NBC’s hit vocal competition, “The Voice,” just premiered its 15th season, with a star-studded judge panel eager to coach some unique new talents.
The show essentially works like this: A select pool of vocalists are given the opportunity to perform a blind audition in front of a panel of celebrity judges. This season’s judges are Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine, country megastar Blake Shelton, pop sensation and OG vocal competition winner Kelly Clarkson and powerhouse vocalist and Broadway star Jennifer Hudson. Quite an impressive bunch, I know.
Let’s say a hypothetical contestant 17-year-old Macy Estevez from Ohio auditions with a soulful, power-filled rendition of “Make You Feel My Love,” by Adele. Her unique tone and vocal passion win over both Clarkson and Hudson, and the two judges push large red buttons on their chairs, swiveling around to face the singer.
Now, Macy has finished her song and is experiencing a mixture of excitement and shock, as Hudson and Clarkson prepare to fight to have her on their respective teams. A coach’s team is the group of artists he or she is passionate about and responsible for coaching, in the hopes that the contestant will win the show. After Clarkson and Hudson both have adequate time to attempt to woo Macy over to their teams, she has to make her decision to decide who she will work with. She chooses Clarkson, and the studio audience roars with applause. Next audition.
And the cycle continues, eventually pitting the artists that make it onto the show against one another in intense vocal battle and knockout rounds. Then, the surviving vocalists compete in live shows, eventually whittling down in numbers until one remains and that artist is named The Voice.
The show is known for its immense amount of vocal talent, accompanied by meaningful coach-artist interaction and inter-coach banter and shenanigans. I think this season’s coaching panel might be my favorite one yet — the two staple “Voice” veterans Levine and Shelton plus two of the greatest female vocalists in the music industry right now, Clarkson and Hudson.
Let’s take a look at the premiere. Here’s the tea.
Holmes’ audition was the first pre-released audition “The Voice” chose to post online. She performed a beautiful rendition of Adele’s “Turning Tables,” uniquely interpreted to showcase her vocal strengths, while still maintaining a strong connection to the original. Her rich, mature tone and passionate voice stole the hearts of all four coaches.
Never did it occur to me that there was a possibility that this vocalist, with such a seasoned and skilled voice, could have been anything less than 20 years old.
After the vibrato of the last, angelic note faded away, Holmes revealed that she is 13 years old. Thirteen. Years. Old. I know, I still can’t believe it either. Hands down one of the top auditions of the show, and she hasn’t even hit high school yet. Thirteen-year-old me was probably doing algebra homework at that point in my life. It’s fine.
Holmes began to cry upon realizing that her idol, Jennifer Hudson, was sitting right in front of her, and confessed that the first song she had performed live was Hudson’s “I Am Changing,” and that she had dreamed of singing a duet with Hudson. Hudson, in awe of Holmes’s gift, instantly grabbed a microphone and a beautiful duet version of “I Am Changing” ensued.
Needless to say, she picked team JHudd.
Tyshawn Colquitt’s rendition of Sam Smith’s “Like I Can” had me captivated, energized by his energetic presence and vocal finesse. He moved from note to note with dexterity showing off the soulful nature of his voice in falsetto, as well as in deeper chest notes.
His performance got chair turns from both Hudson and Shelton. After he finished his performance, he revealed that he wants to “bring back the old R&B.” His audition showcased that his voice is perfect for that genre — the impeccable range and control combined with those smooth riffs? I see it.
Shelton honestly did not stand a chance with this one; Colquitt was Team JHudd from the moment he turned, and he officially chose to join her team in the end. I look forward to hearing him bust out some old school, R&B/soul vocals as the competition progresses.
Grace covered “Ball and Chain” by Janis Joplin, pouring her entire being into this sass-filled, passionate performance. This 15-year-old houses some soul beyond her years, portraying emotions through her vocals that she likely has not ever actually experienced.
Yes, 15. Over the years, “The Voice” has become a stage for highlighting incredible, young talent, and Grace and Holmes of this season are no exceptions.
The moment this girl opened her mouth, I got flashbacks to Kelly Clarkson back in her “American Idol” days. I see Clarkson vividly in her voice, and this coach-contestant combination would be a matchup that goes far. And, don’t forget, Clarkson did win “The Voice” with 15-year-old Brynn Cartelli.
Thankfully, Clarkson was the first to turn her chair, and Grace made the right choice. I’m excited to see what bluesy-soulful ballad she tackles next.
This girl came to this show to win. She absolutely slayed Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best,” bursting out into an explosive first note, and maintaining that caliber of power for the rest of the performance.
She stomped across stage, her presence embodying the pure sass and immense strength of her vocals. RADHA’s got a powerhouse belt, and Levine caught on right away, turning his chair around first. But it wasn’t just a normal chair turn.
Of the three coaches that turned, Levine, Hudson, and Shelton, Hudson out would have been the obvious coach pick for a powerhouse female vocalist. Levine knew, and employed the “block” feature to his advantage.
The controversial “block” feature allows a coach to block another coach from having the opportunity to win a contestant he or she turned for, and each coach gets one block per season. Even though it can definitely help a coach out, I honestly think the addition of this feature was a step in the wrong direction. Why rob an aspiring vocalist the chance to work with a coach who would be a perfect fit? Hopefully they get rid of this marketing scheme for entertainment value next season. But I digress.
RADHA ultimately chose team Adam, and I cannot wait to see this girl’s voice soar to new heights over the course of the season.
“The Voice” Season 15 looks like it will not disappoint.