True confession: I'm not an avid watcher of The Voice. I usually watch the first few weeks and then once the chairs stop spinning, I move on to something else. But I am a fan of the show. I like its unabashed love of music and the sympathetic nurturing of the talent.
Nowhere is that more evident that in the coaches' free-wheeling, blissful group numbers. This season, judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera kick things off with an adrenalized version of the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" that really sets the tone for another fun few weeks of rock and roll.
This season, there will be 16 artists per team and there's an added twist: Judges can steal artists from another coach! Let's take a look at the first contenders:
Terry McDermott, New Orleans (by way of Aberdeen, Scotland)
McDermott charmed the judges with a restrained version of The Who's dirty-hot "Baba O'Riley." Levine, Shelton and Green all push their buttons, but Shelton wins the bidding, inexplicably, by saying that he'll make him a star just by letting the American public hear his Scottish burr.
This free spirit — whose musical roots started in church — has a cool short haircut, dresses in bright colors and is upfront about her sexuality. (She's gay, for what it's worth.) She sings Train's "Hey Soul Sister" with an edgier vibe, and seems a perfect fit for Green's tutelage, so it's great that both he and Aguilera push their buttons. But — twist! — De'Borah chooses Aguilera, who says "she's going to have a lot of fun with her."
Gracia Harrison, Virden, Ill.
This aspiring 18-year-old country artist and yodeler sings Patsy Montana's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." (Patti Page and the Dixie Chicks also recorded it.) Levine and Shelton push their buttons almost immediately, and Green follows. Levine says that she is the best country singer they've had and makes an impassioned plea to nab her. Shelton tells her she knows what she has to do, and she does it.
Garrett Gardner, Ringwood, N.J.
Sixteen-year-old Garrett is performing as a tribute to his father, a jazz musician who died of cancer. He sings a raspy version of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, but unfortunately none of the judges choose him, but they emphasize that his best days are still ahead. Aguilera gives him a hug though, so there's that.
Devyn Deloera, Snyder, Texas
This home-schooled stunner has the guts to sing Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man." Shelton, Levine and Aguilera all hit their buttons, and the latter compliments her version. It's a tough battle, but she ultimately chooses Aguilera, which her mom says is her dream.
Brian Keith, Bronx, N.Y.
Brian's dad, Ray de la Paz, is a Grammy-winning vocalist from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Brian doesn't want to use his dad's connections; he wants to be his own man. He sings Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain." Shelton, Aguilera and Green hit their buttons early; eventually, Levine relents too. The crowd loves him too, giving him a standing ovation. He chooses Levine.
Daniel Rosa, Riverside, Calif.
This is Daniel's second audition. He wasn't chosen last season, but he says he has more confidence now. He sings a groovy take on the ubiquitous "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. Aguilera encourages Levine to push, but Green and Shelton get there first. Oddly though, Levine runs on stage to hug him — which he says was one of his biggest regrets from last season -- when he realizes who he is. After much deliberation, Daniel chooses Green, but Levine seems most excited that he made it through.
Anita Antoinette, Boston
Jamaica-born Anita dedicates her performance of "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley to her mom, who worked several jobs so Anita could graduate from Boston's Berklee College of Music. It's fair to say that her rendition is fairly low-key, and none of the judges felt it. Anita asks the judges if she can do it again a cappella, and it's hauntingly beautiful. What a damn shame.
Joe Kirkland, Ft. Worth, Texas
Joe sings The All-American Rejects' "Gives You Hell," and within the first few bars Levine and Shelton both hit their buttons. Coming from a band background, though, he chooses Levine.
Jessica Sharpe, Greensboro, N.C.
She's a hairdresser, but she sings with a cover band. She sings a relatively soulful rendition of Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," but it fails to appeal to any of the judges. Aguilera says there was no magical moment, but she still hugs her. Shelton expresses regret.
Then we get a montage of all those who were not selected, and, um, well, I think the judges were correct overall.
Trevin Hunte, Queens, N.Y.
This soft-spoken, 18-year-old son of a garbage-truck driver says that music completes him. Aguilera hits the button right away. Shelton and Green follow, but despite Shelton's encouragement, Levine doesn't join the group. Trevin chooses Green. "Let's win the show," Green says to him.
And that's it for Monday's auditions! Who were your favorites?