The Voice: It's On!
I know it's probably bad form to start off my first Voice recap of the season talking about that other singing competition (cough, Idol), but I got more enjoyment out of Sunday's Voice premiere than I have out of the whole Season 11 Idol audition tour.
I was grinning like an idiot pretty much the whole way through.
Well okay, I teared up in a couple of spots, as well. The Voice, like Idol, gives us contestants' back stories, but I appreciate the fact we're not hammered over the head with them. And even better, the judges (excuse me, coaches) don't hear the tales pre-audition, so a marginal singer won't get through to the next round because someone feels sorry for them.
Marginal wasn't much of a problem with this crop, mind you.
We did hear four singers that the coaches didn't turn around for (remember, singers don't get chosen unless at least one of the judges presses a buzzer to spin their big red chair to face them), but only snippets of three of them. The fourth, 20-year-old Daniel Rosa, wasn't awful, but a lack of self-confidence and bad case of nerves wreaked havoc with his pitch.
Also, the rivalry between the coaches is clearly alive and well, but it's a good-natured rivalry, not like Simon Cowell trying to come up with new ways to insult (the now fired) Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger on The X Factor.
We saw five singers picked for coaches' teams: two for Christina Aguilera, one each for Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. Each judge has to choose 12 people in total. Here are the selections so far:
RaeLynn: She's a 17-year-old country cutie from Baytown, Texas, who showed up for her audition with a big red flower in her hair. She took a chance and sang "Hell on Heels" by Pistol Annies, a group that happens to include Blake's wife, Miranda Lambert. RaeLynn started out sounding girlish and turned grownup and gutsy by the end. Both Blake and Adam wanted her, but going with Blake was a no-brainer given RaeLynn's country bent. "I can make you a country star," Blake told her. "Why would you want to be just a country star?" Adam retorted.
Jesse Campbell: This 42-year-old single father from Chicago says he slept in his car for a while. Being a struggling musician wasn't making ends meet and drove away his wife, but he persevered with the help of his brother and jobs singing at churches and weddings. He performed a very passionate version of "A Song for You" that had the crowd cheering and all of the judges vying for him. Cee Lo tried to appeal to Jesse as a fellow "brother." "I was feeling the soul too, even though I'm not the same colour as Cee Lo," protested Christina. "Hey, Christina, everybody's the same colour with the lights off," purred Cee Lo, which had Adam on his feet for a fist bump. Adam, who won last season's competition with Javier Colon, made the first of several references to his winning record, but Jesse picked Christina.
Juliet Simms: I thought Adam had a good chance of bagging this 25-year-old rock singer for his team, given he's probably the closest thing to a rocker the panel has. Juliet shredded The Beatles' "Oh! Darling" with her rough powerful voice, which Adam praised for its "dirt." Cee Lo took a more direct approach: "Baby, I am so thoroughly impressed and in awe of you. You turned me on." Juliet looked a little taken aback at that but went with Cee Lo anyway. Adam looked mighty disappointed but got a consolation hug and declaration of love from Christina, who dissed Adam earlier as being like a used car salesman (their sparring was due to sexual tension, according to Cee Lo).
Chris Mann: It just goes to show you that you get all kinds on this show. Chris, a 29-year-old from Wichita, Kan., is an opera singer. He has a gorgeous voice, but there was hesitation from the judges after Chris launched into Andrea Bocelli's "Because We Believe," which has lyrics in Italian. Cee Lo and Christina went for it. Chris told them tearfully he'd decided to sing like himself rather than "shrink my voice down to fit." "Sometimes there are voices that come along that you can't shrink down," said Christina, and I guess she would know. Cee Lo said the performance was exceptionally beautiful and there was nothing that Chris couldn't do, but Chris chose Christina.
Tony Lucca: Here's proof that not everybody who was part of The Mickey Mouse Club got as famous as Christina. Tony, a 35-year-old singer from Waterford, Mich., who performed with Christina, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake on the kids' show, said he was looking for his break after years of playing small club gigs. Looks like he got it after he impressed all four judges with "Trouble." (Well, Cee Lo's button got pushed by Adam, but Cee Lo admitted Tony was great.) Christina praised the "beautiful, silky quality" to Tony's tone ... without clueing in that she'd heard it somewhere before. It wasn't until after Tony had teamed up with Adam (for pushing the button twice) that Christina realized who Tony was. She sought him out backstage with his wife and kid. "Britney had the biggest crush on you; she used to talk about you all the time," Christina confided.
So that's it for Night 1 of The Voice. What did you think? Were you happy to see it back? Did you find yourself comparing it to Idol as you watched?
Monday night, there's a two-hour show on CTV at 8. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to blog that and The Bachelor in the same night, but I'll think of something.
In the meantime, talk to me: here, on Twitter @realityeo or on my Facebook page.
(Sorry I don't have photos of the contestants for you. NBC has apparently decided that all we Canadian media types are potential pirates, so it doesn't allow us access to its website. Heck of a way to promote its shows.)