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MAR
25
2 YEARS

'The Voice' Season 4 Premiere: Blind Auditions Begin; Usher and Shakira Debut

Shakira nurses a maternal instinct, Usher accidentally gets a geography lesson, and Shelton collects the most contestants -- but Levine scores the big win.

The Voice Season 4 Premiere Coaches Performing - H 2013
Trae Patton/NBC

Returning champion coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine welcomed single-name superstars Usher and Shakira to The Voice on Monday night, as season four began the blind auditions with banter, bribery and tear-jerking backstories.

The new quartet of coaches began with a performance of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” further reiterating that this singing competition touts mentors who are working musicians who all play instruments. As the only female coach on the show, Shakira knows she’s got big shoes to fill -- so if you miss Christina Aguilera belting on Cee Lo Green’s “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, Shakira makes up for it with … a harmonica.

VIDEO: 'The Voice': Blake Shelton on Shakira's 'Claws,' Usher's 'Cool'

Meet the first additions to The Voice’s fourth season (and the ones who almost made the cut):

The Morgan Twins
Song: “Fallin’ ”
Coaches who turned their chairs: All four. How else would the show kick off the blinds?
The coaches had no idea that a pair of blond bombshells in red cocktail dresses were standing behind them. But after one sister nailed Alicia Keys' signature opening, Shelton and Usher immediately hit their buttons, with the other two coaches following suit. “This is a dream come true for most … men,” jokes Shelton. “Like a damn Doublemint commercial!” Looks like being a two-time champion is a nice selling point -- the duo opts for Team Blake, even if it does get him in trouble with his wife Miranda Lambert, a 2003 finalist on Nashville Star.

Jess Kellner
Song: “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Usher and Shakira
Using music to heal emotional scars from an alcoholic mother, Kellner’s brassy tone and patient phrasing departed from typical Voice auditions. Shakira took a nurturing approach -- praising the “haunting” timbre of her voice -- but Usher simply smiled with his leg up on that rotating chair and let his sex appeal ooze out. Clearly, the latter approach works, as Team Usher gained a first contestant.

STORY: 'The Voice': 7 Things to Know About Season 4

Mark Andrew
Song: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Levine, Shakira
Andrew -- a vocal blend of Voice alumni Tony Lucca and Nicholas David -- was hesitant to give music a second try, after two of his former band members died recently. After Shakira pointed out that Levine only won with a beginner’s luck that she now has (“Don’t be blinded by lust, my friend!” pleaded Levine), the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer successfully recruited Andrew. Looks like sex appeal won again, even when she’s pregnant!

Janetza Miranda
Song: “Titanium”
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
The Bachata singer who rocks bird call wanted Shakira to coach her to a bilingual musical career. After a shaky, nervous performance, the pitchy powerhouse was consoled with hugs from a compassionate Levine.

STORY: 'The Voice': 10 Season 4 Survival Tips from Past Contestants

Danielle Bradbery
Song: “Mean”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Shelton, Usher, Levine
Bullied as a kid for having bad teeth, the 16-year-old stuck it to haters with the Taylor Swift song, and turned three chairs. While Usher tried bribing her with Justin Bieber meet-and-greets, he accidentally referred to the city of Nashville as a state -- a geography flub that must have cost him. Bradbery chose Team Blake, probably with hopes of following last season’s winner Cassadee Pope into the country music scene.

Vedo
Song: “Boyfriend”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Usher
With experiences of homelessness and a mother with stage 4 lung cancer, this R&B singer sang through the whispers of the Justin Bieber hit and received a standing ovation -- and his first-choice coach.

STORY: 'The Voice' Adds Double Dose of Two-Hour Tuesday Episodes

Christian Porter
Song: “Sexy and I Know It”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Shakira, Shelton, Usher
The bar musician (aka a champion of covers) took a creative risk by putting a blues twist on the LMFAO hit that displayed his vocal range and got Shakira all hot and bothered. “The women were going so crazy," Usher said. "I really thought I was gonna turn to a strip show!” Shelton then scolded an audience member who shouted for Porter to choose Shakira. Looks like intimidation worked -- Porter picked Shelton.

Leah Lewis
Song: “Blown Away”
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
Lewis was adopted from China as an infant and hopes to break the country music stereotype as an Asian-American. Although the 15-year-old blew raw and untrained notes throughout the performance, there’s no doubt The Voice will be seeing her again. “If you’re 99 percent amazing and you’re 15, you have nothing to worry about, sweetheart,” Levine said as she left.

STORY: Will 'The Voice' Out-Sing 'American Idol'?

Kris Thomas
Song: “Saving All My Love for You”
Coaches who turned their chairs: Shakira
This pastor’s son fell into depression and alcoholism after losing a record deal and got a wake-up call when he found himself drunk behind the wheel. Only Shakira picked up on Thomas’ feminine timbre and controlled falsettos, while the other three coaches were surprised to see a man standing before them. “I wish I knew you were a guy!” shouted Levine with regret. “Women go crazy over a guy with falsetto; they love that,” Usher (who discovered Bieber) told Shakira.

James Irwin
Song: “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
A carpenter whose twin daughters died only minutes after a premature birth, Irwin’s subdued performance didn’t turn any chairs. “Life, thank God, is full of second and third chances,” said Shakira to Irwin. “You should try it again because you deserve to come back.”

STORY: Inside Adam Levine's $35 Million-Plus a Year Empire

Judith Hill
Song: “What a Girl Wants”
Coaches who turned their chairs: All four
The female duet singer was set to do backing vocals for Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour; she spent two months rehearsing with the King of Pop before he died in 2009. Although offers poured in after she sang at Jackson’s memorial service, Hill said “it seemed like poor taste” and instead opted to try The Voice, putting a soulful spin on season-one coach Aguilera’s early hit. “You’re the first person who’s ever done a Christina song -- and done it as well as Christina Aguilera,” said Levine. After plenty of four-way banter, Hill became Levine’s first contestant of season four.

But all of this is only half the story -- the two-night premiere of The Voice continues at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC.

What did you think of the premiere episode of Season 4? Sound off in the comments section below.