Apparently, the first show that aired after the Summer Olympics a few weeks ago was just a “sneak peek.” Last night’s show was the official season premiere of The Voice. For those who don’t watch: the opening shows feature what are called “blind auditions,” where the contestants get on stage and sing to four coaches whose backs are turned, so that only the voice is what they are focused on. Once a coach turns his chair around to convince the singer to join their respective team, the artist must choose one of the celebrities who turned for them. This season, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus join returning coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Confused? Understand? Either way, if you watch one of the following videos, you’ll know how it works.
Eleven artists appeared on the premiere episode and of those, nine were chosen to continue on to the next round of the competition. As for the two that didn’t make it: Maggie Renfroe’s version of “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. suffered from a case of nerves and shaky notes, while Chris Cron’s “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS just didn’t make the grade with the coaches.
Two singers were able to get all four coaches to turn: Dave Moisan and Ali Caldwell, whose audition I featured in this post. Moisan sang “Sex And Candy” as done originally by Marcy Playground, but his version used the arrangement from Maroon 5’s cover. His falsetto was outstanding, but I hope he can do some nuanced work in his lower register. That said, he was pretty good. Caldwell was very good also singing Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” which isn’t the easiest song to sing. The group I watched with on Twitter heard some screaming; I didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment. Moisan chose Keys as his coach, while Caldwell opted for Cyrus.
As for the other seven artists, let’s take it from the top:
Jason Warrior (yes his actual last name) led off the show with Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City.” I always worry when anyone picks a Stevie song, because there’s only one Stevie Wonder, and no one can sing Stevie like Stevie. He has his own style and idiosyncrasies. That said, this kid had plenty of talent to burn. He packed every kind of note he could into his ninety-second performance. I liked it, but I worry that he won’t be able to rein it in when he needs to. He chose Keys as his coach.
Courtnie Ramirez belted out “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. Belted would be the key word. She has a powerful voice, which is good. I worry that she won’t be able to handle a song that requires a bit of nuance, or a song that also has some soft passages to go along with the strong bellowing. She’s going through anyway; she also chose Cyrus as her coach.
Sundance Head, at 37 the oldest contestant so far, performed Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” If the last name sounds somewhat familiar (or maybe it doesn’t), his father is Roy Head who had a top hit back in 1965 with “Treat Her Right.” I was a little leery of this one; that Redding song holds a special place in my memories, but Sundance did a good job with it; infusing it with some country which didn’t really sound all that out of place. I’ll be interested to see how far he can go in this competition. He chose Shelton as his coach, making him the first artist to go to one of the veterans of the show.
Riley Elmore looks to be the next in a crooner class that includes Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra among others. He even performed “The Way You Looked Tonight,” made famous by Sinatra. For a sixteen year old, he did rather well. Adam joined him onstage to sing the song with him after his performance, which pretty much sealed Elmore’s fate. After the joint performance, the young man indeed chose Levine as his coach.
Dana Harper, daughter of former NBA player Derek Harper came out to sing “Jealous” by Nick Jonas. Interesting choice, considering that Jonas’ song contains a lot of high notes, while Harper described herself as a “deep-voiced” singer. No one was moving until she uncorked a few notes in her lower register that got a couple coaches interested. In what was the biggest coaching choice surprise of the evening, she chose Blake as her coach. I wonder what he will be able to pull out of her; I think she has a very difficult road to winning the show.
Fifteen year-old Gabe Broussard performed Marc Broussard’s (no relation) “Lonely Night In Georgia.” At first, I thought the song would be too big for this young kid, but he did really well, at least until the end. I thought he strained towards the end of the song. He was able to get chairs to turn, and he also chose Shelton as his coach.
Perhaps saving the best for last, Christian Cuevas was the final performer on the show. He took on Laura Branigan’s “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You,” which was also performed as well as co-written by Michael Bolton. It’s a song built for powerful voices, and Cuevas showed he has one. He was able to get three chairs to turn; Miley was the only coach who didn’t turn for him. After another spirited battle between coaches, Cuevas chose Keys as his coach.
To recap night number one:
Alicia Keys picked up three artists: Dave Moisan, Jason Warrior and Christian Cuevas.
Miley Cyrus added two artists: Courtnie Ramirez and Ali Caldwell.
Blake Shelton has three artists on his team: Sundance Head, Dana Harper and Gabe Broussard.
Adam Levine picked up Riley Elmore.
If you watched the show, who were you impressed with? If you watched any of these videos, did anyone stand out? For me, I’m not sure I heard the winner yet, but I was impressed with Cuevas, Warrior, Moisan and Caldwell.
photo from Creative Commons via Eva Rinaldi (available for reuse).