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Recap: 'The Voice' Season 3 Premiere
NBC's crown jewel does a quick turnaround for its third season
Moving “The Voice” into the Fall will either be a smart move on the part of NBC or a disaster that keeps it in the ratings’ basement for a potential half-decade. On one hand, who can blame the struggling network for producing another season of one of the only programs it can truly call a hit? On the other hand, how can we miss the show if it never goes away? The best-case scenario creates a beachhead for the network to develop other shows into hits. The worst case? “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Part 2: Electric Swivel Chair Boogaloo”.
A few notes before starting the first of many, many, many running diaries throughout this season…
• I watched almost all of Season One, but almost none of Season Two. All I know about last season is that at some point, according to Twitter, Christina Aguilera apparently stopped wearing pants.
• With the number of overall contestants ballooning to 64 this season, there’s no way I’m going to remember everyone’s name. It will take weeks, if not months, to get to that magic number. I feel bad for the fourth picks on some of these teams.
• Having just said that, watch a fourth pick win the whole thing.
• Winning the whole thing matters little, since winning shows like this guarantees almost nothing in this day and age unless your first name is almost identical to your last. So keep an eye on any contestant named “Suzana Susannah.”
• I’m not responsible for what prolonged exposure to Carson Daly will due to my mind. Stay tuned for hallucinations, sentences that end in prepositions, and random cries of “DAAAALLYYYYY!!!!”
With that said, let’s get this running diary started. All times are EST.
8:00 p.m. BUTTON MASHING MONTAGE! Then an introduction of the coaches, with each one extolling the virtues of the others. I’m sure this spirit will last throughout the season, right?
8:02 p.m. Are they already showing contestants that get through the auditions? I imagine people will be freezeframing those shots and comparing them to each contestant as they appear.
8:03 p.m. The coaches appear onstage together to perform The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.” Because….the season is starting up. I guess? Considering the train wrecks that have ensued when combining these four artists in the past, this is perfectly serviceable. Great pull quote, I know. (“‘Perfectly serviceable’” raves HitFix!)
8:04 p.m. So. Much. Confetti. I’m pretty sure Adam Levine is having sex with someone onstage right now, only we can’t see it. Pretty sneaky, Adam.
8:05 p.m. The first contestant to get a prepackaged segment: Terry McDermott, who grew up in a small Scottish village. He looks like a member of Oasis. Which one? Any one that’s not a Gallagher brother. Daly shows him a “good luck” message from his family back home THROUGH THE POWER OF SPRINT. Ah, product placement. We best get used to it.
8:08 p.m. McDermott opens with The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”. Bold choice, since this is one of the great rock vocals of all time. He gets through the first verse with nary a coach pressing his/her button. Now we’re through the final section, and still no one has turned around. But at the final moment, all three male judges turn around.
8:10 p.m. “You have a tried and true rock and roll voice,” says Levine. Aguilera praises his radio-friendly tone. “You sound like the real thing,” adds in Green. “I think you and I can win this if you just get up there and talk,” notes Shelton.
8:11 p.m. McDermott becomes the first member of Team Blake. Or, as I shall dub them, Team Accent! One down, sixty-three to go. Lord have mercy on our karaoke souls.
8:12 p.m. Green hints at the twist of this season: Coaches can steal contestants during the Battle Rounds should that singer not win the battle. Strategy like that should help those Battle Rounds, which have traditionally been the show’s Achilles’ heel. Each performance turns into another audition, essentially.
8:16 p.m. “This is ‘The Voice’!” Ah, I’ve missed you, short, catchy, will-haunt-my-dreams theme song.
8:17 p.m. Next up, De’Borah, who grew up on gospel music. When she was 18, she cut her hair, at which point her church dismissed her for her looks. But her folks (both ministers) still support her dream. “I’m into love. I’m not into the gender thing,” she says, before announcing that she’s gay. To say she’s self-assured is saying something. Looking forward to her performance.
8:18 p.m. She chooses Train’s “Soul Sister,” and it’s about twenty times better than the original. That’s a combination of her voice and my general disdain for the original track. Three quarters of the way through there are still no button pushes, which is fairly insane. (And most likely milked on purpose.)
8:19p.m. FINALLY, Green and Aguilera push their buttons. Green praises her voice, while Aguilera praises her outfit. That makes sense for a show called “The Voice.” Cough. De’Borah explains how she views the show as her chance to fit in and feel less like a misfit. Green empathizes with that outlook. That pairing seems to make a ton of sense, but De’Borah instead becomes the first member of Team Christina. Not sure that was the best decision, but I’m keeping an eye on De’Borah this season for sure regardless.
8:23 p.m. Backstage, De’Borah’s decision makes more sense, as she attributes Aguilera’s “The Voice Within” as key inspiration in her own life. Whether or not that decision will help her this season will be seen.
8:27 p.m. 18-year old Gracia Harrison, who is as easy on the eyes as any contestant in a program in which the judges can see the would-be superstars, is next. She’s got lots of country fair experience, where she honed her yodeling skills. Oh no. She’s gonna sing Jewel, isn’t she?
