Sandell sings Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and she does all she can with it: Her voice is balletic and rough-cute in just the right way…though I’ll quibble a tad and say that my ears did wish for a clearer melody. Blake and Usher both spin, and there are words exchanged about the value of tattoos. All that is second to Blake’s pitch, which is eerily exact — calling out the “sneaky” quality of Sandell’s voice, and the way her notes ring a bit with vibrato. She’s sold, as she should be, and goes Team Blake. That wraps up Blake’s team going into the battle rounds. Off-hand, my favorites are Christian Porter, Holly Tucker, and Michelle Raitzin.
In a twist so obvious they reference it, Amber Carrington is the night’s next performer. She’s young and she has baggage (a mother dead of cancer) and she has dreams. Carson tries to share some words of advice with her, and it comes from a sincere place, I imagine, because he’s also lost parents to cancer. But she tears up and it just feels icky, no? But as Carrington approaches the stand, she bucks up, reminding us that, “I’m going through those doors today and I’m gonna take my mama with me.” (Y’all.)
For her audition, Carrington sings Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl.” She’s clapping and singing along and Adam loves it, while Blake is just upset that he can’t spin around. (Shakira is jiving too, but Shakira is also waiting for a performer to blow her mind, remember, and cute, Carrie-singing blondes do no minds blow.) Adam spins early even as Carrington’s voice weakens in the middle, but she rallies enough to earn a triumphant fist pump and effusive praise from her future coach, including phrases like “incredibly good” and “biggest surprise.” I didn’t hear quite that note of wonder, but I’ll blame the translation from stage-to-screen because, again, Adam loves it. With Carrington going Team Adam, he’s all stocked up for the season. My favorites are Judith Hill, Sasha Allen, and Sarah Simmons.
At 24, with a pair of glasses and shirt buttoned to the very top, Minneapple resident Dustin Hatzenbuhler could have been hiding some sort of vocal trickery. Alas, his style and sitcom-cute parents — who let us know that it’s totally fine that their son is still living at home, nudge nudge — are only masking a pleasing voice doing a spin on Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.” As I wrote in my notes, OF COURSE HE DID. Hatzenbuhler seems nervous even as he snapped in rhythm, which is surely part of the reason his performance descends rapidly into shaky garbles. No coaches turn, but they do offer him some advice: Next time, be more Sinatra (“swag,” Usher corrects me) than show tune.
With two spots still open, the episode should start to show a little strain here, between suspense and inertia. After all, it’s inevitable that Shakira and Usher will pick two more contestants — and there’s only minutes left in the episode, and only minutes left for surprises or rejections. Things should feel settled. But this is The Voice, and The Voice is in the prime of its cultural moment and we’re about to be reminded why.
NEXT: I think I want to marry Jessica Childress