After weeks – months! – of audiences being inundated with promos for NBC's "The Voice," the premiere finally got under way tonight after Super Bowl XLVI. As the NFL crowned this year's champions in the New York Giants, the road to a different kind of championship began with the blind auditions on the vocal talent show.
The first half of the premiere (with a second round of blind auditions coming at 8 p.m. Monday) consisted of a lot of background info, courtesy of host Carson Daly, and few actual performances – six total. Small start for a show that's promising to be bigger and better for its second season. With 12 vocalists on each of the judges' teams – Team Adam (Levine), Team CeeLo, Team Christina (Aguilera) and Team Blake (Shelton) – as opposed to last year's eight, I get the feeling this season is going to get drawn out and unwieldy, and quickly.
But that's chill – at least we get some phenomenal voices in the (overly complex) process. A few of those voices turned out tonight, with a few moments of "meh" as well. But here's the great part – on "The Voice," even "meh" is 10 times more entertaining than the most atrocious of first-round auditions on "American Idol."
Let's break it down. At the end of the first show of blind auditions, as the judges start to build up their teams, this is what they wound up with:
Team Blake: RaeLynn, a 17-year-old from Texas, was practically born to be on Blake's team. A lil' country flower who takes care of the animals on her parents' farm, RaeLynn and her rendition of Miranda Lambert's "Hell on Heels" was wholly unimpressive. Singing a song originally done by Blake's wife is also a risky move, but Blake ate it up.
Team Christina: Jesse, a 42-year-old single dad from Los Angeles who makes his living singing at churches, weddings or "wherever he's needed." CeeLo pushed the button, swinging his chair around to offer a spot on his team barely two notes into Jesse's "A Song For You." All the judges turned their chairs, bickering and making their pitches for Jesse to join their team, but he ultimately went with Christina, and her ample bosom.
Christina also scooped up a 29-year-old opera singer from Kansas named Chris, whose rendition of Andrea Bocelli's "Because We Believe" had Christina and CeeLo fighting over him. Country singer Blake, in all of his endearing redneck charm, sheepishly admitted he'd be horrible coach because "I couldn't even understand the words." Chris is a good fit for Christina; both have huge – HUGE – voices. And classical music on a reality show? Sign me up.
Team CeeLo: Juliet, 25, who belted out The Beatles' "Oh! Darling" with great Janis Joplin flair, and sent Adam, CeeLo and Christina spinning in their chairs. She went with CeeLo, even after Adam professed his love for the "dirt in her voice" and some pretty solid bickering between Adam and Christina. CeeLo? He just sits between the two of them and blithely comments: "Sexual tension."
Team Adam: Tony Lucca, former Mouseketeer and winner-of-Sara's-heart. A former Mouseketeer singing Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble"? Done. I want this man to win – seems the judges do, too, as they all sent their chairs spinning to fight over Tony. We've seen what happens to members of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club (or as I like to call it, "God's Gift to the 1990s") and this guy deserves success just as much as Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears or Christina.
Which brings us to:
The Moment I Almost Truly Liked Christina This Week: She almost didn't get this highly coveted award because SHE DIDN'T RECOGNIZE TONY WHEN HE AUDITIONED. You used to work together! My goodness, lady! Tony handled the situation with class and grace when Carson Daly spoke with him after he walked off stage (which is more than I would have done – I'd have asked point-blank on stage: "Christina! Don't you remember me?"). Christina redeemed herself – after Tony left the stage, a look of realization crossed her face and she ran backstage to find him. Quite a lovely reunion, capped off with words for the ages: "Tony, Britney used to have such a crush on you!"
The Adam Levine Moment of the Evening: Him standing up, singing "Oh! Darling" along with Juliet during her auditions. Pure joy.
The "Why CeeLo Green is Cooler Than You" Moment of the Night: His appearance in the Super Bowl halftime show? His inexplicable cradling of a white, long-haired cat during expository clips on the show? His weird sexualization of vocalist critiques that make me strangely uncomfortable? (IE – "Your voice touched me deep down," or "Your voice, it turned me on.") I can't choose – these are all reasons CeeLo reigns supreme.
What We Have to Look Forward To Next Time: Besides more blind auditions? (My favorite part of the show, hands-down.) A medley of Prince songs from the four judges. A PRINCE MEDLEY, GUYS.