We move from Blake down the row of The Voice mentors to Christina Aguilera.
Of the panel, hers is clearly the voice that most deserves the capital T and V. She may pick some dull songs from time to time, or oversing good ones, but there’s no denying the power of her instrument.
As I watched Christina’s cartoonish “I’m thinking really hard” face in her turned chair I felt like I got a vibe for her strategy. This is someone who knows the characteristics of a good voice. You could visibly see her turn off to someone if they hit a bum note, or even if they were in-tune but out-of-key during a run.
I think X-Tina was on the hunt for two belters (one black, one white), one unusual pop voice, and one guy. Aside from losing out on quality men, she got just what she wanted. Once she had a favorite in the bag, she was looking for someone for them to battle – either to push them harder, or to make her choice simpler.
The minor problem with her picks is the minor problem with her. Note when she tapped in – usually on the basis of melisma and ornamental high notes. If an auditioner didn’t have that – or Adam gunning for them – then X-Tina’s interest wasn’t piqued. My evidence? She wound up with a seven-lady team with only one truly off-kilter pick (who, surprise, has a Linda Perry vibe).
Is her strategy all that bad? Nope. For all her wishy-washy arguments to join her team, I think once it gets down to singing in a room with them she’s going to be a hard-ass. But can a vocal prodigy like Christina articulate good vocal technique to relative novices?
Let’s take a look at her roster.
- Julia Eason – “Mercy”
Julia is my dark horse pick of the competition at the moment. She has a beautiful voice for pop and good instincts on how to use it. Christina was right, her runs were thoughtful and distinct. That said, she pushed a little too hard on the verse runs in her chest voice, which threatened to throw her out of tune. Quick runs like that take finesse, which she clearly showed on the intensely pretty higher run in mixed voice (where she physically couldn’t hit it so hard). I’d chalk it up to nerves. Even as she wobbled at points her vocal was connected, and only shouty on the highest chest note. I would have taken her in a heartbeat, and I think she’s the person Christina seemed the most genuinely excited to work with.(Not a shock that Julia’s already experienced in music – as Julia Harriman. She has a YouTube channel as Julia Harriman with two finely-produced songs – one country, and one alt-pop. )
- Tarralyn Ramsey – “Breathe”
Did she luck out by being first, or is she the real deal? I say the latter. Despite two bad lines of nerves and some struggling in the top of her chest range, she has one of the most impressive voices of all the women in the show. Take note of all of the unforced head voice, in which she hits only one bad note. That’s not an easy thing to manage. I don’t think anyone else showed this sort of balladeer pipes, save for Javier and maybe Angela Wolff – both on Team Levine – and neither had Tarralyn’s range. I fear for her nerves and her handling of faster pop songs, but I would have recruited her in a hot second.(Another established artist, Tarralyn was signed to Verity/Warner and released a pair of self-titled Gospel/R&B albums. She’s also no stranger to reality TV singing competitions – she won VH1’s Born to Diva in 2004.)
- Frenchie Davis – “I Kissed a Girl”
On one hand, that early in the competition I would have jumped on a powerful pop belter pretty quickly. Christina rightfully has some doubts about Tarralyn, so she by punching in on Frenchie she was stacking the deck in her favor (and in her wheelhouse). At points Frenchie pushed too hard, and it was interfering with her support and breath control. She also was a hair behind the beat, but maybe that’s how Perry performs it. (I don’t want to know; Perry is the death of Feminism. It’s another post entirely.) The combination didn’t inspire much blind confidence in me, which may be why Adam and Blake didn’t go for her. I would have eventually punched in to block X-Tina from snagging her, realized instantly (like Cee Lo) who she was, and then fought X-Tina for her. (Except, in this alternate universe I’d already have Tarralyn, who I am confident in, so I’d pass.) Will her years of pop and Broadway experience help or hinder Christina’s efforts to coach her?
- Julia Eason – “Mercy”