The Blind Auditions Premiere
Based on the blockbuster two-hour premiere Monday night, here are six things you need to know about Season 6 of The Voice:
Shakira is refreshed, relaxed and determined to win.
In her first season on The Voice, Shakira was juggling her career and a new baby with the challenges of her new job coaching aspiring singers to victory. After a season away to recharge her batteries, the Colombian superstar is determined to beat the boys at their own game. First she announces herself in the opening performance with a brassy take on Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here." Then she wastes no time going after the artists she wants, turning her chair around 10 seconds into the evening's first performance by Christina Grimmie, whose blistering take of Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball" gives us our first four-chair turn of Season 6. Despite assurances that she is "focused as a laser" on being the best coach she can be, Shakira is disappointed when Christina chooses Adam as her coach. Still, she is excited to see what's coming next.
Shakira wastes little time getting her revenge on Adam, beating him out for country artist Kristen Merlin after her energetic performance of Sugarland's "Something More." "I'm gonna kill for you!" an excited Shakira tells Kristen after promising to call in country superstar (and Blake Shelton's wife) Miranda Lambert to help coach the aspiring artist.
She makes an aggressive play for R&B artist Biff Gore (singing Sam Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come"), getting in digs at the other coaches for being either too distracted or too drunk to work with him effectively. After losing Biff to Usher and pop duo Dawn and Hawkes (with their beautiful take on The Beatles' classic "I've Just Seen a Face") to Adam, Shakira scores her second artist of the night by convincing "rock dude" Jeremy Briggs to join her team. "Who is the hungriest here?" she asks Briggs after hearing him sing Bad Company's eponymous song "Bad Company." "I'm hungry!" Though she only scored two artists after turning her chair for seven of the evening's performers, Shakira made a statement that she is in it to win it on Season 6.
Usher's secret weapons are coolness and smoothness. And maybe his abs.
In his first season on "The Voice," Usher came oh-so-close to winning it all when he coached Michelle Chamuel to a second-place finish. Back after a season off to relax and recharge, Usher is out to show everyone, in his own quiet way, that he can find that one special artist who has what it takes to be The Voice.
Not as dramatic as Adam Levine or as frenetic as Shakira, Usher still finds his own way of making waves on the first night of the blind auditions, snatching up three artists for his team. In addition to Biff Gore, he finds a possible gem in Los Angeles-based T.J. Wilkins after hearing the R&B singer's soulful take on Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets," which gives him an excuse to show off some fancy footwork in his shiny, gold-painted sneakers.
But Usher may have nabbed the performer of the night with singer-songwriter Bria Kelly. Despite being only 17 years old, Bria is a seasoned performer. Her rollicking performance of James Taylor's "Steamroller Blues" brings on a four-chair turn and a standing ovation from all four coaches. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have just heard The Voice," Usher proclaimed. "Destiny has brought us together." Just to drive the point home, he pulls out one of his Grammy Awards and walks onstage to give Bria a closer look. "Hard work, determination and making the right choice," he tells her. "That will determine the outcome." Having taken opportunities to show off his abs all night, Usher celebrates Bria joining his team with some calisthenics and a little smack talk. Obviously the second-year coach feels good about his chances.
The reigning champ has not lost any of his drive.
Adam Levine could rest on his laurels after coaching Tessanne Chin to victory in Season 5. But on this first night of the blind auditions, the defending champion coach shows no signs of slowing down. "Do I look tired?" he asks the first artist of the night, Christina Grimmie. Hopping up for standing ovations, pumping his fist, slumping over his button when he gets nervous, sprawling on the floor with relief when an artist picks him, running backstage to introduce himself to a contestant's mother... as always, Adam is everywhere. And he still finds the time to needle his opposing coaches, particularly Blake. The only thing he can't do is imitate perfectly Usher's fancy dance moves. "My back hurts," he tells the audience. Even Superman has his off days.
You can get a second chance to make a first impression on The Voice.
Blake Shelton may have had a quiet night, scoring only one singer for his team, but that singer is an artist getting his second chance on "The Voice." Jake Worthington auditioned for the show in Season 5, but despite a pure country show that saw him wearing a cowboy hat and two-stepping across the stage while singing Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," Jake could not get any chairs to turn around. He's back this season with a toned-down performance, singing Keith Whitley's ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes," and this time, he has Blake, Adam and Usher all competing for him. To no one's surprise, the country boy chooses the country artist whose advice after his audition last season Jake had taken to heart, using it to earn his way back onto the stage.
Jake's redemption can serve as motivation to the three artists who failed to get a chair to turn around. Tanner Linford surprised the coaches with his youth, even though his moving performance of Rihanna's "Stay" was not strong enough to earn him a spot on a team. Former boy band member Leo Gallo rocked the stage and the crowd with his take on Voice favorite Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," but the coaches felt his incredible dancing took too much focus away from his singing. And Philadelphia-based Karina Mia impressed with her voice, but her performance of Labrinth's "Beneath Your Beautiful" failed to earn her a spot on a team.
Youth will be served.
Teenagers are the story of the night. New Team Blake member Jake Worthington is only 17. Tanner Linford is 16. The two biggest performances, and two of tonight's three four-chair turns, belong to Christina Grimmie singing Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Bria Kelly belting out James Taylor's "Steamroller Blues." Any artists over the age of 20 are on notice. As they do every year, the kids are bringing it on "The Voice."
The competition, as always, will be FIERCE.
While they opened the show with a sizzling team performance of each other's songs, it's clear Shakira, Usher, Blake and Adam are all determined to pick the winner. Every artist who made a team got at least two chairs to turn around, which had the coaches fighting hard to sell the singers on picking them. There were three four-chair turns, always the most exciting moments of the blind auditions. Adam won the first one with Christina Grimmie and declared himself King of the Four-Chair Turn. But Usher swooped in to snatch up Biff Gore and Bria Kelly, taking the title away from Adam, at least for the moment. The smooth coach rubbed salt in the wound by performing sit-ups without breaking a sweat, while telling the camera, "I can win these four-chair turns all day." With Shakira also going all-out to get artists on her team and three-time champion Blake lurking as well, we can look forward to a season of fireworks on "The Voice."