8:28 p.m. Harrison kicks into Ruby Blevins’ “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart”, and almost instantly Levine and Shelton turn around. Green hits his button when he hears the yodeling. (Because OF COURSE he does.) Luckily, yodeling only takes up about 10% of the song, the rest of which is a wonderfully performed country standard.
8:30 p.m. Levine is over the moon, calling her the best country voice on the show to date. “There’s no reason for you to be on my team, which is exactly why you should be on my team,” he states. (Wait, what?) “I actually hate the thought of what would happen to you in the long run if you were influenced by one of these two,” warns Shelton, hoping to use her voice to bring back something missing in the current country music landscape. “Let me be your cowboy sweetheart!” pleads Green.
8:32 p.m. Harrison joins Team Shelton as the second member. Green and Levine are still shut out. Levine’s praying for the confetti to rain down again so he can get in another quickie.
8:37 p.m. 16-year old Garrett Gardner is up next. His father, a jazz drummer, died of cancer when he was ten years old. OK, turning the snark meter off. And I had so many “Pierced Jonas Brother” jokes ready to go!
8:39 p.m. Gardner’s selection? Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” His deep voice belies his young age. Levine is sooo close to pushing, but doesn’t. No one else even makes an effort to do so. Poor guy.
8:40 p.m. Everyone is surprised to see the singer before them. Shelton suggests that he control the movement between the notes, assuring Gardner that such control will come with time. Aguilera believes that he’s “80% there.” When asked by Green where he got his influence, Gardner breaks down when discussing his dad. Aguilera gives him a hug, and Levine tells him, “You were so much better than I was at sixteen.” Now THAT is a way to dismiss a contestant from a competition without belittling them.
8:47 p.m. Devyn Deloera, who apparently made time from her busy schedule shooting Maxim spreads, is up next. She insists she was the oddball growing up. JUST LIKE ME! WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON! Except I’m not sure I could wear that top.
8:48 p.m. Deloera is going to sing “Ain’t No Other Man.” Ooooooh boy. Someone’s gonna get cut. Not from the show. Literally.
8:49 p.m. Her voice simply doesn’t have the depth or range of Aguilera. So picking the song might not have been the best choice in the world. And yet, when Deloera takes the song up a notch vocally before the final chorus, Aguilera turns around, quickly followed by Levine and Shelton. Not sure she deserved a single button push, but hey, I’m here at home for a reason.
8:51 p.m. Aguilera praises the difficulty of her performance, noting her first-hand experience at having to perform it live herself. Deloera asks which one of them will take her further in the competition, and the three judges trip over themselves in trying to make the best case for her on the team. I simply don’t get it. It certainly can’t be because of her looks, can it? Surely not.
8:53 p.m. Team Aguilera lands its second contestant, and second female. Playing over the selection? One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful.” Cough.
8:58 p.m. Bryan Keith, a 22-year old from The Bronx, is up next. His father is a two-time Grammy-winning artist. So, no pressure, Bryan!
9:00 p.m. He chooses Bruno Mars’ “It Will Rain,” and he’s barely started before Shelton and Aguilera press their buttons, quickly followed by Green. Levine…might be asleep. NOPE! He was just thinking deeply, apparently, and presses his button as well. We have our first unanimous choice of the young season. I would suggest that De’Borah should have been the first, but I also won’t argue about this either.
9:02 p.m. All judges are effusive in their praise of Keith, all noting his “signature” style. Levine and Green seem anxious to land the first member of their respective teams. Keith helps one of them out, becoming the first contestant on Team Adam. He’s not as instantly memorable as De’Borah, but seems more polished. That could work for or against him over the long haul. The ceiling is higher for De’Borah, but the lows could be lower there as well.
9:05 p.m. Daniel Rosa, who didn’t make it through the second season’s auditions, is back for a second attempt. What’s the biggest difference from last year? According to Daniel’s father, it’s added confidence. We’ll see how much that translates onstage. Also, will anyone recognize the voice before turning around? We’ll find out…AFTER NBC SELLS YOU THINGS.
9:10 p.m. If they don’t pick him again, we may see the first in-show death in “The Voice” history. This dude will drop dead of shame in front of us.
9:11 p.m. Rosa performs a slowed-down, countrified version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”. (It sounds like a lost track from Beck’s “Sea Change”.) Green and Shelton both press their buttons, and are simultaneously DELIGHTED to see Rosa in front of them. Levine, who didn’t even press his button, nevertheless runs up and hugs Rosa. This moment would be more impactful for me had I followed last season more closely, but it’s a nice moment all the season.
9:13 p.m. “You do remember me!” cries Rosa, clearly overwhelmed by the moment. And the judges all want to take this kid home and adopt him.
9:15 p.m. Poor Rosa is so shocked at having anyone turn around that he seems unready to pick a coach. But there’s only one choice, really, and he makes it: Team CeeLo has its first member! Awww. I doubt Rosa will get terribly far in the competition, but it’s a nice story all the same. And who knows? I could be totally wrong. Won’t be the first or last time this season recapping this show.
