The Voice Season 1 Episode 1 “Blind Auditions Pt. 1”

The time has finally come. I have been waiting for NBC’s “The Voice” since I heard one of my absolute favorite musicians, Lukas Rossi, would be appearing on the show. Until I found out about Lukas, I hadn’t been paying all that much attention to the hype surrounding the show. Why? I already watch “American Idol”. Why would I want to watch the same thing on a different network? Hearing Lukas would be competing though… well, it got my ears up and I started reading about the premise of the show. I’ve been excited ever since.

"The Voice" airs Tuesdays on NBC.

So how was the first episode? I have to admit, it was pretty damn good aside from one very important flaw. The complete lack of Lukas. Conspiracy theorists think Lukas may have been kept for the second week so that his fans would have a reason to tune in again. Sadly, that makes me think Lukas didn’t make the cut. If that’s the case, I’m already crying fowl. I’ll keep watching though and for one simple reason – okay, four reasons.

Maroon 5's Adam Levine

Best known as the vocalist and guitarist for rock band, “Maroon 5”. Despite the success of the band, he has also collaborated with a number of well known musicians including Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Slash. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t liked much of what Maroon 5’s done since 2002’s “Songs About Jane” but I can’t deny their continued success. I love Adam as a vocalist and he brings a lively, edgy but lovable vibe to “The Voice”.

Country Superstar Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton isn’t my cup of tea musically, although I love his song “Austin”, but I enjoy looking at him and I love his personality on “The Voice”. He knows what he likes and I think aside from Adam, he’s going to prove to be one of the most quotable coaches on the show. He has a real bad boy of country sort of vibe and I like that.

Solo Artist and One Half of Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo Green

Cee-Lo Green. What can you say about Cee-Lo? This man just kills me – no matter what he does. I loved him in Goodie Mob. I loved him with DJ Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley and I love his solo albums. 2010’s “The Lady Killer” is one of my favorite albums. I love his critiques of the artists who audition, especially those he picks. Always thoughtful and insightful, I think Team Cee-Lo is going to have a real chance.

Pop Music Icon, Christina Aguilera

Finally, we have the diva herself – Ms. Christina Aguilera. Christina has had her very public problems as of late, but her talent is undeniable. She has one of the best voices in music today. She’s fiery. She’s passionate. She’s soulful. Christina also has a great ear for music. If I were given a choice to be coached by anyone, it would be Christina. Or maybe Cee-Lo. Possibly Adam. Then again there’s Blake. I don’t envy the contestants that have to make that call.

Blind Auditions

What’s the Difference Between “The Voice” and “American Idol”?

“The Voice” and “American Idol” are both singing competitions and that’s pretty much where the similarities end. There are no judges on “The Voice” – at least not in the traditional way. Instead, Adam, Blake, Cee-Lo and Christina act as coaches for the artists they choose for their team. They’ll work with them and help them grow as artists and for that job, I think the producers of the show picked the perfect cast.

Christina and Cee-Lo

Each coach has only eight spots on their team, so they really have to try to choose the best. On “American Idol”, you hear a lot – especially during auditions – about ‘the total package’. The total package includes looks and, in the past, Idol has been accused of thinking of the total package more than vocal talent. “The Voice” completely eliminates that. The auditions are  ‘blind auditions’. The artists perform on the stage behind the coaches so the coaches can’t see the contestants. If a coach likes what they hear, they hit a button and their chair turns around to face the contestant. The bottom of the coach’s chair lights up with a message that reads “I want you”. If more than one judge chooses the contestant, the contestant has to choose which coach they want to work with. Hard call, especially if all four judges want them.

Adam, Blake, Cee-Lo and Christina perform "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley

But Really… How Was the Show?

I was hooked from the beginning. When Adam, Christina, Blake and Cee-Lo took the stage to perform Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” I was in love. It got the show off to a great start and that didn’t slow down for the rest of the show. By the time it was over, I found myself wishing it had been longer. I loved everything about it. While it still has a bit of an Idol feel, it is definitely its own show. And the talent of the artists that took the stage was truly impressive.

The Ones that Didn't Make It (from left: Jared Blake, Sonia Rao and Joanne Rizzo)

The Talent

I want to start with the people that didn’t make the cut from the first night of auditions. It says a lot about a singing competition when even the people that don’t make it through are incredibly talented. Of the three people who failed to get through to the next round, Joanne was my favorite. I loved her spirit and her determination. Someone should start a petition to get that woman a record deal. Her voice wasn’t always pitch perfect, but there were worse contestants that made the cut. Sonia was incredible and Jared – he was exceptional. I’m sure some rock band out there will snap him up right away. Now, on to the contestants who did make a team.

