The Voice Season 7 Premiere Recap: Do You Si What They Si? [Updated]

The Voice - Season 7

I’m too lazy to Google it, but I’m pretty sure Jim Carrey had movie maybe 10 years ago where his character said “yes” to everything, all the time, immediately.

Somehow, that same madcap spirit seems to have infiltrated Season 7 of The Voice — where Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and newcomers Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani were slapping their buttons and turning their chairs not just from the opening three notes, but in some instances from the first pre-performance throat-clearance.

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Seriously, for people who’ve got all the power in the world going into the Blind Auditions, the current panel of coaches sometimes come off more eager and (in some cases) more desperate than a low-level Kardashian (the one who’s not Kim or Khloe, of course) with the scent of a TMZ camera crew on the wind.

Which isn’t to say the Season 7 premiere lacked viable talent. Because ultimately, like any other reality singing competition, The Voice lives or dies based on its ability to attract mega-talented vocalists to its 15 million-person party. And tonight’s opener gave us three or four viable contenders for Josh Kaufman’s tiara and sash.

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The Voice - Season 7So without further ado, let’s count down the eight hopefuls who advanced to the Season 7 Battle Rounds in order from least- to most-promising:

8. Taylor John Williams, “Heartless” (Team Gwen) |
Somewhere, Kanye West is composing a STRONGLY WORDED TWEET blasting Taylor for turning his R&B jam into musical Lunesta. Oh sure, American Idol’s Kris Allen did an acoustic “Heartless” to great success back in the day, but his rendition was snap-pop-crackling with electricity; Taylor’s reimagining replaced all the guts and passion with colorless gruel. Blech!

7. Luke Wade, “That’s How Strong My Love Is” (Team Pharrell) |
Maybe I missed something, seeing that this fella got all four chairs to turn within the opening seconds of his blind audition. But there was something so nondescript about Luke’s tone and delivery that his Otis Redding cover disappeared from my brain faster than a bowl of Pringles placed within arm’s reach of a low-carb dieter.

6. Damien, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (Team Adam) |
TSA agent who survived a harrowing shooting incident at LAX brought huge emotion to this treacly Boyz II Men jam — but his inability to fully control said emotion intermittently clogged up his tone and clarity. I’ve got my doubts that the uni-monkiered singer will withstand the rigors of the Battle Rounds.

5. Clara Hong, “Chuck E’s in Love” (Team Adam) |
Clara showcased a cool, smoky tone on the opening half of an unexpected Rickie Lee Jones jam, but she loosened her grip on pitch and hit a few flat notes when she opened up and went for the big notes on the chorus. Pharrell might’ve been able to bring out her best, but I’m guessing she’ll be Battle Rounds fodder in Adam’s hands.

4. Bryana Salaz, “Problem” (Team Gwen) |
Gotta give props to this 16-year-old for tackling an uptempo jam that’s not an especially obvious vocal showcase. And while the end result wasn’t entirely spotless, there was just a little touch of star quality to Briana’s delivery and stage presence that intrigues me — especially if Gwen can steer her toward youthful jams that still possess some heart and soul.

3. Allison Bray, “Merry Go ‘Round” (Team Blake) |
Season 6 reject came back with one of the coolest country jams in recent memory, and slayed it with a sweet tone and a refreshing lack of embellishment. If Blake lets her make occasional forays into her second love — classic rock bands like Aerosmith and Guns ‘N’ Roses — she could be a peroxide-blonde dark horse.

2. James David Carter, “Nobody Knows” (Team Blake) | Hunky former athlete didn’t show an ounce of nervousness, as Pharrell noted, which allowed him to breathe vivid life into the lyrics of the Tony Rich Project ballad. Blake likes hyperbole more than I hate those Sprint “framily” ads, but his assessment that James’ performance may have been the show’s all-time strongest country audition sounded pretty right-on to me.

