The Voice season 16 begins tonight with veteran coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, and new kid on the block, John Legend. Carson Daly returns as host. We’re live blogging all the performances here. Watch as the coaches build their teams.
FYI: Like last season, there are no studio recording for the Blind Auditions. Apple music does provide links to the original versions of the contestant’s song choices. Additionally, the Comeback Stage returns with coach Bebe Rexha. Click for more details. And the block returns (of course). Each coach has one opportunity to “block” a coach from picking a contestant.
The episode kicks off with a cute “first day of school” clip featuring John Legend’s First Day on The Voice. Wife Chrissy Teigen has a cameo!
John is considered such a “threat,” all three of his fellow coaches used their block on him.
Gyth Rigdon -Drift Away by Dobie Gray – 24 – He grew up training racehorses in a small Louisiana town. Also, he was raised by a single father! His dad is his hero, and also very musical. He taught his kids music. Dad got him his first gig at a bikers bar, where he met his wife. He sings all sorts of music, but mostly country. His voice is surprisingly soulful. His tone is beautiful and sweet. Blake hits his button immediately. Dad is crying! Aw. John turns…dang it he’s blocked. Oh. Blake did it. Kelly turns too and is on her feet. John turned around because he gave it so much energy. Kelly’s favorite thing was his Janis Joplin yelp. She calls him “fearless” She says Gyth has the X Factor, which kicks off a bunch of NBC show namechecks. Blake predicts he’ll make the finale. Because of his muscles? Well, that was pandemonium. Gyth Chooses Team Blake
Maelyn Jarmon – Fields of Gold by Sting – 25 – New York City – John notes that he’s the only man on the panel who hasn’t been named “sexiest man alive.” Maelyn doesn’t hear music the way most people do. She’s deaf in one ear due to childhood ear infections. She considers the deafness a “superpower” that helps her stay in tune (Like a permanent finger on the ear). She used to work in theater. Now she’s working as a waitress to support a solo career. Her interpretation of the song is lovely, emotional, and boasts a very distinctive tone. She sings like a seasoned pro. She hits an amazing high note, and didn’t even need it. The singer already had all four chairs turned. She’s originally from Frisco, Texas, which excites Texas homegirl, Kelly. Blake compliments the precision and power in her voice. He was moved! Kelly says her gift is God given. “You made yourself stand out. You’re unstoppable.” John says she has “magic.” Adam calls her “astounding.” John thinks the veterans might be a little “jaded.” He brings new energy! Maelyn chooses Team John The singer chose John because he’s an “EGOT,” something she aspires to be.
Karen Galera – Mi Corazoncito by Aventura – 19 – At five, her family moved to Dallas from Mexico. She would love to show America a different side of her home country. Her brother is a sergeant in the Marines, and she really misses him. She cries through a good luck call from him. Currently she performs at malls and showcases. Her brother introduced her to the song she chose. Dang. Kelly turns immediately. Karen took a risk performing an all-Spanish song, but it seems to be paying off. John turns next. Kelly is on her feet, begging Karen to pick her! Blake didn’t hit the button, “I wasn’t sure what you were singing was appropriate.” He’s kidding, but probably not. John said he took his time to decide, but that doesn’t make her any less special. Ohhh. He’s very good at the pitch. Adam advocates for Kelly. Karen Chooses Team Kelly. They have the same birthday! These two are on their way to becoming BFFs.
Trey Rose – Wake me up by Avicii – 26 – Trey, a single dad from “super small” Hugo, Oklahoma. He notes that Blake Shelton is ALSO from OK, and an inspiration. However, now that he’s a single dad (Mom’s not involved due to issues) he’s had to cut back on the music. His girlfriend has been very supportive. Adam turns right away. Aw. His little boy is crying. Trey accompanies himself on guitar and he’s OK? I’m not feeling much charisma off this guy. Blake turns at the last minute, which could ruin any chance Adam has to nab him. Adam believes he can win this thing. Hmmm. No. He’ll be gone at the Battles. Blake appreciates his energy. Trey is a fan of Ed Sheeran. But Blake insists he’s not Ed. He’s Trey! Trey is Trey! Trey Chooses Team Adam. Really now. Get ready to be thrown under the bus dude. His reasoning–he promised himself to pick the first coach who turned.
Kim Cherry – No Scrubs by TLC – Kim has already been previewed HERE. She doesn’t get a pre-package. Instead there’s a whole spiel about never knowing who is behind the voice before the chairs turn. This audition is all about THE SURPRISE. Her backstory has nothing to do with her past, or her music. It’s about being a big white girl who raps and sings R&B. Who knew, the audience is supposed to gasp. We don’t see Kim until Kelly hits her button and commences to freak out. As far as the singing is concerned–some of the ad libs are decent, but I find her tone a little grating. Kelly turns at the rap bridge. The rapping is pedestrian. Blake turns next. “SHE’S WHITE,” John gasps when he sees her. Blake calls her “fearless!” adding “rapping is my thing! Your rapping is DOPE.” Good lawd. He promises if she chooses him, it will be all over twitter and oddly, the Today show. “I might regret this,” she says… Kim Chooses Blake. LOL. I predicted she wouldn’t choose him in a million years. Kim chose Blake because last season he said he wanted a rapper on his team. OK then. She probably WILL end up wishing she had chosen Kelly.
