'The Voice' Blind Auditions, part 5: Snap(chat) to it

The Voice has been trying to stay on top of this newfangled social media craze — you know, that thing all the cool kids, who probably aren’t watching TV at all, are talking about — since they hired Alison Haislip as the show’s ill-fated “social media correspondent” in Season 1. From setting up CeeLo Green’s pet Purrfect the Cat with her own verified (but now sadly dormant) Twitter handle, to that zany stunt when Adam Levine and Blake Shelton swapped Twitter accounts and hilarity ensued, to inviting pretty much every viral YouTube and Vine star ever to the Blind Auditions, and, of course, to  implementing the controversial Instant Save in Season 5, The Voice has attempted to keep its two V-formation fingers on the digital pulse.

Now producers have turned to Snapchat to seek out new talent. And with Snapchat contest winner Ignatious Carmouche, they may have found someone who can win IRL.

Ignatious won The Voice’s Snapchat contest last season; his prizes, along with a guaranteed spot in Season 13’s televised Blind Auditions, included a vocal coaching session, a fashion makeover, and a meeting with Adam Levine, the coach who picked him as a finalist out of 20,000 entries.Clearly the 23-year-old Louisiana pop/soul crooner got a lot out of the experience, because he looked like a well-groomed star on the main stage this Monday, and his performance of Disclosure and Sam Smith’s “Latch” was — aside from a few wobbly pitch issues that could be blamed on nerves — pleasant and sexy. He had killer control, solid pitch, and an old-school-yet-new-school, edgy-but-smooth vibe à la John Legend or Miguel. Very nice.

I completely expected Adam to hit his button, not just because he usually perks up when he hears a vibrant falsetto like Ignatious’s, but because he might recognize Ignatious’s voice from their one-on-one time. But no. Much to his embarrassment and regret, Adam didn’t turn around — leaving Blake Shelton and Jennifer Hudson to duke it out instead.

“When you’re singing full voice, it is incredible, but when you switch into that clear and pitch-perfect falsetto, it’s like listening to a record,” said Blake. “How cool would that be to see you go from Snapchat to the Blind Auditions, making it onto this show, and then standing up there in the finale? What an incredible journey that would be.”

Yes, that would be an incredible journey — one that should be chronicled on Snapchat throughout Season 13, of course. But Ignatious will be making that journey as a member of Team J.Hud. “I felt like you were singing to my heart or something,” Jennifer cooed to him. She already seemed to have a connection with Ignatious, but when she described his voice as sounding “like a saxophone with words,” that sealed the deal, because Ignatious actually is a saxophonist. Unless Ignatious has been posting sax solos online lately, it is quite impressive that J.Hud picked up on that.

Below are Monday’s other successful auditioners. Feel free to post this recap on the social media platform of your choice!

Chloe Kohanski

This 23-year-old Tennessee psych-rocker impressed with her badass fringed cowgirl jacket and song choice, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” But the song seemed in way too low a key for her gruff contralto. I appreciated Chloe’s bluesy rasp and retro rock-chick persona (“Your vibe is so cool that it made me want to just be your friend,” Jennifer later told her), but her verses sounded labored. However, once Chloe powered through to the strident chorus and got her big Mac attack on, she found a groove and earned a three-chair turn.

It was obvious from the moment Chloe uttered the words “psych-rock,” “Nashville,” and “I’m obsessed with Miley Cyrus” that she was Team Miley material all the way, but Blake made his case anyway, telling her, “I love your lower register, but my favorite is when you just started opening up and your voice started to crack and shred and do all those rock ‘n’ roll things that make you sound so unique.”

Miley countered with: “My dad had me listening to Stevie [Nicks] riding around in his truck, always. I kind of aspired to be like Stevie. And just turning around and seeing your style, it feels like you really know who you are. And my foundation is knowing who I am.” Blake never really stood a chance.

