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‘The Voice’: Season Premiere Review – The Original Coaches Reunite

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Levine, Ceelo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Coming off their Emmy win for Outstanding Reality-Competition, the original coaches of The Voice reunited to compete against each other in making a hopeful musician’s dreams come true. Which contestants stood out? Find out in our review for the premiere of NBC’s The Voice!

In tonight’s two-hour season five premiere, Cee-Lo Green and Christina Aguilera return to bring back the original team of coaches that brought the show to instant success.   I whole-heartedly agree with three-time winning coach Blake Shelton’s thoughts about their return: it feels like nothing has changed at all.  The bond seems to be a lot stronger between all four coaches, and it’s only premiere night.

Last season, with the hiatus of Cee-Lo and Christina, we got to see Usher and Shakira both step into their shoes for the first time as coaches. That season was still a successful season, however, no matter how well the new coaches blended with returning coaches Adam Levine and Blake, there was something missing. I saw it within the first ten minutes of the show: the original coaches just have that bond that can’t be broken. Adam, Blake, Christina and Cee-Lo all picked up where they left off and it was great to see.

The Blind Auditions on The Voice are, to me, one of the most important elements of the show. The whole concept of the chairs facing away from the contestant is what one of the first things that is noticeable. Unlike the previous reality competition shows, this show isn’t all about the looks of a person; and that’s good. There is more of a connection formed with the contestant and the coach that wants to have them on their team and being able to listen, rather than see, is what I love about this show the most.

Let’s break down the key performances:

One of the stand-outs was that of Donna Allen, who toured as a back-up singer for Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine for nine years. With the first four notes of “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker sung, she got the first chair turn by Christina, who clearly was mesmerized by the power and range of her vocals. The moment Adam and Cee-Lo turned their chairs, it was time to see the pitch of who she should choose to begin. It was wise of Donna to choose Adam because at times when Christina coaches, she tends to box her contestant in the box of the power songs that include tons of flourish and runs. The best part of that performance was after the performance when, after Donna chose Adam as her coach, she wrapped her legs around him when he took the stage to give her a hug: priceless.

The second highlight was Matthew Schuler who, like Donna, got the attention of the coaches right off the bat with the four chair turn instantaneously with his song choice of “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant. I myself fell for his vocals and his energy while on stage. I really had to give it to Christina because she fought hard to get him to be on his team. It will be interesting to see what songs she can challenge him with.

Nic Hawk didn’t really stand out to me. I was not a fan of his take on “Hit Up ‘Em Style (Oops)” by Blu Cantrell, but he caught my attention for his playful flirtation toward Adam.  If Nic had chosen a different up tempo song, I would have been more receptive but I just didn’t respond to it. Perhaps with a challenging song for him in the Battle Rounds from Adam will make him stand out and showcase what else he can do vocally.

Tonight was not the night for a lot of the younger singing hopefuls. I had to agree with their decision not to hit their buttons to turn their chairs for them. Most of them simply, as many of the coaches pointed out, need to have more vocal growth. I felt this way about Matthew Brea. I think his over-eagerness to get in the competition could be noticed in his singing. Taking on The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, Matthew many not have won any chair turns, but he did get Cee-Lo to come out to him personally to give him some encouraging words. This is another reason to love this show: the coaches, who have been in the very same shoes as all of these contestants, know what it’s like to not be chosen to get their voices heard.

It’s clear that Blake again wants to try his fourth win with another country talent when he quickly hit his button for Shelby Z, who belted out Gretchen Wilson’s  “Here for the Party”.  He very well could have something when it comes to reeling someone onto his team, but the question is, will he himself take on the challenge to win with someone with the talent that isn’t necessarily a possible country artist in the making? We still have more Blind Auditions to see what he has up his sleeve.

The person that should have gotten a chair turn was Delvin Choice. Why none of the coaches turned for him puzzled me. I loved his personality during the brief chat with Carson Daly. Delvin sang Ne-Yo’s “Closer” and he did a great job, getting the crowd into it. I disagreed with Cee-Lo saying that it was too much of a performance song for his to push his button. Any of the coaches could have chosen him if they had turned their chair. They would have been able to still work with him to get him to where they needed him come time for the Battle Round.

Finally, the person that really got my attention was James Wolpert, who put aside college to go for his dream of singing. “Love Interruption” by Jack White, got somewhat a soulful feel to it from him. He just blew me away and I could see why he got a standing ovation from all four coaches. Christina, who grew up in Pittsburgh, vied for James to choose her, while Adam jokingly name dropped his best friend and roommate also once residing in James’ hometown. In the end, Adam was the coach chosen to close out the night.

Make sure you tune in for Tuesday night’s two-hour blind auditions at 8/7c.

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