1. Elyjuh René, “XO” (Team Pharrell) | I had my concerns that Elyjuh would be a no-chair turn when he and his mom showed up in matching black-and-white cheetah-print tops, but this is The Voice — where nobody gets set up to take a face-plant. And lo and behold, the kid with the outsized personality and infectious smile brought an urgency and innocent charm to Beyoncé’s romantic midtempo jam that was both current and unique. Even more encouraging, his instantaneous emotional connection with Pharrell created the kind of “Do I need a Kleenex?” feelings required to win the fan vote.

And on that note, I pass the mic to you. Who were your favorites from the Season 7 premiere? What grade would you give the episode overall? How did Gwen and Pharrell fit into the mix? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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96 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Bryana was my favorite

  2. Kaba says:

    Wow I’m seriously loving Pharrell.
    How do you out-smooth talk Usher?

    • So… Can we Have no more changes in the panel, cause I think we found the winner one. and if Adam or Blake need some rest, not at the same time, of course, we bring back Usher or Shakira, and we’ll be damn good!!!

  3. CM says:

    Disagree about Taylor John Williams! I’m not saying he’s about to win the season, but he was one of my favorites of the night.

    • Chris says:

      And he’s the top seller on iTunes right now. Sometimes I think Slezak lives in an upside down world!

    • Yes I thought he Taylor John was very good too! Strangely, we never have great singers coming from Portland Oregon (where I live) but now I will have to go check out the doggie hotel and bar and bring my two Sharpei’s. We have a few bars like that where you can bring dogs in! But also that country guy at the end was absolutely the best! I think those two were the ones who impressed me the most!

      • Jill Moy says:

        HEY BECCA,

        Thought I’d say hello! What’s goin’ on? Gosh, you only have one comment. I guess we need to interact again to post lots of comments…LOL!

        What did you think of final on AGT? Good to see you out here!

  4. StupidPeopleShutUp says:

    I agree. I thought overall the men were better than the women. I liked Elijah and Luke. I was pretty surprised at several of the women being chosen. I didn’t think anybody was bad necessarily, but I was surprised at how quickly there were so many multiple chair turns.

  5. kk3thess says:

    Luke, Taylor and James were easily the top 3 of the night. How Luke and Taylor are in the bottom?

    • The Beach says:

      Luke next to last? C’mon Michael !!

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Hi, Beach!
        I liked Luke, but the problem is I think I forgot about him immediately as soon as the commercial break started. That’s not a good sign!

        • The Beach says:

          Hey A_O…great seeing you again. I always enjoy your take on things. I really liked Luke’s tone and quality but then I’ve always been a fan of blues/ blues rock. But I’m afraid that he may be too similar in genre to last year’s winner, Josh.

          • Kelly Man says:

            Luke is my favorite! He’s a really great guy and so talented! Love the blues but agree that he may be too similar to Josh from last year to win, which would be a shame! Go Luke!

        • That’s the problem I have with him. I just watched the show before coming to comment, and while I was reading I was like… Who’s this guy anyhow? I mean, I remember the song, cause is good, but I don’t really remember him, and I pretty much just watched him sing. That’s bad!!!

  6. analythinker says:

    We’re here again!!! I’m excited but I reserve my comments after I watch it. Dang time difference.

  7. Rowan says:

    i loved elyjuh, he was so adorable and has natural charisma. he reminds me a bit of janelle monae.

    i think james has the “total package” as they would say. i’m not a country fan, but his performance was very well done. he’s good looking, seems to be humble, and can really sing. i think he’ll go far in the competition.

  8. Anon says:

    Is it time for American Idol yet? If not, I’ll just keep moving along then…

  9. Amie says:

    I’m the first to note that Taylor John Williams did not make Heartless his own but instead took a page out of Kris Allen’s winning American Idol formula? Surprised to be the first.

    • The Beach says:

      I thought the same when he was performing. I guess Ms Stefani didn’t watch Idol that season.

    • Sara says:

      Yes and no. As Slezak mentioned, he made some changes to what Kris Allen did. I liked the changes to a degree. It actually reminded me more of Dia Frampton’s cover of the song from the first season of The Voice than Kris Allen’s.

