By Amanda Bell
February 27, 2019 at 02:51 PM EST
S16 E1, 2
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Sixteen. That’s how many seasons The Voice has managed to squeeze into half as many years, and the series shows no signs of stopping, either. Newly-minted EGOT winner John Legend has joined the coaching staff for the new season, alongside eternal returnees Adam Levine and Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson, who won the last two years in a row with Brynn Cartelli and Chevel Shepherd.

Legend is no stranger to the reality competition scene and has lent his multitude of talents to Dancing with the Stars and Lip Sync Battle. At the same time, he’s still a relative newcomer to the coaching/judging game, but that doesn’t mean the contestants aren’t already flocking to his corner, and why wouldn’t they? With his producing credentials and general air of coolness, who wouldn’t want to be on Team John?

To prove he’s bringing something different to this season, John Legend’s introduction is a fun little family affair, as his opening skit features wife Chrissy Teigen helping him get ready for the first day of blind auditions with a book of country sayings to communicate with Blake, a buzzer button to practice tamping on the bus, earplugs to drown out the well-known verbosity of Kelly, and some fake tattoos to look as cool as Adam.

This is also the first year that Kelly’s the only female with a red chair, but she, like the rest, is most intimidated by John Legend. Let’s take a look at who made it through on Week 1 of the blinds.

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, John Legend -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)
Trae Patton/NBC

DAY ONE

Gyth Rigdon (24 – Singer, LA)
What to know: This guy has some serious country roots, having grown up on a horse farm, and his adorably devoted dad helped him get his first gig. Also, he first met his wife at a dive bar gig by playing “Single Ladies” to see if she would, indeed, put her hands up. Well played, literally.
The performance: Gyth’s rendition of “Drift Away” has a lot of soul, with his rugged tenor and ability to reach for some waxy high notes. Blake’s the first one to turn for him, and even uses his block to stuff out John Legend’s chances, but Kelly’s also in the mix and offers him a route away from his country roots. Complimenting him as a Garth Brooks sound-alike with buff arms still does the trick of bringing Gyth “home” to Team Blake Shelton, though.
Team: Blake Shelton

Maelyn Jarmon (25 – New York, NY by way of Frisco, TX)
What to know: Thanks to some childhood ear infections, Maelyn is deaf on one side and thus experiences sound differently than most people — but she calls it a “superpower,” rather than a disability, because she can naturally hear herself harmonize. She also has a background in musical theater.
The performance: It only takes a few bold notes of her haunting “Fields of Gold” rendition to get all four coaches’ chairs turned, but it only gets better from there. Her Sarah McLachlan style resonance is completely inviting, and Blake champions her precision and how “moved” he was by her delivery. Kelly also compliments her uniquely simmering approach to the song, but it’s John who calls her “magic” as she exhibited complete command of her “instrument.” What can compare to that?
Team: John Legend

Karen Galera (19 – Dallas, TX by way of Guadalajara, Mexico)
What to know: She’s interested in helping change the narrative about the Latin-American community and currently performs music at malls. Her best friend and inspiration is her brother, who is currently deployed with the military but sent her a good luck video.
The performance: Karen barely gets through the first lines of her all-Spanish performance of “Mi Corazoncito” before Kelly Clarkson gives her button an enthusiastic tap. After she carries the rhythm forward with her round honey sound, John Legend also turns for her, promising that he liked her from the beginning but likes to “take his time” to decide on someone. Ultimately, it’s her early enthusiasm and their shared birthday that wins Karen over to Team Kelly, despite John’s impassioned plea.
Team: Kelly Clarkson

Trey Rose (26 – Hugo, OK)
What to know: He’s from the “middle of nowhere” but looks to Blake Shelton for inspiration on making it into the big time. He’s also a single dad of two littles whom he raises with his girlfriend.
The performance: Adam Levine is taken by his steely and energetic take on “Wake Me Up” from the very beginning, but Blake Shelton has to hear him exhibit a bit more of his range — which he does with a few especially gnarly notes — before he turns around and creates a classic coaching battle between Adam and Blake. Trey has decided long ago, however, to pick whichever coach picks him first, so to Adam’s team he goes, shared roots with Blake or none.
Team: Adam Levine

Kim Cherry (?)
What to know: We don’t get to know much about her story, except that her command of a vintage R&B tune leaves John Legend stunned that she’s a white singer.
The performance: All the coaches are grooving during her rhythmic performance of TLC’s “Scrubs,” but when she decides to rap, that’s what gets Kelly and Blake’s attention. Kelly compliments her pitch and poise, while Blake encourages her to keep defying expectations by picking him as her coach.
Team: Blake Shelton

Rizzi Myers (29 – Nashville, TN)
What to know: She’s a full-time mother and songwriter and has written for a number of artists. She says that a producer once tried to develop her as an artist, but she couldn’t handle the image pressures of that pursuit.
The performance: Kelly’s the first to sign on for her sassy and pitch-proficient, albeit very on the nose take on Ariana Grande’s “Breathin’,” but after a few impressive power notes, Blake and John also turn around — with the latter being blocked (again). She and Kelly have a history, though, of having met backstage at a concert some years before. She even brought the picture along just in case, so it’s a no-brainer whose team she’s going to.
Team: Kelly Clarkson

Lisa Ramey (33 – New York, NY)
What to know: She auditioned last season, but Kelly Clarkson encouraged her to come back with something a bit slower, so here she is. That said, she’s still pretty excited about John Legend being the new coach, especially since he’s never heard her sing before.
The performance: She was right to be enthusiastic about John Legend because he’s the one to turn his chair for her after delivering a dramatized rendition of “Sex on Fire.” It’s certainly slowed down, as Kelly had advised her, but evidently John was the only one who heard what he needed to within all that wailing on what he coins “a really cool song” choice.
Team: John Legend

