'The Voice' recap: Blake Shelton goes R&B; Usher goes country

The teams are swelling on "The Voice," as the coaches add swell voices to their teams. On the third night of the Season 6 blind auditions, Adam Levine and Usher started out with four singers each on their teams, Shakira with three, and Blake Shelton, who seems to be less favored by contestants than usual, with only two.

By the end, Levine, Usher and Shakira had each added three more singers, making for a total of six for the fellows and five for the Latina superstar, while Shelton had managed to snag only an additional two, ending the night with a total of four.

Why has Shelton had such a tough time nabbing singers this season? Have the contestants forgotten he's still the coach who has carried off the most wins? Is the country coach tiring out, making his case less strongly than he used to, concentrating too much on jousting with his fellow coaches and not enough on connecting with contestants and convincing them to join Team Blake?

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Who knows? Shakira still recognizes his power, however, telling Carson Daly the things she's going to do differently from her last go-around as a coach is to do whatever Shelton does. Given Shelton's impressive track record, there are worse lessons to have learned.

The two singers Shelton did manage to add to his team Monday night were both solid contenders: Ryan White Maloney, a rock-singing garbage man from Travers City, Mich., by way of Las Vegas, and Sisaundra Lewis, a 44-year-old singer who grew up picking fruit in Florida and rose to become Celine Dion's vocal director for five world tours.

Maloney, who said he hoped musical success could help him find a way to see more of his kids, presumably by offering him some financial breathing room, turned Levine, Shelton and Shakira and then -- at the very end -- Usher, with his take on "Lights." While Usher said he was "willing to gamble" on him, Levine tried to forge a bond over their similarly high voices and Shakira told him they were a "match made in heaven" destined "to be together," Maloney chose Shelton, who'd called him "a completely unique stud."

Lewis, who sang an exquisitely soulful "Ain't No Way," also turned all four coaches, though Usher slipped in only at the last minute. (That seems to be Usher's blind-audition strategy this year -- wait it out, playing hard to get, and then sneak in in the final few seconds to make a four-chair turn.) Shakira and Levine battled over who was better with girls, but Shelton approached humbly. He said he was "completely in over my head" with Lewis, but would buy her record "if it came out tomorrow" and promised to help her be the best at whatever she wanted to do. The way Shelton looked at and spoke to her, Lewis later said, made her feel like she was "home."

In addition to pop singer Lindsay Pagano, whom we glimpsed only briefly, Shakira picked up 23-year-old soul singer DeShawn Washington, of Natchitoches, La., who'd had to drop out of college to support his financially struggling family. Why only Shakira turned for Washington's "Twistin' the Night Away" is a mystery. Usher seemed especially furious at himself for not pushing his button, telling Washington he represented "what classic soul singing is about." "Guys, get over it," Shakira crowed. "I'm the only smart one here."

Shakira also scooped up Clarissa Serna, a 27-year-old rock singer currently working at her parents' real estate business in Corpus Christi, Texas. She said she was hoping to get Usher's chair to turn with her take on the Cranberries' "Zombie," and she did, but not until long after Levine, Shakira and Shelton had all turned. Usher tried to make a case that he'd turned late because he was a "guy that likes to really savor the moment," and the other guys brayed about their early turns. But Shakira, who'd stood up and played air drums after spinning her chair for Serna, said she was the best strategist, an Alexander the Great, while the other guys were mere tacticians, or Hannibals. "I think I've got to go with my Latina soul sister," Serna said.

Usher's tactics, however, landed him the identical-twin country-singing duo Brothers Walker, from a small, one-stoplight town in southeastern Missouri; he outfoxed the other coaches by pushing the button with his foot and sneaking in a turn at the last second. Usher admitted he didn't know much about country music, but added, "what I do know is quality." He said he was thrilled to work with artists "in an area that I respect but I've never necessarily touched," later adding he was "ready" and "up for the challenge."

More or less surprising, depending on your perspective, was Usher's other big snag: Melissa Jimenez, a drop-dead gorgeous 29-year-old R&B singer from New York. For a while, it really looked as if Jimenez was going to go with the other coach vying for her, Shakira, especially when the two launched into a conversation in Spanish and Greek. But then Usher dropped the names of some of the singers he'd worked with, including Alicia Keys, the artist who'd originally sung Jimenez's audition song, "If I Ain't Got You," and picked up Jimenez. She called him someone she'd "been a fan of since day one" and could "see myself being molded by," later adding she "would love to be the female version" of Usher.
Like Shakira, Usher and Levine also snagged singers whose auditions were shown only briefly: pop singer Tanner James and singer-songwriter Joshua Howard, respectively. In addition, Levine picked up Sam Behymer, a Texas-raised nanny to two little boys in Los Angeles with a degree in English literature and possible plans, she said tearfully, to go for a graduate degree in library science, in part to fulfill her parents desire that she become financially stable.

Both Levine and Usher spun for Behymer's playful take on "Royals" and wrestled over which would be a better coach for her unusual sound. Usher played the Michelle Chamuel card, reminding Behymer how well he had done with a quirky female singer on his first go as a coach, and when Behymer chose Levine, he seemed a little ticked. "I don't think she really understood the value of what I could offer her," Usher said. Clearly not.

After another brutal coach scuffle, Levine beat Shelton out for gritty-voiced rocker Patrick Thomson. It seemed, at first, as if Levine had pushed his button for Thompson only because Shelton had pushed his, but he insisted he'd only been trying to outsmart Shelton into not pushing at all so he could sneak in and make a snag uncontested. With Usher's help, Levine got Thomson.

Poor Blake.

What did you think of Monday night's performances?