Welcome back to The Voice, the new singing competition with a set of rules so complicated and arbitrary they make Calvinball look logical. Last week, NBC’s latest reality experiment debuted big: 11.8 million people watched its premiere, while 6 million more feasted their eyes on an encore presentation of the show. That meant the pressure was on tonight. Could the series’ second episode keep last week’s viewers interested while also winning over those who were tuning in for the first time, curious to see what all the fuss was about?
I’d answer that question with a medium-strength “yes.” It’s true that The Voice managed not to lose too much momentum in Episode 2. But that may have been chiefly because these two hours were so overstuffed that the night’s big twist — eight singers who initially had been rejected were given a second chance to wow the coaches — came and went in the blink of an eye. I’m not saying that the show should have saved these redos for a whole other episode; three weeks of blind auditions would have been too much of a good thing. Still, the end of the team formation round felt rushed and a bit anti-climactic, especially since we only saw one singer get turned down twice. Hopefully they’ll work out these kinks before the show’s inevitable second season.
But I digress. Let’s get down to what really matters: the nitty-gritty details of Blind Auditions: Back 2 Tha Hood. Carson Daly, a veteran who started emceeing when baby Brian was just a twinkle in Mr. Dunkleman’s eye, started off by reminding us that The Voice is searching for America’s best “undiscovered singers.” (Uh… how exactly does NBC define “undiscovered,” do you think?) He reiterated a few of the competition’s labyrinthine rules — for a full rundown, check last week’s recap — without mentioning others, like the fact that here, duos are for some reason treated like solo singers. Then we met the night’s first hopeful, backup vocalist Cherie Oakley.
Cherie’s straightforward country rendition of Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” failed to move any of the coaches — including Blake Shelton, who happens to be engaged to Miranda — until she hit her last big note. That final belt was powerful enough to persuade Christina to punch her big red button and welcome Cherie onto her team. Though Adam wondered whether Cherie may have been too aggressive with the song, Xtina literally waved his comments away as if to say, “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A VOICE THAT’S TOO BIG! CREOLE LADY MARMALAAAAADE!” At least the lady is consistent.
Cherie was followed by 19-year-old Devon Barley, who’s cute as a button and apparently also a prodigy; he’s somehow already in medical school. (Perhaps he got an early leg up because his parents are both “in the medical field,” sorta — Dad’s a chiropractor and Mom’s a dietician.) He sang Jason Mraz’s “I”m Yours” so smoothly that I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t pop up on an upcoming episode of The Mellow Show with Jack Johnson. Both Adam and Cee Lo wanted him; because Devon must secretly have a playlist that’s just “Sunday Morning” on an endless loop, he chose to join the Maroon 5 frontman’s squad. As Devon rejoiced backstage with his parents, Carson quipped, “You couldn’t be further away from practicing medicine now.” Oh yeah, Daly? What if instead of singing, he was making people sick on purpose?
NEXT: “Lemme get that name for you. You dropped it.”