“The Voice” premiered to solid ratings, albeit ratings well off its previous two season openers. Cause for concern for NBC? Probably not, although the real ratings excitement will come tomorrow when the third episode of this opening week episode gauntlet goes head to head with the premiere of “The X Factor” over on FOX. But we”re not here to speculate about Thursday morning Nielsen ratings. We”re here to recap the second blind auditions. Given the ratio of episode time versus contestant selected last night (one per fifteen minutes of air time) and the total number of contestants that will ultimately be placed on one of four teams (sixty-four), we”re going to be going blind well into 2013.
OK, it won”t be that bad. But we are looking at a 5-6 week process, unless things speed up. And given the dearth of programming in NBC”s lineup that gets even half as many viewers as “The Voice,” look for a leisurely pace as we approach the Battle Rounds at the approximate speed of continental drift. That”s not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives ample time for each contestant to make an impression. Be warned: if the backstory for a certain participant is boring, I might just make one up. It shouldn”t be too hard to tell fact from fiction.
Let”s start the running diary for tonight”s episode. This one, like tomorrow night”s installment, will run only a single hour. Will “The Voice” try to pack in the auditions or stick to last night”s leisurely pace? Will any other formerly rejected contestants re-emerge to try and make it big again? Will producers send out a parade of former Mouseketeers in an effort to confuse Christina Aguilera? Only one way to find out. All times below are EST.
8:00 p.m. It”s hard to believe Staples and “The Voice” have never joined forces and put “Easy” buttons on each chair, no?
8:02. We meet Adriana Louise, our first contestant of the night. Adriana probably wishes the judges could see her during her audition. (Not bad on the eyes, is all I”m saying. Like 90% of the contestants so far. Which makes total sense for a show about vocal talent over appearance.) We hear about a harrowing incidence from her childhood, after which, “The only thing that made me happy was music.”
8:04 p.m. Louise picks Jessie J”s “Domino” as her audition song, and she”s barely through the first line before CeeLo Green and Adam Levine turn around. During the chorus, Aguilera and Blake Shelton make Adriana the second unanimous pick of the night. While I praised her beauty in the previous paragraph, I typed all this while looking away from the screen and simply listening to her performance, and I can see why all four judges selected her.
8:05 p.m. “This is a match made in heaven!” declares Aguilera. “That”s the fifth time she”s said that today!” snarks Shelton. Green notes that the two of them look like they just got married. (Awkward, but he”s talking about their matching outfit colors. Or so he says.) Aguilera makes the best sales pitch to Adriana, who seems star struck by all the attention.
8:08 p.m. “I love you all, but the first record I ever bought when I was nine years old with my own money was Christina Aguilera.” Adriana Louise becomes the third female member of Team Christina, and the second to overtly declare a previous emotional connection to her.
8:11 p.m. Quick thought during the commercial break…Is it too logical to ask why the judges shouldn”t actually see the contestant before said contestant selects his or her team? I”d rather see the four judges compete over someone they can”t actually see until the contestant decides. Just throwing that out their while NBC tries to sell me cars and sitcoms starring monkeys.
8:13 p.m. Next, we have Casey Musicman. (Seriously, that”s his name!) He”s a former wrestler turned country singer. After an injury that derailed his music career, Musicman gained a lot of weight, but then managed to save the world from aliens while getting a sex change and winning an Emmy for “Best Sound Design.” Now, he wants to be the next great voice.
8:15 p.m. Musicman selects “Sweet Home Alabama”, which is a safe choice but one competently performed. Shelton likes what he hears almost instantly, followed shortly after by Green. There”s not a lot of grit to his performance, but it”s a clean vocal all the same.
8:17 p.m. Levine asks Musicman to save everyone time and join Team Blake. Green appreciated the soul that Musicman brought to the performance. “That ass spanking that you had up there…that”s what had me,” said Shelton, clearly taking the title of the show to heart. Sigh.
8:18 p.m. Musicman finds himself standing at a musical crossroads. But like Adriana Louise before him, Musicman already had a destination in mind before arriving on that stage. And thus, Eric Musicman becomes the third member of Team Blake. Guess Levine had the show”s running time in mind with his initial post-performance comment after all.
8:23 p.m. Now we have Aquile, a biracial professional musician from Wyoming. We see a picture of his mouth wired shut at age 16, which offers up an excellent case AGAINST high-definition television. Ouch.
8:25 p.m. Aquile opts for Elton John”s “Your Song” to impress the judges. And impressed they are, as Levine and Aguilera turn around within mere seconds. Aquile has strong stage presence. That doesn”t matter now, but it may pay off down the line. The song doesn”t offer many chances to feature vocal flourishes, but Aquile nails his one opportunity to do. Right after that flourish, Green joins the fray to sway this contestant.
