Welcome back to night two of the blind auditions, although it’s still clearly night one in the real world because our famous foursome is wearing their season premiere costumes. (Don’t bother puzzling out what this could mean for the show’s ability to greet us in live-time in a few weeks. Will they just have wrapped this day of a thousand blind auditions? Like Doctor Who, the whole thing is best enjoyed as a mess of lovable illogic.)
There are singers to judge, but they have to wait because Adam and Blake are circling up a couple of all-white chairs and wondering if they should “haze” the new judges. The shimmering of Shakira’s wizard sleeves cuts the conversation short, dialing down the room’s energy from “nefarious” to “chatty.” America waits. These stage-y moments force The Voice into an uncomfortably aimless shape, right?
Across the stage, Carson’s voice reminds us of the evening’s stakes: “The country’s best undiscovered artists lay it all on the line — again.”
Tawnya Reynolds, 32, has been working in Nashville for 12 years, playing several nights a week for “little to no appreciation.” “There is a lot at stake,” she says as she heads to the stage. “One song. 90 seconds. For the rest of my life. It’s a terrifying thought.” She needn’t have worried, because she’s the show’s first true performer of the season and launches into a bar-ready version of “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” complete with guitar. On first listen, I wrote in my notes that Reynolds had a “stretchy, wacky voice,” which is true, except that her stretchy wackiness is also fun. She could be a bigger performer, and a bit of bigness wouldn’t hurt, but Reynolds’ years at the foot of the Tennessee hills have made her plenty savvy at playing up the song’s half corniness, half charm, and half rue.
Adam loves Reynolds first, and Usher and Blake contemplate swapping mentees (smile alert), but Shakira loves her best. She even brings out an “English to country” dictionary to prove her bona fides. (Sample entry: “I reckon you wanna join Team Shakira and be much obliged if you pick me.”) It works — Reynolds doesn’t spend much time with Usher’s argument that she could be a young Dolly Parton and sides with Shakira.
Next is a pretty face. No, sorry, as in “more than.” It’s Josiah Hawley, who first began singing in church after wearing a pair of adorable red glasses before meeting his wife in church and then, not in church, being discovered as a male model. Shirtless shot! (Take a drink.) Eerie is Josiah’s center-left resemblance to our panel’s leader, Adam. Eerier still is his choice of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” for his audition. And his performance? Dude is basically Adam, like basically, right down to those two top who-me-ma? unbuttoned buttons. Bright side: That means he gave a solid vocal and also that Adam spins around for him. Bad news: Maybe Hawley was a sleeper agent for Team Usher? Because Team Usher is where he goes.
NEXT: “We’re going interstatial”