The Voice returns to launch its 13th season. Powerhouse vocalist Jennifer Hudson joins show staples Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Jennifer is the reigning champ of The Voice UK, and she’s in it to win it. The coaches are the most competitive yet, as talent convenes from around the country to vie for the title of The Voice.
After a lot of hype for season 13 and the perfunctory introductions of the judges — like we don’t know them all by now — the show jumps right in with performances. Mixed between coach shenanigans and good-natured bickering, the singing starts right way.
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Meet the singers of The Voice season 13:
Chris Weaver (“Try a Little Tenderness”)
Chris is a worship leader by day and a drag queen by night. He leads the singing in his church, but he also performs as Needra Bell. He has a performance background and met Jennifer a few earlier at a Color Purple party. Apparently, she threw her shoe at him then, and that’s a really good thing.
This is an ambitious song, but he definitely nails it and the coaches are all fighting for a chance to work with him.
Result: Jennifer Hudson. She throws her shoe at him again during this performance, so it’s obviously meant to be.
Mitchell Lee (“Hold My Hand”)
Mitchell is a woodworker, ex-dentist and super hunky dreamboat from Charleston, South Carolina. He lost his mother two years ago, and her wish to see him as a performer and artist is what drives him to pursue a singing career. He’s also very, very handsome, and I’m not the only one to think so. J-Hud and Miley agree totally, and I think I see them blush a little.
Result: Blake Shelton. Duh. He’s cute and twangy, and he and Blake are like two bookends, if one is 20 years younger and more dark and handsome than the other.
Janice Freeman (“Radioactive Soul”)
Janice is a widow and struggled through cancer as a single mother. She battled all the grief and pain and, through it all, met her new husband of two years. She’s definitely a fighter, and you can tell she came to be a contender. If her blue lipstick is any indication, she’s not afraid to make bold choices.
Adam, who doesn’t turn his chair, calls it “swampy nastiness” and all the coaches agree with a huge “Yesss” because that’s a compliment.
Result: Miley. In a surprising twist, Janice and Miley really connect and the singer chooses her over J-Hud. Although both Miley and J-Hud go head to head with each other, they both come together to rush the stage and hug the crying Janice.
Xaris (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”)
Xaris (pronounced Kar-is) is an old soul in her young 17 years. Obsessed with folk music from the ’60s and ’70s, she collects vinyl records, the first of which was a Peter, Paul and Mary album. Xaris plays a handful of instruments and has the voice of a much older performer.
Result: Unfortunately, Xaris doesn’t generate any interest with the coaches, and no one turns around. All four have really encouraging things to say about her individuality and voice, but she just isn’t able to find a home team.
Shi’ann Jones (“Drown in My Own Tears”)
Shi’ann is 15 years old and from Bowling Green, Kentucky. According to Blake, and confirmed by Shi’ann, the Corvette Musuem is in Bowling Green and is a pretty cool spot.
Result: Jennifer. She turns around to grab Shi’ann after the first note. J-Hud is so committed to nabbing this singer that she threatens bodily harm to any other coach willing to push their button. Only Blake is brave enough to defy her, but Shi’ann winds up picking J-Hud in the end, anyway.
Dave Crosby (“I Will Follow You into the Dark”)
A young dad from Seattle, Washington, Dave is no stranger to a little bit of fame. He, along with his adorable 4-year-old daughter Claire, has his own YouTube channel. You’ll probably recognize the duo from their viral video featuring them singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Dave wants to make his daughter proud, and he thinks The Voice is just the place to make it happen.
Aside from “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” he also performs a live rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” with the cutest contestant ever. Hearts melt and coaches are swayed.
Result: Adam, of course. After his pitch about being a fan of the viral video, Dave can’t say no.
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Odiseas (“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”)
This is Odiseas’ second time on The Voice. He first appeared in season 3 when he was 15 and much more babyfaced in this turn. His family is from Ghana, Africa, and they are definitely a supportive bunch. He has his mother and two brothers in the wings rooting for him to succeed the whole time.
Result: It’s a bummer, but Odiseas doesn’t get picked this second time either. The coaches have lots of advice for him, but nobody pushes their button in time to save him. There is some regret among them, but he goes home in the end.
Esera Tuaolo (“Rise Up”)
Originally from Hawaii, Esera now lives in Minnesota after an incredibly successful career in the NFL. He went to the Superbowl with the Falcons and proudly wears his NFC championship ring on the stage. After his football career ended, in his 40s, he came out to his family and is now living as an out and proud gay man.
“Rise Up” seems like a fitting song for the ex-Falcon. It’s a happy coincidence that it’s also J-Hud’s favorite song.
Result: Blake, if you can believe it. His unusual voice seems like it might draw him to J-Hud, but the baller goes with Blake in the final decision.
Brandon Showell (“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back”)
Brandon is a 7th grade English teacher who got his start on a cruise ship (much like our very own Jennifer Hudson). He gigs on the weekend to be close to his fiance, and they plan to be married after the auditions.
Result: Adam. Adam gloats about this acquisition, and I can only surmise that Brandon feels some kinship with the coach over their shared sense of style. Brandon isn’t afraid to rock the too-short pants/no socks/loafer combo, and I swear I’ve seen Adam in a similar situation from the knee down.
Lucas Holiday (“This Woman’s Work”)
Lucas is a cashier for his local Lansing Michigan Dollar General, and you will be fooled by how he looks. Blake compares him to the TV shrink Frasier, but when he opens his mouth, he’s Frasier no more. A co-worker once took a video of him singing a Maxwell song at work; it went viral, and Maxwell himself invited him to come sing on stage at a Detroit concert.
Result: Jennifer, since she’s the only chair to turn during his performance. It’s probably fate because they seem to hit it off right away. They even sing an impromptu duet of “God is Able,” and it brings the house down.
Brooke Simpson (“Stone Cold”)
Brooke is 100% Haliwa-Saponi Indian, and her wish to make her tribe proud is coming true here. Her parents, full-time evangelists, stand on the sidelines and watch as she sings her heart out. She cites the Spice Girls as an early influence, but you can tell she’s got eclectic tastes.
This song really showcases her range, which some of the coaches liken to Jennifer’s. She owns the whole stage, and the coaches — all four of them — are on their feet by the time she finishes.
Result: Miley. How could Brooke have made any other choice? Miley’s heart is pounding, and Brooke identifies a “similar spirit” in her coach and mentor.
Who was the stand-out performer of the season premiere? Which coach is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Voice season 13 airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC. Want more news? Like our Voice Facebook page.
(Image and videos courtesy of NBC)