'The Voice' Recap: The Shtick Succeeded

NBC's much-hyped Dutch import might end up shaming its competitors

Lewis Jacobs/NBC
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On American Idol, looks matter. Take the Idol crop this season: No bald ladies made it to Hollywood.

During the premiere of The Voice last night, however, the bald, the "tall" (the show's euphemism-of-choice for overweight) and the painfully shy waltzed through on merit alone. One hot girl got scratched. Another hot girl cried happy tears at making it through for reasons other than being hot. A giant boy with a baby face sparked a bidding war between all four judges – the shtick here being that each celebrity judge blindly assembles a team of musicians to then coach to victory. Could this concept be the best Dutch import since tulips and Eddie Van Halen?

Then there was the bald lady, Beverly McClellan, a proud, 41-year-old lesbian who said that in the past she has shocked "teenagers and grandmothers" who hadn't realized bald ladies can sing. (Teenagers and grandmothers in question: Bald ladies are just ladies who don't have hair. They can sing. Pass it on.) At the topsy-turvy Voice studios, where up is down and bald is Pantene model, Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera fought hard to woo Beverly, who ended up buzzing off the high of getting to pick Christina.

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They were the adversaries of the entire night: Adam and Christina, male pop vs. lady pop, brunet vs. platinum blonde. They secured their teams like dogs peeing on trees. Adam was crafty – a "wheeler-dealer," said Christina – stepping up his charm when it was clear he'd fallen behind the others' pace in collecting eight protégés. Meanwhile, Cee Lo Green cruised on the strength of his rep. He swiveled in his chair like a wise gnome, smiling when he lost a prospect, pleased when they came to him. The quietest of the celebrities – country sweetheart Blake Shelton – steadily racked up a solid cast of folksy, twangy types who knew what they wanted.

By the end, the coaches were tied at three apiece. Blake had recruited Patrick Thomas, a country crooner who proved his authenticity by wearing a cowboy hat; a folk duo called Elenowen who live in their parents' basement and look like models; and the adorable 16-year-old Xenia Martinez, who whispers her words with serious indie potential. Assessment: v. strong. Cee Lo won Vicci Martinez, powerful despite her tiny size; Kelsey Rey, the hot girl who wants to be judged only on her reed-thin voice; and Tje Austin, who, with his smooth control, reminded the judges of Cee Lo himself. Assessment: strong, but possibly boring. Adam, despite exuding the shakiest know-how of the bunch, managed to walk away with Jeff Jenkins, the kid everyone wanted; Rebecca Loebe, she of a Tori Amos disposition; and yet another singer everyone wanted, Javier Colon. Assessment: unbelievably strong. Adam is clearly a clever guy who deserves all the credit for the inexplicable success of Maroon 5.

As for Christina, for whatever reason – and gender theorists can probably supply plenty – she fell flat with the guys. She landed an all-woman team of Tarralyn Ramsey, Idol Nudie-Pic-Hall-of-Shamer Frenchie Davis and Beverly McClellan, the first two of whom sing a lot like Christina except not as well. Beverly, on the other hand, sings entirely like herself. She's raspy, loose and a proud, bald symbol of why this show could easily trump the others.