Welcome to The Voice: The Anti-Idol! This is my first time recapping a singing competition, so bear with me as we ease into it and work out the kinks. (That’s what she said?) But if host Carson Daly is to be believed, any of my experience writing about singing shows wouldn’t be relevant because The Voice is “unlike any other, because it puts vocal ability first.” In other words: DID YOU KNOW UGLY PEOPLE CAN SING, TOO? And that we should judge them with our earballs, not our eyeballs? I know it’s hard to understand, and that’s why Cee Lo, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera (heretofore known as Xtina, forever and ever amen) and Blake Shelton will be our shepherds through this journey as they search for The Voice, and we search for the humanity within ourselves to possibly root for a non-hot set of vocal chords.
The four celebrity coaches (whom I already know I will mistakenly call “judges” every week) kick off the show with a rendition of Cee Lo’s “Crazy,” and hearing Blake Shelton sing it is like Martian karaoke. He’s a country singer, his voice was not meant for this! Still, the performance is pretty excellent. Having sufficiently proven that they have the chops to judge the voices who are about to apply to become THE Voice, they plop down in their glowing swivel chairs and get ready for The Draft. Of SOULS.
But first, Carson explains the overly complicated rules of the show. I explained it about as well as I possibly can yesterday, so I’ll just go ahead and paste that in for you new folks: The four coaches will sit, like kings and a queen, in tall swiveling chairs with their backs to the contestant. Then, when the song is over, they will hold a verbal bidding war (or send them away). Each coach will assemble his/her best team of eight singers to send into battle against the others’ teams, and slowly the singers will sing-off and get eliminated until one person is crowned The Voice, and their celebrity coach is crowned the Best Celebrity Coach of The Voice Season 1. (No actual crowns will be present. I think.)
By the way: More than 70% of you decided Xtina has the best voice of all the Voice coaches. (Voice voice voice voice VOICE.) Good work, team. I happen to agree. Team Xtina (until Cee Lo wins me over with a rainbow chicken outfit)! Who made the cut? And, more important, what should their teams be called? To the recap!
THE BLIND AUDITIONS, Night One:
Tarralyn is dressed like Swingin’ ’60s Barbie, clearly hoping to wow the coaches with her colorful style if/when they turn around after hearing her voice. Once she hits the high chorus glory notes, Xtina and Cee Lo turn around. It’s time for our first bidding war! Like eBay, but with PEOPLE! (Adam explains himself: “I didn’t push my button because you’re a better singer than me, and I was upset.”) Tarralyn starts weeping out of gratitude and gushes about how much she loves Xtina, and chooses her as her coach. Girl power! Then she calls Carson Daly “Mr. Carson,” so that’s obviously what we are all going to call him now. Thanks, Tarralyn!
TEAM: Xtina-ge Mutant Ninja Turtles
Song: “Live Like You Were Dying,” Tim McGraw
Country boy Patrick is clearly trying to woo Blake Shelton from the get-go. He’s also our first sob story: Patrick got beat up and picked on because he didn’t like sports (not even rodeo?) and just wanted to SANG! Well, look at him now. Within a couple seconds, Adam and Cee Lo push their “I WANT YOU” buttons and turn around. Slow your roll, boys! Blake is next, but Xtina holds out for … what? We’ll never know, because she never pushes the button. When she eventually turns around, Xtina asks him to take off his hat, then his pants. Girlfriend is <3ing being single again. (She said so on Ellen today, I saw it!) We all know Patrick will pick Blake, who goes at it like a Southern mob boss: “I have the avenues to make you a country star.” SOLD.
TEAM: Blake Me Home Tonight
Sidenote: When we return from commercial, we hear The Voice‘s version of that Idol “return from commercial” sound we all know so well (“Da DUM!”): “This is THE VOICE!” It’s making me laugh right now, but in a couple weeks I can already tell it’s going to make me feel all stabby.
Song: “Good Girls Go Bad,” Cobra Starship
Interesting song choice, given Jared’s backstory: He’s a former self-destructive addict with little girls he doesn’t want to let down. He’s got a gravely rock voice that he doesn’t seem to be challenging with this song, and the judges are hesitant. They look torn. No one presses their buttons, but just to rub it in, Blake says he was “this close” to pressing the button. Sorry, Jared.
