Your prayers have been answered, Revolution: The Voice is back! You may still be without power (right, anyone out there actually watching Revolution?), but at least NBC has given you a shot for a lead-in audience. God speed with…whatever it is that happened past the second episode of the show.
Anyway. It’s Season 4 of The Voice, y’all! Miss ya, love ya, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo, but what could be more exciting than the debut of new coaches Usher and Shakira? The newbies join veterans Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, and — despite the notable lack of weird wardrobes — it’s a fantastic new chemistry!
The new Fab Four start the night with a performance of The Beatles‘ “Come Together.” Although Adam on the drums is just way too covered up, this performance has everything: A pregnant Shakira on the harmonica (seriously), Usher on the guitar, Blake rocking out and anticlimactic pyrotechnics. What more could you ask for?
Contestants? The Blind Auditions, as Carson Daly would say, start right now!
The Morgan Twins, 27 — Rochester, NY
To get the party started, The Voice welcomes the creepiest twins to ever grace reality television — nay, television as a whole. We’re talking creepier than the Olsens at their very skinniest with their oldest boyfriends.
Impossible, you say?
Meet Cara and Rhian Morgan, or “The Morgan Twins” as they prefer to be called. They have all the qualities of the most co-dependent couple that you know — finishing each other’s sentences, holding hands, referring to themselves as “we” or “us” and having “separation anxiety” when they are apart — with the bonus that they dress identically like those weird twins you knew in elementary school. Except they are 27 and they still dress the same…apparently all the time. “Harmonizing is kind of our thing” says Cara. Or Rhian. Doesn’t matter.
Prepared/excited as you may be for a train wreck, the buxom twin devils in red dresses defy the odds. Damned if they don’t get all four coaches to turn around with their pitch-perfect performance of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin.”
“Is this for real? Is this really happening right now? This is a dream come true for most men,” says Blake upon the two-for-one reveal. It is so real, Mr. Shelton, that you have to now go home and explain to your wife why you’re spending late nights with the Doublemint version of her. Despite their pre-show preference for Usher, the Morgans are twinspired by Blake’s kind words and opt for the country coach…who should advise them to make separate wardrobe choices in the future.
Jess Kelner, 21 — Austin, TX
Next up is a breath of fresh air to help you overcome the Morgans-induced double vision. Jess Kelner sings a folksy rendition of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” that is definitely more Ingrid Michaelson than Elvis Presley. Despite some pitch issues, it’s a pleasant performance that earns spins from both of the new coaches.
“I turned my chair because I was haunted by the tambour of your voice. You have so much silk in it,” says Shakira. Even though Shakira’s appeal is far more eloquent than Usher’s “Do you want to rock forever? Then rock with me,” Jess sees a future rocking with Usher. Shakira, bummed that she totally wasted her poetry, sulks away from another contestant rejection.
Mark Andrew, 27 — Eden Prairie, MN
Mark Andrew, a roofer, played in a band in high school. As if thrown into the pre-show interview with no background information, Carson asks him what happened to the rest of the band. They died, Carson. You really have to read your notes before the show to avoid these tragically awkward situations.
After a tearful testimonial, Mark dedicates his audition performance of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” to his former bandmates. It’s a sweet gesture, and he has a sweet voice. Both Shakira and Adam turn around.
Shakira, in it to win it this time, says, “I loved your performance from top to bottom. I am so passionate about you. I haven’t felt this way — except for my boyfriend of course — so far.”
Mark quickly does the math that her passion for her boyfriend created a baby, which must have involved sex, and chooses Shakira.
Danielle Bradberry, Cyprus, TX — 16
Another contestant, another tragic back-story. Danielle Bradberry was teased growing up because she had crooked teeth. Perhaps this is cold hearted, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for any tragedy that can be fixed with Invisalign. Predictably, the cowboy-boot-wearing 16-year-old sings Taylor Swift, because everyone was so “Mean”…about her teeth…that seem straight enough now.
Anyway. The men all turn around, and are shocked by Danielle’s young age. Blake plays the country card (obviously), and Usher uses this as his first opportunity to drop a Bieber-bomb. “It may be an obvious play for me to speak of Justin Bieber, and I’m not saying he’ll be at every performance…but he’s in the back!”