MEMBER OF: Team Miley

Dennis Drummond

This Berklee-educated, Nashville-based, 6-foot-8 roots-rocker (think Sawyer Fredericks after a major growth spurt) plays guitar for Team Blake’s Season 10 runner-up, Adam Wakefield. But now Dennis, one of many Americana types who tried out Monday, wants his own shot to make it to second place on The Voice. He didn’t possess Wakefield’s passion or vocal power — he seemed like one of those increasingly common Voice hopefuls who’s a guitarist first and a singer second — but his song selection, the Black Crowes’ country-gospel ballad “She Talks to Angels,” was credible and cool, as was his phrasing and minimalist, semi-acoustic guitar arrangement. He was giving me early-R.E.M., college-rock vibes, and that was a good thing. Miley thought his vocals needed more stability, and Jennifer thought he needed more texture, and neither of them were wrong — but I was glad that Adam and Blake gave Dennis a chance.

“You were singing [the song] your way, and it was really cool, so I just felt connected to you right away,” said Adam. “I love the fact that you play guitar; I love the fact that you’re a Nashville guy. You’ve got a good, solid, deep, growly, rock ‘n’ roll voice. Let’s find the right songs, man. Let’s win this thing,” said Blake.

Dennis had claimed that, being a big Maroon 5 fan, he’d join Team Adam if he ever got the chance. But of course, regular Voice viewers know by now that the contestants almost never go with their original coach picks. So Dennis joined Team Blake instead. I am sure his boss would approve.

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

Rebecca Brunner

I honestly did not expect this small-town Michigan girl to turn any chairs with her uneven and unfocused performance of Imagine Dragons’ “Believer.” I was not a believer. There was a good voice in there somewhere, an intriguing femme-fatale darkness, a certain smoldering quality — but she suffered breath-control problems from the first verse onward and often sounded like she was yelling the song. The effect was unpleasant. I was ready for the coaches to bid Rebecca farewell with an encouraging recommendation that she learned to sing from her diaphragm and return for Season 14 … but then Blake turned around, just as she literally shouted her last note.

“Rebecca, what you just did was freaking hard,” said Blake. The problem is, Rebecca made it sound hard. Her struggle was all too real. Blake also joked with her, “You’re stuck with me now, sis,” but I have a feeling Rebecca won’t be sticking around after the Battle Rounds.

MEMBER OF: Team Blake

Brandon Brown

A Bronx-born 19-year-old who teaches violin at the Harlem School of the Arts, Brandon could America’s next Voice sweetheart. What a charming backstory! I just wish he’d played violin during his audition of “Georgia on My Mind”; it would have helped him stand out and stay on my mind a little longer. He had a nice velvet-soft tone, but not a ton of onstage charisma, and his performance was largely forgettable.

But the coaches adored him. “There’s something very old-school about how you deliver a vocal,” said Adam. “That style of music doesn’t really have a platform today, and I want to help give it a platform,” said Jennifer. She then compared Brandon’s voice to Donny Hathaway’s (sure, maybe a little bit). Blake said Brandon sounded like Willie Nelson (um, no). Surprisingly, Brandon went with Adam, because he wanted to try something new. Maybe the “Moves Like Jagger” star can help Brandon with his stage presence. If not, then we may be playing a sad violin for Brandon soon, when he gets clobbered in the Battles or Knockouts.

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

Whitney Fenimore

This 28-year-old folkie from Oklahoma suffered from panic attacks and depression when she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music career, but now that she’s got those issues under control, she actually feels confident and stable enough to appear on a stressful, nationally televised talent competition. Her self-described “Americana” version of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” had many sweet and lovely moments, proving that a singer doesn’t have to be a showoff-y belter to turn a couple of chairs on this show.

Miley pointed out that so far, she has an all-female team this season, and she’d “love to keep that going. I want to celebrate females in this industry, because sometimes we can get lost, and people can tell you that you have to change who you are to market yourself. I think you’ve got a great style, I think you’ve got a great look, and you have that crossover voice. You kind of sound a little bit of rock, which I really, really like. I think I’d know what to do.”

I thought Miley made a stronger argument than Adam’s odd name-drop of the late Team Adam finalist Christina Grimmie, who did a totally different rendition of the Drake song in Season 6. But maybe Whitney thought she’d get lost in the shuffle of Miley’s lady-laden team, because she went with Adam instead.

