'The Voice' Returns for Season 10, Christina Aguilera Back As Judge

The Voice Season 10 - Blind Auditions 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of NBC

The Voice kicked off its 10th season Monday night, with season 9 coaches Blake Shelton, Pharrell and Adam Levine all returning and season 8 coach Christina Aguilera coming back after a short break from the singing competition.

Season 9 coach Gwen Stefani will not serve as a coach this season, but she will return to the show later this season as Team Blake’s mentor.

The new season began, as it always does, with the Blind Auditions, and Levine and Shelton wasted no time settling back into their usual banter. 

The first artist of the season was Paxton Ingram from Miami. Ingram said he wants to bring back the entertainment side of singing, adding that Michael Jackson is his biggest influence. He sang Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” and he showed a lot of confidence in addition to a connection with the words he was singing. Shelton turned almost right away, and he was joined at the last minute by Levine and Pharrell. Ingram surprised, joining Team Blake, even though he is definitely a better fit for either Team Levine or Team Pharrell. Shelton always has trouble hanging onto non-country singers as the season progresses.

Next up was Caity Peters, who sang “Jealous” by Labrinth. She got early turns from Aguilera and Pharrell, and Levine joined before the end. Pharrell did his signature move of running up on stage to give her a hug, but Levine and Aguilera also gave strong pitches. She picked Team Pharrell, so it looks like the hugging tactic still works for him.

Nick Hagelin, who is a professional ballet dancer, auditioned next, singing “Lost Stars” by Levine, who interestingly was the only coach who didn’t turn, even though Hagelin showed off impressive falsetto that would normally catch Levine’s ears. Hagelin picked Team Pharrell.

Small-town girl Maddie Poppe auditioned next. A senior in high school, Poppe is young, but she sounded very experienced during her performance of “Dog Days Are Over.” Unfortunately, she didn’t stray at all from the original recording. So even though she sounded strong, she just didn’t bring anything special to the audition. She didn’t get any turns.

Mary Sarah, who sells boots part-time in Nashville, took the stage next. She recorded a country classics duet album with various famous country singers — including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson — but it wasn’t her “golden ticket,” in her words. Sarah came to The Voice to take her music career to the next level. She sang “Where the Boys Are,” and her voice was definitely one of the night’s surprises. She sang beautifully and with a lot of power, and the performance secured the season’s first four-chair turn. “It really brought me back to a different time and different place,” said Levine. She had four coaches begging for her, but Sarah naturally went with Team Blake.

The first CD Mike Schiavo ever got was by Maroon 5. Fast-forward to present-day, when Schiavo got his chance to audition in front of Levine. He sang an acoustic version of Tove Lo’s “Talking Body,” playing guitar. His arrangement was great, and Schiavo showed impressive technical skills. Pharrell and Levine turned immediately, joined later by Shelton. Pharrell described his tone as “crispy clear.” As a ploy to win him over for good, Levine hopped up on stage to sing a duet of Schiavo’s favorite Maroon 5 song, “She Will Be Loved.” How could Schiavo go with anyone else after that? He became the season’s first member of Team Adam.

Next, Queen Sessi sang “Show Me Love,” starting the audition with a powerful run. She showcased impressive range and energy, but the performance just didn’t have enough layers to it, so it never clicked with the coaches, and she didn’t receive any turns.

Bryan Bautista, who auditioned during the Blinds last season but didn’t turn any chairs, returned for a second chance. He sang “The Hills” by The Weeknd this time around, and even though he struggled a little bit with breath control, his tone was beautiful, and it was a great performance. Aguilera turned first, and she was joined at the last second by Shelton. Bautista is definitely a clear fit for Team Christina, and he thankfully understood that, picking Aguilera over Shelton.

Next, Abby Celso sang “Should’ve Been Us,” and the performance started on a solid note, but she really came to life during the chorus, which is when Levine first turned. He was followed by Pharrell. “I think you could win this whole thing, and I think you could do it on my team,” said Levine. But Pharrell invoked the fact that he won with Sawyer Fredericks in season 8, and Celso ultimately joined Team Pharrell.

John Gilman, who has a throwback rockabilly sound and style, auditioned next, singing “Don’t Be Cruel” and playing the guitar. Levine unexpectedly was the only coach to turn, so Gilman joined Team Adam by default. “I don’t know why I didn’t hit my button. I’m really stupid,” Shelton admitted.

Closing out the night, child actress Alisan Porter — who was the star of Curly Sue — auditioned for season 10. She sang “Blue Bayou,” and it was easily the best performance of the night. All four coaches turned, impressed by her range and power. Levine went up on stage to kiss her hand and hug her, but Aguilera wasn’t going to let him get away with that. She also jumped up on stage to hug Porter, who was on Star Search, just like Aguilera once was. “I want to be a part of your history,” said Aguilera. Every coach fought for Porter, and she chose Team Christina, which was definitely the best choice for her.

The Blind Auditions continue tomorrow night. What did you think of the season premiere? Sound off in the comments below.