Over the past dozen seasons of The Voice, there have been only four female champions, and a female coach has only won twice, in Seasons 10 and 12. But coach Miley Cyrus is set to change all that this year: As the Season 13 Blind Auditions wrapped Tuesday, she made Voice herstory by assembling the series’ first-ever all-female team.
“I’m really proud to say I’m the first one in Voice history to have an all-female team. … I want to celebrate females in this industry, because I think sometimes we can get lost, and people can tell you that you have to change who you are to market yourself,” Miley explained this week, as she pursued her mission to bust up the Voice boys’ club. Fellow coach Jennifer Hudson supported Miley’s bold vision, saying, “It would be so powerful and moving to see an all-female team!” And when Miley secured her final contestant Tuesday, 20-year-old songstress Megan Rose — after Megan auditioned with “Ode to Billie Joe,” by feminist country trailblazer Bobbie Gentry — Miley declared, “Megan, you are a part of something so much bigger.”
However, gender is really the only thing that Miley’s 12 contestants have in common, as Team Miley represents an array of women in music. Along with Megan, there’s teen metal badass Moriah Formica; rock ’n’ soul powerhouse Janice Freeman; bluesy country rockers Chloe Kohanski, Ashland Craft, and Katrina Rose; quirky indie girls Addison Agen, Karli Webster, and Ilianna Viramontes; pop belters Brooke Simpson and Sophia Bollman; and cantor’s daughter Shilo Gold. Some of these singers have better chances than others — I’m rooting for Moriah (and hoping she’ll crank out some Zeppelin, Crüe, or GNR), plus I think Addison and Ashland have immense potential — but all 12 should be proud to represent ladies who rock. Girl power!
Let’s recap Tuesday’s successful Blind Auditions, and then assess where the other three (co-ed) teams stand.
Nineteen-year-old Kristi is one of Season 13’s many self-described hippies, yet another young singer with an old soul, and yet another contestant with a fetish for jaunty, wide-brimmed hats. (It’s like Sawyer Fredericks was in charge of the casting this year!) Kristi hit the stage in a beatnik turtleneck, mustard-yellow Brady flares, and turquoise Cher jewelry, and while she sang a mainstream/modern tune, Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love,” she gave it a cool vintage-country twist à la her idol, Loretta Lynn. Honestly, I’m surprised Miley didn’t turn around for this sassy gal, though she probably would have if she could’ve seen Kristi’s outfit. (“Love you and your pants. Get it!” Miley later told her.)
I enjoyed Kristi’s performance more when it was a cappella, before the over-amped band crashed in and crushed her personality, but overall, I was digging her vibe. And so were Blake, Jennifer, and Adam Levine. Adam and J.Hud urged Kristi, whom Adam called “not a cookie-cutter artist,” to think outside the box, but of course she went for Blake, who’s had a longstanding fondness for rebellious, throwback country ladies (and bragged that he was the only coach who actually recognized the Trisha tune). And so Blake’s country-heavy team was completed. We’ll soon find out if Kristi gets lost in his country shuffle.
MEMBER OF: Team Blake
Hey, look, another hipster hat! Twenty-five-year-old soul-pop singer Michael, who was raised on Motown, Elvis, and Johnny Cash (his parents did good), attempted to win over his idol Adam with a soft-rock bedroom-ballad version of Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” It was a risk — this tactic has backfired on Adam before, who surprisingly isn’t that easily flattered — but Adam was impressed by Michael’s vocal control and mastery of those tricky falsetto notes. Adam hit his button pretty early on, and was in fact the only coach who did turn around. Michael is talented, so the other coaches must have realized he was 100 percent Team Adam material. “There was no chance this dude wasn’t going with me,” Adam gloated.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
This 18-year-old competitive wrestler seemed like montage material to me; I’m not quite sure why he got a full bio package (his strict diet of egg whites for breakfast and cans of tuna for lunch did not make for a fascinating backstory). I also do not understand why both Jennifer and Adam hit their buttons for Jeremiah. His song choice, Niall Horan’s “Slow Hands,” was all wrong for his bland boy band style, not to mention his devout Christian background. (“Slow Hands” is a damn sexy song.) This kid had all the charisma of a background singer.