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

Ilianna Viramontes

A cute quirky girl in a Jessie J bob and Wednesday Addams dress, Ilianna delivered a perky cover of Yael Naim’s “New Soul,” grinning giddily the entire time. Clearly, she was delighted to be onstage. The 18-year-old’s bubbly onstage personality completely clashed with her slightly Gothic look, which I found interesting, and her cheeriness was contagious. Blake later told her he could actually hear her smile in her bright, jazzy vocals. But it took a surprisingly long time for Blake and Miley to turn around and see Ilianna’s smile.

“I think the way you were able to navigate that melody with perfect pitch, I know that you had to be smiling when you were singing,” said Blake. “When you were singing, I did hear some Patsy Cline. I think we could do maybe some Tammy Wynette. I want to just give you a little bit of a twist,” said Miley. She was right; Ilianna is adorable and marketable, but vocally, she’s a bit run-of-the-mill. Miley is always one to whip out an edgy and unexpected song choice, so she’ll be the perfect coach.

MEMBER OF: Team Miley

Katrina Rose, Natalie Stovall, and Ryan Scripps

Katrina is a kickboxer, and Ryan is a CrossFit trainer. Well, this show’s producers had better watch out, because Katrina and Ryan might kick their asses for montaging them like this!

I would have loved to see Katrina’s Miley-baiting cover of Janis Joplin’s “Kozmic Blues,” and I was positively shocked that Natalie, a Music Row veteran who was once named one of CMT’s “Next Women of Country” and had a Top 40 country radio hit in 2013, received such a ruthless edit. We’ll have to wait and see if Katrina, Natalie, and Ryan are singing the kozmic blues when the Battles take place next week.

MEMBERS OF: Team Miley, Team Blake, and Team Blake, respectively

Meagan McNeal

Producers saved the two best contestants for last, starting with this 31-year-old Chicago soul stylist with the funky-fresh look and crazysexycool voice. Meagan took the Weeknd’s Thriller-reminiscent club banger “Can’t Feel My Face” and turned it into an ErykahBadu/Lauryn Hill/India.Arie-style earth-mama indie-soul jam. It was one of this season’s too-few instances of a singer flipping a song, and it was refreshing. This dynamite lady was the real deal.

“It makes so much sense that you made that song feel retro in your vibe,” gushed Miley, who seemed disappointed that she hadn’t turned. (Oddly, only Jennifer did.) “Your glasses are so freaking cool. If you let me get some hot glue and some jewels, girl, I could get those going so crazy! I need a T-shirt with that face on it — with your glasses and your hair and everything.”

“I love the fact that you took that song and you changed it up, you made it your own; you made it work for what you do. The truth is, you needed to be on J.Hud’s team, no question,” asserted Blake.

MEMBER OF: Team J.Hud

Jon Mero

The evening ended with this quadruple-chair-spinner with the buttery vocals and Bruno-style swag, crooning Bruno Mars’s sexed-up slow jam “Versace on the Floor” like he was already in the finals. His performance was polished and professional, and while his confidence bordered on cockiness, he still emanated likability. And that voice! I guess I can’t blame the guy for being self-assured.

“I have to say, you wasn’t coming to The Voice today. You were coming to your show,” said Jennifer. “You could tell you believed everything you said. You can tell you know you are a star. And then, the voice on top of it, that means you’re holding all the power in your hands. You commanded the room and you didn’t shy away. And I love to see when people own their moment.”

“You have a tremendous, tremendous voice,” raved Adam, likening Jon to Prince. (That’s become Adam’s go-to mega-compliment. I think he needs to chill with the Great Purple One comparisons for a bit.) “I think about Prince because there is this thing about you — how you move up there, how you connect with the people you’re singing to. That is such an impossible thing to teach; it has to be something that is in your DNA. When I say it would be an honor to work with you, I mean it, because I honestly see this as a step on the never-ending staircase of your career.”

Jon went with Adam, explaining that Adam’s music is the closest to his own style. I expect that under Adam’s guidance, there’s a “Kiss” or “When Doves Cry” cover in Jon’s future.

MEMBER OF: Team Adam

Come back Tuesday, when The Voice Blinds conclude and Miley possibly makes Voice herstory with the series’ very first all-female team. See you then, and in the meantime, see you on Snapchat.

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