The Voice: The Blind(ly Fun) Auditions

Ever since NBC released the extended preview for The Voice last week, I’ve been ridiculously excited for the premiere. I mean, it already has the star-studded judging coaching team of Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Cee-Lo Green, but you don’t really get the full force of that star power until you’ve seen them on stage together rocking out to Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” I tried to imagine a similar situation with the Idol judges and it just wasn’t working out. Like, would it just be Steven Tyler screaming crazy runs while J. Lo did some booty-shaking and Randy Jackson name-dropped people who are still relevant? I don’t know, I don’t know. I can tell you it wouldn’t be anything close to the terrific performance that kicked off the series premiere of The Voice though.

The concept of the show is definitely gimmicky. I mean, the “blind” auditions are only going to last for, what seems to be, two episodes. Then it’s not just the voice but the voice and the image and the stage presence and the confidence and the not-looking-like-you-fell-face-first-into-a-kindergarten-art-project factor. Then there’s the whole deal with each coach creating a team of singers and competing on a stage styled after a boxing ring. Whatever, though. If the coaches keep bringing the level of entertainment they brought tonight without overrunning the entire show and the contestants continue to deliver, I’ll definitely stay tuned.

Anyway, on to the voices!

Tarralyn Ramsey – “Breathe” (Faith Hill): Alright, I know this is supposed to be all about how well the person sings and we’re supposed to ignore the appearances, but I just can’t. I don’t know if she missed the turn off for clown college or if she was trying to cover up a couple black eyes and a bruise across her entire face, but she was looking all kinds of trainwreck-y. Anyway, then she started to sing and sort of blew the roof off. Her power and control was a little insane. And yes, she was supremely prone to oversinging but so was everyone else. (I don’t blame them, they have to convince these judges they’re worth something without being able to add any performance aspect to it. And well, Christina Aguilera seemed to wait for that one overwrought vocal run before she turned around.) I loved her. But maybe because I was comparing her to the only two renditions of “Breathe” I remember from reality TV: Julia DeMato and Jasmine Trias. Unsurprisingly, she picked the queen of big-voiced melisma, Ms. Aguilera.

Patrick Thomas – “Live Like We’re You Were Dying” (Kris Allen Tim McGraw): Alright, so he was a country singer and I really do not enjoy country music. But I liked him! I thought he was good and the right amounts of aw-shucks charming, even if he did kick off the string of the worst sob stories ever. Really? You were bullied as a kid because you liked to sing? I don’t even find a show solely devoted to sensationalizing high school students outcast for singing entertaining. Give me something better. Christina Aguilera proved that if you are ridiculously famous you can get away with asking someone to take off their pants on national television. (Kara DioGuardi, take note: you are not famous enough to ask people to remove clothing.) Adam Levine and Blake Shelton bantered back and forth a bit uselessly (however hilarious it might’ve been) before Patrick went the predictable route and picked the only country singer on the panel.

Jared Blake – “Good Girls Go Bad” (Cobra Starship): Why on earth would you sing a Cobra Starship song for a singing competition? There is no singing in this song. Have you seen the music video to “Good Girls Go Bad”? It’s set in the basement of a convenience store. Seriously. This was bound to be a disaster before it started, but then he did start and it got even worse. It was just a hurricane-and-mountains mess of lite-Daughtry lite-FM screams. He would’ve been more compelling had he gargled his way through a Hinder song. (I mean, last year’s American Idol winner did it!) None of the coaches turned around. No one was surprised.

Vicci Martinez – “Rolling In The Deep” (Adele): Yikes! I just got done praising Haley Reinhart last week for making a great song selection in Adele’s newest tune. This, though? This was a mess of a song choice. Her voice (and heck, her entire being) just got swallowed up by the huge song. The rasp in her voice was shattering like Benz windows in South Central. Somehow, she got Cee-Lo and Christina Aguilera to turn around. I have to assume Cee-Lo accidentally slipped onto his Staples “Easy” button and Christina misinterpreted one of Vicci’s many splayed notes as an intentional run. Then, horror! Cee-Lo accidentally said something trite about singing from the heart and Vicci chose him. Oh, poor Cee-Lo. Should’ve talked more about how she would have to wear a Big Bird Transformers costume if she went with you.

Elenowen: lol! Just kidding! We’re going to introduce you to them and then show this other random girl! Haha, tricked you. No really, what?

Sonia Rao – “If I Ain’t Got You” (Alicia Keys): If there is one thing that I cannot tolerate on reality singing competitions, it’s the butchering of my girl, Ms. Alicia Keys. She went out there and completely failed to sing anything remotely decent. I think the goal here was to pick a girl with a pretty face but abysmal singing talent and throw her to the wolves. You know, make her fail miserably on stage while all the judges made horrific reaction faces to her off-key wailing to show that this show is really about the voice. Sorry, Sonia, but someone had to die for the cause. At least your parents weren’t subtitled!

Elenowen (for real, this time) – “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova): So before they started performing they were just an obnoxious duo of far-too-perky energy for people living out of a basement. Really, didn’t we just deal with this same horror couple in Hollywood week of Idol this year? You know, the dude who couldn’t really sing and got cut and then his Stepford girlfriend who also couldn’t sing but didn’t get cut until a little later? Yeah, well, surprise, surprise. These guys couldn’t sing either! The girl was horrifically out of tune and had a tone like death, while the guy was decent when he was just mumbling support vocals but equally ear-piercing when he tried to raise the decibel level. Blake turned around because he wanted to see them. I don’t think that’s using your eject button properly, dude. “These people are so painful, I just have to see what’s going on!” Guess what! Now you’re stuck with them. I hope you’re happy.

