'The Voice' premiere recap: Familiar faces and internet celebrities abound in Season 6
Kicking things off with a reminder that "The Voice" has the most talented coaching panel around, returning coaches Shakira and Usher join mainstays Blake Shelton and Adam Levine for the fan-favorite coaches performance. This time around, they take on a medley of each other's hits and, you guys, it's a blast. That feeling you're feeling? It's the feeling that everything will be alright. The snow will melt. Spring is on its way. "The Voice" has returned.
Let's meet this season's talent. First up, Christina Grimmie. ( See her audition here!) An internet sensation in her own right, Christina is poised to go far in this competition solely based on her existing fan base. Has anyone with this many built-in fans auditioned for the show? If she makes it to the live shows, America will probably take her far. And make it to the live shows she likely will -- after all, that audition is stellar. The producers don't choose just anyone to kick off the season.
Giving Miley Cyrus a major run for her money on the hit "Wrecking Ball," Grimmie gets Shakira and Usher to hit their button almost immediately. Adam and Blake follow suit, leading to the season's first "bloody" fight, as Adam calls it. And fight they do, but there can only be one winner, with the reigning champ Adam Levine claiming Season 6's first artist. Shakira didn't seem too thrilled.
Up next, host Carson Daly hops into the sponsored car to visit T.J. Wilkins in South Central, where we learn how his mother kept him out of trouble in a troubled community. For his audition, he's taking on Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets." Right off the bat, Blake somehow has "a feeling about this one." He reaches for his button first, followed by Usher and Adam. T.J. sounds great, worthy of all the attention. His falsetto is so smooth, and his chest voice is strong and comforting.
Usher says T.J. took the song to a place no one could ever have imagined it could've gone. That may be a stretch, but sure, whatever you say Urr-sher. Blake falls over himself in regards to the falsetto, while Adam tries to appeal to T.J.'s shared hometown. In the end, though, he goes with Usher, who really is the best choice for an aspiring R&B artist.
Next to take the stage is Kristen Merlin, an aspiring country artist gunning for a spot on Blake's team. After telling us about winning a chance to sing on stage with Sugarland, she auditions with their track "Something More." Surprisingly, Adam turns really quickly, followed by Shakira, whose pleasantly surprised face upon seeing Kristen was super adorable. Blake and Usher, however, never turn.
Shakira appeals to Kristen with her humongous social media following, while Adam praises her artistic instincts. Blake says he didn't turn because of Kristen's fast vibrato, admitting he thinks Shakira is the best coach to offer tips on how to control that skill, something they share. Shakira than ups the ante and offers to get Miranda Lambert (aka. Mrs. Blake Shelton) as her coach. In the end, the team-up wins out and Kristen goes with Shakira.
Up next is young 16-year-old Tanner Linford, who I can hardly believe is 16. Either he's really young, or I'm starting to get really old because I don't remember 16-year-olds looking like that. And then he talks about being cut from things for being small and I feel like a jerk.
Anyway, he sings Rihanna's "Stay." Unfortunately, his age and lack of inexperience (and, likely, his nerves) get the best of him. There's a nasal quality to the tone that's not entirely pleasant and he wavers a bit on his pitch. No one turns for him and, afterwards, the coaches try and let him down easy. They offer him some great notes and ask him to come back after doing a little more work. All together now: Awww.
Next up is father-of-five Biff Gore, who just might have one of the best names I've ever heard. And can we talk about that high kick for a minute? This guy is great. Not only does he seem like a blast, but his work in transplant services, his love for his brother, his reaction to his family -- He seems like a human embodiment of a big, warm hug.
And then he opened his mouth and began singing. On nearly the first note of "A Change Is Gonna Come," Adam and Blake hit out at their buttons, followed quickly by Shakira. Usher holds out for a long time, acting as if he's waiting for something very specific to happen, but he wises up and turns as well.
Shakira asks if she can be his date to the Grammys when they win this thing, while Usher praises the individual flourishes, Adam admits he loves the high kick as much as I do and Blake says Biff took him to church. While his brother thinks he's going to choose Blake, Biff eventually sides with Usher. That Sam Cooke knowledge probably sealed the deal.
And we've got our first duo of the season, Dawn & Hawkes. These two are so cute, before they even sing a note, I can tell America is going to eat their love story right up.They perform "I've Just Seen a Face" and sound quite lovely. There's a sleepy, dreamy quality to the performance that's just so comfortable. It never really builds, and there may not be much versatility, but it's just such an audio version of a warm blanket, you can't dislike it.
It's always fun to see the coaches when the second voice of a duo kicks in because they're clearly never expecting it -- Shakira's this time around is no exception. Upon hearing Hawkes' voice, she and Adam turn right away, while Blake and Usher hold out. Adam begs hard, saying that it's his favorite performance he's ever seen on the show. Shakira says she'd die to work with their connection, while offering her expert production skills. Blake and Usher throw their support Shakira's way as the audience chants Adam's name and, in the end, it's Adam's emotional appeal that wins out.
Up next is Leo Gallo, the first aspiring artist who seems destined to dance too hard and ruin his vocal. With a stronger dance background than a vocal one, he takes to the stage with Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," which he doesn't consider a dance track -- which is, like, funny. The vocal's pretty much all over the place and the falsetto isn't as strong as it needs to be. Instantly, the coaches hone in on how the dancing affected the vocals. They let him show off his dancing, invite him to come back and send him on his way.
Taking the stage next is Jeremy Briggs, a former college baseball star-turned-classic rocker. He hits the crowd with "Bad Company," showing off such a smooth and assured rock vocal that it's beyond impressive. There's no break in his voice, now even once. He's pretty terrific.
Blake turns his chair right away, with Shaira right behind. Blake praises his smooth, powerful voice, warning Jeremy not to look at Shakira because "if you even look at her, it's over." Shakira reminds everyone that she started out as a rock chick and is hungry enough to dedicate herself to him. While it may have seemed like Blake was the more obvious choice, Jeremy teams up with Shakira, shocking the country star. More shocking? Shakira's idea of a country dance. Was that a Russian hat dance? What was that?
Up next is Season 6's first returning hopeful, Jake Worthington. After failing to get a chair to turn during Season 5, the country crooner is back to prove that he took the coaches notes regarding his breath control seriously. Taking the stage with "Don't Close Your Eyes" by Keith Whitley, Jake shows himself to be an artist who has matured almost beyond recognition.
Adam and Blake turn for the kid pretty quickly, causing a monumental freak out by Blake once he recognizes Jake. Shakira also turns, but does anyone for even a second think she or Adam have a chance here? Jake may call Shakira perfect, but he's going to team up with Blake. Which he does. It's a match made in heaven.
Next up is indie artist Karina Mia, who really seems like a sweetheart. She's planning to sing "Beneath Your Beautiful" by Labyrinth and Emili Sande, which she handles well, if a little timidly. The coaches all seem much too on the fence and her nerves continue to get to her, leading it to snowball into a shutout. She handles the criticism quite graciously. Hopefully she'll work on the notes and come back next season, because she's just too sweet.
The last artist of the night is Bria Kelly, an audition NBC teased heavily prior to tonight's premiere. Bria freaks the coaches out with her stunning performance of "Steamroller Blues," setting about yet another four-way coach fight. ( Check out her audition here!) They each go hard for the young singer, but it's Usher's appeal, with his Grammy in tow, that wins out.
And just like that, Season 6 is on. What did you think of tonight's talent? Some of the best yet? Who was your favorite? Sound off in the comments below.