The Voice is back and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. The Voice is still the best reality singing competition on the air. As American Idol goes into its twilight, The Voice will now be one of the longest running current singing competitions. It is really the positivity and fun on the show that is immeasurable. Plus, the fact that it is season 10 just inherently sounds impressive and exciting. However, there is a pall over this season and its name is Christina Aguilera.
I really want to like Christina, who I am now going to refer to as Xtina because it is stupid and amuses me. I just can never manage to like her. Xtina might have a great voice and is one of the best in pop music, but she is an absolutely terrible coach. Everything always seems to come back to herself, and she just rubs me the wrong way. The other coaches seem to genuinely like one another, but I’m never sure with Xtina. When she “jokingly” ribs her co-workers, it feels like it comes from a very real place of anger and annoyance.
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That’s enough of me complaining, though. This is the season premiere! It’s time for anticipation! I’m going to try to go into season 10 with the blankest slate and the most open mind as possible concerning Xtina. At the very least, she can’t be worse than my arch-nemesis and the personified death of joy that is The Voice host Carson Daly.
Paxton Ingram (“Dancing On My Own”)
Starting the season off is the young Paxton Ingram. Paxton is a former background dancer who wants to make his way into the spotlight. He lists Michael Jackson as one of his inspirations and wants to bring back the dancing/entertaining element to pop music. The Voice might be the wrong venue for that, but whatever. It’s not like Paxton doesn’t have a nice voice. He gets Adam, Pharrell and Blake to turn around and, in a stunning upset, he chooses Blake.
Result: Paxton Ingram chooses Team Blake
Caity Peters (“Jealous”)
Caity is a singer in a family full of doctors and medical professionals. The black sheep story is enough to make you like her, but she has a raspy soulful voice that is just stellar. It attracts the attention of all four coaches and they all turn their chairs around. This makes Caity dissolve into tears, which only serves to make her more likable. Pharrell wins the pitching session mainly because he gets on stage to hug Caity and talk to her family.
If you don’t know, the families are now standing off-stage watching the judges this season. This does get the families out of that creepy windowless room with Carson where no one can hear them scream as Carson looks at them with his soulless, lifeless eyes. It is still weird, though, mainly because Carson is still in their family huddle acting as if he is some disturbing cousin who can’t naturally read a teleprompter.
Result: Caity Peters chooses Team Pharrell
Nick Hagelin (“Lost Stars”)
Nick is a former ballet dancer who quit and turned to singing. He is also ridiculously, insanely good looking and so is his wife. So you’ll never believe that they produced an equally attractive and absolutely adorable son. Their son, Bash, was born with a rare disability that makes his joints and limbs overly stiff. This kid could give Jacob Tremblay a run for his money in the cuteness department.
In any case, Nick’s voice is good, not great; I want him to win, though, just to support Bash. Nick could win too; he just needs some work. Nick gets Xtina, Blake and Pharrell to turn around. Pharrell says not a single word but still somehow gets Nick to join his team.
Result: Nick Hagelin chooses Team Pharrell
Maddie Poppe (“Dog Days Are Over”)
Maddie Poppe is the first contestant of the night who doesn’t make it through. It is not too surprising; she is still in high school and needs time to mature as an artist. What is surprising is that Maddie’s failure isn’t at all depressing. Maddie is adorably star struck when the coaches turn around and they respond exactly the way celebrities should in this situation. The coaches hand out heartfelt advice to Maddie and it is a prime example of the positivity that makes The Voice so wonderful. They all tell her to return next season. She also is shown hugging every coach but Xtina. I’m just going leave that fact there, without any comment.
Result: No Chairs
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Mary Sarah (“Where the Boys Are”)
Mary Sarah is a young country singer who has a voice that sounds like it comes from a different era. She’s really, really good and she gets all four chairs. Mary picks Blake, as if there was any doubt from her description as a “young country singer.” I must point out Carson’s hysterics during her audition, however. Carson gets so excited (in the most fake way possible) that at one point, Mary’s family is patting him on the back. Calm down, Carson, literally no one cares.
Result: Mary Sarah chooses Team Blake
Mike Schiavo (“Talking Body”)
The Voice released Mike’s audition early, so I was very familiar with his name when Carson — ugh — drove to his house to interview him. Luckily, Carson’s “interview” is very minimal and the segment is basically just Mike talking about his life story. He didn’t go to college to pursue music and recently moved to LA. In case you didn’t see the sneak peek, Adam, Pharrell and Blake turn their chairs around. Adam gets up to sing, with Mike taking a very big swing … and it pays off. Mike picks Adam, and the Maroon 5 lead singer gets his first team member.
Result: Mike Schiavo chooses Team Adam
Bryan Bautista (“The Hills”)
Bryan Bautista was first on The Voice in season 9 and no coaches turned around. This time, he nearly gets the same result, but Xtina and Blake do turn around eventually. Xtina campaigns hard, while I’m firmly of the opinion that Blake only turned his chair to annoy her. The highlight of the audition has nothing to do with Bryan’s singing abilities. When Pharrell asks Bryan who he wants to be his coach, he replies with “Blake,” which causes everyone to freak out. Bryan cuts them off quickly, saying that he only wanted to address Blake first; he is going to choose Xtina. Adam is in love with Bryan now.
Result: Bryan Bautista chooses Team Xtina
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Abby Celso (“That Should Have Been Us”)
Abby gets both Adam and Pharrell to turn around. This should be the standard duking it out between two coaches, but it’s not. Instead, Blake and Adam choose Abby’s audition to have a bit of a lover’s quarrel. When Adam tells Blake to shut up during his initial pitch, Blake throws all his support behind Pharrell. This only serves to make Adam amusingly flustered, and Pharrell responds by having some killer arguments. All this hullabaloo makes it no surprise when Abby picks Pharrell.
Result: Abby Celso chooses Team Pharrell
John Gilman (“Don’t Be Cruel”)
John Gilman lives in a cabin deep inside the woods with his brothers. While I think this sounds like the beginning of Deliverance 2, John thinks it is great creative fodder. John thinks he is Elvis too. If you’re catching on, I’m not John’s biggest fan. He only gets one coach to turn around, though, so I’m obviously not alone in that opinion. The unlucky coach is Adam. Adam just picked up his first contestant that he is going to use as a sacrificial lamb in the Battle Rounds.
Result: John Gilman goes to Team Adam
Alisan Porter (“Blue Bayou”)
The last performance of the night is another audition that The Voice previously released. Unlike Mike Schiavo — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — Alisan Porter’s interview with Carson is actually interesting. Carson asks a total of three questions that were clearly predetermined, but still, Alisan has quite an interesting backstory. The Voice seems to think it is impressive that she played Curly Sue as a child, but since I have no idea who that is, I’m brushing it off.
Objectively, it is also the most boring thing about her. Alisan was in a couple Broadway shows. She appeared in Star Search as a child. She even has a more impressive acting gig as she was one of the kids in the movie Parenthood. Alisan is much more than Curly Sue. She struggled with drug addiction during her Broadway days but has now recovered and is doing much better. This is not even mentioning her voice, which is awesome and worthy of the final audition of the evening.
Alisan gets all four coaches to press their button. Adam and Xtina both rush the stage, which is apparently a trend this season, and I’m really not sure how I feel about it. Xtina campaigns the hardest for Alisan and her hard work ends up paying off. Alisan chooses Xtina. With Alisan on Xtina’s team, it’s possible that a female coach might finally win The Voice — until Xtina eventually ruins her, because you know it always happens. (Look, I tried to stay positive and measured for the whole recap, so allow me this little bit of snark.)
Result: Alisan Porter chooses Team Xtina
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)