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The Voice: Season 11 Premiere, 9/19/16

September 20th, 2016 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

As in every season on The Voice, the four judges (officially coaches but they judge, too) rep the four major recording-industry genres:  for Season 11, it’s Miley Cyrus for pop and Alicia Keys for R&B, joining Adam Levine the rocker and Blake Sheldon the country guy. However, given that Adam’s a soulful rocker and Miley’s got considerable country twang, this season’s panel is more like half-soulful and half-twang.

Auditions are underway as of Monday night and, as always, the judges only push their buttons and turn their chairs around once they hear a voice they want on their team. If more than one judge wants a contestant, that’s when the fun begins. Eleven people auditioned on the premiere, and these nine made teams:

1.  Jason Warrior, 21, a young black man from a rough Chicago neighborhood, sings “Livin’ for the City.” The judges at first appear unimpressed, until Adam likes some high notes and turns. (In a new feature, the judge’s name lights up on the stage floor, so it’s easy to keep track of who’s interested.) On the next run of high notes, Alicia turns. Adam basically talks himself out of the running, spending much time saying the singer’s going to want Alicia, and Alicia gets her first team member.

2. Dave Mosien, a clean-cut glasses-wearing Maroon 5 fan (he’s met Adam Levine backstage at a concert), sings “Sex and Candy” in a jazz-style falsetto. Of course Adam likes him. Unfortunately for Adam, so do Miley, Alicia, and Blake. I don’t find the singer all that impressive, but Adam says, “A falsetto is hard but [you’re] perfectly on key.” The girls sell hard (Miley gets flirty, too) and Mosien confounds expectations by choosing Alicia over the guy he’s a fan of. This may come to a steal, should Alicia’s coaching falter.

3. Courtnie Rameriz, a 17-year-old girl from Texas, has received vocal training from her church camp–but her delivery’s more like an old-fashioned red hot mama than a church type. This choice is between the girls because Miley turns about half-way through the song, Alicia right after her, and the boys stay out. Miley says she likes Ramirez’ swagger and rocker vibe. The girls sell hard again but Rameriz picks Miley, who probably is the best match for her.

4.  Sundance Head (that’s his name), a 37-year-old Texas cowboy, is headed for Team Blake, right? He does muddle the issue a little with his soulful song selection, Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” from the sixties. (Alicia asks afterward, “Where’d you learn to sing like that?” and he answers, “From you!”) Adam and Blake turn right away. The girls stay out, so–guy fight!  Blake compares Head to Travis Tritt and mentions Southern rock. He chooses Blake without hesitation–but watch for a possible steal.

5.  Adam says he’s looking for a singer that blows the doors off. Next audition, Ali Cauldwell fits the description. Adam wants her but so do Blake, Miley, and Alicia. They all sell hard, but we start to see a pattern developing–it’s not just Adam vs. Blake anymore, it’s Adam vs. the other three.   Ali picks Miley, so the girls are already cleaning up! Will the guys be stuck with their leftovers?

6.  After seeing Sal Valentinetti be such a major part of America’s Got Talent over the summer, we now see another throwback Sinatra-like crooner: Riley Elmore. His vocal resemblance to Sinatra, in fact, may be a hindrance–he may be more Sinatra impersonator than pop star.  Adam turns, but so does Blake. Adam goes so far as to do some coaching before Elmore makes his choice. They duet the Sinatra standard, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Some singers might dump Adam and run to Blake anyway, but Riley stays with Adam.

7.  Dana Harper, a black alto from Texas (and the daughter of basketball player Derek Harper), sings Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” Her voice and song selection make it difficult for the judges to tell whether it’s a “he” or a “she”singing. Blake and Alicia turn their chairs about halfway through the audition but then Adam pulls a buzzer-beater. It’s a three-chair turn. Somewhat surprisingly, she picks Blake. 

8.  Gabe Broussard is only fifteen but looks, sounds, and acts very mature, very blues-influenced. He’s been to rock camp and has a rock band. He says he’s influenced by Bayou-soul man Marc Broussard (no relation). Gabe gets Blake’s attention right away, and Blake hollers, “No, Miley, no!” when she’s about to push her button. She does anyway. Adam doesn’t signal any interest, but he comments after the audition, “Your face is so sweet and your voice sounds like you’re up to no good.” Blake says, “You sound like such a stud!” Gabe picks Blake.

9.  Christian Cuervos, son of the late Puerto Rican singer Jose Cuervos, is a big guy with a big tenor. Blake and Adam push their buttons almost immediately. Alicia joins in about halfway. Miley explains afterward about not turning her chair with, “I’m not the coach for you.” Cuervos picks Alicia and Adam sulks.

I haven’t heard anybody yet that I think can survive the battles, knockouts, and rounds of audience voting, but maybe tonight’ll be different. Will Adam continue to lose to Blake and the girls? Will Miley show someone how to swing on a wrecking ball? Watch and find out!



Tags: The Voice