TEAM: Mr. Carson’s Ragtag Rejects
Song: “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
YES! I was hoping the show would do this to us: With Vicci, we get to “play along” with the judges and can’t see her face as she sings. Are we capable of hearing beauty in a voice if we can’t decide if the face is ugly or not? Of course we are. We’re not monsters! She’s great! Cee Lo and Xtina, who press those buttons right quick, agree. And guess what! Vicci looks like a normal human being, so, you know: PHEW. Vicci has a female version of Cee Lo’s voice, very raspy, so she makes the right voice and goes with Mr. Green.
TEAM: Cee Lo and Behold
Song: “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys
Wait, she’s really hot. Are we sure she’s on the right show? No one turns around, and Cee Lo especially kicks himself for not pressing that button. Now he doesn’t get to press Sonia’s button! (Eww, sorry.) Sonia represents an important lesson: If you’re hot but still have some growing to do as a vocal artist, go on Idol instead.
TEAM: Too Pretty for This Show
Song: “Falling Slowly” from Once
Our first married couple! And they are weird. He’s wearing a leather vest, and she’s wearing a hippie dress, and they’ve blended their names together and I can’t decide if that’s cute or creepy. (Yeah, creepy. Or maybe just stupid.) And they’re singing together. Is that even allowed? Blake presses his button just to figure out what the crap is going on, and Cee Lo follows. “We consider ourselves a folk/pop duo,” they say in sync. If they weren’t standing so far apart, I might question whether they are actually Siamese twins. Blake reminds them that he knows what it’s like to be in a relationship “in this business,” and then Elle tells her husband “You’re the leader, you decide,” so it turns out maybe they are Mormon? Or he’s the dominant twin? Who even knows what’s going on with these two. They live in a basement and call themselves “Elenowen.” And they’re going with Blake. Good luck with that, Blake!
TEAM: Frosted Blakes
Song: “I Kissed A Girl,” Katy Perry
NBC, ever the Good Idea Machine, decides that since they’re trying so hard to distinguish this show from Idol, it would be a great idea to have an Idol alum come try out. As you may recall (but I don’t because I didn’t watch that season) Frenchie was a semi-finalist who was later disqualified from Idol when some topless photos of her at age 19 leaked. Idol didn’t want that on their record, but The Voice doesn’t care about naked boobs, only naked TALENT! And Frenchie was also in Rent on Broadway. Legit. Now she’s getting her second chance by singing Katy Perry’s bicurious anthem. It seems a little too fitting to be unintentional. Xtina presses her “I WANT YOU” button, which is a bit of a mixed signal when a woman named Frenchie is singing about lady kisses, but they don’t kiss. YET.
TEAM: Xtina-ge Dream
Song: “American Boy,” Estelle
Are you ready for our first “boo hoo, I’m too pretty to be taken seriously” contestant? Because here she is. Adam has Hot Girl Radar, though, so he hits that button ASAP, followed by Cee Lo and Xtina. Xtina tries to undermine the boys out of the gate and say they just want to hit on her, but she doesn’t listen and picks Cee Lo. Poor Adam, still totally teamless. Kelsey is emotional: “I was always the pretty face who could sing.” Mr. Carson: “That’s why this show is so important.” Yes, thank you, The Voice, for showing us the truth about the hardship of being young, beautiful AND talented. We shall overcome. By not including a picture of Kelsey in this recap. That’s how she would want it.
TEAM: Cee Lo, Sweet Chariot
Song: “Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts
This brave, adorable teddy bear is singing for his mother, who recently passed away. Adam and Cee Lo “WANT” him first, and Xtina presses next. Blake holds out, which is kind of weird, since Jeff is pretty darn country. Eventually Blake turns around, so now Jeff has his pick of the celeb-litter. Adam is selling it hard, because he doesn’t have anyone on his team yet. And Jeff’s buying what Adam is selling: He’s on Team Maroon 8. I’m worried for Jeff, because I think Adam Levine is kind of a creep. He dresses like he thinks he’s an extra in Grease. I’d be scared to be in room alone with him.
TEAM: It’s About Adam Time
Song: “Come As You Are,” Nirvana
This girl is living in her car, but her hair looks really good for being technically homeless. Nirvana is an … interesting … choice, and she goes at it like a film noire lounge singer. I think I like it? Xtina does. Adam hits his button, too. Xtina clearly hates Adam, but she tries to play it off as playful. “He wants to run for president from The Voice.” What does that even mean? Oh who cares, there is disdain here. I love it! Rebecca chooses Adam based on his “career’s trajectory” and now she has a HOME! (Well, no, she doesn’t. But maybe she can live with Adam? In his secret basement dungeon?)