Adam had reservations, telling Jeremiah, “There were some flaws in the performance, but there were some raw qualities that I really liked, and if you can have those be the centerpiece of what you do, you can go from a good singer to a great singer.” Jennifer, bizarrely, claimed Jeremiah had the potential to be the next Nick Jonas or Justin Bieber, and she also connected with Jeremiah, the son of Christian worship leaders, over religion. (“Here at J.Hud Productions, we are very faith-driven people!”) Of course Jeremiah went with Jennifer, but it will take a miracle of faith for him to make the Playoffs. He doesn’t have a fraction of the star quality of a Jonas. Not even a Kevin Jonas.
MEMBER OF: Team J.Hud
Miley’s aforementioned final recruit warbled “Ode to Billie Joe,” and while her tentative version lacked the storytelling quality or warmth of Gentry’s classic original, she had a pleasant tone and a cool look. (She wore a hat, of course.) I don’t think Megan has what it takes to stand out among Miley’s flashier or more confident hopefuls, but she definitely belongs on Team Miley, despite Adam’s desperate efforts to poach her for himself.
MEMBER OF: Team Miley
Last season, Chris Blue was the final auditioner, and he ended up winning the whole show. I don’t know if Gary has that sort of potential, but his cover of “Home” — no, not the Phillip Phillips, Daughtry, Marc Broussard, or Edward Sharpe songs, the Michael Bublé one — had a hushed, honeyed, breathy quality that sort of reminded me of a kinder and gentler John Mayer. Amusingly, Gary’s performance was practically upstaged by his fiancée, who broke down in sobs and practically fainted when she saw Adam, the only coach who still had a team opening, turn around. Hers was one of the most emotional audition reactions in the history of the show. But … it was nice. So was the moment when the other three coaches linked hands and sang along with Gary for the remainder of the song. I didn’t even mind it when Gary choked up and lost his cool midperformance, after he realized he’d made Team Adam’s cut. I guess I’m still not that jaded, even after six years of watching and writing about this show.
MEMBER OF: Team Adam
So now, along with Gary and Michael, Team Adam consists of soul singers Anthony Alexander, Brandon Brown, Jon Mero, and Brandon Showell; returning Season 12 rocker Adam Pearce; adult-alternative crooners Dylan Gerard, Whitney Fenimore, and Dave Crosby; pop teen Hannah Mrozak; and Charlie Puth-associated jazz chanteuse Emily Luther.
Team Blake unsurprisingly has a slew of country singers (Kristi Hoopes, Keisha Renee, Adam Cunningham, Mitchell Lee, Red Marlow, Natalie Stovall, Ryan Scripps, Anna Catherine DeHart), plus teen idol Noah Mac, indie girl Rebecca Brunner, roots-rocker Dennis Drummond, and ex-NFL star Esera Tuaolo.
And Jennifer has the most diverse team of all, comprising Jeremiah Miller; Snapchat contest winner Ignatious Carmouche; alt-soul dynamos Davon Fleming, Meagan McNeal, Stephan Marcellus, and Eric Lyn; Indonesian pop star Maharasyi; Christian drag queen Chris Weaver; Maxwell-channeling blue-eyed soul man Lucas Holliday; R&B prodigy Shi’Ann Jones; and pop girls Kathrina Feigh and Alexandra Jones.
Looking at these teams, I think it’s very likely a female coach will win this season — but that coach will be Jennifer Hudson, not Miley Cyrus. Team J.Hud has a lot of big personalities and big voices, and Jennifer carries a big playbook. I would not be surprised if the former Voice U.K. coach is soon bragging about winning on this side of the pond too.
See you at the Battle Rounds next week!