    • annapearl says:

      Kris allan stinks…I would never want to be compared to that snooze fest…sadz…..

      • Mary says:

        Then you must of really fallen asleep during Taylor version because for me he slowed it down way to much, sounded like he was playing in slow motion. I would think by now since you always are so negative toward Kris you could at least spell his name correctly. It is ALLEN –

  10. Ana Andrade says:

    Great season premiere

  11. Andy says:

    Who knows how many others they heard/saw who didn’t make the edit…just because they hear whatever they’re listening for in the first few notes doesn’t de-legitimitize the process

  12. Christian says:

    Bryana, Clara, and Allison are my favorites!!!!!

  13. CMG says:

    I thought Bryana was brutal. She doesn’t seem to realize that Ariana Grande’s ability to sing loud with tone borders on the supernatural. Bryana was just loud, and her tone was just unpleasant. It amazed me that anyone turned for her, let alone that many.

    I would have put James David Carter #1 and Elyjuh #2, but either way, both were very good.

    • Chris says:

      She didn’t have the best control, but I feel like Gwen will teach her to sing with restraint. If she was on Xtina’s team she will probably be Jacquie Lee 2.0 except not a good singer.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      The problem was the song choice. That song requires one to flip effortlessly into the high notes like Grande expertly does. That girl could hit the notes, but it was effort-full. And her voice isn’t high enough to hang out up there, which is when things got very unpleasant. I’d be interested to hear her again on a more appropriate song.

    • HTGR says:

      She showed some promise, but also some danger, No Doubt. And yeah it did give the impression OK…. so yeah…. Ariana Grande did that better.

  14. Jenny says:

    Pharrell won the night. His comments to the contestants were on point and he got off some really funny lines (especially towards Adam, which is always fun to hear).

    Of the contestants, Elyjuh and James David are the two I could see possibly winning the show. Of the others who got through, no one was horrible but the only one who stood out was Damien, and I think he’s too old school. Unless Pharrell can turn him into a performer who is more current sounding, I don’t know how well he’ll do going forward. As for Taylor John, there have been far better versions of “Heartless” done on reality singing shows already (Kris Allen – S8 Idol, Dia Frampton – S1 The Voice).

  15. Angie_Overrated says:

    Not a terrible opening! I wasn’t blown away, but it wasn’t bad. Elujyahhslkdh (I’m not going to love spelling this name) and the country chick were my favorites, and I agree with Slezak on #8. HATED that kid.

    • Kaba says:

      Angie! How’s summer treated you?
      Lol we sort of disagree with the Taylor boy, but it’s not a problema.
      Elyjuh was the one who caught my attention most.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Hey there! Saying goodbye to the nasty mid-Atlantic summer now, eh?
        Taylor was so… derivative. And he was so crazy out of tune on the most important notes in the song. I just couldn’t deal with that one.
        Elyjuh was wonderful! And such a smart song choice. His voice sounds like a male Beyonce. I was smiling the whole time he was singing.

        • Kaba says:

          Yup, now it’s time for the an alleged early winter. Like…weather calls for snow at the start of October *sigh*.
          Eh, the kid gained my approval because of my undying love for Kanye and Heartless. He’ll probably suck in the battles, but for now I won’t hate on him for attempting a Kris Allen/Dia Frampton.
          I was stuck in a smile/frown over Elyjuh cause of that shirt he was wearing…and the fact that he was matching with his mother.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            lol Yes, wardrobe was an issue there. He needs some styling help stat! So did that first guy with the hippie parents; great voice but the styling was bizarre.

          • Kaba says:

            Team Pharrell for worst dressed? Lol.
            I think we’ve got a good season incoming

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Oh wow, they are on the same team, aren’t they? Luckily fixing wardrobe is a lot easier than fixing a lack of talent. Both were really good.

          • Kaba says:

            We can safely leave this to the hands of the voice wardrobe team.
            Had this been AI s13’s wardrobe team, God bless.

