Monday night kicked off part one of the newly extended three-night season premiere of The Voice. We’re sure the lengthy rollout this week had everything to do with a huge pool of talent, and nothing to do with the Wednesday night premiere of The X Factor. Nope – The X Factor had nothing to do with it at all.
Yeah right — we almost missed the show while digging out “Team Britney” and “Team Christina” t-shirts from the Mickey Mouse Club section of our storage!
Season 3 starts with some obligatory judge-on-judge ego stroking. We get it: you are all very successful and we should continue to tune in by the time Wednesday rolls around instead of switching to The X Factor. Host Carson Daly, who still remembers when he was more famous than Ryan Seacrest, explains the new rules this time around. Coaches Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will be able to pick up eliminated contestants from other coaches’ teams in the Battle Round, because nothing strengthens a team like someone who has already been eliminated.
The coaches get things underway with a group rendition of The Rolling Stones‘ “Start Me Up.” A solid performance by all, but we can’t quite figure out why Cee Lo is dressed like a pirate who just retired in Boca. And then we remember that he’s Cee Lo, and this will, in no way, be the strangest thing he wears tonight.
On to the contestants:
Terry McDermott, 35, Scotland
Scottish rocker Terry McDermott hasn’t changed his haircut since the early ’90s, but luckily these are the blind auditions. His wife and son come out to support him, and his family in Scotland wishes him well on a super-branded Sprint tablet (the coaches’ chairs don’t pay for themselves, folks). Just seconds into “Teenage Wasteland,” we know this guy’s the real deal. All three guys spin around at the end of the song. Their cases boil down to this: Blake will let him talk on stage (huh?); Adam wants him to sing; Cee Lo wants him to rock. Terry takes the talk argument, and chooses Blake. Even his 7-year-old child questions his judgment backstage in a classic moment where he says he would have gone with Adam or Cee Lo. From the mouths of babes.
(In between contestants, Cee Lo talks to the camera. No one actually hears what he says, as it is overshadowed by the tropical pink bird on his shoulder. Told you the white pirate getup would soon be forgotten.)
De’Borah, 25, Chicago, IL
Proud, self-proclaimed “misfit” De’Borah comes from a religious family – both parents are pastors – but was kicked out of her church choir when she cut her hair short and embraced her gay identity. That’s too bad, because they’re really missing out. When she performs a surprisingly soulful rendition of “Hey Soul Sister”, Cee Lo and Christina press the button at the same time. De’Borah chooses Christina because her lyrics to “The Voice Within” touched her. This may be the blind audition, but this girl has style.
Gracia Harrison, 18, Virden, IL
We must admit, we had some skepticism when country singer Gracia Harrison brought her boyfriend to the auditions with her. This grew exponentially when she revealed she yodels. It just felt very…Ricola commercial. Anyway, how wrong we turn out to be — Gracia utterly nails her performance of “I Wanna Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Adam and Blake turn around almost immediately, followed by Cee Lo. Adam says she is the best country singer he’s heard so far. Blake praises her to no end. She shocks everyone and chooses Cee-Lo. Kidding! Like a country singer considers anyone but Blake.
Garrett Gardner, 16, Ringwood, NJ
In a particularly touching intro, Garrett Gardner reveals that his dad was a jazz musician before he passed away from cancer. He dedicates his performance of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” to him, and performs with heart. Those of us that know his back story suffer an agonizing 90 seconds waiting for just one judge to press the button. It doesn’t happen. He tearfully accepts a hug from Christina, and the judges express intense guilt until the next singer takes the stage.
Devyn DeLoera, 20, Snyder, TX
Red flag! Taking to the stage to perform a Christina Aguilera song in front of Christina Aguilera? This could go horribly, horribly wrong for Devyn. By Christina’s initial reaction to “Ain’t No Other Man,” we can’t tell whether she wants to mock or congratulate Devyn, but she’s the first to spin around. Adam and Blake then spin around – like it’s going to matter at this point. Devyn really deliberates (girl knows the importance of audience face time), and selects Christina. Comma obviously.
Brian Keith, 22, The Bronx, NY
Brian’s father, Ray de la Paz, has a Grammy. Typically, this translates into an immediate “in” in the industry. Brian, however, opted to go it on his own. His dad, who was the lead singer of The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, could not be more proud. Brian sings “It Will Rain,” which brings on the first four-chair reaction of the season! He selects Adam and becomes the first member of Team Levine.
Daniel Rosa, 21, Riverside, CA
How many times do we hear the judges tell the contestants to work on their craft and come back. No one ever follows this sage advice, right? Wrong! Daniel Rosa, who was turned away after blind auditions last year, came back to try again. His rendition of “Somebody That I Used to Know” is enough to get both Blake and Cee Lo to turn around. They are super excited to see Daniel’s return, as are the rest of the judges after the song. And then our hearts just melt as Daniel sobs. Meanwhile, you’d think after two years he’d be ready to pick a coach, but it takes him awhile to work through his emotions. He ends up with Cee Lo, and no matter how far he makes it, this seems like a happy ending already for Daniel.
Anita Antoinette, 22, Boston, MA
Born in Jamaica, Anita was influenced by Bob Marley, and she sings “No Woman No Cry” for her audition. Unfortunately, it comes out sounding over-produced and no one turns around. Adam says he would have liked a little more heart, to which Anita responds with an a cappella version. Even Cee Lo stands up. But rules are the rules, and so Anita exits.
Joe Kirkland, 24, Fort Worth, TX
Joe was a backup singer in Artist vs. Poet (we had to look them up too), who experienced moderate success before their frontman left the band. Determined to go solo, Joe performs All American Rejects‘ “Gives You Hell” by. Adam and Blake immediately turn. Cee Lo dances and our night is made. Adam is really enthusiastic in his appeal, and Blake relies on the fact that they both wear vests and are from Texas. Then there’s this awkward moment where they say “everything is bigger in Texas” and NBC’s not sure whether or not to censor. Joe picks Adam – frontman to frontman.
Jessica Sharpe, 23, Greensboro, NC
While we get the impression that Jessica could bring down the house in karaoke, the hairdresser slash cover band singer just doesn’t do it for us during auditions. She sings Dusty Springfield‘s “Son of a Preacher Man,” and even with a couple of octave changes, it’s not enough to impress the judges. Jessica is overcome by immediate tears, and has a fleeting moment of encouragement thanks to Christina. Again, she could really kill it in karaoke.
Trevin Hunte, 18, Queens, NY
The final performance of the night is the token rags to riches story that we’re all kind of suckers for. Soft spoken Trevin’s dad is a garbage collector, and he had an 8th grade teacher discourage him from pursuing music (a beacon in the education system, clearly). In our personal favorite performance of the night, he wows the judges with a flawless rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” — well, except for Adam, who, despite Blake’s intimidation tactics, does not turn around. We can only guess that Adam is peanut butter and jealous of Trevin’s killer pipes. Trevin needs someone who will help him with his confidence, and therefore chooses Cee Lo. Good choice: if anyone can teach confidence it’s a man unapologetically wearing all white after Labor Day and stroking a pink bird like it ain’t no thang.
Exhausted from the night, Cee Lo changes into his all white jammies and heads home – sans bird. We can only hope a PA is taking care of it. Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow night. Or Wednesday. We still have a lot of Voice left to hear this week!