Know what the best thing about The Voice is? It knows when to keep things short and sweet.
The second night of the season premiere was only an hour – a lesson in restraint for American Idol, which at one point this season stretched across a mind-numbing three nights and five and a half hours of airtime. Sometimes, less is more.
While we’re still getting used to new coaches Usher and Shakira, who are rather seamlessly holding their own amid Adam Levine and Blake Shelton’s snappy, down-to-a-science banter, the second night of the blind auditions rolled on. Overall, it was filled with happy endings for everyone but one poor soul who tried out, as five singers landed spots on teams.
The most intriguing of the bunch was hipster duo Midas Whale (a cutesy play on words when you say it in drawl as an answer to whether you should, say, have another beer) which gave off a Mumford & Sons vibe with their folk-pop sound that included one guy on guitar and the other on accordion. Putting a bluegrassy spin on Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” the pair from Idaho had all four judges turn around during their performance. Shakira, for whom they spoke perfect Spanish, said they made her feel “alive.” But, in the end, they decided to join Team Adam.
Also winding up on Adam’s team was seasoned singer Sarah Simmons, who performed a rock-tinged version of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.” Shakira explained Sarah’s voice best, calling it a perfect balance of softness and sensitivity mixed with a raspy intensity. But despite Shakira’s best efforts – and pulling the “I’m a woman too” card for the 10thtime this season – Adam’s pandering won out. “That was incredible. You can 150 percent win this show. I only really fight for the ones that I’m dying to have,” he said before scooping up another great performer for his impressive team. (He seems to be building an army of indestructible long-haulers so far.)
Shakira also picked up two singers: Nashville vet Tanya Reynolds, who Usher described as Dolly Parton-esque, and 19-year-old Bronx Latina Cathia. The latter sang Luis Fonsi’s “No Me Doy Por Vencido,” but despite it being a Spanish-language song, Usher was the first to turn his chair, with Shakira and Blake following soon after. And the ribbing between newbies Shakira and Usher soon took off. “While Shakira was trying to figure it out, I knew it,” Usher said of beating the Colombian singer to the button-push. But it was Shakira who won Cathia over by saying, “You are meant to be global. These two guys make sense if you just want to be an American act.” Poor lowly America.
Added to Usher’s dance card was 27-year-old male model Josiah Hawley, who actually sang Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning.” Adam turned around last and dropped the most nonchalantly egotistical comment of the night by explaining why he finally decided to push the button: “There were moments not working for me but then I heard a quality in your voice that did remind me of mine.” His cockiness continued when he added, “You can pick one of these guys and lose, or you can pick me and win. You did pick my song.” Yet Josiah decided to slowly back away and take a chance on Usher, who did a little moonwalker-style, celebratory dance to taunt Adam.
Wait, so what about Blake, you ask? Well, poor guy didn’t score one new singer for his team. Better luck next week, Mr. Lambert.