After The Voice judges Blake, Christina, and Cee Lo we arrive at the final mentor on the row – Adam Levine, frontman for what is currently best pop band in the world.
Go ahead, try to think of a better one.
You’re going to fail. Every band you name short of the Jonas Brothers is a crossover from either rock or R&B. Like Hall & Oates before them, Maroon 5 was a pop band right out of the gate – rock radio will only give them credit in retrospect. They’re muscular, flexible, and just raunchy enough to be a little transgressive.
Does Adam have The Voice? I don’t know. I once (very recently) swore he sang like a duck. Given how drop dead sexy he sounds on most studio songs, he sometimes has a surprising thin, nasal quality that can sound unrefined. And like a duck.
Is he a good coach for The Voice? Abso-freaking-lutely. Occasional quacking aside, I have no doubt of Adam’s technical chops, his influences are a Hall of Fame of pop singers, and he has an ear for solid gold singers and singles. It all showed through in how he landed the three absolutely memorable auditioners.
Adam is also devilishly charming and clearly the breakout star of the show. His comedy and cocksure attitude might be scripted, but they also seem like an accurate characterization.
What’s so great about Team Levine? Let’s take a look.
- Javier Colon – “Time After Time”
Is this the best reality show audition I’ve ever seen? His voice is stunning. Stunning. I would have rang in after a single line, maybe thinking he was a woman. There’s nothing else to say, aside from that I can forgive him the one over-the-top melisma near the end. If he can maintain this quality on non-ballads he is one of two men to beat, and the other one is on his team. (Which, if I understand the rules of this show, is actually more dangerous than if he was on someone else’s team.)I loved the sheer excitement on Adam’s face as he listened. I seriously cried every time they showed Adam’s reactions. I’m actually crying right now relistening to this. Damnit. Give me a minute.(It should surprise no one that Javier has an established music career. He got his start touring as the lead vocalist for Derek Trucks Band. Then he was tapped for two solo albums with Capitol Records, which he followed up last month with an indie EP on CD Baby that’s
going to be sold out real darn soonalready sold out (but still available in MP3). He has a home page with some cool-looking merch that’s about to become collectors items. Finally, he seems to be allowed to maintain his existing Facebook artist page, where he has done some responding since the broadcast.)
- Jeff Jenkins – “God Bless the Broken Road”
You don’t have to like country music to hear that Jeff has an absolutely golden, effortless voice. I’m a little incredulous he’s not a professional singing background vocals or jingles or something. But, there’s the bias-busting of The Voice at work – if I listened blind I would never assume he should be in the background because his voice is that gorgeous. I’m with Adam and Blake – he doesn’t need much help, and he can do whatever genre he wants to do. I really hope he’s versatile, because I want to see him go far in this competition. And life.Oh dear, I’m crying again. Hold me.
- Rebecca Loebe – “Come as You Are”
Chills. I got absolute chills from this. Rebecca’s voice is not flawless, but the quality of it. The intention. The restraint. The phrasing. She is a natural born singer and she is going to come out of this with a record deal one way or another. Does that make her The Voice of the competition? Maybe not on sheer power, but interpretation counts for something – note that Christina was floored by her. I would have hit the button hard and fast to get her on my team. It’s a testament to Adam’s lineup that I have her at number three – she is my personal favorite of the entire show so far. Hopefully she doesn’t retreat into reductive singer-songwriter-isms in future rounds – she needs to think big if she’s going to slide past one of the boys ahead of her.(Clearly from her bio reel Rebecca is a touring songwriter. Her page has a slew of LPs for sale and describes her genre as “post-brontosaurus indie folk/crunk.” Maybe a bit too weird for America, but I am quickly falling in love with her. Also? Adorable in her video blog.)
- Angela Wolff – “Rolling in the Deep”
Really someone should have picked her up on “The House That Made Me.” To be fair, it simply wasn’t a good showcase for her – and it was too specifically aimed at Blake. She should have picked something pop where she could show off the personality in her voice. “Rolling in the Deep” let her break out what she uniquely brings to this competition – a brassy, fun voice that can handle big, uptempo pop. I like to think I would have saved her at the very end of her first song, and I would have for sure rang in by “I’ll lay your shit right here” on “Rolling.” And then, after she got picked, she unleashed the awesome that she should have been using the whole time! She is what I expected out of the lame back-up singer Christina picked, and I think Adam is going to realize the gold he scored for his last choice.
