"The Voice" is back, and for the first five minutes of this two-hour marathon show we are reminded how awesome it is compared to, say, other singing competition shows. Cough, "American Idol," cough, "X-Factor," cough cough. "The Voice" cares about the artists! It's not superficial! The voice has Shakira! And Usher! And, you know, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine! And Usher launched Justin Bieber! Take that, Randy Jackson!
Before we get to the blind auditions, the judges perform "Come Together" by the Beatles. Adam Levine is on drums and Usher is on bass. There's Shakira being Shakira! You know, she can play guitar, too,
"The Voice." Were they low on musical instruments or something? I'm pretty sure everyone in the Beatles played something. No one was ever assigned to cowbell.
Anyway, there's Blake Shelton on guitar and Shakira singing like she has something stuck in her throat. I love you, Shakira, but you sound nervous. And like you may have choked down a few fistfuls of lizards right before going on stage. Usually you make that work for you, but it doesn't quite mesh with a Beatles song. Oh, wait, she's playing harmonica! I guess they didn't have to give her a guitar after all. Or a cowbell.
First up, the 27-year-old Morgan twins. They're the first twins on "The Voice"! Harmonizing is kind of their thing, and they want Usher to pick them. They dress alike and do everything together. They get separation anxiety when they're apart. Give these girls blankies, jeez. Or wait, put them on separate teams and see if they can handle it. Singing while crying; isn't that a Web site? Kidding! They seem adorable.
They sing "Fallin'." They harmonize beautifully, but at some point it's all about the harmonizing -- I want them to sing solo a little more than they do. Still, every judge spins around. Blake thinks they're like a damn Doublemint commercial, as they're every man's fantasy. I'm thinking this is kind of uncomfortable.
They pick... Blake. Even after he implies the twin thing gets him all fired up. Miranda, are you watching?
Jess Kellner is 24-year-old, and when her mother became subsumed by alcoholism, she moved in with her dad. Luckily, she loves her stepmom. She wants to do big things for her family.
Honestly, I hate her voice, but Shakira turns around. So does Usher. Shakira was haunted by the timbre of her voice, despite her screw-ups on pitch. Adam heard too much Adele. She picks... Usher. I think she should have gone with Shakira, given that she also knows something about singing oddly.
Next, we have Mark Andrew, 27. He roofs houses with his brother, so he's able to take days off when he wants. He was in a band, but his drummer was killed by a drunk driver and his guitarist recently died. I am thinking Mark Andrew has awful, awful luck. He performs "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."
Adam and Shakira duke it out for him. Adam thinks the song wasn't the best choice for him, but he liked the fact that this suggests there's more he can do. Shakira says she hasn't felt this passionate about an artist thus far. Shakira is giving this the hard sell. He picks Shakira.
Janetza Miranda, 25, is from a happy Puerto Rican family. She wants to work a bird call into her performance. I would suggest not, as it sounds like she's being fatally squeezed. She can't wait to be so close to Shakira! She sings "Titanium."
No one turns for her. I was wondering how long before this happened. Man, it always sucks. She had rough patches, but she was very good, really. Adam gives her a hug. Blake thinks she needs to come back, but her verses were a little too dramatic. Shakira thinks she needed to come down a half-step to hit all the notes. Her family is so happy!
Adam still doesn't have anyone on his team. C'mon, Adam!
Danielle Bradbery, 16, got into music because her cousin was always singing around the house. She was teased growing up for her crooked teeth, which she no longer has. She sings "Mean." She has a natural, easy country sensibility, and everyone turns around but Shakira. Usher tries to bribe her with Justin Bieber tickets, but he's just kidding. Because that's probably against the rules to whatever extent there are rules. Still, he wants to do something that could shock the world with her. Blake wants to take her to Nashville, but Usher wants to take her to the world. And Usher refers to Nashville as a state, which gives Blake plenty of teasing ammunition for the rest of the season.
She picks Blake, which makes perfect sense. And best of all, she doesn't inspire twin fantasies for him.
Vedo, 19, is an R&B singer. He was homeless for two or three years, but his mom was by his side. And now she has stage four lung cancer. She has two to six months to live. He sobs during the interview, poor bunny. He sings "Boyfriend."
Thank God, Usher spins around. Everyone else wanted him, but knew he was perfect for Usher, or at least that's what they say. So, Usher gets him. I'm so glad. These sob stories do really make you root for the people to get onto the show. It's just too depressing if they don't.
Christian Porter, 21, was assumed deaf as a child because he didn't talk. He's unique. He's a bar musician. He's singing "Sexy and I Know It." Everyone turns but Adam. Adam is so picky! Shakira declares him sexy. And he knows it! Adam admits he may not have been ready for such a unique sound. Usher thinks he's hugely confident.
He picks... Blake. Blake has three artists, Adam has... none.
Nicole Serrano, James Shealy and Hunter Elizabeth did not make the cut.
Leah Lewis, 15, was born in China and was adopted when she was a baby. She sings country and blues. She sings "Blown Away." A Chinese teen singing country! This has got to work!
No one turns. Blake thinks she has more potential. Usher thinks she has a powerful voice. Shakira just thinks she needs to practice more. Adam thinks she has nothing to worry about. It's a shame. She's good, but needs work. Maybe next year.
Kris Thomas, 27, is the youngest of four kids in a very religious family. He was only allowed to listen to gospel music. He had and lost a record deal. Then, he became an alcoholic and drove drunk and almost crashed into a house. Now he's sober and looking for a second chance. He sings "Saving All My Love for You."
He's great -- and hits crazy high notes. Shakira is the only one to turn around. The guys are all completely freaked out, as they thought he was a she. He killed a Whitney Houston song. Usher and Adam are so jealous of Shakira! She was careful not to give away what a surprise it was when she turned around. Smart!
James Irwin, 30, is a carpenter who's been singing since he was five. Last year had highs and very. very low lows. He had label interest (high) but he and his wife lost identical twin girls shortly after they were born. The did keep trying and had a baby boy named Aiden (high) but he still thinks about his little angels in heaven. He sings "The Man Who Can't Be Moved."
I think he was nervous. His voice had a nice tone, but he doesn't really grab the moment.
No one turns around. Blake tells him he did a good job. Adam thinks it was a little subdued. Shakira thinks he should come back.
Carson Daly goes to visit Judith Hill, 28, at her home in Pasadena. Her mom and dad are professional musicians who have both played with Chaka Khan. And Judith was chosen to sing back-up with Michael Jackson and practiced with him for two months... she sang "Heal the World" at his memorial service. She could have capitalized on that moment, but it seemed like poor taste to her.
She sings "What A Girl Wants." Usher turns around IMMEDIATELY. Everyone turns for her. Adam tells her she's the first person to sing Christina Aguilera as well as Christina Aguilera. I would say better.
Adam tells her he's going to light himself on fire to get her on her team. Usher promises to make her win the world, not just "The Voice." Blake thinks she's a star, and so does Shakira. Adam is about to have a panic attack, because he knows she's going to win this competition. I think he's right. She's amazing.
She chooses... Adam. He's sure she's going to be a Grammy-winning superstar. Usher says she's the one artist he honestly regrets not getting for his team.
Usher has Jess Kellner and Vedo
Blake has Danielle Bradbery, the Mordan Twins, and Christian Porter
Shakira got Mark Andrew and Kris Thomas
And Adam got Judith Hill. I think, even with only one person on his team, he still came out ahead.
Do you think the winner has already been found? Was there anyone you were disappointed to see sent home? What do you think of Shakira and Usher as judges?
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