The Voice is back.
So is Gwen Stefani, which should lead to plenty of relationship jokes during the Season 12 blind auditions.
And Blake Shelton’s Sundance Head won Season 11, giving the county music star five victories so far.
Wonder how many times he’ll remind auditioning singers of that over the next couple of weeks?
Honestly, if I was a contestant, how could I choose anyone other than Blake?
In most seasons he hasn’t won, one of his singers has been runner-up.
This is also the season The Voice drops the audition age to 13. Yippee. There’s lots of sarcasm there, if you didn’t catch it.
And the auditions begin with …
J. Chosen: He stands 6-foot-6 and dreamed of playing basketball. But then he injured his knees. Music is his love, but it’s tough to make a career in music in Atlanta, so he teaches special ed to make a living. The Voice has already “leaked” his audition. He’ll sing “Sexual Healing.” And if you saw the leak, you won’t be surprised to see Adam Levine and Alicia Keys spin their chairs almost instantly. They’re soon joined by the other two coaches. Alicia, in particular, is clearly taken with J. Chosen — real name Josh Hunter. By the way, he already has three songs available for download as J. Chozen. The coaches are comparing J. Chosen to Marvin Gaye. In something of a surprise decision, J. Chosen decides to join Team Gwen, saying he wanted to work with someone who would give him kmusical “diversity.”Lauren Duski joined Team Blake after turning three chairs with her audition on The Voice Season 12 premiere. (NBC Photo)[/caption]Lauren Duski, 25, Michigan: Her family is made up of dentists. But at age 9, she got involved with a country band and traveled Michigan performing. “I was hooked,” she says. She expresses a pre-audition preference for Team Gwen. She’ll sing Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me.” Her opening prompts a chair turn from Adam. Lauren has a really pretty voice. By the end of the chorus, Gwen and Blake are facing Lauren as well. Adam loves her version of the song. Gwen wants to help Lauren show her personality. Lauren opts to join Team Blake. Wise choice. Lauren explains her heart and soul is in country music.
Johnny Hayes, 29, Mobile, Ala.: He auditioned in Season 11 and didn’t turn a chair. He’s since been working in his dad’s lawn maintenance business. He’ll sing “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding. He says it’s a special song for he and his wife. He’s certainly delivering his own version of the song. It’s not one I’m crazy about, but he’s showing lots of energy on stage and a big voice. He also prompted chair turns from Adam and Gwen. Blake is lobbying on Gwen’s behalf. Johnny goes with Team Adam.
Skyler Harris, 25, Tenn.: She works full-time as a police officer and says the job doesn’t leave lots of time for music. She’s the survivor of an abusive relationship. She’d like to work with Alicia Keys. Her audition song is “One and Only.” She delivers a nice opening. The coaches aren’t turning, which surprises me, because she’s displaying solid vocals. None of the coaches turn. Gwen and Blake encourage her to come back.Anatalia Villaranda, 16, Calif.: She stands 4-foot-9. She auditioned for Season 15 of American Idol and made it all the way to the final judgment. At age 10, she joined a talent show and won. The then joined a singing and dance group at a young age. She now sings all around her hometown. She’ll perform “Runaway Baby.” This is another of the auditions, The Voice leaked. Anatalia is certainly showing off plenty of energy on stage. She winds up with all four coaches facing in her direction. Blake loves her personality. Anatalia opts to join Team Alicia.
Stephanie Rice, 27, Texas: This young lady has a harrowing tale of her father’s reaction when she came out as gay. She also leads a band called Colonial Blue. She’ll sing Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece.” She’s going to deliver a very nice rendition of this song. Blake turns in a heartbeat, followed by Gwen. That was a splendid rendition of the song. Shocked it wasn’t a four-chair turn. Gwen loved the emotion in her delivery. Blake says she performed as though she wrote the song. Stephanie joins Team Gwen.
Brandon Martin, Ky: He’ll sing “Here’s a Quarter Cause Someone Care.” He has a big raspy voice, but he’s having trouble convincing a coach to turn for this performance. And, in fact, none do. Sorry for the shortage of bio info, but my blog is acting up. Okay, it’s back. Anyway, The Voice has now introduced us to two singers who didn’t turn a chair. Later in the blind auditions, they’ll start montaging singers who will make the show. Make any sense? Not to me.
Mark Isaiah, 19, New York: He says he got into music as a really young age, but was hesitant because he was overweight. Then at age 14, he entered a Justin Bieber contest and won. He went to college, lost 40 pounds and is ready to pursue his dream of a career in music. He’ll sing “Mercy.” He quickly earns chair turns from Adam and Gwen. He turns in a solid performance, but the other two coaches stay put. Gwen reminds him that she turned first and says she can’t believe he isn’t signed yet. Adam says Mark sounds like a current pop star. Mark joins Team Adam.
Brennley Brown, 14, Calif.: She’s a big fan of The Voice and has lots of chores on the family farm. She recalls performing in a talent show at age 6 and tossing her cowgirl hat into the crowd. She’s been singing ever since. She’ll perform “Stupid Boy.” Cassadee Pope did a fabulous version of this back on Season 3. For her age, Brennley’s doing a nice job. Really liked those high notes at the end of the performance. Blake and Alicia are facing in Brennley’s direction. Blake says he’s the coach to help Brennley make her mark in country music. Alicia says she knows how hard it is to make it as a young female artist and says real music transcends boxes. Brennley wisely joins Team Blake. She says she couldn’t go against her country roots.Shaun ChrisJohn, 31, Philadelphia: Shaun recalls singing at a mall and getting a big reaction. He decided to pursue music. His plan was to head to New York or Los Angeles and push for a career singing. Instead, he wound up caring for his grandmother as her health began to fade. He’ll audtion with “You Are the Best Thing.” He was already delivering a solid performance before his voice climbed into the stratosphere midway through the song. That said, none of the coaches turn. Shame.
Felicia Temple, 28, New Jersey: She says
she grew up always wanting to be a musician. She’s a nurse. Her father, like her, has a career as a police officer but also performs as a musician on the side. Felicia also has overcome a bout with cancer that threatened to end her hopes of a singing career. She’ll audition with “All I Can Do Is Cry.” Another very impressive singer. She prompts a chair turn from Alicia. Right before an impressive song-ending glory note, Blake and Gwen turn as well. Felicia says she was once known as Felicia Keys because she sang all of Alicia’s songs at talent shows. That bit of news sparks a duet between Felicia and Alicia. And Felicia joins Team Alicia.
My favorite performances of the night: Lauren Duski and Stephanie Rice.