The Voice season premiere recap: Rookie Coach Nick Jonas comes out swinging
This! Is! The Voice! And this! Is! The video of the season 18 coaches performing Nick Jonas’s “Jealous” that I cannot stop watching, and even though Nick Jonas isn’t wearing a corset with the word “queen” embroidered on it for the Blinds, I’m still pretty excited about adding him to the coaching panel because, yes, fresh meat! Will our JoBro carry on the recent tradition of rookie coaches winning their first season? Only time and maybe his notepad that he cannot stop writing on will tell! For now, let’s begin our journey into the Blind Auditions.
Todd Tilghman, 41, Meridian, Miss. // “We’ve Got Tonight”
Our first contestant in season 18 is so excited to be here! Maybe it’s because Todd just loves singing, maybe it’s because he gets a four-chair turn, or maybe he is just enjoying some alone time away from his EIGHT children. Who is to say? But Todd shows up with a ton of energy and a great rasp to his voice. Kelly compares him to Chris Stapleton. Todd is a pastor, so Kelly, Nick, and John all try to argue that they grew up singing in the church too and get that way of life; Blake, does not.
Chair Turns: We’re kicking things off with a four-chair turn, baby!
Coach: Everyone is confused because Todd says he’s going with who he can relate to personality-wise and goes with the one person with no experience singing in the church. Team Blake it is! What a world!
Nelson Cade III, 27, Anaheim, Calif. //“Pride and Joy”
The season 18 Voice stage has officially been blessed by the blues. Nelson Cade III is a full-time musician, playing lots of weddings, etc., and his professionalism shows. He is nothing but comfortable up there wailing on a Stevie Ray Vaughan song. He’s got a nice rasp but also, as John Legend calls it, a “golden honey-dipped vibe” to his voice. He’s clear and calm and really sells the whole performance. One of his greatest career achievements was getting to perform with Stevie Wonder at a gig and he’s also a classically trained pianist. You tell me who you think he’s going to pick.
Chair Turns: John Legend goes immediately and blocks Nick Jonas which feels like a waste, but otherwise, this is yet another four-chair turn.
Coach: John didn’t need to use that block, Nelson wanted to join Team Legend from the beginning.
Tate Brusa, 16, Salt Lake City, Utah // “Perfect”
Look at this nugget! And I’m not talking about the adorable puppy Blake tries to use to lure our next contestant onto his team. Tate is a sweet little high school boy who is working hard at his music career and gets up on stage to sing an Ed Sheeran song. He screams teeny-bopper. There’s a lot of potential here — when Tate hits the big money note, he sounds great — but he’ll need a lot of coaching. And hey, here comes Nick Jonas to give Tate a freebie lesson. It seems to help!
Chair Turns: That big note has both Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton turning around to fight for the young gun.
Coach: Good for Tate, he’s not persuaded by Blake’s threats to send a puppy back to the animal shelter and joins Team Nick. I mean, the guy already started coaching him, how could he not?
Tayler Green, 27, Los Angeles, Calif. // “Issues”
I’m so glad this show is back if only so that I can be surrounded by people yelling out phrases like “Yes with that head voice!” It feels safe here. Tayler is an exciting contestant to have on the show because the mere fact that she is taking on Julia Michaels’ “Issues” but playing with the arrangement to have melodies that show off her vocals tell us that not only does she have great vocal control, but that she is also confident in her talent. She tells the coaches that she loves Mariah Carey and it feels like there’s really only one way for this to go, although the coaches really fight hard to win over this pop artist.
Chair Turns: Kelly goes quickly because she’s not an idiot and once Nick hears Tayler hit some higher notes in her register, he has to turn, too.
Coach: Tayler makes the right choice and joins Team Kelly. She doesn’t say it’s because of Kelly’s incredible new haircut, but, like, we know. We all know.
Ashely Plath, 20, Middletown, N.J. // “Baby It’s You”
Ashley, our meter reader from the dirty Jerz. She normally performs in a duo and coming on The Voice as a solo artist is the biggest leap she’s taken with her career. She picks a cool song — a version of “Baby It’s You” by ’60s bluesy rock band Smith — but you can hear the nerves in her performance. The coaches commend her vocal control and great range but want her to reign in those nerves and perhaps pick a song that shows off her chops from the get-go if she ends up auditioning in the future.
Chair Turns: None!
Darious Lyles, 30, Chicago Ill. / ”How Do You Sleep?”
