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'The Voice' recap: It's back, and bigger than ever

By now, we all know the drill.

Celebrity coaches Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine compile teams of singing wunderkinds (of all ages) to compete against one another, but the audition process is blind. Based on the first two seasons, it's a tried and true formula, and now, we begin the next season of talent-discovering, spinning-chair goodness.

Again, this season is bigger -- 16 members instead of 12 (wasn't the original team size 8 members? When will this madness stop?) -- and a few twists will be introduced during the Battle Rounds (but those make my head spin so I'll cross that bridge when we come to it).

So let's get to the first night of blind auditions.

Terry McDermott, of Scotland by way of New Orleans, with The Who's "Baba O'Reilly"

Blake was just begging Adam to push his button, and simultaneously he, Adam and Cee Lo all spun their chairs. Adam described Terry's voice and handling of the song as "clean, pristine and beautiful," but flattery aside, Terry went with Blake.

Summary thoughts: Meh, but Terry has an adorable child with a mop-top and skinny jeans and a nifty accent, so he's OK in my book.

De'Borah, 25, of Chicago, with Train's "Hey Soul Sister"

This girl is a delight. A church singer who had to stop singing at her church when she cut her hair and came out, she's the daughter of two ministers who only want her to sing and be happy. "She just has to let her God-given ability flow through her," her dad said. And what ability! She's got swag. Bright, cheerful, colorful, friendly swag. Cee Lo and Christina both pushed their buttons, and De'Borah went with Christina.

Summary thoughts: I want to be De'Borah's friend. And I want her to stick around well into this season.

Gracia Harrison, of Illinois, with Patsy Montana's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"

Adam called Gracia the best country singer the show has ever seen, and immediately pushed his button, followed by Blake and Cee Lo. "Country radio is full of artists who can't do what you just did, and we have to bring it back," Blake told Garcia. She went with Blake.

Summary thoughts: That thing Gracia did that country radio artists can't do? YODELLING. She yodeled. She clearly has to win.

Devyn DeLoera, 20, from Texas, with Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man"

Devyn admitted singing a Christina song could be "suicidal," but she's got a set of pipes and an adorable stage presence. Blake, Christina and Adam all spun their chairs, but, obviously, the shy Texan went with Christina.

Summary thoughts: Really, at this point, the coaches are all just pushing their buttons to compete with each other. This is OK; it's actually pretty endearing, and it seems to up the ante.

Bryan Keith, from the Bronx, with Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain"

Bryan was the first contestant this season to prompt all four coaches to spin their chairs. Powerful, earnest, and with what Christina called a signature voice. "Who inspired you to sing like that?," Cee Lo asked. When Bryan answered, "my father," his father burst into tears backstage. Bryan went with Adam.

Summary thoughts: He'll be around a while, just watch.

Daniel Rosa, 21, from California, with Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know"

The Comeback Kid! Remember Daniel from last year, when his poor pitch left all four chairs un-spun. But he begged for advice, he took the advice, and this time, Cee Lo and Blake both spun their chairs. Daniel went with Cee Lo.

Summary thoughts: OK, Daniel shows promise, but I'm very protective of this Gotye song, and my wrath over Lindsey Paveo butchering it last season can just as easily befall Daniel. But he was precious, all giggles and tears, and the excited shouts of recognition from Cee Lo and Blake were enough to melt anyone's heart. I'm totally Team Daniel.

Joe Kirkland, from Fort Worth, with The All-American Rejects' "Gives You Hell"

Sweet lord, I forgot how much I loved this song. This was just pure, fun pop-rock, and the judges loved it -- both Blake and Adam pushed their buttons. While Blake argued for Joe to join his team with, "I also wear vest. We could do some matchy things. We can do duets," Joe went with Adam.

Summary thoughts: You keep wearing those vests, Joe, and keep singing that infectious, infectious pop rock, and you will have my heart.

Trevin Hunte, 18, from Queens, with "Listem" from "Dreamgirls"

Trevin was barely two notes into his song before Christina spun her chair (When Mama knows, she KNOWS), and Cee Lo and Blake soon followed. Blake was on his feet, egging on the cheering audience, but Trevin went with Cee Lo.

Summary thoughts: Trevin basically blew the roof off the venue with his depth and range and goodness and wow, just wow.

Now, for the ones who didn't make it. There were several, clipped mostly into a montage of meh, but the notables:

Garrett Gardner, 16, who sang CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," failed to spin any chairs -- even though he's an ironic example of how, sometimes, it's better to see the person before you hear them sing. That's just how pleasantly surprising his old, gravelly voice was, coming from such a young and unblemished and unlined face.

Anita Antoinette, a recent Berkley grad, also failed to spin any chairs with her take on Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry," but brought the audience to its feet when prompted by the judges to sing the Marley tune again, this time a cappella and with all the emotion she'd been holding back. It still felt triumphant.

Other important takeaways:

Simon Cowell is apparently greatly displeased by NBC's decision to extend the premiere week of "The Voice" to an admittedly exorbitant three nights, overlapping with the premiere of Cowell's show Wednesday. Tough cookies, Simon. Guys, watch "The Voice" instead -- it's far superior.

Also, Cee Lo now has a cockatoo. Her name is Lady. That is all.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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