‘The Voice’: sandwiches, self-congratulation, and Mathai rule all

There were many more standouts.

We are nearing the end of the blind auditions on “The Voice,” which really just means one thing — this is the point in time where the coaches start to play it a little bit tougher than they have in the past. Some people don’t make it through who may have otherwise done so had they went a little earlier or sang a different song — but with limited numbers, this is just the way the game is played.

The highlights

Ducky – With a name like Ducky, it’s hard not to like the guy. It’s also even harder not to like a guy who dressed like a classier version of the creepy guy running the circus out of a public park. We actually really liked his energy and his style, but (in what may be best described as a move that was the result of over-picky coaches) he was not picked by anyone to be a team member.

Jonathas – We’re not sure why Jonathas spent so much time gyrating around on stage when the coaches couldn’t see him, but he actually had a voice that was strong enough that his cover of Usher’s “You Want It Bad” actually sounded like the guy itself.

The only thing more entertaining than Christina Aguilera’s attempt to talk about Jonathas having the “complete package” following his audition was Cee Lo Green’s attempts to bribe him by talking about his diamond watch. Needless to say, he went with his childhood crush in Christina.

Monique Benabout – The first story-based contestant of the week, Monique helped to nurse her mother through cancer at an early age, and it forced her to grow up a little bit before her time.

We give Monique some credit from the get-go in choosing a song that is rather difficult in Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know-It-All,” and she had enough energy to literally light up the room. The only thing that made her even more excited than simply being there was having Christina be the one to turn around her chair.

Naia Kete – Blake Shelton loves female vocalists with unusual sounds! One season after he took Xenia and Dia Frampton to the end of the season, he was the first person to turn around for the quirky street performer Naia — and then threw himself a tantrum when Cee Lo turned around.

In the deliberation process, we have never seen two people try to kiss up more to an artist over the course of the entire season — they each made some pretty good arguments based solely on what they liked about her, but she ultimately opted to go with Blake — but the fun wasn’t over there, as Adam Levine astutely pointed out that she mentioned being a “fan” of Cee Lo’s, but didn’t mention Blake’s name in the same way.

Erick Macek – While Jonathas immigrated at an early age to America, Eric Macek is the son of immigrants from Slovakia — and he is looking to give his family their American Dream. Unfortunately, Erick continued the sad trend of contestants who are introduced in the middle of another singer’s story who ended up getting no one to turn around.

Charlotte Sometimes – Sometimes we love her voice, and sometimes it sounded like a ghost haunting us from the other end of a hallway. (Yes, we made the obvious last-name joke.) Can being a bit ghostly be a good thing? It definitely ended up making her original.

We are a little bit surprised that all four coaches ended up turning their chairs around, mostly because we don’t think everyone is going to be a fan of her voice. Blake tried to drop Xenia’s name, Adam Levine made the mistake of inferring that her voice was “simple,” and Christina merely fought with everyone. Charlotte (who was the bread of the Erick Macek editing sandwich) became another addition to Blake’s team, which continues his trend of trying to build an army of quirky female singers for this season.

Tony Vincent – Tony came on this show with a great bit of experience behind him already courtesy of Broadway — where he has appeared on such shows such as “Rent” and “American Idiot.” However, he is now trying to branch beyond that and back to his roots of performing pop / rock music.

Our biggest surprise here? He only got one judge to turn around in Cee Lo — though this may have simply been for reasons of being the right fit. Cee Lo’s coaching style and musical taste seems perfect for Tony, and we could see these two going deep into this competition.

This week was intense.

Anthony Evans – The son of a famous Dallas pastor, the coaches really made Anthony sweat by Christina not pressing her button until the very end. It was really only thanks to some vocal runs near the final note that even allowed this to happen.

Can a contemporary Christian / gospel singer do well on this competition? We are going to have an opportunity to see.

Jamie Lono – Jamie looks like the friend from college who only surfaces out of the basement once a week, but right when we were starting to think about some jokes to write here he brought us nearly to tears with his story. His family went broke paying for his medical bills as a child, as he suffered from a growth on his lung.

Jamie (who now works at a sandwich shop) wins the award for having the best makeover in between his work package and being at the show, and he gave what might be one of the coolest rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues” we’ve heard on a reality show. (Sorry, Paul McDonald from “American Idol” this past season.) Cee Lo and Adam turned around — and surprisingly, he picked Cee Lo, whose primary argument for getting him on board his team was that he liked sandwiches.

Dylan Chambers – Dylan’s main struggle is that he grew up without a father in his life, and he ended up working hard in music from an early age. ¬†Unfortunately, this was not Dylan’s day — with one of the primary reasons being that his voice was just a little out of control even though he has incredible range.

Justin Hopkins – Carson’s got a man to root for! Hopkins was a member of our host’s “Last Call” band in the past, so it’s fair to say he’s a little bit biased with who he is rooting for.

Before his audition, Justin admitted that he was hoping that Cee Lo was going to be the coach who turned around … and his wish was met following a solid rendition of “Babylon.”

Nicolle Galyon – Does anyone else find it funny that the first person the camera pans on following the start of country singer Nicolle’s performance was Blake? Poor guy just can’t escape the genre label.

Ironically, it wasn’t Blake who ended up turning his chair around for the country crooner — instead, it was Adam Levine.

Ashley De La Rosa, Jordan Rager, Karla Davis, and AlyX – We barely saw these four, but they all advanced to the next round.

Eric Tipton – First things first, we liked Eric from the get-go since he’s from a tiny town in Texas in Sanger that we remember growing up — then, we also liked the guy since he looks absolutely nothing like he sounds.

Unfortunately, Eric fell victim to two curses here — performing an older song with little vocal range and then being wedged between someone else’s audition. We’ve already been forced into saying goodbye to Eric, and we couldn’t be sadder about it.

Mathai – In closing the show, we had someone who displayed confidence even though her parents seemed to be more intent on her being in school rather than singing.¬†After this audition, we don’t think her parents will be giving her much more in the way of grief. She started out with a risky enough move in being the millionth person to tackle an Adele song on a reality show, but she immediately made it her own and presented the sort of swagger that no reality show can teach.

Can Mathai win this show? Thanks to her stage presence along with her talent, it’s more than possible.

Who was your favorite from this week?

Photo: NBC

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