"The Voice" is back with a vengeance. Not only did we see the return of the original four coaches: Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, but a stellar new group of guest mentors.
Ryan Tedder, Miguel, Ed Sheeran and Cher made their debut on Monday night as battle rounds kicked off, offering their expertise to the up-and-comers vying for a spot on their coach's final team. But dishing advice isn't as easy as it seems, and not all the guest mentors stepped up to the plate as expected.
We broke down their performance during their first week on the job.
Ryan Tedder (Team Adam)
His musical prowess was on display from his first bit of advice. "You have such a powerful voice, don't do the break with it," the OneRepublic frontman told contestant Grey. "The tendency of people who perform hits songs is they get comfortable with it and mess with the melody which comes across loungy." The Grammy-winning songwriter (Beyoncé's "Halo" and his band's "Apologize") and producer (Jennifer Lopez and Demi Lovato) gives contestants specific advice, all with a super zen, laid-back approach. He clearly listens and seems invested in their growth, offering relevant suggestions that pay off.
There isn't much for Tedder to improve as a mentor besides maybe pulling some out-of-the-box, Usher-esque music techniques out of his bag. That'd be fun.
Miguel (Team Cee Lo)
The 2013 Grammy winner's strength as a mentor is his own vocal background. The R&B crooner, who has collaborated with the likes of Mariah Carey, can break down the nuances of the singing voice, picking and choosing where it sits better with the contestant. On Monday's episode, he told R. Anthony to tone down the runs, calling them "disingenuous," but appreciated contender Kat Robichaud's "dynamics" in her verse and chorus. But sometimes showing is better than telling, and Miguel did just that with young'un Anthony Paul, singing the song to make his point.
It's clear Miguel is putting in the effort to be of value to the show and contestants. It'd be great to see him get even more involved and specific, since it feels a bit safe, at the moment with surface-level advice. But, he's basically there.
Ed Sheeran (Team Christina)
We had high hopes for the show's youngest guest mentor, especially with his pop hit background touring with Taylor Swift and writing for bands like One Direction, but so far Sheeran has been a bit of a dud, sometimes looking like a deer in headlights. The Grammy-nominated "A Team" singer showed promise in the beginning, telling young Timyra-Joi, "The tremble on the first note happens to everyone ... I'm nervous to be here as well, I've never been a mentor before. We'll be nervous together." It was a sweet sentiment until the bumbling began. "I'm just like --," Sheeran said once, gesturing an explosion with his hands.
While we appreciate his simplicity with advice like "just push," the real musical guidance is coming from coach Xtina, leaving us wondering what Sheeran 's purpose is in the first place. At the moment, he seems more enamored with the idea of being there.
Cher (Team Blake)
The only thing more surprising than the Oscar-, Grammy-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning star appearing as a guest mentor on the show was her pairing with country crooner Blake Shelton. Our favorite quality about the legendary Cher is her sass. She not only puts Shelton in place with comments like "I don't just sit on my ass and punch your little button," but she is equally direct with contestants. When Monika Leigh asked a follow-up to Cher's suggestion to tone down her riffing, Cher couldn't offer more help, snapping back with, "You sing it different every time." The queen diva brings originality with suggestions like "sing on your toes," reminding her contestants this is a make-it-or-break-it moment.
Although Cher's no-nonsense attitude is commendable, she could lighten up a little bit. Her advice is good but could also use more specificity. We'd love to see Cher share some of her enormous experiences with the artists in an attempt to motivate and inspire.
Since this is just the first week, we'll be watching closely to see the guest mentors' progression as battles turn into knockouts very soon.