'The Voice' Premiere Recap: New Coaches Shakira and Usher Mark Their Territory - Rolling Stone
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‘The Voice’ Premiere Recap: New Coaches Shakira and Usher Mark Their Territory

Season four kicks off with highs and lows during blind auditions

It’s back, baby.

Yes, Season Four of The Voice is here, hammering yet another nail in American Idol‘s coffin. 

This time, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green step away from the spinning chairs (hopefully not forever) and Shakira and Usher rotate in, while Adam Levine and Blake Shelton return. Unfortunately, the newbies don’t bring the same kind of kooky unpredictability that their predecessors did – Shakira can be overly wordy while Usher is too laid back, sitting with one leg up on the chair all night. But, otherwise, so far it seems like everything is status quo – each coach is looking for 12 contestants to join his or her team.

‘The Voice’: Rolling Stone’s Complete Coverage

The premiere kicked off with the usual blind auditions, where the judges’ backs were facing the contestants, and we learned that the coaches make assumptions based on the way the person sounds when they walk onstage. What kind of shoes are they wearing? Perhaps it’s the clip of a cowboy boot, or the click of a high heel.

In the case of the identical Morgan twins, the coaches were tipped off by the patter of four stilettos breaking the silence. At least it seems like they should have been. Still, everybody’s minds seemed to be blown by the revelation that not one but two people were up there. In all fairness, both Usher and Blake pressed their buttons and turned around before the second twin started to sing. But we don’t get why, midway through the song, Shakira asked Adam if it was a duo. “It sounded like one voice with a chorus effect,” she later tried to explain. In the end, the pair went with Team Blake, who said, “This is a dream come true for most men. It’s like a damn Double Mint commercial.” We’re sure his wife Miranda Lambert is thrilled.

But the real surprise came in the form of Kris Thomas, a 27-year-old guy . . . who sounded just like a woman. He sang “Saving All My Love for You” in a falsetto, and Shakira was the only person to turn around, mouthing “wow” when she saw it wasn’t a chick. When the music finished and everyone else turned around, they were shocked. “You’re a dude!” yelled Usher while laughing. “A man just got onstage and killed that Whitney Houston song,” Adam said. Apparently, the performance would have been considered average for a woman, but it was great for a guy. “Women go crazy over a guy with a falsetto,” Usher explained. 

But it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows for the contestants. As always, some people didn’t make the cut. A prime example being 25-year-old Janetza Miranda, who came in like a lion and left a lamb. Before her performance, she was backstage celebrating her Puerto Rican roots by dancing and excitedly squawking like a bird. But after no one turned around during her underwhelming performance of David Guetta’s “Titanium,” she broke down in tears, causing Adam to jump up onstage to give her a reassuring hug.

And she wasn’t the only one reduced to tears – a total of three men cried during the two-hour show. Taking the cake for the most heartbreaking sob story was 19-year-old Atlanta native Vedo, whose mother was just diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and only has months to live. You couldn’t help but feel for him as tears streamed down his face as he admitted, “I just don’t wanna lose my mom.” If nothing else, he made his frail mother smile backstage when Usher turned around during his rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend.”

The night ended on a high note with a crush-the-competition performance by Judith Hill. The 28-year-old Californian has certified chops, as she was handpicked to sing alongside Michael Jackson on his “This Is It” tour before he died. Her performance of “Heal the World” during his televised memorial service had her phone blowing up with offers, but she found it “in poor taste” to capitalize on the opportunity. But she got another shot at fame, as all four judges turned around during her funky, soulful version of Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants.” Adam was particularly desperate to nab her for his team, saying he’d “claw everybody’s face off” and light himself “on fire” for the chance to work with her. “I’m seriously going to have a panic attack if you don’t choose me, because I know you’re going to win,” he said. And when she finally gave in and picked him, he triumphantly declared: “I can go home now.”

And with that, boom, we have liftoff. 


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