A Season 2 semifinalist, I blog about the NBC competition for TheWrap
Our favorite singing competition “The Voice” is back with a new season (and their most watched premiere since 2012!). Now it's been a couple of months, and I'm a little rusty, so buckle up – it may be a bumpy ride. Let's talk my favorite moments from this week's episodes (in no particular order).
1. It's gonna get bloody
Christina Grimmie's “Wrecking Ball” was the first audition to air, a fantastic performance that started the season off on a strong note. She was utterly fearless, hitting unexpected heights and making the song her own. Her four chair turns also re-introduced us to how hard the coaches will fight for a great contestant. Coach Adam Levine described it best – “It's gonna get bloody.” It did, and Adam drew the most blood, securing Christina to his team.
2. Best high kick
Biff Gore's authentic take on “A Change is Gonna Come” showcased his classic gospel chops and won him four chair turns. His response was an impulsive high kick that delighted me and everyone watching the show. Despite some intense coach bickering that involved Coach Shakira calling Coach Usher out for spending too much time on his abs, Biff decided “Team Abs” (I mean Team Usher) was the right choice.
3. Favorite performance
Maybe it's the fact that I've been listening to The Civil Wars non-stop. Maybe it's because I'm planning my own Acoustic/Americana EP. Whatever the reason, Dawn and Hawkes's “I've Just Seen A Face” struck a chord with me. I'm not always a fan of duos, but their voices blend beautifully, and it was truly refreshing to see someone get up on “The Voice” stage and sing in a natural, unaffected way – no bells and whistles (or whistle tones!), no melodramatic wailing and no wall-to-wall runs. It was simple and gorgeous and my favorite performance of the week. I was happy to see them join Team Adam. Now let's hope they don't break up, because that would be awkward.
Watch their performance again above.
4. The comeback kids
This week belonged to the comeback kids, returning contestants who were unable to make a team Season 5 but came back bigger and better this season. Delvin Choice came armed with some sassy flood pants and a better song choice, securing a spot on Team Adam with a tastefully done rendition of “A Song For You.” Then Jake Worthington won most improved – doing a beautiful version of “Don't Close Your Eyes” that blew his last audition out of the water and won him a spot on Team Blake. These second chance stories provided some of the most heartwarming moments of the week.
5. Most charming salesmanship
Our coaches all have different sales tactics. Adam makes passionate speeches. Shakira tries to personally connect, and Blake slides by on being Blake Shelton. Usher's approach manages to be intense, laid-back and charming at the same time. Sometimes this works exceedingly well as it did after Bria Kelly's gritty, all out performance of “Steamroller Blues.” All the coaches wanted her, but Usher circled her, brandishing his Grammy and giving an inspirational monologue about hard work and determination. It was like watching a jaguar circle its prey. How could Bria resist? Of course, she chose Team Usher.
6. Blowing rainbows where?
Noah Lis's “Me and Mrs. Jones” was serviceable but seemed like an ill-fitting song choice for the budding crooner. However, he did generate one of the most quotable lines of the night when Adam said he wouldn't “blow rainbows up his butt” in an effort to win him over. Adam then backpedaled, but it was too late. Blake not only blew some rainbows but also name checked Noah's idol Michael Buble, securing him to his team.
7. Oh, hey mustache man
Although he didn't win any chair turns, Keith Shuskie won best mustache with his barbershop quartet inspired grooming. I dare anyone else to top that facial hair this season!
8. The Bieber Card
The minute I saw Usher push his button for 16 year old Madilyn Paige's sweet, pared down version of “Titanium,” I KNEW he would play the Bieber card. This tried and true method involves subtly (or not so subtly) invoking Usher's association with the troubled and very famous teen Justin Bieber. Blake and Shakira fought hard, but once the Bieber card is pulled, there's no turning back. Usher handily won one of the best female singers of the week.
9. Celebrity Hoarders: Blake Shelton edition
“The Voice” contestants are skewing younger and more marketable by the minute, and last night's Deja Hall was no exception to that rule. It was no surprise to see three chairs turn for her lovely rendition of “True Colors.” Blake creepily offered to adopt her, so naturally she ran in the other direction and joined Team Shakira (smart girl!). Listen, Blake – you can only hoard so many teenage girls in your quest to win the show.
10. Won't you come sit in my big red leather chair?
Forget inviting a girl up to see your “swatches” – apparently the new seduction technique is to offer them your big red leather chair. That's all it took to get Cary Laine, a feisty mom from Wyoming, on Team Adam. Her fiery performance of “Better Dog Too” had all four coaches scrambling to get her on their team, but Adam's offer of a comfortable chair sealed the deal.
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.