As everyone knows, the post-Super Bowl slot is a coveted spot for any show, and this year NBC gave the honors to The Voice, hoping to hook new fans as the fab foursome of judges takes a break from playing Guesstures to usher in Season 2. As anyone who caught the inaugural outing knows, Javier Colon (of Team Levine) emerged victorious, closely followed by Dia Frampton. What’s in store for Season 2? Well, for starters, an all-star roster of mentors including Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, and Alanis Morrisette, and Adam gloating about last season’s win about 400 times per episode. But as the title of the show implies, it’s the pipes of the contestants that really matter. So how’d this season’s lineup of talent do? See how the premiere went down below.
The season got off to a tawngy start with RaeLynn, a plucky Texan farm girl who made the bold choice of performing Miranda Lambert’s “Hell On Heels” — in front of her husband. Naturally, it was Blake who turned his chair around first, and RaeLynn pretended to think for a long moment before making the obvious choice of going with her country idol’s hubby as her coach. Score one for Team Blake!
Next up was Jesse Campbell — ushering in the first of many sappy music cues as he told the requisite sob story about living in his car and how he hopes to find musical success in order to provide for his daughter. (Yes, he got a little misty.) Fortunately, Jesse had strong pipes to counteract the water works, belting Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” so expertly that every judge but Blake turned around after only a handful of notes. After a very lengthy deliberation, Jesse went with the coach who promised to “fight” for him — the “Fighter” herself, of course.
Jesse Campbell — “A Song For You”
Tears flowed again with camera-shy Southern California native Daniel Rosa, who got emotionally overwhelmed just by being on TV. The heavy-set singer seemed poised to be Season 2′s underdog story — until he opened his mouth, letting loose a rendition of Neon Trees’ “Animal” that had nobody’s chair spinning. You could see how bad the judges felt at dismissing Daniel, assuring him that he was still a great singer despite a performance they all agreed was pitchy. “I feel bad,” Xtina said as he left the stage — and so did we. But the judges were right — he was by far the weakest of the vocalists we heard tonight.
After that downer segment, it was up to The Voice to turn our frowns upside-down. Enter Floridian Juliet Sims, whose rocker-chick look caught our attention even before her gravelly, Janis Joplin-esque wailing of “Oh! Darling” became music to our ears. Cee Lo and Adam took an immediate liking to Juliet’s vocal stylings, while it took picky Christina until the very last second to decide that Juliet was her cup of tea.
Juliet Sims — “Oh! Darling”
In the end, the fight over Juliet led to the night’s most entertaining interplay between the judges, pitting Xtina and Adam against each other as she likened his bid for Juliet to a used car salesman and said he was “trying to be Justin Timberlake.” Rowr! Cee Lo helped them retract their claws by joking about their “sexual tension,” which was enough to get Juliet to make the wise choice of going with neither — opting for Cee Lo instead.
Next in line was Chris Mann and even more tugging at our heart strings (we hope you had the Kleenex handy!), as we met Chris’ mother and learned of her battle with pancreatic cancer. The mama’s boy unleashed a huge operatic voice with Andrea Bocelli’s “Because We Believe,” earning unanimous raves from the panel. Could a guy who can belt like that possibly not pick Christina Aguilera? Impossible! The two are so obviously cut from the same cloth, it was meant to be.
Chris Mann — “Because We Believe”
And finally, The Voice had a little treat for for us as the next contender, Tony Lucca, was actually one of Christina’s old Mickey Mouse Club buddies! His flawless take on Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble” had all the judges floored — but diva that she is, no recognition was apparent on Aguilera’s face (which might be why he went with Adam — awkward!).
Later (probably after being tipped off by the producers), Xtina did hunt Tony down like they were the very best of friends, sharing one juicy tidbit from back in the day: “Britney had the biggest crush on you!” (Wow — we’re sure that wasn’t at all intimidating for his wife to hear.)
Tony Lucca — “Trouble”
Our two cents on Season 2′s talent so far? The most exciting performers were Chris Mann and Juliet Sims, each of whom have distinct styles of singing that may or may not lend themselves to other genres of music. We’re looking forward to seeing what else they can do. Tony Lucca and Jesse Campbell, on the other hand, have powerful, more traditional pop-flavored voices we expect to carry them far in the competition, while we’re not sure RaeLynn has what it takes to stick around for long.
What do you think of Season 2 so far? Who are you rooting for? Voice your opinion (get it?) on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments, and make sure to tune in tomorrow (Monday) night to catch more blind auditions and the coaches performing tunes by Prince!