Welcome back, Voice fam. It has only been two months since Kelly Clarkson won her consecutive second season as a Voice coach, but already much has changed. There’s a new threat to Kelly and incumbent coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. And there’s also a new Voice drinking game to play (responsibly) at home.
On Monday’s The Voice Season 16 premiere, John Legend made his much-ballyhooed coaching debut — and throughout the two-hour episode, the coaches and host Carson Daly repeatedly noted what a massive, status quo-upturning “threat” John is. If viewers took a sip every time the word “threat” was mentioned, in fact, they would be loaded. Kelly worried that John “raises the bar” for the competition. “The threat of John Legend has our coaches on the offense!” intoned Carson. And apparently Blake and Kelly were so threatened, they each used their one Block button of the season on John — Blake trigger-happily doing so during the very first audition of the night.
The advanced-level Season 16 drinking game will be to imbibe every time John’s “EGOT” is mentioned — but be warned, because this game could seriously result in alcohol poisoning. (Perhaps only Blake should play this one.) This season, Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony-winning Renaissance man John is looking to add a fist-shaped Voice trophy to his crowded mantle, so I have invented the acronym “VEGOT,” of course. He’s also angling to be crowned People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” as Adam and Blake were, respectively, in 2013 and 2017 — so maybe one day, John will be a bona fide PSMAVEGOT.
I imagine that an upcoming, season-long drinking game will have to do with the number of Chrissy Teigen Voice cameos, since John’s other half already appeared in Monday’s cold open, with domestic-goddess Chrissy sending John off with a sack lunch to his “first day of school.” (I am definitely hoping Chrissy live-tweets the show.) But in the end, I suspect it will be John schooling Adam, Blake and Kelly. While those Blocks did keep him from accumulating as many Team Legend contestants as he could have, he still brought a delightful energy to the proceedings, and he still picked up three team members. And his résumé speaks for itself.
Gyth Rigdon, 24: “Drift Away”
The Louisiana everyman (and John Legend fanboy) has a recordable if generic voice, and a likable backstory. (The adorable single dad who raised him, crying next to Carson in the stage wings, practically got more screen time than Gyth himself.) I don’t know if he was worth Blake’s Block, but he could do well this season. Side note: I really got a kick out of Kelly saying Gyth has “the X factor” and Adam saying Gyth’s “got talent.” But of course, the forbidden words “American Idol” didn’t leave anyone’s lips.
Who turned? Blake, Kelly and a blocked John.
Result: Team Blake, pretty much by default.
Maelyn Jarmon, 25: “Fields of Gold”
This NYC theater girl has turned her deafness in one ear into her “superpower,” because she hears music in a unique way. It’s clearly working for her. Her torchy, Adele-level Sting cover was one of the best auditions of the night. Blake loved her “precision and power,” Kelly called her “special,” Adam called her “astounding,” and John said she was “magic.”
Who turned? Everyone, prompting a snazzy new neon “4 CHAIRS” graphic to illuminate the floor, making the set temporarily resemble a Tokyo arcade.
Result: Team Legend. VEGOT, here we come!
Karen Galera, 19: “Mi Corazoncito”
Kelly turned so quickly for this Mexican-born Latin pop singer, I’m surprised she didn’t get whiplash (or as least get whacked in the face by her own armpit-length doorknocker earrings). I thought Karen’s voice was unremarkable, but she had a great look and image, and as John said, “It’s time for a bilingual singer to win The Voice.” (Side note: Karen can always go on La Voz as a backup plan.)
Who turned? Kelly and John.
Result: Team Kelly.
Trey Rose, 26: “Wake Me Up”
This very likable and gregarious WGWG’s reedy indie voice (think Alex Clare, John Newman, George Ezra) made him total Team Adam material, but his upbringing in the small Oklahoma town of Hugo tied him to proud Okie Blake.
Who turned? Adam and Blake, leading to a classic “vintage battle” that somehow ended in wrestling-style bear hug on the floor.
