The Voice season premiere recap: Just Like Christmas Morning

Add two new judges, six new sob stories, shake well. Serve while spinning...
Ep. 01 | Aired Mar 25, 2013

FAB FOUR With the addition of Usher and Shakira, the new group of coaches is as charming (even more so?) as ever.

NBC

The Voice does a few things very well, including being markedly different from the American Idol-size shadow in which it grew up. The Voice also insists on portraying its judging panel as a conga line of sin, with time spared to show Usher and Shakira (and then Blake, because obviously) in some beglammered back room “plotting against Adam.” Is it a joke? Isn’t it a random one, if so? Who was the next contestant again?

That’d be Mark Andrew, a Minnesotan roofer who was in a band until his band was struck with tragedy, including the death of his drummer at the hands of a drunk driver. It’s sad that his blazer is ill-fitting, but nice that he’s a good singer, especially because the show makes us watch him cry on camera. (Just wait.) He auditions with “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and a crinkly smile. Or as Shakira said: “I’m so passionate about you.” She then gestures outward from her chest. Darn coincidences! Mark votes Team Shakira.

The night’s fourth contestant is Janetza Miranda, who brings along an energetic Puerto Rican family, the wrong shade of lipstick, and the ability to make a screeching bird call on command. (No part of that sentence was a lie.) She performs Sia’s “Titanium,” kicking off the night’s trend of not-bad voices making bad-bad song choices. The judges all agree: You’ve got groove, Janetza. But no coaches turn around. Try again next year?

Sensing a precipitous drop in sunniness, panel leader Adam — yeah, I said it — hops up to the stage to give Janetza some kind words and a hug. “It’s gonna be okay.” And it is, I’m sure of it. You got hugged by a celebrity, Janetza! That qualifies you for sainthood in at least three different cults.

Now comes the time in the episode where we all have to forget that I just mentioned how different The Voice can be from other, more Idol-y singing competitions, because here comes the sound of a teenage phenom by the name of Danielle Bradbery, and didn’t you hear? She wears cowboy boots and was once so scared that she had to sing under a table. I know this because her family loves that story so much they tell it to millions of people on national television.

Other things the littlest Bradbery loves: Taylor Swift (probably), because she busts out a cover of La Swift’s “Mean” for the blind audition. Bradbery’s got a powerful voice, strong and even like mid-career Faith Hill, but she makes the fatal mistake of singing Swift’s song like a ballad instead of a kiss-off. The foursome loves it regardless, except Shakira, who loves it but also feels “so stupid” for not turning her chair around. Why didn’t she turn her chair? Shakira does what she wants. She wears wizard sleeves. Keep up.

Usher tries to woo Bradbery to his team with the promise of the promise of Justin Bieber. Blake, meanwhile, tells her that country music would love a powerhouse teenage girl to add to its lineup. Usher counters: I can offer the world! Nashville is just a state. There’s some manufactured dithering and a commercial break over her decision but Nashville, of course, not being a state, Bradbery goes with Blake.

NEXT: The sobbiest sobber

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