Welcome back, fans of spinning chairs, people who point at themselves and Carson Daly! It's The Voice
season 4, and I'm very happy to return for another year of recapping the best singing show on TV. Sorry American Idol
, but if you think Lazaro Arbos is one of the eight best singers in the country, we've got a problem.
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Anyway, the excitement for the new season of The Voice
is higher than ever since Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green have made an exeunt and Usher and Shakira have joined the coaching panel. Let's hope they're an improvement, though since Xtina and Cee Lo never won, that shouldn't be too hard. At the very least we won't have to deal with wardrobe that looks like the costume designers are doing a mash-up of Moulin Rouge and Mad Max.
Things are going back to normal for The Voice
season 4 as each coach will only select 12 singers for their teams from the blind auditions, not 16 like season 3. So when Carson Daly says it's the biggest season ever, I don't know what the hell he's talking about. Yosemite? (Kudos to anyone who gets that reference.)
We open with the four coaches performing "Come Together" by The Beatles. Hey, last week was Beatles Week on American Idol
! Coincidence or the first of many, many jabs at FOX's sinking ship? Anyway, on to the blind auditions.The Morgan Twins ("Fallin'" by Alicia Keys)
Straight out of a beer commercial, it's TWINS! They're hot blondes who look alike, sound alike and are indistinguishable from one another. It's a pretty good hook. They sound great, but I find it hard to take them seriously since duos never do well on this show.Coaches
: Blake Shelton and Usher turn around right away before they even realize there are two singers. Adam Levine and Shakira follow suit, so right away we get all four coaches turned around. I think these newbies might be a little too eager to spin. It's a great chance to see how the dynamics will work. Blake loves twins and says that because his wife is also a musician, he understands working with family. Usher is smooth as hell and it's obvious he can talk any woman into doing anything he wants, not that he needs that much effort. Adam is his usual funny/dickish self and Shakira is sweet, but she also steals Blake's pointing finger.
The twins choose Team Blake
, which makes him happy and prompts Adam to point out that Miranda Lambert isn't gonna be so happy that her hubby is working with hot twins. Wow, given all the cheating rumors going around recently, that's pretty edgy.
Jess Kellner ("Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by Elvis Presley)
She's a Texas hairdresser whose mother was an alcoholic, but she's sober now. She's an OK singer, but it's kind of sleepy, like a lullaby, and it's nothing all that special.
Coaches: Usher and Shakira turn around right away, but the veteran coaches don't. This is where experience plays an important role, because she might sound nice, but she has no chance of going far in this competition, something Adam and Blake know. The veterans are excited to watch the new coaches fight it out, Hunger Games-style, but things take a turn when Shakira brings out her claws to tear Adam apart. Still, she picks Team Usher.
Mark Andrew ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan)
He's a Minnesota roofer, so he's a real manly man. He was in a band, but his drummer was killed by a drunk driver and his guitarist just recently passed away. Why do I always feel like Job would be a great singing show contestant? Mark's got a unique, cool voice, though the performance isn't perfect.
Coaches: Adam and Shakira turn around. Once again, the battle is on, and I feel like Adam is cheating on Xtina with a new "love/hate flirtmance" partner. Shakira is very, very passionate about Mark and she points out that she has beginner's luck, just like Adam when he won season 1. He joins Team Shakira.
Janetza Miranda ("Titanium" by David Guetta)
She's a spicy Puerto Rican from New Jersey. The performance is very shouty, but the best part is her family, because they go insane backstage with Carson.
Coaches: No one turns around. Aww, she's very sad, but she gets a hug from Adam, which is a nice consolation prize. During the performance he said she was very close, but Shakira thinks the key was wrong and Blake thinks it was too dramatic. However, they all encourage her to come back for season 5.
Danielle Bradbery ("Mean" by Taylor Swift)
She's a 16-year-old country girl who was teased because of her crooked teeth. Um, this is The Voice, sweetheart, where people's band mates are killed by drunk drivers. Needing braces isn't exactly the most compelling tale of tragedy. But I'll give her major points for picking a song I LOVE. Yes, I adore Taylor Swift and I won't apologize for it. I don't think she's particularly amazing, and I'm turned off that she has this big smile the whole time and doesn't seem to really connect to the emotion of the song.
Coaches: Blake, Usher and Adam turn around. Blake clearly has this one in the bag, so the other coaches pull out the big guns. Adam tries to claim that Taylor Swift is more pop than country while Usher bribes her with Justin Bieber tickets. The tension is cut when Usher calls Nashville a state, which Blake and Adam mock him for mercilessly. She joins Team Blake, which was obvious from the start.
Vedo ("Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber)
This 19-year-old talks about taking his career to the next level and he's just waaaaaay too swaggy for his own good. Then we learn that his mom was just diagnosed with lung cancer and only has two to six months to live. Damn, they pulled the old bait-and-switch, because I didn't like him at all, then I fell in love with him the moment he started crying and saying "I don't wanna lose my mama." His performance is very swagtastic, as I now refuse to say or think anything bad about Vedo.
Coaches: Usher is the only coach who turns around, mostly because everyone else knows they don't stand a chance. He joins Team Usher.
Christian Porter ("Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO)
He's a hot young guy who plays in bars. Yes, I know this version of the song isn't totally original, but it's still awesome. It's like if you took the best parts of Dez Duron and Mackenzie Bourg and put them into one hot dude. He's officially one of my personal favorites for season 4.
Coaches: Shakira, Blake and Usher turn around, while Adam was just perplexed. He joins Team Blake. That might be the best pick of the night, because he's gonna stand out on that team.
Leah Lewis ("Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood)
She's 15 and was adopted from China, so the fact that her dad is from the South and she was raised on blue-grass means she wants to be a country singer. Asian/Southern fusion is definitely cool and different, and makes me hungry for some deep-friend General Tso's chicken smothered in country gravy. Her voice is powerful, but her age shows.
Coaches: No one turns around. It was close, but she just needs some more time to mature. Basically, the coaches all realized she might be a diamond, but would take too much time to polish.
Kris Thomas ("Saving All My Love for You" by Whitney Houston)
He's the son of a preacher man (well, technically his dad is a pastor). He's an R&B singer who had a record deal, but creative differences made it fall through. He then turned to alcohol and crashed into someone's yard while driving drunk, though luckily no one was hurt. They're really hitting the anti-drinking personal stories hard in this episode. When he sings, he sounds like a woman. That's not being mean, that's what everyone, even the coaches, think.
Coaches: Shakira is the only one to turn around, and when the song is over, the guys are all stunned that it's a guy singing because they all assumed it was a woman. In fact they would've turned had they known it was a male singer, so Shakira wins major points for not reacting to the reveal when her chair spun around. He joins Team Shakira.
James Irwin ("The Man Who Can't Be Moved" by The Script)
A year ago his wife was pregnant with twins, but something went wrong and they only stayed alive for 10 minutes after they were born. Man, that's just brutal. Luckily she got pregnant again and they have a baby, but still, that's rough. His singing is just OK, but nothing special.
Coaches: No one turns around. They just didn't think it went anywhere.
Judith Hill ("What a Girl Wants" by Christina Aguilera)
Her parents have played with Chaka Khan and Bob Dylan and Judith herself sang with Michael Jackson during rehearsals for his This Is It tour and even performed at his memorial service. Um, WHY is this woman on The Voice? I get that she took the high road and didn't use MJ's memorial service as a launching pad for her solo career, but surely she could still get a record deal today without this show. I just don't understand this at all and it actually makes me not like her because, unlike some others on this show, she doesn't need The Voice to succeed. The whole thing smells fishy to me.
Coaches: Adam and Usher turn around after just one note and Blake and Shakira turn around as well. Adam vows to claw off everyone's faces and light himself on fire in order to help her win. Usher promises that she will win the world over if she picks him. Shakira goes insane making fun of all the other coaches. She joins Team Adam. Hey, he finally got one!
So after the first night of blind auditions, Blake has three artists, Shakira and Usher each have two and Adam has one ringer chosen by the producers for the sole purpose of winning The Voice season 4.
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(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)