8:27 p.m. Aguilera sighs loudly as Levine goes overboard in wooing Aquile. “I was drawn to your voice the second I heard you,” says Aguilera, before requesting a “private performance” later. Funny, I was drawn to Aguilera”s insanely plunging neckline from the moment I saw her outfit tonight. (It”s not like I want to look. But she”s not making it easy to look anywhere else.) Green states what I suspected: He was waiting to see Aquile”s real range before committing to turning around.
8:29 p.m. After thanking all the judges for “changing my life forever,” Aquile picks…A COMMERICAL BREAK. Man, I didn”t see that coming. Chalk up one for Team Commercial Break.
8:32 p.m. The editors at HitFix just told me that “Team Commercial Break” doesn”t actually exist. My bad. In actuality, Aquile becomes the fourth member of Team Christina and the first male member of that team. The power of sexual harassment, y”all! Aguilera has a pretty strong team so far. I can see one or two going to other teams thanks to this year”s Battle Rounds twist.
8:33. After that, we get Nashville”s Ryan Fogarty, who works as a production coordinator on LeAnn Rimes” tour. Rimes talks about how she was blown away by Fogarty during a karaoke night out with the crew. Hey, I do a mean “Rebel Yell” at karaoke. Maybe I can be The Voice! OK, you”re right. Probably not.
8:36 p.m. Fogarty performs Chris Young”s “Tomorrow”, and…well, his karaoke roots show. There”s a thinness that just doesn”t match up with the performances thus far tonight. It”s not horrible by any stretch. It”s just not quite up to snuff. It”s a hundred times better than my cover of U2″s “With Or Without You,” to be certain.
8:37 p.m. Green is happily surprised to see an African-American singing country music. All are fairly pleased with the performance, but didn”t hear enough nuance or originality to press their button.
8:44 p.m. REJECTED CONTESTANT MONTAGE! It”s glorious in its mediocrity.
8:45 p.m. 19-year old MacKenzie Bourg tells of his recent struggle with a virus that shut down most of his organs. The doctors had to induce a coma in order to treat his illness. Upon waking up the night before The Super Bowl, Bourg and his family decided to sing up for auditions for the show. He looks like the member of a boy band, but has the aura of someone who is much older. (I guess having a near-death experience would do that.)
8:47 p.m. Foster The People”s “Pumped Up Kicks”? Didn”t expect that. Bourg is the first contestant thus far to perform with an instrument. Halfway through the tune, Green is the first and only judge to press his button. I”m slightly surprised at least one other judge didn”t turn, but I”m guessing that has more to do with the song selection (which didn”t offer much chance to shine vocally) than Bourge”s talent. All of the judges seem to think that Bourge”s quirky voice will work well with Green”s talent. And that”s a good thing, because Harry Potter/Justin Bieber hybrid MacKenzie Bourg becomes the third member of Team CeeLo.
8:53 p.m. Our final contestant of the night? Julio Caesar Castillo, a mariachi singer. Last night, we had a yodeler. So why not have a mariachi singer, especially one that performs multiple times per week to financially support his family? His father, who suffers from epileptic seizures, offers up some emotional words of support to his son before Castillo takes the stage.
8:55 p.m. Castillo becomes the first contestant to sing entirely in Spanish by performing “La Bamba.” Shelton”s into the performance right away, the only judge to hit his button until Green steps in at the last moment. “Jackass!” playfully screams Shelton to Green.
8:56 p.m. Shelton praises Castillo”s technical skills as well as his passion before launching into an odd, senior prom-themed rant. Green thanks Castillo for bringing an element of pride to “The Voice” with that selection before imploring Castillo to sing some mariachi. The ensuing short a cappella performance actually exceeds “La Bamba.” Green insists that Castillo pick him, because, “Different is what I do.” I”m not quite sure Castillo”s as “different” as Green is portraying him, but OK. (I understand the mainstream isn”t into mariachi, but I”d also argue that the problem there might lie within the mainstream, not mariachi.)
8:58 p.m. We wrap up the second blind auditions as Julio Caesar Castillo becomes the fourth member of Team Blake. I thought he was going to go the other way, but I”m happy that Team Blake will have some diversification in terms of its musical styles.
Updated team rosters, ranked in order of strongest to weakest…
Team Christina: De”Borah, Devyn Deloera, Adriana Louise, Aquile
Team Blake: Terry McDermott, Gracia Harrison, Eric Musicman, Julio Caesar Castillo
Team CeeLo: Daniel Rosa, Trevin Hunte, MacKenzie Bourg
Team Adam: Bryan Keith, Joe Kirkland
The numbers game puts Team Adam at the bottom, since he didn”t land a single singer tonight. But Christina”s team has three excellent singers already, and it may be a while before she leaves the top spot no matter how things start to shake out.
And now individual grades…
They Stood Out: Adriana Louise, Aquile
They Scraped By: MacKenzie Bourg
They Got Robbed: Once again, I can”t argue with any contestants that the judges didn”t select.
What did you think of the second blind auditions? Sound off below!