The First Three Members of Team Adam (from left: Jeff Jenkins, Rebecca Loebe, Javier Colon)

Team Adam

I have to say, Team Adam definitely looks strong. Jeff is incredible. He has a unique but lovely voice that is both versatile yet controlled. Rebecca has her own style and delivered one of the most memorable performances of the night. She’s one of my favorites so far. Javier absolutely blew me away. They’re all incredibly talented and bring their own strengths to the group.

The First Three Members of Team Blake (from left: Patrick Thomas, Elenowen, Xenia)

Team Blake

Like Team Adam, Team Blake is off to a strong start with a good variety of talent. You have the smooth voices country boy in Patrick, the sweet, married couple in Elenowen and the shy high schooler with big potential in Xenia. My real favorite of this group is Xenia. While her performance is a little weak, she has so much potential and I think you’ll see that come out as the competition progresses as her confidence grows. Elenowen are sweet, but a couple counts as one contestant? It could work (Sonny and Cher, Captain and Tenelle… and others, I’m sure) but I don’t see it happening. Patrick has a great voice and I think he’ll do fine whether he stays throughout the entire competition or not.

The First Three Members of Team Cee-Lo (from left: Vicci Martinez, Kelsey Rey, Tje Austin)

Team Cee-Lo

I think Cee-Lo scored some of the best voices in the competition, but at this stage in the game it’s a little hard to say. All three of his team members are fabulous with Vicci likely my favorite contestant we’ve seen thus far. Tje was also fantastic. I’m a little iffy on Kelsey at this point, but time will tell.

The First Three Members of Team Christina (from left: Terralyn Ramsey, Frenchie Davis, Beverly McClellan)

Team Christina

I can’t believe I forgot Team Christina. Frenchie and Beverly are two of my favorites. I’ve been a Frenchie fan for a long, long time though – since she was ousted from Idol. She nailed it last night and reminded me why I loved her so much. Beverly completely shocked me. Her performance was a major highlight for me. I also really like Terralyn although I’m not sure how long we’ll see her stick around. She has a tremendous voice

What’s To Come?

Next week we’re in for another round of blind auditions (hopefully featuring Mr. Lukas Rossi), and after that? The Battle Rounds. The battle rounds will pit team members against each other – putting them on the same stage singing the same song. The coach will then have to pick one contestant over the other until each team has only four remaining contestants. Then come the live shows. I’m excited to see where all of this goes.

Conclusions

How much did I like the talent on last night’s show? I immediately bought the songs on iTunes and have been listening to them all day. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. I’ll be watching. That much is for sure. There is no comparison to “American Idol” here. “The Voice” is a completely different beast. Last night’s performances were all fantastic. Now, for a quick recap of the artists we saw and the songs they performed:

  • Terralyn Ramsey (“Breathe” by Faith Hill)
  • Patrick Thomas (“Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw)
  • Jared Blake (“Good Girls Go Bad” by Cobra Starship)
  • Vicci Martinez (“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele)
  • Sonia Rao (“If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys)
  • Elenowen (“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)
  • Frenchie Davis (“I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry)
  • Kelsey Rey (“American Boy” by Estelle)
  • Jeff Jenkins (“Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts)
  • Rebecca Loebe (“Come As You Are” by Nirvana)
  • Joanne Rizzo (“Say a Little Prayer for You” by Aretha Franklin)
  • Xenia (“BreakEven” by The Script)
  • Tje Austin (“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars)
  • Javier Colon (“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper)
  • Beverly McClellan (“Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin)

It’s hard to pick a favorite here. Frenchie, Beverly, Tje, Javier, Vicci… they were all fabulous. I’m not putting my money on any horse this early in the race. In coming weeks, the format of my recaps will be a bit more structured. Next week will probably look like this one except a bit shorter. Once we get into the Battle Rounds, I’ll do a battle by battle recap, so make sure you come back for that.

What did you guys this of “The Voice”? Did the coaches pick the right contestants? Did the contestants pick the right coaches? Sound off in the comments section below and come back next Wednesday for my next complete recap of NBC’s “The Voice”.

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