Result: Team Adam. Trey had already decided that he’d go with whichever coach turned first. I bet if these auditions hadn’t been taped before all of America witnessed disloyal Adam’s willingness to throw his own team members under the bus (#Bathrobegate, cough) this old-school battle may have had another outcome.
Kim Cherry, “No Scrubs”
Kim would probably be a helluva lot of fun on karaoke night, and kudos to her for delivering such a frisky, fearless rap. As Kelly said, Kim “owned it.” But this is a novelty contestant, for sure.
Who turned? Kelly and Blake.
Result: Team Blake.
Rizzi Myers, 29: “Breathin”
This pro Nashville songwriter took a break from the biz to focus on family life, because some nasty Svengali producer told her she needed to change her image and weight. What a classic Voice story! Rizzi doesn’t need to change anything about her damn self, especially her sublime vocals. This was my favorite audition of the night. No wonder Kelly blocked John again. Rizzi is a “threat” to any other contestant this season.
Who turned? Blake, Kelly and, once again, a blocked John. The fact that Adam didn’t turn proves he might be losing his coaching mojo.
Result: Team Kelly. It turns out Rizzi met Kelly backstage 12 years ago, and she had the classic mid-2000s photo to prove it. Kelly probably didn’t even need to use her Block to land Rizzi.
Lisa Ramey, 33: “Sex on Fire”
Lisa tried out last season and turned no chairs. I can see why. This was hardly a triumphant return; she hasn’t improved much. Perhaps she should have waited a couple more seasons.
Who turned? John, surprisingly.
Result: Team Legend. Duh.
Jimmy Mowery, 31: “Attention”
Jimmy was raised on ’80s metal, but sadly, he covered Charlie Puth instead of Mötley Crüe, Dokken, or Skid Row. This was a bland audition, with the song performed mostly in his not-all-that-impressive head voice. When it comes to falsetto, Jimmy Mowery is no Adam Levine. Kelly noticed his pitch problems, and Adam noticed his nerves.
Who turned? John and Adam.
Result: Team Adam. Adam became a good coach again, instructing Jimmy to re-sing the song in his deeper, stronger chest voice — with a much better outcome. Jimmy wisely went with the guy who can help him, because he needs help.
LiLi Joy, 15: “Cool”
Season 16’s obvious token manic pixie dreamgirl is this ukulele-strumming, Spice Girls-platformed, glitter-eyeshadowed wig enthusiast, who developed her love of music through watching Barbie movies. However, LiLi was no novelty act. She possessed a unique, mature, and pretty voice, showcasing a lot of dynamics. I hope her quirky-girl act won’t become insufferable.
Who turned? Only Blake — who had to, since LiLi was singing his girlfriend Gwen Stefani’s song. But he insisted that it was LiLi’s voice, not her song choice, that made him hit his button.
Result: Team Blake. Duh.
Nathan & Chessi, 28 & 27: “Waymore’s Blues”
This real-life couple would probably go over well at a country fair, but the growly Chessi oversang, and Nathan didn’t possess much range. Surprisingly, they didn’t even share much onstage chemistry; this was a hardly a Gaga/Cooper-at-the-Oscars duet. Maybe it was the Waylon Jennings song choice, which Kelly thought was all wrong for them.
Who turned? No one.
Result: Team Bebe. Yes, the controversial Comeback Stage, aka the Island of Misfit Toys, is back, and this season the Comeback Stage’s fifth coach — replacing last season’s Kelsea Ballerini — is Bebe Rexha. She’ll have her work cut out for her with these two.
Matthew Johnson, 25: “I Smile”
This church-trained “Mr. Personality” may hold down a day job as a debt collector, but somehow he’s still immensely likable. Blake and Adam turned for his joyful Kirk Franklin anthem with their own whiplash speed, and Matthew eventually lit up that “4 CHAIRS” sign. Matthew isn’t very modern or marketable — this performance was very Jerry Lewis telethon — but he made everyone smile.
Who turned? Blake, Adam, Kelly, and John.
Result: Team Legend, who successfully played the God card.
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