9:21 p.m. Carson Daly once explains that each coach is building teams of sixteen. Sixteen. Stop reminding me, Carson. Next year, it will be 24 per squad, and Battle Rounds will be replaced by The Hunger Games.
9:22 p.m. Anita Antoinette from Boston, Massachusetts is up next. Boston, represent! She’s here to sing Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” in honor of her mother than took the family from Jamaica to create a better life. “Every tear, every heartache…this is what I was supposed to do,” Antoinette says before heading onstage.
9:23 p.m. Antoinette works well within the rhythm, but struggles with some of the higher register. Levine shouts to Green from one unturned chair to another, “You gotta bring this song!” And he’s right. There’s nothing bad about the performance, but nothing too memorable either.
9:25 p.m. None of the judges could feel her performance. Instead, they merely heard it. So they ask her to do it again while facing them, this time imparting it with feeling. She performs a cappella, and it’s markedly better. Aguilera even audibly shivers at one point. The male judges all stand up and applaud her second effort. This doesn’t change her overall fate, but does have her leaving with her head held slightly higher.
9:32 p.m. Next up, Joe Kirkland from Fort Worth, Texas. He’s there with his bandmates. Um, that’s not awkward at all.
9:33 p.m. Kirkland performs The All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell”. Levine and Shelton race to be first to hit their button. Kirkland looks just like The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone. I can’t wait to hear him sing “J$zz In My Pants” during the Battle Rounds.
9:34 p.m. Levine: “I’ve never had anyone like you, because I’ve never had anyone that did it right.” Shelton notes they both…wear vests. As a way to signal solidarity, Kirkland replies, “Everything is bigger in Texas!” “Oooh,” retorts Aguilera. Let the sexual harassment of the contestants begin!
9:35 p.m. Kirkland, himself a frontman of a band, joins Team Adam. Yay, I guess? Not a lot of energy in the back half of tonight’s premiere, overall. The judges’ banter is already predictable. But mostly, we haven’t seen a truly great contestant since Bryan Keith.
9:37 p.m. Christina Milian reminds us that “The Voice” will still pretend like it understands social media throughout the season. You’ve been warned.
9:42 p.m. Back from commercial break, we meet Jessica Sharpe, a small-town girl. Living in her lonely world. (The first part is true. The second part is a guess.)
9:44 p.m. She chooses Dusty Springfield’s “Son Of A Preacher Man”. I expected country, so this is a nice surprise. Unfortunately, the performance itself is semi-lackluster. Like all performances that don’t make the cut tonight, it’s not bad. It’s just not up to par with the successful iterations. (One of the things I appreciate about “The Voice” is its refusal to put William Hung-esque performers on its stage. It makes getting through the lengthy audition process infinitely more tolerable and shows respect for the audience’s time.)
9:46 p.m. “Sometimes the magic isn’t in the air, and it certainly doesn’t mean you should give up,” says Levine. Shelton begs her to come back for season four so the pair can make history together. Aguilera offers up another hug. “I’m just gonna go back to doing hair and singing in my cover band,” she notes through tears backstage. My guess? Instead of going back home, she’s gonna take the midnight train going anywhere.
9:48 p.m. REJECTED CONTESTANT MONTAGE! REJECTED CONTESTANT MONTAGE! REJECTED CONTESTANT MONTAGE!
9:52 p.m. 18-year old Trevin Hunte is the final contestant of the night. He does NOT look 18. No one would ever card this kid at a liquor store. Trevin must be the most popular kid in his class. He had a chance to get into a performing arts school, but one teacher refused to give him a recommendation, thus squashing his dreams. That teacher sounds delightful.
9:55 p.m. He’s performing Beyonce’s “Listen”, and it’s gooooood. Aguilera presses her button right away, joined by Shelton as Hunte’s voice ascends higher and higher into the heavens. Green joins in, prompting Shelton to scream, “What are you doing?” to Levine. I’d ask the same question. And I don’t even wear a vest!
9:56 p.m. “What planet are you from?” asks Green. “You might be that dude…that dude that can win it all.” None of the judges can believe he’s only 18. (See?) For his part, Trevin is anxious to find a coach that can help him overcome his teacher’s lack of faith and take him to the next level.
9:58 p.m. “CeeLo…we got this!” Hunte declares. Green needed that, because his only other team member at this point (Rosa) is hardly a strong contender.
Team rosters, ranked in order of strongest to weakest…
Team Blake: Terry McDermott, Gracia Harrison
Team Christina: De’Borah, Devyn Deloera
Team CeeLo: Daniel Rosa, Trevin Hunte
Team Adam: Bryan Keith, Joe Kirkland
The differences are so miniscule as to be almost non-existent. But what’s the point of a recap like this if I can’t make commenters irrationally angry via subjective rankings?
And now individual grades…
They Stood Out: De’Borah, Bryan Keith, Trevin Hunte
They Scraped By: Devyn Deloera, Daniel Rosa
They Got Robbed: No one this week.
What did you think of the first blind auditions? Sound off below!