TEAM: Adam It Feels Good to be a Gangsta
Song: “I Say A Little Prayer,” Dionne Warwick
Oh man. THIS lady. She’s 56, from Jersey, and in pigtails and a choker. Unfortunately for Joanne, none of the judges had the opportunity to be wooed by her choker, and they’re not sold on her voice. You know what’s the worst? Listening to the judges explain why they DIDN’T press their buttons is the worst. I don’t wanna hear it, and neither do these people. Stop rubbing it in!
TEAM: Mr. Carson’s Ragtag Rejects
Xenia (Last name redacted to protect the underaged?)
Song: “Break Even,” The Script
She’s 15 and a shy girl, but her voice cannot be contained! I love her, she’s young and fresh but soulful. I’da pressed my button! Blake and Cee Lo agree with me. Blake tries to convince Xenia that Cee Lo is too crazy for her young, impressionable mind, and it turns out she IS impressionable: She chooses Blake. Mr. Carson: “It’s great to have you, representing the YOUTH!” Wow, Mr. Carson. I know you’re the host, but please stop talking.
TEAM: Wake ‘n’ Blake
Song: “Just the Way You Are,” Bruno Mars
Another “play along” blind game for us viewers! Here’s what we know about Ty: He describes himself as a Southern Mormon nerd, and his dad looks like Boss Hog … but he’s also black and hot and has a killer afro! Ty contains multitudes. Ty has his pick of Adam and Cee Lo, and he picks Cee Lo.
TEAM: I Cee London, I Cee France
Song: “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper
He’s a 33-year-old father of two tiny, precious daughters, and he wants to win for the money for his family. And, despite that questionable sideways white hat, Javier KILLS it. Blake holds out while the other judges press their buttons, and backstage Carson says “Blake, you’re an idiot.” Blake presses his button, but he still MIGHT be an idiot, I don’t know him well enough to say just yet. Adam says he likes Javier’s “restraint” and he really NEEDS Javier to pick him. Douche chills! Cool it, Adam. Javier asks Xtina was took her so long, and she says she “wanted to get lost in him and feel him.” Single Xtina on the prrrow-el! Javier is tempted by Xtina’s offer but willingly falls into Adam’s web instead.
TEAM: Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give Adam
Song: “Piece of My Heart,” Erma Franklin
OK. So. This lady is bald and has multiple neck tattoos, like she’s daring the judges to change their minds after one of them picks her. She’s sweet and her voice is BIG, but her image is … intense. Adam and Xtina “WANT” Beverly, though Xtina looks honestly scared after she turns around. And neither of them tries THAT hard to get Beverly on their teams. Beverly picks Xtina, who gingerly gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Mr. Carson calls Beverly a “powerhouse.” Beverly could grind up Mr. Carson’s bones to make her bread, I think is what he is saying.
TEAM: Xtina Makeover: Home Edition
So that’s the end of Blind Auditions Night One. At the end of that two hour ordeal, let’s check out the teams so far:
Team Blake (4): Patrick, “Elenowen” (or do they count as just 1?), Xenia
Team Cee Lo (3): Vicci, Kelsey, Ty
Team Xtina (3): Tarralyn, Beverly, Frenchie
Team Adam (3): Jeff, Rebecca, Javier
Next Tuesday, the Blind Auditions continue, and then we’ll move on to the BATTLE STAGE: Two singers will sing the same song on the same stage, and their coach will decide who stays and who goes. After that, each coach’s team will be narrowed down to four voices, and then the Live Performance episodes begin. I think that means we get to start voting then. I hope I’m still alive when that part happens. It sounds like that could be a long time from now.
Here’s what I like about The Voice so far: Their chairs, the coaches’ spiteful banter, how unintentionally creepy Adam Levine is, Xtina’s jabs at Adam Levine, that giant sky-smashing fist on the stage, Beverly McClellan’s neck tattoos, the confusing Thunderdome rules.
Here’s what I don’t like about The Voice so far: Their chairs, the coaches’ faces when they’re trying to decide whether to hit the button or not, the coaches when they explain why they didn’t hit their buttons, Carson Daly’s mouth, live-tweets, not enough freaks and “characters” yet, too many pretty people, the confusing Thunderdome rules.
As you can see, I’m like Natalie Imbruglia over here: Torn. What did you think of the premiere of The Voice? Is it good? Bad? So bad it’s good? And who’s your early favorite of all the voices we heard tonight?
(Images courtesy of NBC)