The Voice season premiere recap: The Desolation of Shakira
A talkative Shakira and low-key Usher return as the show's sixth season blind auditions kick off; meanwhile, Adam and Blake might as well get married at this point.
Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of four well-oiled chairs creaking back to life after slumbering for many moons—67 moons, to be exact—since they last saw the cool white lights of the network TV stage. The chairs have slept through Christmas and New Year’s, through polar vortices and everyone freaking out about Frozen, throughout the Olympics and The Bob Costas Pink-Eye Variety Hour, until finally, on this most special of days, February 24, the four chairs of the apocalypse are ready to turn again! This is THE VOICE!
Like this month’s rent bill, The Voice has suddenly re-appeared yet again in that rapid didn’t-we-just-do-this? fashion, striking like a bolt of lightning that crackles with four-part harmony and high production value allocating a significant budget chunk for sheer fabrics.
All that attention span you thought you’d just regained now that the Olympics are over? Get ready to refocus it. In its sixth cycle, producers have installed VOICE V. 2.0 software again, meaning that Cee-Lo Green has been upgraded to the slick new Usher model (though still using the 2001 protoype) and Christina Aguilera has swapped her little tiny David hats and Goliath cleavage for the slightly classier she-wolf Shakira.
Some of you might remember the last time I recapped The Voice way back in the stone age Season Two, a season filled with amazing talent (Juliet vs. Jermaine!), devastating eliminations (Jamar Rogers!) and a deep-fried gremlin named RaeLynn who ruined absolutely everything. Now, just like the show, I’m back and ready to get down and dirty (but not Dirrty) with this year’s selection of contestants.
We begin with a medley from the four coaches—first, Blake’s out there singing Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever,” which is nice, and then when Shakira starts singing about trucks and pajoveralls I realize she is in turn singing one of Blake’s songs (I have this theory that you either know every Blake Shelton song or you know zero of them, and I know zero). Usher joins in with Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody,” and Adam reciprocates with “Without You.” How sweet. That’s enough. After some lovely introductions by the four coaches and the always friendly Carson Daly, we’re off with the best part of The Voice: the blind auditions!
NEXT: Wrecking balls aplenty!
Christina Grimmie, 19, Marelton, NJ
Claim to Fame: “About two million subscribers on YouTube”
Looks Like: Carly Rae Jepsen if she borrowed Judith Light’s white blazer
Song: “Wrecking Ball” – Miley Cyrus
She barely gets to come in like a wre— when Shakira (eyes wide) and Usher (hair tall) both turn around. Adam follows shortly after, while Blake tries to remember if he taped Mike & Molly, then Christina hits a money note and badabing, Blake’s on board. Four chairs for the season premiere kick-off performance! They each make their case with the typical witticisms and Blake-Adam rivalries, resulting in Christina choosing Coach Adam.
Shakira Says: “In season four I might have been hormonal and sleepless, but now I’m rested and focused as laser.”
T.J. Wilkins, 23, Los Angeles, CA
Backstory: Escaping the influences of South Central at a performing arts school
Most Promising Family Member: Mother Jeri, with the most amazing hair!!
Song: “Benny and the Jets” – Elton John
Blake says he’s “got a feeling about this one” before literally any music starts. Usher looks contemplative, but then Blake hits his button and Usher hits HIS and Adam HITS HIS and we’re left with some extreme close-ups of Shakira as she bops her head in the most pleasant of manners, debating whether she’s worn a shiny enough top. During the turnaround, Blake calls the contestant “Teej” and thinks they’re buddies (during this time, Blake also says “falsett-uh”). Shakira explains she didn’t turn because she wanted to be strategic and doesn’t want to waste her “bullets.” Teej picks Coach Usher.
Shakira Says: “Boo-letts”
Kristen Merlin, 29, Hanson, MA
Backstory: Came out at 16, quit her desk job, sang with Sugarland
Looks Like: Miley Cyrus (but actually)
Song: “Something More” – Sugarland
Adam immediately recognizes the potential in her twang, with Shakira joining in a little later (and giving that “Oh, wow!” facial expression that accompanies any coach’s surprise that the contestant looks more like a Dorota than a Serena). Shakira stands up to dance, thereby telling Kristen “I’m yours” with her gyrations, but Adam of course won’t have any of that silly nonsense—he, too, stands up to say his piece, not to be left out of the bipedal party. Adam’s pitch is that he recognized Kristen’s musical training; Shakira’s is that she has a large social media following. Shakira then says that, if chosen, she’ll call Blake’s wife Miranda Lambert to coach Shakira to coach Kristen (can she do that?). No surprises here—Kristen chooses Coach Shakira. But will her promise come to fruition?
Shakira Says: “I have over 20 million people on Twitter. These three guys combined—no offense—they don’t get to 17 million. I have 20 myself. I know, it’s crazy, I cannot believe it.”
Tanner Linford, 16, Kaysville, UT
My First Reaction: “Look at this cute little nugget!”
Backstory: Once sang “Hallelujah” at his school
Inspiration: Uncle Jim, who passed from brain cancer
Song: “Stay” – Rihanna
Unfortunately for this little q-t-π, he’s not very good, and truth be told, it’s heartbreaking that his last phrase is “I want you to stay” when, sadly, nobody did. He took criticism well and promised to come back next year.