AJ Ryan – Love Runs Out by OneRepublic – 30 – Brooklyn NY – AJ was very excited when he learned John was on the panel. “He’s here just for me.” Music kept him out of trouble when he was a kid. He earned a scholarship to music school and was the first in his family to earn a degree. His version of this song is unrecognizable, at least until he hits the chorus. Part of the problem–tons of pitch problems. He had his moments though. Still… No Turns. John was a little scared of the low notes. He suggests the song was wrong. Adam agrees. Kelly loved the high notes, but felt the song was too rangy for him. AJ sings a bit of “All of Me” and it’s much better. He probably would have gotten a turn for that. While the coaches harp on song choice? Generally, it’s the producers who pick the songs.
Rizzi Myers – Breathing by Ariana Grande – 29 – Nashville – She’s a full time mom with two kids and ALSO a full time songwriter. “My life is very hectic!” She had a major songwriting deal before she had kids. A producer wanted her to be an artist. But the downside–all the demands on looks, weight and image. Eventually Rizzi retreated. But now she’s ready to step out and be a good example for her daughter. John TRIES to turn. But Kelly blocks him as she hits her button. Blake turns as well. She’s got an INSANELY CRAZY range. Those high notes. Her intonation and phrasing are terrific–an obvious professional. John calls her voice beautiful and powerful. “Pick Kelly and not Blake,” says Adam. Blake reminds Rizzi that he’s won six times. Kelly is ready for a soulful singer! “You’re so good.” Rizzi met Kelly backstage when she was 17. She has the photo! They bond instantly. It’s over. Rizzi Chooses Team Kelly
Lisa Ramey – Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon – 33 – She’s a returnee from last season. She calls being turned down a humbling experience. I remember her. I thought she deserved a turn. She’s VERY excited about John as a coach. He’s never heard her voice, which Lisa views as a plus. She puts a very interesting twist on the song. She’s soulful, but with a definite rock edge. Somebody better turn this time! Finally, John hits his button, and Lisa is thrilled. Kelly recognizes her. “Your voice was so powerful, you cut through everything,” John says. He also compliments her song choice. Lisa joins Team John
Jimmy Mowery – Attention by Charlie Puth – 31 – His dad was a lead singer in a band. After getting married, he devoted himself to family. His parents split up, but then got back together again. Jimmy has a HORRIFYING backstory. In 1998, his mother’s ex-boyfriend broke into their house and killed his father. Awful. He was only 11. At 13 he picked up a guitar and it helped. Adam hits his button instantly. Actually, the two would be a good match. Jimmy has a pure pop voice, a clean tone, and a sweet falsetto. He’s a little nervous though. John hits his button next. Kelly calls his style “cool” but noted pitch problems. Adam noticed that he lost it when he turned. John calls his voice rich and powerful. Adam begins coaching him right on the spot, encouraging his chest voice. Kelly pitches in too. The general consensus: Jimmy’s head voice sucks. Aw, it’s not that bad. Jimmy Chooses Adam. Probably the right choice, actually. Jimmy chose Adam because he’s been a huge fan since middle school. “My dad would be ecstatic.”
Lil Joy – Cool by Gwen Stefani – 15 – She loves COLORFUL wigs. She’s the only musical member of her family. Lil was bullied in middle school, which is where the wig wearing began. She’s a big Blake Shelton fan. She’s doing the quirky ukulele deal. Her tone is different, for sure. Blake can’t resist hitting his button. Kelly likes her, but doesn’t turn. Only Blake hits his button. “I can’t wait for Gwen to hear that,” he says. Kelly notes that she has the same talent as Gwen, but in a completely different way. Ha Kelly thought the Blake Gwen relationship was a “lie” at first. Who didn’t? Nevertheless, she stopped short of turning because she wanted Lil on Blake’s team. Blake insists he turned because of her voice. Covering the gal pal was a bonus! – Lil joins Team Blake
Nathan and Chesi – Waymore’s Blues by Waylon Jennings – 28 and 27 year old duo from Paintsville, Kentucky. After a very short courtship, the two got married. They moved in with her parents. Oh boy. Hm. I think he’s the better singer. Her tone is harsh. But their harmonies are solid. Kelly looks intrigued, but does not turn. John is grooving. But still no turn. Adam and Blake are unmoved. NO TURNS. For Blake, the song’s key was too high. Kelly didn’t like the song choice. John was not expecting a duo and was confused for a minute. Adam wishes he had pushed his button. They probably deserved a turn. But lucky for them. Nathan and Chesi are chosen by Bebe for the Comeback Stage.
Matthew Johnson – I Smile by Kirk Franklin – 25- Jacksonville FL – He works as a customer rep for a collection agency. Yikes. That sounds hard. “People can be very angry.” No kidding. But at work? He’s Mr. Sunshine. Music is where his passion ultimately lies. He began singing in church–music is the avenue that helped him connect to people. Blake hits his button on the first note. Adam turns next. John is next and finally Kelly. A four chair turn. He’s got a total Ruben Studdard vibe. His voice is buttery and super smooth. He’s also got a big range and impressive falsetto. Adam says, “In honor of Jennifer Hudson!” before tossing his shoe on stage. John says he grew up in church, but still doesn’t recognize a Kirk Franklin song. Hm. “I did not grow up in the church, but I did grow up on The Voice,” says Adam. He’s proud of his ability to choose the right songs. Blake reminds him that he turned fast. Kelly asks, “which female are you going to go with.” Heh. Matthew Chooses John.
TWO four chair turns tonight. John got ’em both. And he was blocked twice!