By Sara Toth
6:58 AM EDT, September 13, 2012
The biggest thing to hit NBC's "The Voice" tonight was Baltimore's Nelly's Echo, a Nigerian refugee who wowed the judges with his rendition of Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine," and who found a place on Christina Aguilera's team.
Nelly’s Echo -- the band and stage name of Nigerian native Nelson Emokpae --prompted both Christina and Adam Levine to spin their chairs with his oh-so-groovy take on the soulful classic, and undoubtedly won the audience's heart with his story.
"We left Nigeria because of the political unrest," Nelson, 32, told host Carson Daly before performing. "Our lives were in danger."
Nelson, his brothers and his mother had to leave a wrongfully imprisoned father behind in Nigeria when the came to the United States where, he said, everything changed.
"It seemed that as we walked into the land of America, I had this distant voice of 'land of opportunity and dreams,'" he said.
Music became a coping mechanism for his family, Nelson said on the show, and 16 years after moving to Baltimore, he's a local favorite and his freed father is once more with the family.
"Nelly's Echo," he said, is "based on the premise that music is a two-way street," with the audience being the echo.
"Hopefully, you'll hear the echo," Carson him.
Nelly's Echo did, in fact, hear the echo, with both Adam and Christina vying for his favor. He wound up choosing Christina to guide him through the competition, and she couldn't have been more thrilled.
"He's a true artist," she said. "He's coming from a very creative place, and I'm very excited to see where he goes from here."
Oh, but Nelly's Echo wasn't the only act to grace the stage.
Samuel Mouton, of Fort Collins, singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song"
Skinny white country boy singing Marley? It worked. It worked so well, in fact, that Adam, Cee Lo and Christina all pushed their buttons. Samuel went with Adam.
Summary thoughts: There can never be enough Bob Marley on this show. Samuel wins my approval.
2Steel Girls, of Nashville, with Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats"
The mother-daughter duo Allison (mom) and Krystal (daughter) was good, but pop-country isn't really my speed. Their song was loud and powerful, but it was like being hit in the face with a haystack. Sill, Cee Lo and Blake liked them enough to push their buttons, and the pair went with Blake.
Summary thoughts: Of course they went with Blake. Lots of country this go-around, yes? I reserve further comment till the battle rounds.
Domo, singing The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha"
Cee Lo was the only chair to spin for her, but she still packed a whollop. Domo's a model/singer/dancer/whatever, and Cee Lo pushed his button before the music even kicked in to her a cappella intro.
Summary thoughts: This is basically a 2012 version of "Crazy/Sexy/Cool." Perfect match for Cee Lo.
Nicole Nelson, of Burlington, Vermont, with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"
Oh, heavens, yes. Adam pushed his button the second Nicole cut hard and deep on the line "she broke your throne and she cut your hair," and the other coaches followed suit the minute Nicole hit the second chorus. This, this, this, is what the show is about. Complete chills on the back of your neck. "As you were singing it, it just kept getting better," Adam said, and she went with Adam.
Oh, hey, montage!
In which Christina picks up Lisa Schinta and Marrissa Anne (the show's youngest contestant at age 15!) and Adam gets Loren Allred.
And the ones who didn't make it
Yes, there was another montage. No, I didn't care. The highlight? Former DreamStreet member (let me bask in you, tweenager nostalgia!) Chris Tousdales, 26, who now lives in Michigan and works in a sushi restaurant. To further prove that the boy-band dream is dead, not a single coach pushed their button. The late-90s and early-aughts are all weeping.
The second-biggest thing to happen on tonight's episode was the revelation that Blake Shelton can moonwalk, but really, the abilities of this god among men should surprise no one at this point.
The third-biggest thing tonight, again Blake-related, is that we learned any B.S. that comes out of his mouth is organic, according to Adam. Blake's response: "Compost!"
What We Missed Tuesday Night (Or, "When Sara's Real Job Sadly Interferes With Reality TV")
Christina picked up New York's Adriana Louise, the genre-less wonder who conjures up images of what would happen if Carly Rae Jepson and Gloria Estefan were cloned then melded. She also got Aquile, of San Diego, after he sang Elton John's "Your Song."
Blake got Casey Muessigman, a cowboy/wrestler/singer who again reminded me how much I hate "Sweet Home Alabama." Blake also nabbed 21-year-old Julio Cesar Castillo, who was the first contestant to sing entirely in Spanish. The song? ?La Bamba."
Cee Lo chose Mackenzie Bourg, a 19-year-old survivor of some viral disease/congenital heart failure/all-around-terribleness, who sang Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." Please let this adorable Harry-Potter-looking, guitar-toting child progress long and far in this show. He is joy incarnate.
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