Jimmy Mowery (31 – Altoona, PA)
What to know: His family history has a very dark chapter, as, after his parents reconciled from a period of separation, his mother’s ex-boyfriend took his father’s life in their home.
The performance: Charlie Puth’s “Attention” isn’t easy to bring to any stage, let alone this one, but his falsetto is strong, and nobody loves a high note quite like Adam Levine, whom Jimmy kinda even sounds like in spots. John Legend also turns his chair around the halfway mark, but Adam decides to give him some free early advice that pays off by coaxing out both his head voice and fuller tones, and it works.
Team: Adam Levine

Lili Joy (15 – Chino Hills, CA)
What to know: After experiencing some childhood bullying, Lili chooses to use her colorful wigs as a defense mechanism.
The performance: By choosing Gwen Stefani’s “Cool,” Lili is trying to get Blake’s attention, and it works. He’s taken by her bubbly, mandolin-wielding pop persona.
Team: Blake Shelton

Nathan & Chesi (28 & 27 – Paintsville, KY)
What to know: This pair met online, had their first date at Texas Roadhouse, and got engaged via text. So, they’ve certainly got some stories to tell.
The performance: Their gritty country-rock duet of “Waymore’s Blues” isn’t enough to impress the coaches, but it does earn ’em a ticket to Bebe Rexha’s “Comeback Stage.”
Team: N/A

Matthew Johnson (25 – Jacksonville, FL)
What to know: He’s a collections agent for a finance company, but he’s not a boring pencil-pusher at all. In fact, he prides himself on being “Mr. Personality” around the office and dares to spread joy in every encounter her can.
The performance: Appropriately, Matthew chooses to sing Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile,” and he’s barely through the first line before both Blake and Adam turn for him. His rich and supple tones eventually earn him the other two chair-turns as the coaches are all made to move throughout his sunny singing. There’s a classicism to his voice that captures everyone — he even sounds a little like John Legend himself, who shares in his gospel background and is the obvious chose for his coach.
Team: John Legend

DAY TWO

Domenic Haynes (18 – Tampa, FL)
What to know: His mom is a badass triathlete who inspired his own short-lived running career. His family is a trip — especially his doubtful little brother — and he’s found music to be an outlet for his creative interests.
The performance: His rendition of “River” is a welcome surprise to the coaches, as he delivers a subdued and melodic set that feels informed by a lot of experience that he clearly does not have. Adam and John turn first, but Adam throws down the third block for John (three for three!); eventually, Blake joins in on the fun, but it’s already a done deal once Adam compliments him as “maybe [his] favorite singer in 16 seasons of the show” thanks to his “raw soul.”
Team: Adam Levine

Savannah Brister (17 – Memphis, TN)
What to know: A self-proclaimed awkward teen, Savannah has a lot of pets — including a bird that wakes her up with the Andy Griffith Show theme song — and doesn’t want anyone to see her dancing.
The performance: Her drawn-down intro to “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” catches John Legend’s attention — it’s a song he’s merrily covered in the past — and Kelly is also intrigued enough to turn. John compliments her energy and how she “put [her] own stamp on the song,” and even though Kelly has a good point that she’s been in Savannah’s shoes before, it’s no contest.
Team: John Legend

The Bundys
What to know: We’ve seen pairs perform on this stage before but never three, before sibling trio Katie, Ryan, and Megan came along.
The performance: It’s hard to tell until the chorus that there are not but two but three performers on the stage, but their harmonization on “Closer to Fine” is solid and earns the respect of both Blake and Kelly. Kelly’s enthusiasm for the group — and her comparison of their style to Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird” — convinces them to pledge Team Kelly.
Team: Kelly Clarkson

Klea Olson (20 – Leaton, UT)
What to know: She’s got a big family and loves them a lot, and after being pushed into marketing, her dad convinced her to pursue her dream of making music — even if it means gigging at old folks’ homes.
The performance: There’s a little Katy Perry and Florence Welch to be found in her folksy rendition of “No Roots,” even if it is a little disjointed and pitchy. She doesn’t get picked by any of the coaches, but Bebe Rexha wants to give her a chance at a comeback.
Team: N/A

Hannah Kay (18 – Magnolia, TX)
What to know: She’s had a crush on Blake Shelton since she was six years old, but she’s got another more important source of inspiration guiding her — her closest friend who helped pull her through some childhood bullying passed away recently.
The performance: Her voice isn’t quite as crisp or tinny as Chevel Shepherd, but Hannah Kay’s still hitting that same twang appeal with “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” She’s got the requisite drawl for it, of course, but there’s also some pop growls to be found in there. Blake and Kelly are the ones who vie for her team membership, but considering she’s (1) into throwback country and (2) still carrying a torch for our tall friend, Kelly doesn’t stand a chance no matter how long she talks.
Team: Blake Shelton

Julian King (25 – Philadelphia, PA)
What to know: He spent some time performing across China before coming on this show.
The performance: Julian’s running through every element of his considerable range and vocal clarity with his rendition of “All Time Low,” and both John and Adam are impressed. Luckily for John, he’s still got a block in play and decides to lay claim to this R&B artist without a fight.
Team: John Legend

TEAM STANDINGS:

Adam Levine: Trey Rose, Jimmy Mowery, Domenic Haynes

Kelly Clarkson: Karen Galera, Rizzi Myers, The Bundys

John Legend: Maelyn Jarmon, Lisa Ramey, Matthew Johnson, Savannah Brister, Julian King

Blake Shelton: Gyth Rigdon, Kim Cherry, Lili Joy, Hannah Kay

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A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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