CeeLo Green announced last week that, after serving as a coach for four of the past five “Voice” seasons, he is stepping down — presumably to pursue other activities like touring with Lionel Richie, voicing “American Dad’s” hot tub, and releasing his first solo album in four years. While CeeLo did seem emotionally checked-out during last fall’s Season 5, indicating that he was already planning his exit and that this development is for the best, I confess, I’m going to miss the guy.
CeeLo always brought the comedy, the fashion, and most importantly, the diversity to “The Voice.” He delivered some of the most memorable coach performances, and recruited some of the most interesting and daring contestants, of the entire series. “The Voice” just won’t be the same now that it’s out of the Red Zone.
Here are my favorite CeeLo-centric magic moments of his “Voice” run:
10. That time when he impersonated Randy Jackson. Back in Season 3, CeeLo shockingly mocked The Dawg with a semi-convincing Randy impression. “Yo, dawg, that was hype, dope, and fresh,” he quipped during one of his critiques, at which point his co-star Adam Levine announced, “Randy Jackson, everyone!” — just in case CeeLo’s impersonation was so third-rate, no one could figure out which celebrity he was mimicking. Then coach Blake Shelton got in a little jab as well, asking, “Who’s Randy Jackson?” Answered CeeLo, “He’s Michael Jackson’s brother.” Oh, snap. And I thought “The Voice” was supposed to be the nice singing show! But you have to admit, this was pretty funny.
9. That time when he brought his Mini-Me onstage. CeeLo never went for subtlety when he performed, and his “Play That Funky Music” duet with Season 3 Team CeeLo finalist Nicholas David truly pulled out all the stops. But on this evening, CeeLo actually got upstaged — a rarity in his career — when 15-year-old Jordan “MiLo” Jackson hit the floor.
8. That time when he dressed like Prince. Let’s go crazy, indeed.
7. That time when he dressed like a Stormtrooper. The force was always with CeeLo.
6. That time when he reunited with Goodie Mob. In April 2012, CeeLo’s original OutKast-affiliated rap crew Goodie Mob (Khujo, T-Mo, and Big Gipp) regrouped for a space-jam “Voice” performance of their comeback single “Fight to Win,” while dressed like tinfoil-wrapped Transformers and basically being weird and awesome. It was one of those moments that made viewers realize just how much cooler and edgier “The Voice” was than every other singing show on TV.
5. That time when he celebrated Christmas with a cast of “Voice” alums. And the Muppets. This wasn’t a “Voice” moment per se — it was CeeLo’s Vegas holiday special for the TV Guide Channel — but it was cause for celebration among “Voice” fans when CeeLo invited 16 of his Season 3 finalists, plus all-time “Voice” greats like Nakia, Jamar Rogers, Niki Dawson, Tony Vincent, and Vicci Martinez, to join in on the fun. It was a “Voice”-mas miracle!
4. That time when he hit the “Battlefield” with Vicci Martinez. Not since Adam Lambert was paired with KISS in “Idol” Season 8 had I seen such a seat-of-leather-pants talent show finale duet as this. This was pure THEATER. Vicci almost looked like she’d borrowed Glambert’s KISS-inspired, cage-winged shoulderpads for this insane performance, while CeeLo looked like he’d borrowed Sanjaya Malakar’s Mohawk. And they both looked like they’d raided Nikki Sixx’s makeup case. In case that wasn’t awesome enough, they were also backed by ’80s-attired, backflipping dancer kids who looked like they’d come running off the set of “The Warriors.” Yes, it was over-the-top, even by CeeLo standards, and yes, I totally loved it.
3. That time when he paid tribute to Newtown. CeeLo was obviously best known for his zany “Voice” performances, but he knew how to rein it in when appropriate. On the show’s Season 3 finale, instead of doing a wild number in a Jheri-Curled wig, CeeLo stood with the “Voice” cast on a candlelit stage singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” while they all held individual cards printed with the names (and, even more heartbreakingly, the ages) of each of that year’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims. CeeLo’s keening vocal was positively goosebump-inducing.
2. That time when he dueted with Kermit. Back in Season 3, CeeLo teamed with this very famous frog, and it was just about the cutest thing to ever appear on “The Voice.” (Yes, even cuter than MacKenzie Bourg or Melanie Martinez.) And hey, nothing against Shakira and Usher, who are returning as “Voice” coaches for Season 6…but can’t NBC just hire Fozzie Bear, Animal, Janice, or even the Muppet CeeLo instead? They all looked so at home sitting in those big red chairs.
1. That time when he introduced Purrfect the Cat to the world. In Season 2, CeeLo was accompanied by a new sidekick: a lap cat that had her own Twitter handle, T-shirt line, and pop single. Purrfect could have become as famous as Morris or Grumpy Cat if she’d stayed on the show, but unfortunately, in Season 3 she was replaced by some shoulder-dwelling parakeet named Ladybird, who was not nearly as pet-able or popular. With CeeLo now out of the picture, can interim Season 6 coach Usher be convinced to adopt Purrfect? Or can Purrfect just be CeeLo’s replacement in Season 7? That would be the cat’s meow.