Status: Rejected (but I’m cool with it)
Biff Gore, 45, Denver, CO
OMG He: Is a worship leader, runs a small organ and tissue transplant foundation, and has five kids (and one on the way)
Genre: “I call it life music—music that reaches out and grabs you.”
Hero: His brother Kenny, who wrote a letter to his army company commander to keep him from being deployed overseas in 1990
Song: “A Change is Gonna Come” – Sam Cooke
It takes just a quick “I was born by the river” (which is arguably the phrase that makes the most impression in the whole song anyway) for Adam and Blake to turn around. Shakira joins; Usher pretends to hesitate and then turns, but really, I don’t know what he was waiting for since Biff obviously has a beautiful voice. They each make their case (Blake wants to be saved, Shakira wants a Grammy date), and after a mildly suspenseful commercial break, Mr. Biff Gore chooses Coach Usher.
NEXT: “That was my favorite performance I’ve ever seen ever.”
Dawn & Hawkes, Austin, TX
Real Names: Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes
Origin Story: Met in 2010 at a bar in Austin; he asked her to dance, then they went on tour and now co-habitate
Raised Eyebrow Because: She says they’ll spend the rest of their lives together but I don’t see no ring
They Kind of Look Like: Really trendy Hufflepuffs
Song: “I’ve Just Seen a Face” – The Beatles
They’re pretty fabulous together, and very adorable in an Alex & Sierra (remember The X Factor?) way. Shakira just about flips out when she realizes it’s a duo; she and Adam spin. I don’t know why Blake wouldn’t have turned around—seems like a missed opportunity on his part. Adam pours his heart out, and Shakira kind of sort of pours hers out (again, she brings up her 70 million Facebook friends, which turns out to actually be 83 million because HOW?). Usher and Blake both try to swing Dawn & Hawkes towards Shakira, which sucks for Adam. But the pair still goes with Coach Adam because they’re actually nice people. I will vote for you, Dawn, and I will even vote for you, too, Hawkes.
Adam Says: “That was my favorite performance I’ve ever seen ever on The Voice.”
Leo Gallo, 27, Los Angeles, CA
Sexy Meter: 8.65
Former Member of a Boy Band Called: Youth Asylum
Side Job: Dancer (“It’s very Cirque du Soleil-esque”)
Song: “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke et al
Anyone who sings this song at anything but a summer BBQ doesn’t really deserve to make it on The Voice, and Leo isn’t any more memorable than last July’s potato salad.
What Rhymes With Hug Me?: Your day job
Jeremy Briggs, 26, Sacramento, CA
Backstory: Baseball player turned coach turned employee of the California Unemployment Insurance Board of Appeals
Kind Of Looks Like: Aaron Paul at Dave Grohl’s rodeo-themed party
Lead Singer of a Band Called: Relic 45
Song: “Bad Company” – Bad Company
Blake’s quick to press his button, and Shakira joins in as well. Nothing all that interesting happens until he picks Coach Shakira, who then does some traditional Russian dancing for some reason.
Best Brooch: This brooch!
Jake Worthington, 17, La Porte, TX
Seen Before: On season five, in which he got zero chair turns
Confidence: Renewed somewhat
Signature Dance Move: The Jake Shake
Song: “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – Keith Whitley
He’s super good and super calm and collected, with a voice like sweet milk chocolate. Adam turns around pretty quickly with Blake right behind (and then the family really celebrates, particularly with this death-defying hug). Shakira turns, even though she doesn’t seem to care that much, and Usher basically doesn’t even care at this point because nobody can riff. Coach Blake could honestly start reading the ingredients on a Lunchables container and Jake still would have picked him, because country singers are more predictable than Karen Smith’s boobs.
Adorable Jake Quote: “I’m red as a cherry right now!”
Karina Mia, 22, Philadelphia, PA
Went to: College
Genre: “I consider myself more of an indie artist. I can’t do runs and I don’t have a Christina Aguilera voice.”
Song: “Beneath Your Beautiful” – Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande
This was pretty devastating that nobody turned around, because she actually had a nice voice (although her vibrato was kind of like an underwater Aquaman call). Poor Karina—I wanted her to be chosen, but she was Divergent.
Dirtiest Piece of Advice That Isn’t Actually Dirty: “I want you to continue working your instrument.”
Bria Kelly, 17, Smithfield, VA
Opened for: Miranda Lambert
Song: “Steamroller Blues” – James Taylor
With just a Aguileran wail, Blake and Adam are sent spinning, and rightly so because it’s pretty obvious that this chick in the final slot (with her own gee-tar, no less) was going to be amazing. Shakira jumps on board, and Usher gets in as well after a killer lick. All four engage in some delightful banter—Usher says she has the voice, Blake says she’s a stud, Adam literally says “OMG,” and Shakira compliments her leather pants—and Bria chooses Coach Usher.
Shakira Non-Sequitur: “How many times can the Yankees win the world series?”
That’s it for the premiere of the blind auditions! Hopefully you’ll stick with me for the next
hundred years three months as we embark on this sixth crazy cycle of The Voice!