The Voice Premiere Recap: The Blind Auditions Begin

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC.
The first night of The Voice's blind auditions is always a high-energy affair — incredible talent, high-stakes auditions, fresh coaches’ banter, and an appropriate sprinkling of sob-worthy backstories. Four of the most charismatic musicians in the industry — Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton — are sitting in the mystical, swivelly red chairs this season, the show’s ninth. (When did that happen?) Here are the highlights from the two-hour premiere.

The superstar quartet kicked off the show with a mash-up medley of each other’s hits.
I thought Gwen’s rendition of Blake Shelton’s “Neon Light” was far and away the best. (It almost made me want to listen to the original country version. Almost.)
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Gwen got a mini-me!
Gwen's first recruit was lilac-haired rocker Kota Wade, who belted out "Bring It on Home to Me" like a soulful Cyndi Lauper. (Gwen said so!) Kota said she's idolized the No Doubt rock star since she was 5 years old! Wade strikes me as one to watch: hard to pin down stylistically and bound to make some unexpected song choices. Plus, her performance hinted that she's got much more range to share.

We found our new aural angel, and his name is Jordan Smith.
Smith turned all four chairs around and brought the audience to its feet — and maybe one recapper — with his goose-bump-inducing cover of Sia's "Chandelier," a song with notoriously difficult vocals. Smith epitomizes the fresh, singular magic of the sometimes-tired show: It's the stellar voice alone you fall in love with. But the judges fell even harder for Smith after they turned around. Gwen called him the trippiest turn-around experience she's ever had on the show before running down to hug him, while Adam dubbed the cherub-faced powerhouse "the most important person that's ever been on this show." Watch his stunning performance below.
We met the season's youngest songstress so far, Korean-French Canadian cutie pie Siahna Im.
It took Gwen all of three seconds to turn her chair around for the eccentric 15-year-old, who heated up the stage with Peggy Lee's "Fever." The self-proclaimed old soul went with "Grand Master Skater P," a.k.a. Pharrell, who, quite honestly, could be the girl's spirit animal. Must be that baby face, Pharrell! (Gwen later grabbed Braden Sunshine, also 15.)
Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC.
The show's casual sexism is still present.
"Oh my gosh, she's really pretty;" "Look at you in that yellow dress!" When's the last time the (male) judges turned their chairs around and told a dude how ruggedly handsome he was? You can practically see the wheels turning in Adam Levine's head: "Yessssss, she's hot!" And it seemed like every time a male contestant chose Gwen as his coach, the guys all chocked it up to her, you know, being really, really pretty. (And def not her two-decade career and 30 million in album sales.) Sore losers! We'll be right there shakin' our heads with you all season long, Gwen.

Don't forget to check back here tomorrow night for our take on round two!
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