Good day, b-rollers, and welcome to our inaugural The Voice recap, or, as I prefer to call it, The Support Group for Those Who Can No Longer Tolerate American Idol. All are welcome, friends. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”
Meanwhile, it completely figures that I would decide to begin this adventure with a two-hour episode; and since this is sort of a live-blog/recap hybrid (stream of consciousness, but paragraphs!), you might want to settle in. As will I. Is that Starbucks bar open to anyone, or just Voice auditioners?
Anyway, we begin our recap with a recap! We see, in several dramatic close-ups, those four red chairs and get a refresher on each team. So far: Blake Shelton has “stayed true to his roots,” ie, hoarded nearly every singer with a twang. Christina Aguilera’s team is “diverse,” and she has also stayed committed to bringing back the side-ponytail (with a “jaunt in a top-down convertible on the freeway” kind of twist). Cee-Lo Green has stockpiled pretty girl singers in a way that is amusing bordering on alarming. And speaking of pretty, Adam Levine is rocking a green shirt and a lovely smile. And has singers also, that too. And we end, once again, with the dramatically-lit chairs. We get it, they swivel. Time to hear some singers, right?
Yes! But we don’t get to meet them; Carson invites us to “play along” and judge the first singer on voice alone. Oh. Uh, okay. I didn’t realize this would be interactive. Sure, let’s play! The contestant is shown in shadow and torso close-ups; I’m guessing, based on what we can see (short hair, button-down shirt, jeans) and hear (high voice) that this person is a tomboy-ish female. I’m just hoping this person isn’t disfigured and we’re making a salient societal point, because then I’ll be unhappy with the direction of this game. Our contestant takes the stage and digs into Lady Gaga’s “You and I” with a nice bluesy voice; it’s quite good, though I question the overall range. Cee-Lo pushes his button for her(?) and…indeed, it is a her! What do I win? Her name is Sarah Golden, and Blake selects her, too, but Cee-Lo has sealed the deal by choosing first. Nice to (sorta) meet you, Sarah.
Next up is Ellie Duhe, who explains that throughout her life she “did music all the time.” Did what, exactly? Singing, composing, historical research, harmonica? She says that she dropped out of high school, which her parents seem shockingly okay with, until her father clarifies that she was home-schooled to pursue music. Let’s revisit what “drop out” means, Ellie. She sings Duffy’s “Mercy” and seems quite nervous, wonking notes and seeming less polished, more karaoke than the other singers; the point is especially made when she hits her most impressive note at the end of the song, when it’s too late for anyone to hit the damn button, so no one chooses her. Adam throws up his hands, while Cee-Lo looks dismayed that he lost out on a cute girl for his team. Frankly, I think Ellie’s a good example of why The Voice > Idol; with Steven and Randy at the helm, she would’ve sailed through to Hollywood.
Random commercial thought #1: I really dislike the, “This is THE VOICE!” theme song. It’s awfully cheesy for a show that isn’t.
Moving on, we meet “Pip.” You heard me. He goes by Pip, no last name, and wears a bow tie and suspenders. He’s convinced that his vocal style will shock us, and frankly, anything other than a selection from Newsies will stun the hell out of me. He sings “House of the Rising Sun” with a big, soulful voice that is a BIT off-pitch on occasion, but Adam still turns around immediately. Everyone else turns around in short order, and Carson excitedly screams “All four,” since Pip’s family is so ecstatic that they can no longer count. In pitching to Pip, Blake counsels, “I could really focus on the fact that you are a guy,” which might be my favorite judge’s comment so far. (Translation: He has mostly girls on his team.) Pip hems and haws about who to choose, and we cut to commercial.
Random commercial thought #2: For the record, if all four judges turned around, I would choose Adam. Because then I would get to hug Adam. And he’s probably a good judge, so that too. I’m sorry, what was the question?
We’re back as Pip finally selects Adam’s team. In these cases, I find the tie almost always goes to the first guy to press the button. Lucky little Pip gets to hug Adam, and I’m officially jealous. Of PIP.
Hey, question for Voice veterans: Has an earlier episode ever clarified how we find these singers to audition? Pip says he was singing in coffee shops,but I can’t imagine the producers were scouring the cafes of Marietta, Georgia. Any explanation?
Next up is Erin Willett, from Gaithersburg, Maryland! I cheer because it’s close by, but I’ve never actually set foot in Gaithersburg. Kind of a dumb reason to cheer. I can’t get a sense of her age; she could be anywhere from 25 to 40. Oh, the graphic says that she’s 22. My bad. She manages to discuss her father’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer without completely losing it, and instead talks about celebrating his life and the fact that he’s getting to see her live her dream. I’m already rooting for a 4-for-4 swivel for Erin. Please be really good. She has tons of energy with her funky take on “I Want You Back,” and Christina convinces Blake to push his button (why not just push your own, Xtina?). Her pitch is not quite there enough for me, but she’s got a good voice. And Blake gets a non-country singer, so that’s something. And, most importantly, her dad gets a big hug from Carson Daly.
