'The Voice' Season 6 Premiere Recap: Shakira's Sass and Usher's Abs Kick Off Blind Auditions

A YouTube sensation, a dating duo, a Youth Asylum alum and an openly gay country singer vie for a turn from Usher, Shakira, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
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"The Voice"

Usher may have been the breakout judge of the fourth season of The Voice, with his unconventional coaching techniques involving push-ups and ballroom dancing, but so far, Shakira is the star of the season six premiere.

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With witty zingers ("Adam's too busy thinking about his wedding, all he thinks about is flower arrangements!" she said of Adam Levine), a sharp focus (she said she "might have been hormonal and sleepless" in season four, after having a baby) and an outrageous social media following (over 24 million Twitter followers and 83 million Facebook fans), the musician has returned to The Voice with her fair share of sass.

But don't count Usher out. At the time that the blind auditions were filmed, he was preparing to play Sugar Ray Leonard in Hands of Stone (the film is now in post-production), so he spent the seconds between performances working out. "I can win these four chair turns all day," he tells the camera while doing sit-ups, which came in handy when he showed his abs to a contestant.

After kicking off the episode with a genre-swapping performance of each other's hits (watch it here), the four coaches settled into their spinning chairs for the first night of the blind auditions. Meet the first recruited singers of season six (and the ones who nearly made a team):

Christina Grimmie
Song: "Wrecking Ball"
Coaches who turned their chairs: All four
The 19-year-old New Jersey native, whose mother has had breast cancer three times, is a YouTube sensation with over two million subscribers. Usher and Shakira immediately turned their chairs when she kicked off the Miley Cyrus ballad a few keys higher. "You're more comfortable than I am up there," said Levine, while Shakira pulled the "who better to understand you than a woman?" card. In the end, Grimmie chose Levine, who went backstage to hug her family as well.

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TJ Wilkins
Song: "Bennie and the Jets"
Coaches who turned their chairs: Blake Shelton, Usher, Levine
The South Central resident was shielded from bad influences by bussing across town to a performing arts school. Currently studying music in college, Wilkins went with a soulful spin on the Elton John hit that triggered button-pushes within the first few precise phrases. "I hear a great R&B record in you," said Usher, who pointed out the strategy to hit the piano parts with a falsetto. Shakira suggested he "mix it up, be adventurous, go with Blake, but Wilkins picked Usher.

Kristen Merlin
Song: "Something More"
Coaches who turned their chairs: Levine, Shakira
The openly gay singer quit the corporate career life to pursue country music, and performed with Sugarland after winning a contest. Her performance got Shakira dancing early – which is why Shelton didn't, since they both have a fast vibrato. adding afterward, "Social media is going to be critical in getting votes, and I have twenty million followers on Twitter -- these guys together don't get to seventeen!" After promising to call Miranda Lambert to coach her to be Merlin's coach, and with Shelton's blessing, Shakira successfully recruited Merlin.

Tanner Lindford
Song: "Stay"
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
The 16-year-old went out for The Voice because other competitions sold him short because of his size. Though shaky on the Rihanna ballad, he promises to come back after his voice settles into its post-puberty register. "Don't change when all the ladies start falling over you!" warned Levine.

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Biff Gore
Song: "A Change Is Gonna Come"
Coaches who turned their chairs: All four
The Denver worship leader and nonprofit head was saved from fighting in the Gulf War after his brother petitioned for his orders to be canceled. Immediately attracting Levine, Gore's cover of the Sam Cooke hit was finished by a very happy high-kick. "Can I be your date at the Grammys when you win this thing?" asked Shakira, who was turned down in favor of his wife, while Usher's attempt included flashing his abs. While his brother thought he'd chose Shelton, Gore picked Usher.

Dawn & Hawkes
Song: "I've Just Seen a Face"
Coaches who turned their chairs: Levine, Shakira
The first duo of the sixth season, Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes hit it off – musically and romantically – in an Austin bar in 2010, and endearingly layered their harmonies while plucking their acoustic guitars. "That was my favorite performance that I've ever seen ever on The Voice," said Levine, revealing that he was raised on the tune, while Usher and Shelton supported Shakira's attention to detail and 70 million Facebook followers. Yet the crowd cheered for Levine, whom they chose.

Leo Gallo
Song: "Blurred Lines"
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
The former member of Youth Asylum (the boy band put together by Quincy Jones in the late '90s) hoped to showcase his wide range on the octave-hopping Robin Thicke hit, but couldn't turn a chair because he danced a bit too much and left his voice unsupported.

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Jeremy Briggs
Song: "Bad Company"
Coaches who turned their chairs: Shelton, Shakira
The former college baseball coach spends his days working at Sacramento's unemployment board, but hopes to take his evening gigs full-time. His breathy intro quickly intrigued Shelton, who admired his powerful voice and warned Briggs to stay away from Shakira: "Don't look at her, because if you even look at her, it's over – damnit, he's looking at her!" Combined with her reminder that she began her career in rock, Briggs chose Shakira, who then jumped into a dance break.

Jake Worthington
Song: "Don't Close Your Eyes"
Coaches who turned their chairs: Levine, Shelton, Shakira
Though he didn't get a chair turn during season five due to lack of breath control, the high school senior chose to perform the Keith Whitley ballad that he first learned to play on guitar. "Blake has won many times, but I believe he's only won one time with a country singer," said Levine, who touted his own championships also warning to stay away from Shakira: "Don't be blinded by lust, brother!" Shelton then asked if he wanted to be "a real, rootsy country singer" and won him over.

Karina Mia
Song: "Beneath Your Beautiful"
Coaches who turned their chairs: none
The Philadelphia native, who studied songwriting in college, put her indie-genre timbre on the Labrinth/Emeli Sande hit. Shelton praised her middle range and vibrato, but Usher and Shakira noted that the performance was left without a climactic moment.

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Bria Kelly
Song: "Steamroller Blues"
Coaches who turned their chairs: All four
The personable 17-year-old blues rocker, whose mother was diagnosed with sepsis last year, kicked off her James Taylor performance with a huge note that immediately won over Levine and Shelton, and blew off the roof with her rocker rasp. Levine tried to speak like a teen and Shelton repeatedly called her a stud, but Usher stood up to wave his Grammy in front of her face – a tactic that won Kelly over. Levine still quipped back, "And if you're really cool, you can turn your Grammys into shoes, like Usher did," in reference to his gold kicks.

The season six premiere puts Usher in the lead with three singers, Levine and Shakira with two each, and Shelton with one lone recruit.

The Voice blind auditions continue Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Which blind audition was your favorite? Which singer picked the wrong coach? Sound off in the comments below.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee