was laid off after 10 years of singing on cruise ships and is now stuck driving a school bus. She marvels that she's now competing against 15-year-olds, but says she's there to represent the 50-and-over crowd. She represents them well. You can hear the pain and beauty of her life's struggles in her voice, which is arguably the best of the night -- certainly the richest and most nuanced – and perhaps among the best of the season. Stunningly, none of the coaches turn around, and it's impossible not to conclude that Barber's years of experience – unmistakable in her pitch and tone -- has kept them from pushing their buttons for her.
Ultimately, the coaches turn around to face Barber's disappointment and are forced to confront their own ageism. Aguilera comes the closest to addressing the elephant in the room, calling Barber "amazing" but saying she was looking for a "specific sound" -- as in youthful. "Sad," Aguilera later says. But Barber doesn't seem surprised. "I'm not really disappointed, because everything has a time," she says, again the voice of experience. For me, though, it's going to be difficult not to hold this moment against the coaches – and the show.
What did you think of Tuesday night's show?
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