And, in our next segment, we answer my question! Apparently, Carson PERSONALLY traveled the country in his Kia – using its built-in GPS! – to meet potential contestants. Did you know he drove a Kia? Did you see the logo close-ups? All twelve of them? Unless the Kia can make me a grande skim caramel macchiato, I’m still more impressed by the Starbucks bar. Carson invites an office-worker named Katrina to audition, and her we’ll meet her later, away from her cubicle.
Next we meet David Grace, a drawly lug from Texas who played high school football and now coaches. David, I need you to focus for a moment, because this is very important: Did you play against Tim Riggins, and can you introduce me? You know what, we’ll talk later. I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s singing country. And he is! He sings “Sweet Home Alabama” with a little bluesy flair, and it’s not bad. No one picks him, although Blake hovers over his button (and tortures poor David’s family in the process). The judges do provide helpful, thoughtful criticism to David; see, Idol, it can be done! He doesn’t make it through, but be in touch about the Riggins thing, please.
Random commercial thought #3: Christina Milian pops by once an episode for twenty seconds to invite us to chat about The Voice on social networks (done and done, Christina). She’s talking about The Voice in the royal we. “Like ‘us’ on Facebook, tell ‘us’ what you think…” But what is her role exactly? Carson’s the host, we’ve already got four judges. Not complaining, just asking.
We come back, and Blake, Cee-Lo and Adam are “on a tear!” Meaning they’ve each picked up one person for their teams. Not quite a tear, but whatever. Back to office worker Katrina Parker, who in her interview tells her parents that “I’m carrying your hopes and dreams, and I promise I will not disappoint you.” No pressure then. She sings Joan Osborne’s “One of Us,” which is an odd choice that doesn’t totally suit her deep, soulful voice. Adam appears to have fallen asleep in his chair, but is apparently just in deep contemplation before pushing his button. No one else does, so Adam gets her, but Cee-Lo flirts so heavily that Adam has to jump in with, “I win.” Katrina hugs her happy parents, who thankfully didn’t hope and dream that she’d get all four judges to turn around; then she would’ve been a disappointment.
Coming up after the commercial break: A girl who has joined the parade of pretty young pop singers who are trying to bring the bouffant back. That didn’t strike me as a hairstyle that was screaming for a Renaissance, but then I’m no Vidal Sassoon.
First, though, we meet Geoff McBride, a 51-year-old man with three adorable kids and the medical need to wear sunglasses inside (“Not a cool factor,” he says, though he does look undeniably cooler). And he’s singing Stevie Wonder, which I could’ve called from several miles away. Geoff sounds a lot like Stevie, though a little more all-over-the-place (this is where coaching will help). Christina turns around and grooves along (yeah, she’s probably not the coach to help with all-over-the-place). Cee-Lo jumps into the fray too, although it takes him two tries to push his button; apparently the fact that it’s giant and red is not help enough. We cut to commercial before Geoff can decide which of the two “has more soul.” (Really, that was an argument.)
And now an advertisement that I have to mention. It’s a long-form (practically a documentary) Kay commercial in which a man arranges a private jazz concert in his home for his wife, featuring their favorite jazz singer singing an original song just for her, and then he presents her with a diamond ring. I imagine this is going over really well with all of the couples tuning in one night before Valentine’s Day. Thank goodness we’re not setting unrealistic expectations or anything.
And we return! Geoff chooses…eventually…for him, right now…Christina! Cee-Lo is sad, but not too sad, since Geoff isn’t a lovely young girl. He’ll recover; the night is young.
Sorry, I’ve waited this long but I have to mention: Christina Aguilera is showing a LOT of cleavage, outlined by a low-cut dress and strategically placed necklaces. Seriously, I am a straight woman and I cannot stop staring at her breasts. It’s entirely unintentional. I just think it deserves a note.
Next, we finally met bouffant girl, who is, not shockingly, a model. (She’s gorgeous, Cee-Lo’s going to love her). Her name is Erin Martin, and she’s been told by a few labels that her voice needs work. My early prediction is that no one will turn around for her, and here’s why: If a beautiful young woman is told by a record label that her voice isn’t good enough, then she likely cannot sing at all. How many pretty young pop stars are world-class singers? Exactly. Anyway, she minces onstage in Gaga-like stilettos, Blake astutely notices and coments, “Sounds like heels!” and Cee-Lo lasciviously says, “Ooh, you’re right.” Okay, I’m wrong; Cee-Lo’s about to press his button so hard he will break it. She sings “Hey There Delilah” and her voice is quirky and distinctive but paper-thin, but Blake turns around immediately and Cee-Lo follows suit. One of them will regret this, I think. I don’t hate her because she’s beautiful, but I think that in a singing competition, her five-note range will cripple her. But Cee-Lo lays it on right away: “You belong to me, don’t you agree?” (Okay, this just got weird. Er.) Blake makes his case, too, but she picks Cee-Lo who personally escorts her from the stage. Erin, I’d hire a bodyguard. She runs backstage, exclaiming to her family, “I could win this entire competition!” Probably not, but dream big.