Frenchie Davis – “I Kissed A Girl” (Katy Perry): It’s FRENCHIE! Frenchie, one half of the amazing Hollywood group performance of “Band Of Gold” during Idol’s second season. Frenchie, whose disqualification from the show is still one of the biggest “scandals” of American Idol’s ten seasons. Frenchie, who starred in Rent on Broadway. Frenchie, who apparently can no longer sing. What?! What was that, Frenchie? Why did you pick a Katy Perry sing? You’re supposed to be there to outdiva everyone. Know your role, girl. Get back in your box. Sing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” or “I Have Nothing” or something! Don’t try to be a current pop star. It’s not happening. Katy Perry’s success is pretty much a byproduct of her inability to sing. You can’t match that level of vocal ineptitude. Luckily, Christina Aguilera turned around because she sensed Frenchie’s absurd vocal talent using her divadar sixth sense.

Kelsey Rey – “American Boy” (Estelle): You know what? Kelsey might have sung stuff or something. I don’t really know. I have no idea how good she was. I know she’s on Cee-Lo’s team. Instead, I’m going to talk about Kelsey’s sob story because it was probably the most brilliant thing ever. So, you see, Kelsey’s problem is that she’s just too darn beautiful. She’s gorgeous and radiant and her skin glows like the sun. She once put a video up on Youtube and it got a million views in just three days! She always has people friending her on Facebook. What a hard life she leads, that Kelsey Rey. People look at her and think “wow, that girl has a pretty face and she can sing.” Isn’t that such a shame? That people find her attractive and think she can sing? Well, Kelsey (by the way, I keep typing “Kimberly Kelsey” accidentally. American Idol rules my brain) was so distraught by her own attractiveness that, after she was told that she could sing and picked to be on Cee-Lo’s team, she broke down into tears. Her own flawlessness was just too much for her to handle. Kelsey Rey: True American Hero.

Jeff Jenkins – “Bless The Broken Road” (a million country artists): His voice was strong and slightly twangy and a little dewy in its sweetness. So, basically everything you’d expect from a person singing “Bless The Broken Road.” (Unless you’re Adam Levine, in which case you’ve been living under a rock for the last fifteen years and have somehow managed to avoid the song. Seriously. It was one thing when Kara called “Falling Slowly” obscure; this is in an entirely different degree of musical ignorance. A musical ignorance I am thoroughly jealous of.) So somehow this guy managed to be the first one to get all four judges to turn around and plead for his talent. This started what I hope will be an epic battle between Christina and Adam. Mud was flung and wigs were snatched. (Adam won this round, for the record.)

Rebecca Loebe – “Come As You Are” (Nirvana): Rebecca pulled a Josiah Lemming and lives out of her car to pursue her musical ambitions. She put her own, equally haunting, spin on the Nirvana song and blew angry-faced Casey Abrams out of the water. (I legitimately forgot Casey’s name there. I had to go look it up. I remembered “Kimberly Kelsey” and “Julia DeMato” but blanked on this year’s save recipient. Really, now?) Adam won another round versus Christina, here. But the greatest moment came when Rebecca said (loosely paraphrased), “yo, Christina, I love you and that “Beautiful” song was my jam back when I was like six but I listened to Bionic and I saw that floptastic “Not Myself Tonight” and there’s no way in hell I’m attaching myself to that sinking ship so Imma just have to go with Mr. Levine here. Sorry girl.” Or something like that.

Joann Rizzo – “I Say A Little Prayer” (Dionne Warwick): This fifty-six year old clearly goes to the same school of aging as Lauren Alaina’s mother. If you don’t want to be older, just pretend you’re not! Scream like a sixteen year old girl and jump up and down manically! There was nothing special about her. It was a little sad when she got passed on, but she deserved to be passed on. Now you can’t blame your lack of success on your age or image, though! Hope that does your self-esteem some favors. You suck solely on the quality of your talent!

Xenia Martinez – “Breakeven” (The Script): Xenia looked terrified while she was singing. But she sounded absolutely fantastic. There’s no way in hell she’s going to avoid crashing and burning like other terrified teenagers of reality TV, but she might give us a few more delicious vocals before she does. The breaks in her voice totally fit in with the song and her tone was super interesting. I have nothing else to say really. How do you snark on a sixteen year old girl with confidence issues? I can’t even go that low.

Tje Austin – “Just The Way You Are” (Bruno Mars): I thought he sounded awful singing an equally awful song. Cee-Lo, your team is looking like utter crap, I can’t lie.

Javier Colon – “Time After Time” (Cyndi Lauper): Good lord, this guy was amazing. I don’t know. Everything. His voice, his arrangement. His restraint! His tone. I loved it all. I want him to make sweet, sweet music forever and ever because his voice is like magic. In fact, I’m sad he’s not on Idol where I might actually be watching him for some of his own musical merits instead of to see how cool Adam Levine can be each week. Speaking of which, I’m glad he’s on Adam Levine’s team. I think that’s an awesome fit. Really, though. Just give me more music, Javier. (Except I totally know I’m going to abandon him at some point because he just feels like that poorly-picked early favorite that just goes awry as the season progresses.)

Beverly McClellan – “Piece Of My Heart” (Janis Joplin): Tonight was brought to you by songs Haley Reinhart has sung on American Idol! (Okay, so she sang “Fallin'” and not “If I Ain’t Got You”, but close enough.) She was loud and overly growly and had no ups or downs in her delivery. It was all just there and unmoving. Christina got her third big-voiced, slightly screechy female of the night and then the show ended.

For anyone keeping score at home, it’s Team Adam Levine: all the points, Everyone else: none of the points.

I’m super excited for next week of The Voice! Really, I’m super excited to see what hijinks Adam Levine and Cee-Lo and Blake and Christina are going to give us. Holla for some fresh reality TV blood!

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