Season one of The Voice was a phenomenon. Would season two be able to match - or even beat - that standard of excellence?
Yes, it can.
It's time for a new crop of blind auditions - to meet the first batch of artists we'll be spending this season with. We met some amazing people last year, and while there's not necessarily the "oh my god" factor yet this season, there are some great people in this group, too. This season is off to an impressive start.
Starting things off, 17-year-old Raelynn kind of reminds me of Casey Weston. She's brought her parents with her, which is cute. Plus she's got the guts to sing a Miranda Lambert song, which is risky (remember Cherie Oakley last season?). Adam hits his button within seconds, and Blake follows a few moments later. Christina thinks about it, but decides not to go in against the two guys. Raelynn calls Adam "beautiful," but she was hoping for Blake before she walked in the room, so it's no surprise that she chooses Team Blake.
Next, we meet 42-year-old single father Jesse Campbell. If you didn't already see his blind audition in the sneak peek that NBC released awhile back, he's one of our feel-good stories of the season - and our first four-chair turnaround. Cee Lo, Christina and Adam hit their buttons for him within seconds, and Blake follows a few moments later. Jesse reminds me a bit of Javier Colon, in that the guy has a palpable emotion you can feel when he's singing. "What an impact you've already made on this show," Blake tells him. "At some point I started realizing I was the only dumbass in this room missing the show." I love you, Blake (but not as much as Adam). Jesse chooses Christina as his coach.
Jesse represents something really cool about The Voice: as much as I wanted him to pick Adam because I'm a Team Adam supporter, I wanted him to pick the coach that was the best fit for him. We've also seen the coaches feel the same way - not pushing their buttons not because they don't enjoy a vocalist, but because they feel another coach can help someone more. The show is a competition, yes, but it's also about being able to change people's lives.
20-year-old Daniel Rosa is from my neck of the woods - Riverside, California. Unfortunately for him, Devon Barley did "Animal" better last season. Blake thinks he's pitchy (look, we're subtitling Blake Shelton now!) and nobody turns around. But Daniel takes it well, even asking the coaches for advice on his way out.
25-year-old Florida native Juliet Simms is a rocker in appearance, but her song choice is much more soulful. Cee Lo hits his button, and that seems to convince Adam to do the same. It takes most of the song, but Christina hits her button, too. She compares Adam to a used car salesman for the second season in a row, and says he's "trying to be Justin Timberlake." Cee Lo just lets the two of them needle each other before he says his piece. After that, you can't really blame Juliet for going with Cee Lo. At least Adam and Christina hug and make up.
Now here's where the doors get blown off: 29-year-old classically trained singer Chris Mann. "I know I have to sing like I've never sung before," he says, and wow, he's fantastic. For one, we've never had someone sing in another language on The Voice before, which is cool. It's a clear surprise for the coaches, but it's clear Chris has amazing pipes. Cee Lo is the first to hit his button, followed by Christina. "I know I'm country, I couldn't understand one word he was saying," Blake quips. Chris joins Team Christina, which I think is the best choice for him. I'm not necessarily an opera fan, but I really want to see what Chris can do. He's an early favorite in my book. Hear him below.
We see a quick sequence of some unsuccessful auditions, before we get to Tony Lucca, who happens to have been a Mousketeer alongside Christina. Christina doesn't recognize Tony right away, but she hits her button after Adam and before Blake. Adam decides that Cee Lo needs to join the party, too, so he goes over and hits Cee Lo's button for him, making Tony the second four-chair turnaround of season two. Christina doesn't say anything about recognizing Tony during her pitch, but she goes backstage after the audition to talk to him. Meanwhile, Adam pleads that he "pushed two buttons," which is enough to make Tony the first member of Team Adam.
On that happy note, we end the first round of blind auditions, having seen some amazing performances (which you can already download on iTunes). Jesse, Chris and Tony are my early favorites...so this season really could be anyone's game so far. Now who will be next?
Some statistics from this episode for you:
Number of times Adam mentions that his team won the first season: 2 Number of times Adam swears: 3 Number of subtitles used on Blake: 1 Number of appearances of Purrfect the Cat: 1
All in all, the magic is back, and I can't wait for more.
Curious what happened to the artists from season one? Want to check out the best moments from the first year? Visit my Voice blog Big Red Chairs for interviews, tour dates and more. I'll see you right back here tomorrow for the second round of blind auditions!
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.