Another question from your newbie recapper: Is there a reason that Cee-Lo pets a white cat – one that perfectly matches his blindingly white teeth – a la Doctor Evil? Is this ironic? Voice veterans, please chime in.
Our next contestant, James Massone is a Boston boy who works in his father’s body shop, and we quickly get the obligatory b-roll shot of him working in the garage as his dad tells him to “pahk the cah in the yahd.” They’re from Boston; did you know? James tells a story about a rap group that he was a part of that was massacred, and immediately wins the award for most bizarre and horrifying backstory. He’s also wearing a letterman’s jacket and looks like an extra from Grease. He sings “Find Your Love,” and Adam Levine looks tempted, which makes sense since James is a very poor man’s Adam Levine (only much more nasal, consider that), but he passes; however, Christina turns around, immediately followed by Blake (say what?), then Cee-Lo. I am at a complete loss as to why James is the most popular act so far; I mean, he’s fine, but really guys? He chooses his “first choice,” Cee-Lo (maybe James is a cat person). Then he sees his family and yells “How do you like them apples?!” thus completing the Will Hunting stereotype.
We cut to commercial, and it’s an ad for the film John Carter. I summon my roommate, who is in another room, by yelling, “Ooh, John Carter ad! John Carter!! SHIRTLESS RIGGINS!!!” She sprints into the room. I don’t care that you’re judging us.
And we’re back because THIS IS THE VOICE! Now, Carson is personally delivering an invite to the Lucky Strike bowling alley. Shockingly, he doesn’t drive his Kia right through the doors and onto Lane 6. He’s there to meet Winter Rae, a Lucky Strike waitress with the perfect name for pop stardom. She has a blue half-mohawk and is originally from Iowa, but ran like the wind to Los Angeles. She also has a heart tattoo that accentuates her cleavage, and don’t think Christina won’t come back from the next commercial break without one of those. Her friend Perez Hilton accompanies her to the audition, and…wait, THE Perez Hilton? Didn’t he launch Lady Gaga’s career? Why does Winter need The Voice, then? Anyway, after a wobbly start, Winter digs in as she hits the bridge on “Take a Bow.” It’s good, but not great, and no one turns around. She’s stuck with Perez.
Now we’re introduced to Chris Cauley, who is rocking a newsboy cap and sharing stories of his recently deceased, bluegrass-singing grandma. He shows a clip of her singing on a Sprint tablet, which Carson holds carefully so as not to drop his Starbucks coffee and the keys to his Kia. I kid, it’s just the tablet. The Sprint tablet. Anyway, Chris sings “Grenade,” and he’s singing it very smoothly with a touch of grit, although the arrangement is a little slow and elevator-y for my taste. But Cee-Lo turns around, as does Adam. “That was the best entire performance of the song that we’ve heard today,” Cee-Lo says. How many people sang “Grenade” that day? And semi-poorly, apparently? Interesting. Both Christina and Adam call him “smooth,” but for the record, I TYPED IT FIRST. Chris selects Adam. As would I. Why do you ask?
This is how you tell we’re winding down: We get a quick montage of three singers who made teams but apparently don’t have a life history worth knowing. Adam gets folk-y Nathan Parrett, whose three-and-a-half second excerpt of “The Joker” sounded lovely; Blake gets not-country Brian Fuente (victory, Blake!); and Christina gets Moses Stone, who raps/kinda sings to “Let’s Get It Started” and is described in voice-over as the show’s “first ever MC.” What the hell does that mean? I think it’s a reference to the fact that he’s rapping more than singing, but this is a term with which I’m unfamiliar. Help?
We return from an unmemorable commercial break for our last contestant of the night. Lattes all around! Jordis Unga is half-Tongan, half-Swedish, and Carson is compelled to incredulously ask her parents how they met. (In a nightclub.) Jordis also “feels obligated to give [her parents] something,” so again, no pressure. She sings “Maybe I’m Amazed” and it’s really good – she’s in the last slot of the night, like it wouldn’t be – though nerves are clearly causing a couple of bobbled notes. Blake turns around roughly three notes in; he’s definitely got the itchy trigger finger tonight. Jordis hits the ground and really throws some rasp into it, and Christina and Cee-Lo turn around in unison. And in the green room, Jordis’ dad does a celebratory dance reminiscent of Balki Bartokomous. The judges all rave about her, but she picks Blake, who does a dance of joy himself.
And we’re out! Next week: More people singing. What did you guys think? Who are you rooting for? Still onboard The Voice train? As for me, I’ll start preparing for next week’s recap; you see, my parents have put all of their hopes and dreams onto me, and I’m obligated to wow them…