Second-Chancer James Irwin Makes ‘Voice’ History

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

James Irwin is hardly the first previously rejected singer to return to "The Voice." But this Tuesday he made "Voice" history, when he became the first comeback contestant to get every chair to spin during a second-shot audition. The guy went from zero to hero, from zero chairs to four.

When James first tried out last season, the handsome crooner shared his particularly sorrowful sob story: Right around the time that his career was taking off and he was fielding offers from record labels, his life slipped into a downward spiral when his twin daughters tragically died 10 minutes after they were born. "It's like being invited to see Heaven, then being told you can't stay," he said, heart-breakingly. Watching James get weepy backstage as he dedicated his performance to his lost twins, only to see none of the coaches be moved by his cover of the Script's "The Man That Can't Be Moved," was a sad and deflating moment on this usually upbeat show.

It's possible that CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera, who sat out last season, might have buzzed in for James back then, as they did this Tuesday when he triumphantly returned (with his wife and new baby son) to belt out a smooth rock 'n' soul rendition of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." But CeeLo and Christina weren't alone: Blake Shelton and Adam Levine turned as well, hearing something they hadn't picked up on the first time around. James lost his way for a moment, because he was so shocked by the coaches' near-unison quadruple-spin, but he recovered, and his overall performance was lovely, full of quiet strength, class, and nice phrasing. Once he finished, he actually dropped to his knees, overjoyed at his changed luck as he faced all four smiling coaches instead of four unwelcoming chair-backs.

When Blake got a gander at James, he immediately recognized him, exclaiming, "Yes! It happened! Somebody came back and made it onto the show!" CeeLo also turned on the charm, appealing to James's music-nerdy side by praising his R.E.M. song choice. But in the end, James, a "rocker at heart," went with Adam, who marveled at James's incredible growth over the past few months.

James obviously had a very good night, but so did his new coach, as Adam scooped up a couple other promising singers during Tuesday's Blind Auditions round. With the recruitment of not only James but valuable players like quirky pop-rocker Will Champlin and superfly soul diva Ashley Dubose, Team Adam could now be the team to beat this season...meaning that Adam, who hasn't won "The Voice" since Season 1, may get a second chance as well.

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