Danielle resists the teen heart throb promise, and chooses Blake…possibly because in their intense competition for her, Usher tells Blake that Nashville is just a state. Crooked teeth or not, Danielle knows her geography.
Vedo, 19 — Atlanta, GA
Speaking of Justin Bieber, we’ve got charismatic Vedo on deck and ready to perform “Boyfriend!” But first, he needs to make everyone cry.
Vedo and his family were homeless and living out of a car for a few years. Recently, his mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and has been given just months to live. “She’s my everything. I just don’t want to lose my mom,” he says in between tears (flowing also from everyone in America).
It’s hard not to jump out of the chair and cheer for Team Vedo when Usher presses his button. Vedo’s mom, who made it to the auditions, cries backstage with Carson and, again, America.
Vedo probably should have earned a few more spins, but the judges were saving themselves, and us, from another round of Usher’s spiel about how he, in fact, discovered Justin Bieber. Bless them. “Welcome to team Ursher,” Usher tells Vedo.
Christian Porter, 21 — Stroudsberg, PA
If The Voice recorded the first meeting between the producers and the contestants, it’s likely that Christian Porter’s meeting would have gone something like this:
“So tell us something sad about yourself.”
“Well, I’m a bar musician, so I have to sing Journey, like, every night.”
“We’re going to need much sadder. Dead relative? Crooked teeth?”
“I guess my mom thought I was deaf when I was a child.”
“Wait, seriously? Aren’t there tests for that. Whatever, it’s getting late. We’ll take it.”
So Christian, who is not and never was deaf, gets up there with his guitar and sings an acoustic version of LMFAO’s “Sexy And I know It.” It’s not the best performance of the night, certainly, but Shakira turns around and says, “That’s sexy!” Though the rest of us squirm during the “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” section, Blake and Usher get a kick out of it and hit their buttons for Christian. “So much imagination went into that arrangement,” says Blake, and Christian picks the country crooner as his coach.
Kris Thomas, 24 — Memphis
Before Kris Thomas takes the stage, we’re teased with the “biggest shock ever to happen on The Voice.” But what could it be? An octogenarian? A toddler? Puppies?!
It’s just a guy with a high voice. It’s a good high voice, but a real letdown from the singing puppies some of us may or may not have built up in our heads during the commercial break.
Kris sings a dead-on version of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You.” He really does nail Whitney better than any contestant, male or female, before him, and it’s shocking that his strong voice and soaring falsettos only earn a spin from Shakira. Adam is downright livid that Kris’ gender was not revealed before he could make his decision, and he and Usher give Kris advice on how to better identify himself as a man should he ever be faced with a backward-facing audience again. Kris seems pretty jazzed to be joining team Shakira and certainly has coaches lined up for a steal if it comes to that in the next round.
Judith Hill, 28 — Los Angeles
Arguably, Judith Hill has already had a blessed career. She was selected to duet with Michael Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” on the This is It tour, and rehearsed with him for two months before the pop legend’s untimely death. Judith sang “Heal The World” at MJ’s funeral, and even though her phone was “ringing off the hook” after that performance, she decided it would be in poor taste to use his death as a career booster.
Judith sings Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants” and gives it her own flair. Her pitch, range and style are absolutely outstanding, if the Michael Jackson background didn’t already tip you off, and her powerful voice earns spins from all four coaches, who are filled with praise.
“Not only will you win The Voice, you’ll win the world over,” insists Usher. “It’s like a star just hatched out of a shell,” says Blake. “You need a girl like me next to you,” coos Shakira. “I’m going to light myself on fire,” threatens Adam.
Judith picks Adam. Probably because he offered to light himself on fire, and that’s always good ace in the hole if the pyrotechnics go on the fritz. An elated, and miraculously un-singed Levine declares, “She’s going to be a Grammy-winning superstar and she’s on my team.” Fighting words coming out of night one, indeed!
The Voice two-part season premiere continues tonight (March 26). What did you think of the premiere episode, with Usher and Shakira as coaches? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!