- Devon Barley – “I’m Yours”
At first I was dead-on puzzled why Adam rang in for this guy. Devon under-sang this melody-rich song, not really taking it anywhere. Then I re-listened without looking, and I immediately heard what Christina and Adam heard. Tone. It’s there, and it could be something really deadly. Unlike vocal control and tasteful melisma, tone is largely something you’re born with. Devon needs someone who can turn that untrained tone into gold, and Adam is the guy for the job. If Adam can clean up his sloppiness and give him some stage presence he could be a formidable male contender. He definitely has something unique.(Okay, this is the cutest thing ever. Devon was in a college a cappella group, in which he sang “I’m Yours” for his senior show. Better than he did on The Voice. And there is very blurry video of this event.)
- Tim Mahoney – “Bring It On Home To Me”
I can see why Adam went for Tim under the impression he was a girl. If he was, the low Tracey Chapman quality to his voice would be something distinct to carry through the competition. However, given his whole “penis” situation, I’m not sure where he falls. He’s a strong bluesy singer, but I think Adam was banking on a stunningly pretty higher extension that (as a dude) Tim just doesn’t have. I can’t tell if there’s much more beneath that.(Tim’s website autoplays a really obnoxious animation with sound. I can’t in good conscience send you there.)
- Casey Desmond – “Born this Way”
We only heard a few serviceable seconds of this Gaga hit, but it was enough to convince me this dame is cannon fodder. She might have a big voice, but Adam was just filling spots at this point – he already had his stable of winners.(Casey’s webpage frames her as some queer cross between Gaga and Felicia Day (which: awesome) who has garnered a slew of industry recognition and released two LPs and two EPs. I really dig her voice; it’s a pity she’s so sandbagged on this team. I wish anyone else had taken her as their late pick.)
- Casey Weston – “Stupid Boy”
Seriously, Adam went for this? Yeah, she’s got the Taylor Swift angle, and she might wind up as an incredible singer-songwriter. She’s not The Voice. She’s simply not.
Team Adam – Battle Round Predictions
I know in my gut Adam wants four of those top five as his team, which is why he filled the last few so late in the game with weaker singers. Tim was supposed to be a potential foil for Rebecca, which he eventually found in Angela – who might be better enough than Devon to be worth keeping.
We’re going to see either Javier or Jeff against Tim, which challenges the former pair and gives Tim an honorable way out. Rebecca and Angela should draw the two Caseys and out-interpret both of them, but Adam could go for the Devon v. Angela showdown while he keeps his top three safe.
What about Devon? He’s toast if they put him up against Javier or Jeff. If Adam thinks he struck gold with Devon he’ll tragically wage Rebecca against Angela, and let Devon get the easy draw on one of the Caseys.
Adam should and will pick: Javier, Jeff, Rebecca, and Angela or Devon
(ETA, from the commercial it seems like Jeff pulls Gaga Casey and Devon indeed squares off against Angela, jibing with this unspoiled pick. That means I’m totally right, unless Adam is a moron and pits Javier against Rebecca )
On Team Peter: Dia, Julia, Tarralyn, Kelsey, Niki, Curtis, Javier, Jeff, Rebecca, Angela
Yes. I know. I picked 10 voices. However, no one got the chance to turn me down. Also, I’m not actually picking for Battle Rounds like the judges are by seeding in a few less-remarkable voices in their rosters. Clearly producers stacked the most killer voices early. Judges were meant to pick their stable of four or five sure things and wait for their colleagues to catch up.
In the battle rounds I’ll judge each of my team members on their battle. If I like their opponent more (and/or if they lose) then I’ll lose a member of my team. My goal is to come out with 8 of the final 12, and then accurately predict the boots each week.
I think I’m going to win. And so will Adam.