Carson Daly lets us know that this show is better than Idol because it focuses only on talent. Before we even get to the contestants, we get a rundown of the judges’ (sorry, coaches’) fairly impressive credentials (Aguilera is easily the biggest name with more than 50 million records sold) and a performance by our illustrious coaches (I really wish they’d have used mentors instead), Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine. I actually quite enjoyed the performance, if for no other reason than because it is nice to actual use the talent rather than just hear about them being good.
Now here’s how the competition works:
The judges keep their backs turned as they listen to the contestants sing. If they like it they turn around. If more than one coach wants a singer on their team, the coaches battle for the artist who then selects which coach they want. If no coach turns, the artist is out. The coaches then train their eight singers and nurture their talent. Phase two is the battle rounds, during which the teams are cut in half. The final performances are live.
The blind auditions start now. I am noticing that despite not focusing on looks, nearly every aspiring singer is attractive.
The first contestant up, Tarralyn Ramsey (age 31) has a slow start but once she hits the high notes, the battle is on as both Cee Lo and Christina turn around. Adam says he didn’t pick her because she’s a better singer than he is. Blake says she wouldn’t have picked him over Christina and Cee Lo and he didn’t want to waste his button. Christina liked that her confidence grew as she continued. Cee Lo agrees and it was a wonderful way to start off the show. (Meh. She wasn’t bad but Idol has always had SO MUCH BETTER.) Tarralyn starts crying, of course and she has all of Christina’s songs so she picks CA as her coach because she’s a “singer singer”.
Patrick Thomas (age 20) used to be a nerd. As is clear by his big cowboy hat, he is a country singer. Blake starts squirming in his chair almost immediately. But Adam Levine and Cee Lo are the first to turn. Blake comes eventually. Christina looks like she can’t decide what to do but ultimately, she remains the only one not to turn for him. Cee Lo loved his strong entrance. Christina thinks he’s a cutie pie and then asks him to take his hat (and jokingly his pants) off. She didn’t turn him around because she felt out of her depth with the country genre. Adam loves their differences and thinks he’s got great talent. Blake says he is the one best equipped to make him a country star. Not surprisingly, he opts for Blake.
Jared Blake, father of six, is three years sober. He’s more rock and roll and good in his specific genre but he doesn’t hit the chorus well. (If you like nothing else about Christina, check out her facial expressions throughout people’s auditions.) Sadly, none of the judges turn around for him. Blake thinks he might have been better suited elsewhere.
Vicci Martinez (age 26), came out to her family and had a tough time because her family is very religious. They try to let us get the same experience as the judges by hiding her face (though we can see her body so it is not really the same). Cee Lo turns, then Christina (noticing a pattern in their tastes). At first I felt iffy about her, but she slowly grows on me. Christina thinks she sang the “something censored on NBC” out of it. Cee Lo loves that song and he saw her fire. She inspires him and touched his heart.
Adam starts talking and Christina interrupts. He didn’t turn because he thought Christina or Cee Lo were better suited for her. She chooses Cee Lo because he said it touched his heart and that’s what is important for her. Christina looks a little sulky. (I think this is the better option anyway for her.)
Sonia Rao‘s family comes form India and she wants to prove that singing is a viable career. Is that a bit of a swoon from Christina in the early stage of the song? I don’t know, but in the end no one turns. Cee Lo was close but didn’t quite decide in time. (He makes a show of no pressing the button in time but he clearly chose not to pick her.) I don’t love her voice because it is a bit nasal.
Ellenowen is a cute married basement that lives in the Ellen’s parent’s basement. Ellen is a bit shaky at first but Owen’s voice is very Casey-esque. Blake turns pretty quickly, surprised by the duet. Cee Lo turns next. This pair isn’t even looking at the judges, they are so into each other while singing. Cee Lo thought it was wonderful. Christina points out how good looking they are (isn’t that not the point?). They ask what the coaches see in them. Cee Lo is more all purpose and general than Blake’s country. Blake says he will help them protect their relationship in the business. Ellen lets Owen choose and he selects Blake.
Frenchie Davis! NBC must have been thrilled to snatch up this former Idol contestant who was disqualified for posing nude. The most frustrating thing about this audition is that I know how much better she is than this. (I heard her live when she was in the ensemble of Rent.) Finally Christina turns. She is the only one but she is the best choice anyway. (Do we think Christina will end up with an all-female group?) Blake thought she might blow the speakers and thinks it is a great pairing. Christina thought she started shaky put picked it up. She represents never give up, Carson tells us.
