Gwen Stefani goes toe-to-toe with Blake Shelton: 'This is not his lane'
One might have assumed when Blake Shelton’s onscreen nemesis Adam Levine left The Voice and was replaced by Blake’s real-life girlfriend Gwen Stefani, there’d be nothing but love on the set this season. But Gwen, who is apparently just as competitive as Adam used to be, is not coming into Season 17 like a L.A.M.B. It turns out she is a hollaback girl, and she was doing a lot of hollering back Tuesday when she and Blake attempted to court the same contestants.
“Mom and Dad are fighting!” fellow coach Kelly Clarkson even exclaimed at one point, as she surveyed the cutthroat (if still kind of cute) scene.
What made all this so bizarre was that it was extremely obvious that Gwen and Blake’s fights were futile. Take 30-year-old Royce Lovett, for example. When the charismatic, Lauryn Hill-obsessed rock ‘n’ reggae troubadour strummed a raw, passionate, altogether awesome rendition of Mary J. Blige and Wyclef Jean’s “911,” it was clear as the bindhi on Gwen’s face circa 1995 or the vodka in Blake’s thermos that Royce was Team Gwen material.
So why did Blake even try to buzz in? Was he trolling? He must have known he had no chance... especially when a fired-up Gwen jumped out of her red chair and started busting out her sexiest hella-good dance moves to Royce’s performance.
“This is not his lane. This is my lane!” Gwen protested. “I tried to introduce [Blake] to, like, Steel Pulse and UB40.” Eventually Blake had to admit that his “lake playlist” of reggae began and ended with Bob Marley (and, um, Jimmy Buffett?), so he quickly forfeited: “All right, screw it. Just pick her,” he shrugged. Royce later emphatically stated that Blake — despite him reading off a Gold Derby article filled with “staggering” stats about his many Voice wins and near-wins — never had a chance.
And yet, later in the episode, it was Gwen who refused to stay in her lane. Twenty-four-year-old country crooner Cory Jackson, who auditioned with Glen Campbell’s “Galveston,” was so Blake-baiting I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out he’s related to Gyth Rigdon… and yet, Gwen still turned her chair. (So did Kelly, which made a bit more sense, but that was still a longshot.) And Gwen, sitting there in her I Dream of Jeannie ponytail and sculptural, Thierry Mugler-esque, bedazzled bustier, somehow thought she had a chance, explaining that she appreciated Cory’s “theatrical” performance of the old-school rhinestone cowboy classic and pleading, “If you wanted to take a risk, I really could help you with being really unique, because that song, for me, is like a crossover song.” But once Cory made it obvious that he had zero desire to cross over and wanted to stick to his country lane, it was Gwen’s time to back off and accept defeat.
Hopefully by the time Season 17 ends, “Mom and Dad” will still be together. But really, their little lovers’ spats are fun, and after all of Blake’s gloating and bragging and statistics-quoting about being The Voice’s winningest (and only original) coach, it’s nice to see Gwen building a formidable team so far this season. Royce was a particularly strong recruit. So remember, all is fair in love and The Voice.
These were the other successful Blind Auditions of the night. (Side note: We’re two episodes into this season, and no montages or Comeback Stage rejects yet. Huzzzah!)
Shane Q, 28: “Tennessee Whiskey”
This guy possessed some mighty pipes, a sweet backstory (by day, he’s a shuttle driver for special-needs patients), and a “gospel flavor” that appealed to coach John Legend. But he was shrill in parts and his delivery was old-fashioned. Kelly called Shane one of the best singers she’s ever heard on the show, but come on, that was the type of hyperbole that’d make even Adam Levine blanch.
Who turned? All four coaches.
Result: Team Kelly. I guess all that hyperbole paid off!
Max Boyle, 23: “Wayfaring Stranger”
Singing most of his not-extremely-well-known song a cappella was a risk, but it paid off. The arrangement showcased Max’s raw talent and actually gave me American Idol audition-room vibes, in a good way. I actually felt the performance took an unfortunate downturn once the band kicked in, as Max started shimmying like a cheeseball lounge singer and coming across like a poor man’s Charlie Puth. I hope his future performances have minimal accompaniment.
Who turned? Kelly and John.
Result: Team Legend, because John used his one Block on Kelly. I’m not sure if Max was worth the Block, but hey, it was good TV.
Hello Sunday: “This Is Me”
This youngest duo in Voice history – 13-year-old Chelsea and 14-year-old Myla – were cute as a whole boxful of buttons, but so, so not ready for prime time. The performing arts summer camp pals had pitch issues galore and seemed incapable of blending their sloppy harmonies or staying in sync. The song choice was also way too big for these little girls, to mention the most overdone singing-show staple since “Feeling Good” or Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” I am genuinely shocked they turned even one chair.
Who turned? Kelly. Like I said, it was a surprise.
Result: Team Kelly, of course. “Hello Sunday did notes that no female on this show has sang yet,” Kelly declared. Um, I don’t think that was a good thing. But hopefully Kelly can teach these children well. They have talent, but they have a long way to go.
Elise Azkoul, 28: “A Million Reasons”
Elise’s grandfather Paul Jabara, her earliest musical influence, wrote big disco-diva bangers like Donna Summer’s "Last Dance,” Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand’s "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" duet, and the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men.” But Elise is no Donna, Babs, or Martha Wash. Her voice was meek and tentative, and when she did attempt to amp up her vocal power, she just sounded like she was shouting. I assumed this would be Elise’s last dance on The Voice.
Who turned? Just Gwen. To quote the Lady Gaga song Elise sang, she only needed one reason to stay, and Gwen gave it to her.
Result: Team Gwen. Let’s hope Gwen, who loved Elise’s “soft, calm, soothing tone,” can give Elise the confidence she’s missing.