With the recently revamped season of “American Idol” and the hype surrounding the Stateside arrival of “The X Factor,” there’s some stiff competition going on in the realm of reality singing competitions. But on Tuesday evening, it was all about NBC’s two-hour series premiere of “The Voice,” which introduced viewers to a different kind of search for America’s next singing sensation.
Before sifting through a string of aspiring superstars, celebrity panelists Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton kicked off “The Voice” on a high note, covering Gnarls Barkley’s smash “Crazy” and showing off their own vocal talents to a cheering audience.
After the star-studded performance, it was time to get down to business as host Carson Daly broke down the rules to the highly anticipated show, which begins with blind singing auditions, where hopefuls are judged solely on their vocal ability. With their backs turned to contestants, the panel first decides whether they like an audition performance by pressing a button and then claiming him or her as one of their students. If more than one judge likes a contender, the contestant decides which star they’d like to be his or her judge. If no button is hit, then the auditioner is sent home.
Once they have each chosen eight contestants, the panel will train their teams for battle rounds. Eventually, the teammates will also be competing with each other, as the judges cut their crews in half. Viewers at home will have the final say in choosing the show’s winner during a live round, with the champion taking home $100,000 and a record deal with Universal Republic.
Among the first of the evening’s contestants was 31-year-old Tarralyn Ramsey, who soared through a rendition of Faith Hill’s “Breathe.” Toward the end of the performance, Cee Lo and Xtina pushed their buttons, with Ramsey choosing the latter.
“I absolutely love ’What a Girl Wants,’ and I have all your records. And I even try to sing the Spanish ones, and I don’t get them right,” the emotional contestant told Aguilera. “I would be honored to work with you. Thank you.”
The audition footage focused less on the wacky contestants (like early rounds on “Idol”) and more on the talent. Other successful tryouts included contestants Vicci Martinez (teamed with Green) and Jeff Jenkins (teamed with Levine).
Jared Blake was the first of the aspiring singers that was shown not receiving a vote from the panel.
“I think it started off like fire out of the gates. … For some reason when it hit the chorus, it didn’t fully come to life the way I wanted it to,” Levine said. “Remember, we have our backs turned as well, so performance is kind of not a factor.”
“The Voice” further distanced itself from “Idol” with an audition by a duo. Elenowen, a Nashville-based married couple who live in the wife’s parents’ basement, covered Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s “Falling Slowly” and quickly secured a spot on Shelton’s team.
Die-hard fans of reality television may have caught a familiar face as former “Idol” contestant Frenchie Davis — who was booted from the second season of the show for posing for an adult website during her younger years — took to the stage to belt out her rendition of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” Davis found her second shot at fame when Aguilera snatched up the singer for her team.
There was also some rather friendly competition between the judges. Levine and Aguilera playfully duked it out when trying to convince contestants to choose them as their mentor, particularly during the very last audition.
Beverly McClellan, an extra-hyper, tatted, 41-year-old rocker, proved that age is nothing but a number by jamming out to “Piece of My Heart” (the song first sung by Erma Franklin but made famous by Janis Joplin). In the end, McClellan chose to team up with Aguilera over Levine.
“Ultimately, it is your decision, but [Levine] is a little bit of a wheeler-deeler schmeeler,” Christina joked. “He will sell you a used car to your grandma. Be careful of that one.”
With three aspiring superstars on each of the panelist’s teams, next week’s episode of “The Voice” will find the judges choosing five additional contestants to complete their teams and prepare for the battle round face-off.
What did you think of the series premiere of “The Voice”? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!