Kelsey Rey is used to being judged for her looks (she’s pretty) but she’s glad to be judged by her voice instead. A video of hers has gone viral on youtube. Her voice is one I do not expect at all. Adam and Cee Lo turn simultaneously (I’m surprised it took this long). Christina seems to be really contemplating. (Love how she closes her eyes to listen, as though she’s shutting out the contestants she can’t see anyway.) At the last moment she turns too and Adam looks nervous. Christina says she should avoid the boys and would love to do great things with her. Cee Lo was impressed and thinks she is flawless. And she’s beautiful. Adam says she’s unattractive. He loves her voice and would be honored to have her. he has been so picky that you know he wants her badly. She has good things to say about all of her options but chooses Cee Lo in the end.
Jeff Jenkins is 22 but he looks like he’s 12 (think Jacee Boudeaux from Idol’s earlier episodes this season). Once again Adam and Cee Lo turn around right away (agreed!). Finally so does Christina. Blake debates and finally turns in the last moments of the song. Adam has never heard the song but he doesn’t think anyone else could sing it. He thinks he could give him a slightly new approach to his thing. Adam REALLY wants to work with him. Blake isn’t sure he is a country singer, he can do anything. Christina enjoys his masterly of the notes. Cee Lo says something that I can’t follow and the moment of truth…Adam because of how much he wanted to work with him. Adam is so happy he gets up to hug his new mentee.
Rebecca Lobey is homeless. She seems bubbly despite her problems. this is a weird take on the song she’s singing but it gets Christina’s attention. And Adam’s a little later. Christina found her inspiring. Adam loves listening to her sing. Adam is closer to what she does so she picks him.
Joann Rizzo is a mom from Jersey. Her rendition of “Say A Little Prayer” is better than Quinn’s on Glee but I don’t love it. Christina is close to pushing it but she doesn’t love the run and no one ends up turning. Blake is looking for raw more. The coaches didn’t feel like anything stuck out enough for them.
Shy high schooler Xenia Martinez wants to show her true colors. I like the quality of her voice but she’s not showing any range. Cee Lo finds something he likes in the low notes. Blake turns eventually too. Blake liked the vibrato at the very end and thinks her voice is cool. Cee Lo likes the raspy, twangy texture of her voice. Blakes warns her that Cee Lo will come dressed as Batman one day and Cee Lo can’t promise that he won’t. Xenia goes with Blake (who campaigns a little harder for her).
Tje Austin is a big goofy guy who we get the invisible treatment for. They do a better job of it this time but apparently they are over it before we are because they cut to him pretty quickly anyway. Cee Lo and Adam once again turn together. I like this guy’s low notes but less of his high notes. Christina is upset she didn’t turn. Cee Lo heard himself, their similar qualities. Adam likes his whole package. Tje picks Cee Lo.
Javier Colon has two adorable girls. I like his voice almost immediately (though he tries a little too hard). Again Adam and Cee Lo. He does a little high note and wins Christina. Adam can’t handle the fact that Blake isn’t turning and would turn for him if he could. Not to worry, he does turn at the last second. Cee Lo says it was perfect. Adam also thinks it was tasteful. Blake believes in him. Christina loves his vocal ability and how he made it his own. She knows it would be amazing to work with him. He asks Christina why she waited so long to turn. She wanted to get lost in his voice and see where he took it. Javier picks Adam (he does sell himself better than the other judges).
The last singer of the night is Beverly McLellan is your atypical TV competitor (bald, pierced, tattooed). Like her from the start but no one seems to be turning around. Come on people! Christina wavers and finally hits the buzzer. So does Adam. Battle on. Christina really appreciated what she did. That’s it Christina? Adam’s going to beat that sell any day. Adam liked how thoroughly she enjoyed herself. Beverly (how not a Beverly is she!) goes with Christina, surprisingly.
General thoughts about TV’s newest singing competition and NBC’s biggest hit since…well a long time:
- I wish we could be blind to the contestants too but I understand this would make it tough visually. It is fun to watch the coaches hover indecisively over their “I Want You” buzzers.
- I like that the auditions involve only the talented singers. No train wrecks for this show. I know that some people enjoy that part best on Idol, but I prefer the talent.
- The show is most interesting when more than one judge is interested in a singer. Adam’s campaigning is particularly fun.
- Blake and Adam seem to have the most personality with Christina occasionally being fun. Cee Lo, c’mon! You wore a freaking feathered outfit at the Grammys, can’t you be more exciting?
- While I don’t think this show will do for Christina what Idol did for JLo it will help her look more put together than she has seemed of late. She is simply not as endearing as Jennifer.
- What would happen if no one wanted to pick one of the coaches? That would be awkward…
- The weird thing with this show is that eight is such a small number considering the number of contestants there are performing and if a judge picks too many in the beginning they could miss out on dozens of later singers (which is why I approve Adam’s stinginess).
- I’m confused if those tweets at the bottom of the screen by the coaches are real/live or what, but they’re fun to read anyway. Nice way to incorporate random social networking.
- Carson feels like the least useful host ever, second only to ABDC’s Mario Lopez.
- Oh, and who is Alison Haislip?
What did you think? Worth watching? Overall I enjoyed though didn’t find it particularly mind-blowing.