NEXT UP FROM TEAM BLAKE: RAELYNN
Now that every pop act from Kelly Clarkson to Train is going country, why can't Adam Levine? I love that Blake puts a Nashville twist on Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call." "It's always been one of those songs that could've been a country song," he explains, "[It's] 'you're cheatin' on me, I'm gonna shoot you now.'" Hmmm, he wouldn't know anyone who's famous for songs like that, would he?
It's an inspired song choice for RaeLynn, who covered Blake's awesomely hot-tempered wife Miranda Lambert last time around. Too bad RaeLynn continues to be one of the weakest singers in this competition. I like her feisty spirit and her cute little Hot Topic Cowgirl outfit (black summer dress, hot pink flower in her hair), but there's no note this girl can't over-twang. I can't understand a word she's singing until the chorus; she just sounds like Boomhauer's niece, striking up a conversation. And she still can't hit all the notes.
Adam likes her cover of his song (maybe because she gives him a hug). And Christina likes her dancing. ("You're a sassy little thing!" she enthuses. "Are you allowed to grind your hips at your age like that?") But Blake's praise feels very political. "You're representing the new generation of country music so well," he says. "I left the ACM awards last night, and you're all anybody talked about out there." Sure, it would be fun to have a country singer win this competition for a change, but this Mini Miranda is not the one to do it. Sorry, RaeLynn, sugar pie. DITCH HER.
Quickly, before we get to Naia, can we talk about Betty White? Why is Carson talking to her like she's a deaf ESL student? "HI, Bet-ty WHITE!" he yells in her ear. "Are you HERE to pro-MOTE your SHOW?" Luckily, Bets handles it as gracefully as anyone who's reading off a cue card can. "I'm just here to look at Blake Shelton," she reads. "Anyone who doesn't think he's handsome is... Off their Rockers! Premiering at 8/7 central on NBC!" And then she walks down the aisle, grabs Shelton by the face, and sticks her tongue in his mouth.
Okay, she doesn't really do that. Instead, the camera cuts to Naia Kete, who's taking on Adele's "Turning Tables." Even though Naia tells Blake that "[reggae is] rooted in who I am," he still asks her to sing the song straight like the British bombshells do, with none of the Jamaican lilt that makes her voice so distinct and so cozy. (I know that's a weird word, but something about listening to her sing makes me want to light a fire and curl up... right next to a giant bong. Only kidding! But she does have a very soothing tone.) It's such a mistake for Blake to prevent her from putting a reggae imprint on this song. So many girls in this competition, from Angel to Mathai, have been trying to cover Adele. If there's anything that makes Naia stand out, it's not being Adele.
Pushed out of her comfort zone, Naia's voice is shaky and feather-light and unremarkable. Nothing can make it dramatic, not even the slow, sweeping footage of snow falling over skyscrapers behind her. She holds her own on that elongated "goodbye-eye" but doing the wounded-bird thing isn't really her strength. She has such a snuggly voice, and Blake's not letting her use it.
Blake defends his choice, insisting that it's "important for Naia to prove that she's more than just reggae." (So why isn't it important for RaeLynn to prove she's more than just country?) But I agree with Christina, who mumbles, "Um, it was cool, I actually would've liked a more reggae choice, there were some moments in there that weren't great, but... y'know." Exactly!
Judging by her past performances, I would love to keep Naia, but based on tonight alone, I have to vote to DITCH HER.
NEXT: More Team Blake, as our honest coach tells a contestant, "You're full of crap, just like I am."