Phew! Two hours of "The Voice" is a lot to process. The NBC show was heavy on the tug-at-your-heartstrings contestant backstories tonight, which can make for some intense emotional weight-lifting. But we all survived, and slowly but surely, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton are building up their teams.
So let's tackle the new additions first.
Halley and Leland are a Nashville duo who call themselves "The Line." Their cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" got the crowd clapping and singing along with the anthemic chorus, and got all the judges to spin their chairs.
Lindsey, 22, from Sacramento, with long dark hair and a half-shaved head, got Christina, Cee Lo and Blake to all push their buttons with her cover of Trey Songz's "Say Aah." A breathy, beautiful and wholly refreshing take on the club staple. Lindsey listed Fiona Apple as one of her influences to Carson Daly, and Blake Shelton, bless his country heart, asked her: "What's that girl's name? Fiona Apple? Is she an influence?" Oh, Blake, you're so adorable.
Which brings Christina's team member total to four. Eight to go.
Team Cee Lo
Jamar, 29, from the Bronx, got only one judge to push the button with his work on the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," but that one button-push was all he needed. Jamar said he's hero-worshipped Cee Lo for years so, as Adam said, "this is a match made in heaven."
Angie, 31, from St. Louis, Mo. is a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, and has achieved some YouTube success because of her singing chops. A clip of her singing Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" caught Carson's attention and secured her an invite to audition. Again, only Cee Lo pushed his button for her and her cover of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," but this girl's tough – she's been on seven deployments, after all – so I don't think she was hurt by a lack of button-pushing.
Cee Lo's team total: three. Nine to go.
Gwen, 37, from North Dakota, has a voice that was described by the judges as tender, considerate, cool, strong. Her incredibly sweet and endearing cover of "Stay" caught the attention of Cee Lo and Adam as well, but she went with Blake, and the country music gods rejoiced.
Jermaine, 32, is a back-up singer for Alicia Keys and is R&B through and through. Though his take on the pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" elicited a button-push from Cee Lo, he went with Blake. This should be interesting.
Three on Blake's team, nine more spots to fill.
Kim, 50, from Los Angeles, is my new personal hero. The oldest contestant on the show yet, she is fierceness embodied. People can place limitations on you because of your age, she says, but she's still going for her dream. Her singing on "Tell Me Something Good" was full of energy, power and, well, sexuality. She went with Adam, but I think she and Christina belong on a team together – her boobs were giving Christina's a run for their money tonight.
Angel, 23, also from L.A., went with Adam as well after he and Cee Lo duked it out for the young lady's choice. She sang "Someone Like You," and God help me, Adele gets me EVERY TIME.
With the addition of these two, Adam still has nine spots to fill on his team.
And That Prince Medley…
Was delightful. We got to see Adam's face, biceps and tattoos all at once, and while Blake's take on "Kiss" wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, the medley was pretty great – even though it lacked "Raspberry Beret." And Cee Lo's outfit is something that needs to be added to my closet, a.s.a.p., but preferably in Snuggie form.
Stand-Out of the Night
For biased reasons, I'm going with Halley and Leland because 1) Leland is the name of my favorite character from my favorite book ("Sometimes a Great Notion," by Ken Kesey, if anyone was wondering) 2) "American Girl" is my favorite Tom Petty song. So many favorite things coming together at once!
Neal, 33, from Salt Lake City, failed to get any button-pushes with his rock-infused "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," and neither did Dez, a 21-year-old Yale football star who sang the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way." (Side note on Dez – I know people like him, the attractive, talented, wholesome people who seem to genuinely have good hearts and seem to be always happy. They confound me.)
A few others failed to make the cut, some whose auditions we saw, and others who were submitted into quick montages. So far this season, 10 people haven't been selected for teams, but I get the feeling we haven't seen the last of them. If, by the end of the blind auditions, the judges haven't filled the 12 spots on their teams, the rejected contestants get to come back for a second shot.
The Sob Stories
Jamar's HIV-positive and a former meth addict. Angel had an abusive childhood. Gwen chose music over starting a family. NBC, stop it. I can only take so much of the redeeming power of music.
Seriously, what is up with that cat Cee Lo keeps holding? It's freaking me out.