Coty and Clinton Walker, identical twin members of the duo Brothers Walker,… (Tyler Golden / NBC )
The teams are swelling on "The Voice," as the coaches add swell voices to their teams. On the third night of the Season 6 blind auditions, Adam Levine and Usher started out with four singers each on their teams, Shakira with three, and Blake Shelton, who seems to be less favored by contestants than usual, with only two.
By the end, Levine, Usher and Shakira had each added three more singers, making for a total of six for the fellows and five for the Latina superstar, while Shelton had managed to snag only an additional two, ending the night with a total of four.
Why has Shelton had such a tough time nabbing singers this season? Have the contestants forgotten he's still the coach who has carried off the most wins? Is the country coach tiring out, making his case less strongly than he used to, concentrating too much on jousting with his fellow coaches and not enough on connecting with contestants and convincing them to join Team Blake?
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Who knows? Shakira still recognizes his power, however, telling Carson Daly the things she's going to do differently from her last go-around as a coach is to do whatever Shelton does. Given Shelton's impressive track record, there are worse lessons to have learned.
The two singers Shelton did manage to add to his team Monday night were both solid contenders: Ryan White Maloney, a rock-singing garbage man from Travers City, Mich., by way of Las Vegas, and Sisaundra Lewis, a 44-year-old singer who grew up picking fruit in Florida and rose to become Celine Dion's vocal director for five world tours.
Maloney, who said he hoped musical success could help him find a way to see more of his kids, presumably by offering him some financial breathing room, turned Levine, Shelton and Shakira and then -- at the very end -- Usher, with his take on "Lights." While Usher said he was "willing to gamble" on him, Levine tried to forge a bond over their similarly high voices and Shakira told him they were a "match made in heaven" destined "to be together," Maloney chose Shelton, who'd called him "a completely unique stud."
Lewis, who sang an exquisitely soulful "Ain't No Way," also turned all four coaches, though Usher slipped in only at the last minute. (That seems to be Usher's blind-audition strategy this year -- wait it out, playing hard to get, and then sneak in in the final few seconds to make a four-chair turn.) Shakira and Levine battled over who was better with girls, but Shelton approached humbly. He said he was "completely in over my head" with Lewis, but would buy her record "if it came out tomorrow" and promised to help her be the best at whatever she wanted to do. The way Shelton looked at and spoke to her, Lewis later said, made her feel like she was "home."
In addition to pop singer Lindsay Pagano, whom we glimpsed only briefly, Shakira picked up 23-year-old soul singer DeShawn Washington, of Natchitoches, La., who'd had to drop out of college to support his financially struggling family. Why only Shakira turned for Washington's "Twistin' the Night Away" is a mystery. Usher seemed especially furious at himself for not pushing his button, telling Washington he represented "what classic soul singing is about." "Guys, get over it," Shakira crowed. "I'm the only smart one here."
Shakira also scooped up Clarissa Serna, a 27-year-old rock singer currently working at her parents' real estate business in Corpus Christi, Texas. She said she was hoping to get Usher's chair to turn with her take on the Cranberries' "Zombie," and she did, but not until long after Levine, Shakira and Shelton had all turned. Usher tried to make a case that he'd turned late because he was a "guy that likes to really savor the moment," and the other guys brayed about their early turns. But Shakira, who'd stood up and played air drums after spinning her chair for Serna, said she was the best strategist, an Alexander the Great, while the other guys were mere tacticians, or Hannibals. "I think I've got to go with my Latina soul sister," Serna said.
Usher's tactics, however, landed him the identical-twin country-singing duo Brothers Walker, from a small, one-stoplight town in southeastern Missouri; he outfoxed the other coaches by pushing the button with his foot and sneaking in a turn at the last second. Usher admitted he didn't know much about country music, but added, "what I do know is quality." He said he was thrilled to work with artists "in an area that I respect but I've never necessarily touched," later adding he was "ready" and "up for the challenge."