Well, Darious tells a heartbreaking story about how when he was 18 a woman called him and told him she was his biological mother and that’s how he found out he was adopted. To add on to that, he informs us that his adopted parents have both passed within the past four years and he’s reconnected with his biological mother. I mean, this is the kind of contestant you hope with all of your heart that he’s good. And he is! Okay, John Legend points out some pitch problems, but that could be nerves because he seems to have great control and a very smooth vibe. Kelly is impressed that all of his runs go up, Whitney Houston-style, rather than down, like peasant people. Darious has tons of potential.
Chair Turns: John and Kelly go after Darious hits one of his most impressive runs.
Coach: This is the first time this evening that I had no idea which way a contestant would go, but Darious ends up on Team Legend! This is a great pairing.
Megan Danielle, 17, Douglasville, Ga. // “Remedy”
I know we’re here for the singing but Nick Jonas just drops being in Camp Rock 2 when he was 17 for literally no reason and the other coaches take the time to really make fun of him for it. I am truly living in this moment. I guess he’s trying to make a connection between his experience in the industry and warning the 17-year-old contestant before him about staying true to herself but it is all very thin and wholly unhelpful. You know what is helpful? Getting Kelly Clarkson to turn around when you’re a country girl singing a huge Adele song. Is there a better fit for Megan Danielle on the coaching panel? Definitely not.
Chair Turns: Megan wanted Kelly Clarkson as her coach and Kelly has a great track record with taking teen girls far in this competition, so being a one chair turn in this instance is for the best.
Coach: Team Kelly gets a country-adjacent artist!
Chrissy Joly, 32, Brooklyn, N.Y. // “Don’t Let Me Down”
Chrissy is a force and arrives at The Voice preaching hard work and never giving up on your dreams. I guess The Voice is trying to prove that hard work never pays off because Chrissy gets zero chair turns. Contestants have to pick songs that really show off their skills and The Chainsmokers’s “Don’t Let Me Down” is probably not that song. Especially not in the Blinds. All of the coaches point to some major pitch problems in the performance, although John loved Chrissy’s tone. It’s season 18, people, you have to nail song choice.
Chair Turns: Alas, zero.
Todd Michael Hall, 50, Saginaw, Mich. // “Juke Box Hero”
It’s our first true blind audition of the season, and there are several things we can tell immediately, regardless of being left in the dark: The dude has great hair and he can WAIL. Todd Michael Hall seems transported directly from an ’80s rock band. His range is insane, and as Nick points out, just when he thought Todd had reached the top of it, the guy went higher. Not to mention he has a ton of rocker charisma on stage. He’s polished and offers something completely unique to the competition. Blake is especially eager to get his hands on someone who has their musical lane all to themselves. That’s our rock legend, Todd Michael Hall.
Chair Turns: John and Blake go head-to-head. They love the idea of having true rock represented on the show.
Coach: I think it was the moment Blake said, “You like to rock and I like to party,” that the deal was sealed. Todd joins Team Blake.
Emily Bass, 16, Magnolia, Tex. // “Love Yourself”
You may remember young Emily from last season as the girl who brought the coaches sketches of each of them but ultimately was sent home without a chair turn. Emily is brave for taking time to practice and hone her skill and face the intimidating backs of four red chairs once again. She definitely sounds more assured than when we last saw her, but it’s still not enough to get a chair turn. John Legend is great at these heartbreaking moments and he tells Emily that they could tell she sounded young and still unpolished. He wants her to continue working on her craft. Please, John Legend, come kill my dreams anytime.
Chair Turns: For a second time, Emily gets zero turns.
Joanna Serenko, 18, St. Louis, Miss. // “All My Loving”
Joanna may only be 18, but she seems like a seasoned vet. She has a band and plays lots of gigs in St. Louis and walks onto the stage like the frontwoman she is. Joanna decides to sing a classic but strips it down to just the acoustic guitar to give it a more jazzy feel. And she annihilates it. As John Legend aptly puts it, she dances around the notes. Joanna is in complete control the entire time, plus she has a great tone and very cool vibe. It’s easy to see why she gets a four-chair turn even when all the judges are convinced she has to be going with John Legend. He is clearly the perfect fit for her voice.
Chair Turns: It’s a fairly uneventful chair turn since Joanna’s choice seems inevitable until Nick stops the proceedings because he decides he really wants to fight for her. He knows they could win together.
Coach: Um…she picks Team Nick? What the hell just happened here? Maybe “Nick’s Notes” will truly hold the key this season.