The Voice original recipe is back (after winning the Emmy for Best Reality Competition!), and all eyes are on the classic coaching panel to see if they gel together again (even though we know Shakira and Usher will return next spring). Plus, oh yeah, we’ve got some new talent to find. What does the first night of blind auditions have for us?
Every season must open with a coaches’ performance, and this one is no different. Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera offer us their take on Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll,” which isn’t their best ensemble number (both in sound and because it looks like an over-polished music video rather than a natural part of the show), but it’s still nice to see the original group back together again.
After Adam crashes Carson’s intro, it’s time to get to the real business: auditioning singers for 48 spots in the season (that’s 12 per team). First up – no pressure – is 29-year-old Kat Robichaud, performing “I’ve Got The Music In Me.” Cee Lo decides to turn his chair for her, which motivates Christina and Blake to follow after him. Adam, although he doesn’t want to get involved in the battle, renames Kat ‘Raspy McRasperson’ and then compares Cee Lo to Michael Jackson, showing that he’s still hilarious.
Cee Lo remains a man of few words, but that’s okay because Christina has an excess of words. Blake worries that he’s in the wrong genre, and Adam agrees, saying that he knows her coach isn’t Blake, causing consternation among the audience. “Oh, cry me a river,” Adam tells them. In the end, Kat makes the smart choice and goes with Cee Lo, who should perfectly understand her Queen and David Bowie vibes.
Next up is 17-year-old Caroline Pennell, who shares the same anxiety about singing that Danielle Bradbery did, and we know how that turned out for Danielle. Caroline’s version of “Anything Can Happen” prompts Blake to push his button after he thinks Cee Lo isn’t going to, but then Cee Lo does it anyway in a nice fake-out. Neither coach’s pitch is that great, but Caroline ultimately turns down Blake’s magic pointing finger and goes with Cee Lo.
54-year-old Donna Allen is the oldest artist in the season, and she’s totally okay with that. Her take on “You Are So Beautiful” immediately draws Christina’s attention, followed by Adam, setting up a head-to-head battle between The Voice‘s two fiercest rivals. Blake gets back at Adam for his earlier dig by telling Donna to pick Christina. Then Cee Lo interrupts Adam. When Adam finally gets to speak, he shames Cee Lo and Blake for not turning around, especially Blake.
Adam: Shame on you and shut up.
Donna joins Team Adam, which makes Adam so happy that he ends up on the floor, and makes Donna so happy that she jumps into his arms. Is the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader and former member of Miami Sound Machine going to be the next Kim Yarbrough? We’ll find out over the next few weeks.
17-year-old Jake Worthington is this season’s first artist from Texas (the state that always has a ton of people on this show), and if you can’t tell from the cowboy hat, he’s a country singer. Jake’s version of “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” is troubled by a lack of enunciation that garbles some of the lyrics together, and he becomes Season 5’s first miss. He takes it in stride, though, asking for constructive criticism and exiting with his head held high.
Next up is 20-year-old rugby player Matthew Schuler. He also makes sandwiches, so that should pique Cee Lo’s interest (in the vein of Jamie Lono). Most impotantly, Matthew’s version of “Cough Syrup” has all four coaches slamming on their buttons before he gets through his first sentence, meaning it’s all about who can put up the best fight. Adam’s so excited that somehow ends up on top of his own chair.
Adam: I’m not sure how I got up here but I’m literally scared to get down.
The coaches seem to be pitching more for themselves than what they can do for Matthew, who ultimately signs on as the first artist for Team Christina. A question remains, though: a number of talented R&B singers have been on The Voice, but none of them have survived past early live rounds since Jermaine Paul and Javier Colon. Is Matthew going to be the artist to break that unlucky streak? We can think on that while Christina brags, particularly in Adam’s direction.
Next up is 26-year-old Nic Hawk. Nic’s performance of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” turns Adam’s chair pretty quickly, while everyone else has to deliberate. Cee Lo eventually decides to jump in, too, creating a two-way battle. Nic takes a moment to tell Adam how good-looking he is, which draws roars of agreement from the ladies on the studio audience and applause from Blake, and then selects him as his coach. This might get amusing later.
After the required but still always uncomfortable montage of failed auditions, we meet 15-year-old Matthew Brea, He picks the R&B classic “I Want You Back,” and it’s not even the best version of the song we’ve heard on this show, but considering his age, the kid’s got promise. Although nobody turns around for him, expect to see him back here someday. Cee Lo even makes a point of going backstage to console the young man.
(And can we take a moment to tip our hat to Carson Daly, who’s as big a cheerleader for these artists as their own families? Carson is a great host for many reasons, one of which is that he’s far more than your average talking head. Moments like this show that he really does care about these artists, and about what The Voice can do for music in general. So hat tip to you, Mr. Daly.)
Next, hairstylist and beauty pageant coach Shelbie Z steps to the microphone, Her rendition of “Here For The Party” draws Christina, Cee Lo and Blake in that order. Adam wisely stays out of the way, because Blake is pitching Shelbie hard from the moment she’s done singing. Surprising no one, Shelbie takes the obvious route to Team Blake.
33-year-old Josh Logan follows her with his take on “Too Close.” Josh turns Blake’s chair, then Christina’s, then Adam’s. Adam remarks how much he sounds like original artist Alex Clare, and Christina talks about how much she loves that song, before Blake declares a man-crush. That makes Adam need a hug, which Josh remarks is “awkward.” For reasons that still somewhat confuse us, Josh decides to go with Christina as his coach, marking her second big score of the night.
Following Josh is 24-year-old Delvin Choice, who may have had way too much Starbucks before taping, possibly since he works at one. He’d like to do something other than serve coffee for the rest of his life, though, so he brings his version of “Closer,” which Tje Austin and Nakia killed way back in Season 1. This naturally puts all eyes on Cee Lo, but he doesn’t push his button, and neither does anyone else. Like Matthew, he’s encouraged to come back for another try.
We’ve got one last performance for the evening, and naturally it’s a whopper. It’s 22-year-old James Wolpert, who’s studied at Carnegie Mellon, the same institution of higher education that turned out Suits star Gabriel Macht. However, James dropped out to pursue music. His version of “Love Interruption” justifies that decision. Adam turns for him, followed by Cee Lo, Blake and finally Christina. After arguing about Pittsburgh, Cee Lo stealing Michael Jackson’s clothes, and the NBA, the coaches ask James for a decision. That decision is to join Team Adam.
Which leads to this Twitter exchange:
Adam: What’s tall, hairy and due for a loss?
Cee Lo: Come on dude, I’m not that much taller than you.
At the end of the evening, Team Adam has filled 3 of its 12 slots, with Team Blake at 1/12, Team Cee Lo at 2/12 and Team Christina at 2/12. But here’s food for thought: where’s Purrfect the Cat?!?
Stay tuned tomorrow night for the next round of blind auditions (remember that it’s two hours tomorrow, not the usual one-hour show).