10:12pm PT by Jethro Nededog
'The Voice' Premiere: Jesse Campbell's Silky 'A Song For You' Wins Over the Coaches (Video)
The Voice made its sophomore return after Sunday’s Super Bowl and wasted no time in getting right to the thing we all love about NBC’s singing competition: The blind auditions.
Even while touting his win from last season, Adam Levine was having a hard time transitioning that triumph into team members. And the pressure is on this season as each coach must coax 12 singers (four more than last year) into picking them. And Adam had a rough time of it.
The show didn’t take it easy on the first audition from edgy country singer, 17-year-old RaeLynn. Her rendition of coach Blake Shelton’s wife Miranda Lambert’s “Hell on Heels” (via her band, Pistol Annies) could’ve counted her out after the first verse. He didn’t take well to a performer who tried one of Miranda's songs last season. But, RaeLynn added her own spin on the song that won over Adam first, then Blake. The two coaches argued over their visions for her career. And while Adam may have meant it as a compliment that the singer could be bigger than the country genre, Blake didn’t appreciate the comment much. In the end, RaeLynn picked the country singer (which was to be expected).
Chicago’s Jesse Campbell, 42, could have gone in many directions. He impressed the coaches on his version of “A Song For You.” Originally performed by seventies rocker pianist Leon Russell, it has since been performed by a wide variety of artists across genres. Adam, Cee Lo Green, and Christina Agulera turned their chairs almost right away with Blake following later. “I was the only dumb ass missing the show,” Blake would tell Jesse. The single dad had the pick of the coaches, an enviable position for any singer on the show. And While Cee Lo said Jesse exceeded his expectations and Adam admitted to goosebumps, Christina won Jesse over in the end.
After two successes, we met Daniel Rosa. A big bear of a guy wearing a bow tie, Daniel seemed to be searching for some validation of his talent (outside of his parents). He may have gotten some of that from The Voice, but he probably walked away disappointed. Blake commented that his singing was pitchy during the performance and not one of the coaches were moved by it enough to turn their chairs. The poor guy from Riverside, Calif. did make the best of the experience. He asked for advice, which Christina really appreciated. Hopefully, he’ll work on his pitch problems and comes back next season for one of those second chances The Voice coaches take pride in.
Clearwater’s Juliet Simms would get an altogether different response. Her take on The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” would win over Cee Lo and Adam right off. Christina would join them later, telling the singer that she “blew my socks off.” When it was Adam’s turn to talk, Christina had something else to say and he got a bit angry by the interruption. And in a pot calling the kettle black moment, Christina says Adam needs to be the center of attention. Say what, Xtina? That caused Adam to retort, “Christina isn’t one of the best coaches.” Ouch. Meanwhile, Juliet found it funny that Cee Lo stayed quiet as the two fought over her. “Sexual tension,” the soul singer would comment about his cohorts' bickering before laying it on thick with the sweet talk on Juliet. Well, it worked. She ended up picking Cee Lo.
By now, fans have already heard Chris Mann’s big voice. He was prominently featured in early NBC sneak peeks. The Wichita singer whose mother is currently fighting pancreatic cancer won over both Cee Lo and Christina with the operatic “Because We Believe.” Surprisingly, Cee Lo was the first to turn his chair. Christina did so moments later. She would later say that he was definitely “The Voice.” And Cee Lo would call it “exceptionally beautiful.” Blake just admitted he didn’t understand a word of the performance. Um, yeah, Blake, it was in another language. Chris explained how he has tried to shrink his voice down to fit what others wanted it to be. While Cee Lo stressed that he was the first to turn around, Christina may have won him over by telling him she knows what to do with real vocalists. So, to Christina he went while the camera captured Cee Lo’s shock over the decision. I would say that either choice has its advantages. Christina likes to give a pop makeover to her team members, while I think Cee Lo would work to make Chris’ performances as big as his voice. We’ll see how that works out for him.
The premiere episode ends with a Mickey Mouse Club reunion for Christina and contestant Tony Lucca. The two used to perform together on the Disney Channel series in the early-90s. The 35-year-old was sure the coach wouldn’t recognize him, though his young son felt she would. Tony sang "Trouble" and won Adam over first. Christina and Blake soon joined and Adam then pushed Cee Lo’s button for him. That would become his rallying call for the performer to pick him. “I pushed two buttons,” Adam pointed out. Christina said Tony had a silky tone to his voice and Blake mentioned that he could sense that there was a real professional quality to the performance that meant he has been at this for a while. In the end, Tony honored Adam’s belief in his ability and chose him. Then as Christina was turning around, the camera caught her chin drop. She had apparently recognized who he was and scurried backstage for a rather touching reunion. “How the hell can I be happier?,” Tony would say later.
Overall, the premiere episode was a success in my opinion. Though, I would have thought that Jesse would have gone with Cee Lo, and Juliet with Adam. And while I think Christina will work well with Chris, I feel like Cee Lo would have honored his style more than Christina would. I’m glad to have the show back as I really do feel it’s the freshest singing competition on television.
What were your thoughts on the decisions both the coaches and the singers made on the season premiere? Tell us in the comments section below. Also, take another look at Jesse's performance below.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro