‘The Voice’ Season 9 Premiere: Jordan Smith Stuns With Sia ‘Chandelier’ Cover

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Blind Auditions Premiere’.

Pharrell’s hip beret and Blake Shelton’s shameless imitation of it – which garnered him the nickname “Captain of the Love Boat” – ultimately could not distract from the talent on display.The Voice is now entering its ninth season, but you’d be forgiven if you thought you were still watching season 8, and NBC had just chosen to take a slightly extended commercial break.

The Voice’s ninth season debuted on NBC tonight, with season-eight coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Pharrell Williams all returning to their chairs. It’s been a few months since Sawyer Fredericks took home the Season 8 crown, and in case viewers had begun to forget during the offseason that the principle innovation of this show is bred from the blind auditions, there were plenty of opportunities to remember during Monday night’s premiere. It’s been a mere four months since we last checked in with these crazy kids, and Sawyer Fredericks is still a fond memory whose voice has not yet faded into the recesses of time — though, considering what’s become of his fellow winners, I predict the he’s got precisely 37 days left before Mark Burnett presents his pristine vocal cords as a ritual offering to the Neilsen Ratings Company. (That’s what happens to unsuccessful Voice stars, right?

Aside from a few tweaks that have been announced, including a chance for viewers to experience a true blind audition from the coaches’ point of view, there is a new key adviser: Rihanna. Let’s get right to it and go through the night’s auditionees: Of course the season would kick off with a four-chair turn—and a deserving one, at that. Because they’re both divorced now! (Life & Style says their chemistry is “off the charts,” for what it’s worth.) Shelton even added some fuel to the fire: Not only were those rumors suspicious because Shelton effectively denied it with his snarky tweet, but also because NBC’s “The Voice” — on which Shelton and Stefani are both judges — happened to premiere on Monday night. We know it’s not the one, but I’m glad you’re excited.’ ” “[It’s] just truth,” Gwen said of her album theme. “Just being clear and being true to myself.

This pastor’s son was so filled with joy when the first two chairs turned (Adam and Pharrell, in case you were wondering) that it was amazing he didn’t fall off the stage from shock when Blake and Gwen turned, too. Morrissey, who cut her teeth at MTV and the short-lived music program Farmclub, says that keeping the show feeling fresh after nine seasons is a “delicate balance,” adding that you don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Rather, “You want everything that you freshen up to be for a reason and make sense and authentically try to capture the magic and the excitement that’s going on around the show.

As commercials cut through the action at almost obnoxious frequency, viewers were promised that the opportunity to sit in the coaches’ chair for the first time was fast approaching. It’s really quite selfish.” As well as developments in her professional life, Gwen is also preparing for another big landmark in her personal life as her 46th birthday is fast approaching. You hear people talk about this — whether they’re actors or directors talking about the family that formed on a particular movie set or a television show. All four made passionate pitches, and Hood ended up changing his mind about Shelton, going with Team Pharrell, which does seem to be the better fit for his jazzy sound.

Finally it came, and though everyone at home was expecting exactly what happened, Jordan Smith’s spine-tingling performance still managed to defy expectations, turn chairs and melt hearts. This soft-spoken, heavy-set singer was billed as one of the most unique voices to ever cross the stage, and Smith delivered with his rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier,” which got all four chairs to turn with relative ease. This rocker chick’s parents are probably the coolest ever—not only have they unquestionably supported their daughter’s dreams of rock stardom, they actually opened a music venue in LA so she could have somewhere to play.

A faux-showmance can work in different ways: Fake rumors that helps build intrigue around a TV series or film, or a romance sparked on set that is actually real but will nonetheless give the project attention. She eventually started a rock band called Bad Wolf, but she decided to go more of a soul route for her Blind Audition and sang “Bring It on Home to Me.” Shelton compared her to Cyndi Lauper, but Wade said she has idolized Stefani since she was five years old, so she picked Team Gwen.

Either way, you’ll probably, magically, start to see some headlines when a show’s ratings drops, generally confirmed by anonymous sources close to the couple. (Publicists.) Why would viewers even care? Still, after sifting through the cheap tears and pity compliments, the return of Gwen Stefani as another strong female voice in a room dominated by testosterone and Smith’s genuine message that “it’s ok to be yourself” both shone through and showed promise for this new season of the Emmy award-winning show. Returning to the show after a season hiatus, Gwen Stefani played quite a few different hands to land her two young performers in Kota Wade and Braiden Sunshine. In this case, NBC is hoping you’ll tune in to watch the show, and pay extra close attention on the season premiere when Stefani compliments Shelton wearing Pharrell’s hat. One of them was Braiden Sunshine, whose innocent smile and giddy excitement – true to his name – lit up the stage as he listened to Gwen and Pharrell fawn over his performance of Blues Traveler’s “The Mountains Win Again.” Though both coaches turned their chairs at the last possible second, it was Gwen who showed Braiden the light by asserting her role as a mother who could take him under her wing.

While the other judges mock, she pipes up with, “I actually think it looks cute on him!” The list of examples is long: “Dancing With the Stars” slyly feeds the faux-showmance machine particularly well, particularly as its pro dancers and celebrity contestants are in such close quarters. Maks Chmerkovskiy is linked to his partners without any evidence they’re actually dating, like when he had some sizzling chemistry with Olympian Meryl Davis. So far Gwen has been held under the guise of the fountain of youth, but she’ll need to pick up some larger, more experienced voices to balance out the equation. In one particularly contrived instance, Nickelodeon star James Maslow was paired up with Peta Murgatroyd after the two had been on a date once — the show constantly tried to make it seem like they were one step away from falling madly in love. (They weren’t.) Even now, you’ll see that US Weekly had “multiple sources” confirm that Chace Crawford has a new girlfriend — who happens to be Rebecca Rittenhouse, his co-star on ABC’s new “Blood & Oil” that debuts this week, and is getting some pretty bad reviews.

Paul, would be a perfect fit for Blake (though the former Army medical engineer bared a slight resemblance to Yosemite Sam), but Shelton and the rest of the coaches passed up on him. It was then down to the final four singers, and Blake found an unlikely match in Nadjah Nicole, whose take on the Janelle Monae classic “Tightrope” was upbeat and hit some tough notes.

Blake admitted to not knowing who the heck Janelle Monae was, and even Nadjah’s mother was surprised at the pick – she could be seen exclaiming “oh my gosh” afterwards – but the show’s most decorated coach has a knack for uncovering talents that don’t fit his criteria. The next artist, Jordan Smith, sang Sia’s “Chandelier,” which is an ambitious song choice, but he proved to have strong vocal control and secured a quadruple chair turn.

By the end of a whirlwind premiere, it was easy to forget 24-year-old Mark Hood’s vibrant rendition of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” because he was the first performer, but he managed to impress four coaches right out of the gates. Kota does add a nice growl here and there, but her voice isn’t particularly distinctive and, considering the talent we’re sure to experience over the next two hours, I don’t see her having a huge impact this season. Hopefully she’ll be able to bring her soulful sound to some slightly more appropriate song choices in future weeks on Team Pharrell (who beat out Gwen and Blake). It was a fitting coupling and a poignant moment as Adam and Jordan met at the stage, but the pair has to make sure not to get wrapped up in similarities. Keith Semple, a Chicago singer by way of Northern Ireland who aspires to be a “husband by day, rock star by night” (as opposed to a well-adjusted “rock star by day, person who gets eight solid hours of sleep by night”) is the next Voice hopeful.

Keith sings “I’ll Be There for You” (the Bon Jovi hit, not the Friends opening theme, though that would have been a zany turn of events, wouldn’t it?). Braiden Sunshine, at just 15 years old, sang “The Mountains Win Again,” and at first it looked like he wasn’t going to get any coaches to push their buttons, but then Stefani and Pharrell both turned on his very last note. While Keith’s trying to choose between the two, Blake helpfully weighs in: If it were his call, “I could spend the season in rehearsal room with Gwen,” he raises his eyebrows suggestively, “or with Adam,” he frowns, to demonstrate that, with Adam, Keith would probably have to see his coach as a human equal. It’s something that is often talked about in terms of the show — like we haven’t produced a star yet at the level of some of the other artists that have come from other shows.

But he also has a back story that should’ve gotten him on the show anyway: He was a skier whose Olympic dreams were dashed by a career-ending injury, so he turned to music. Following Sunshine, Michael Woolery, the son of long-time game-show host Chuck Woolery, sang “Say” byJohn Mayer, and the coaches were not impressed enough to turn their chairs. He sang “Angel Eyes,” and all four coaches turned almost immediately. “I’m trying to pioneer a new sound,” Baber told the coaches, expressing an interest in combining country and soul and carving out his own place in music. When Carson asks Siahna what got her into soul, she tells him, “When I was in the third grade [like six months ago], I heard Ray Charles, and that’s when I decided to sing soul music.” Now, hold that quotation in your mind, and imagine Marcel the Shell saying it, and you will have an exact representation of Siahna Im.

Gwen, Pharrell, and Blake love her, too, and they all turn for her after hearing her go to town on Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” (Girl, you should not be singing about sex things, you are like still in the womb.) After much pleading and cajoling, Siahna joins Team Pharrell. This high school drama teacher/dad/husband survived a deadly plane crash as a kid totally crushed “Angel Eyes,” leading to another four-chair turn and intense coaches’ battle. He acknowledged that he’s had problems fitting in, but, as he put it, “being different is what made me special, that’s my gift.” For once, that platitude felt genuine. “I think you’re the most important person that’s ever been on this show,” wheedled Adam, sounding entirely not genuine. I am 100 percent behind that — more Voice singers should aspire to be funky and weird and progressive and trend setting — but “Tightrope” is not the best audition song. Nadjah was obviously nervous, and barely moved an inch, but she helped herself by rearranging certain phrases to show off more range, including a high note that made Adam whip his head around.

Braiden tells us that, like Sawyer Fredericks, he’s also from a small town (Lyme, CT), and last season’s winner inspired him to try out for the show. Pharrell, in his first untruthful-sounding moment of the night, tells Braiden, “There will never be a voice like yours.” It seems as though Sawyer’s former coach has Braiden’s full attention, but the kid pulls a fast one and joins Team Gwen.

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