    • HTGR says:

      Uh-oh. Not only will I agree with you on at least some of that on my very first reply to you this season (??!!!?), but I will also have to say that a country singer, the country chick as you say, of all things caught my attention more than most tonight (???!!!???).

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Hey, HTGR!
        Wasn’t she great? Country singers often bore me as many of them sound exactly the same, but she had a certain “something” to her voice that so appealing.
        And I think our extreme head butting was and will be limited to that one season of Idol, which we hugged out over our mutual love for Sasha Allen. We seem to agree more often than not. :)

  16. Quinn Carson says:

    I agree with the top 2, but James was my favorite. Regardless, those 2 justified what was kind of a crappy night.

  17. Kimmie says:

    So…is it safe to say that James is a beautiful, beautiful man?

  18. Carola says:

    Pharrel and Gwen were great additions to the panel! Great season so far!

  19. ahs24 says:

    Been a fan of James David for years! I first heard him sing about 10 years ago at a camp in Florida. So glad he’s finally getting some well-deserved attention! Best of luck to him!

  20. James was the best of the night.

  21. Jeremy Thomas says:

    Some great people, but I gotta say I hated Bryana. It partly came down to song choice; that’s a crazy hard song and she’ll likely do better on other songs. But she was really forcing it and out of breath most of the time. I was stunned that she made it onto a team because I cringed at the first note.

    But that being said, she could totally surprise me because she can go way up from here and we all know that improvement is a big factor in survival on this show.

  22. Ram510 says:

    Didn’t Dia already do a version of Kanye West Heartless (and was much better)?

  23. analythinker says:

    Overall it’s a pretty good premiere. No one excited me that much to be deemed favorite, but none I hated either. As much as I want to love Elyjuh, I find it so typical for a male with high voice to sing Beyonce (idk, I find myself irritated by the song choice). However, I always come in with the thought that the more controlled singers with certainty on their runs will be the ones staying longer. For me, in this episode, those are Elyjuh, Luke, and James. I’m not so sure about the rest, even Damien.

    As for Taylor, I’m undecided, I think he has potential, but crazy thing is, it could either be good or bad.

  24. Ashes says:

    Love James David Carter. I have heard him sing for years, he is as sweet and nice as he appears. I wish him all the luck!!!!

  25. pbc says:

    find some synonyms for “jams.”

  26. Rock says:

    Boring show
    Watched Big Bang, was far better then Vocie
    Also watched new show “Scorpion” Awesome

  27. mmsolis1106 says:

    This show has become nothing but self promotion of the celebrities..I watched about 10 minutes last night and that was enough….

  28. I’m getting old. I turned it off after 45 mins. Just don’t care for today’s music.

  29. Mary says:

    I don’t watch the voice anymore but I always come read Micheal’s recap. The best part of the show for me was always when the judges singing, which I can watch the next day without wasting 2 hours of my time. I did check out Taylor performance nothing special. I think he slowed it down way to much. Personally for me I like Kris and Dia version better.

  30. Grace says:

    apparently Bryana was on AGT?

  31. McKay says:

    I don’t like anything about this show. …except Blake.
    That sexy????? guy is dumb as a stump. I don’t know the new guy and the blond bimbo just takes up space. I watched 10 minutes of the first show and that did it for me. I watched the Dance Show… Much better. Sorry Blake but you need to get new judges..

  32. McKay says:

    Most of these singers??? should be arrested for disturbing the peace. What noise.!!!!!!!!!!
    I’d rather hear a dog bark as listen to most of them bellow and scream.

  33. Nedsdag says:

    I wish people would not compare other people’s past performances. Taylor’s rendition of “Heartless” was his own just like Dia’s and Kris’s were their own. Nevertheless, I liked him along with James David Carter last night.

    • analythinker says:

      I thought comparison was inevitable?

      If it involves even the slightest of adaptation, people are going to compare, whether they like it or not. A movie from the book, Dobby and Gollum, even Michelle Chamuel & Kristen Merlin (although the only Voice-related thing they have in common is probably their strictly-pants, no-skirt policy). I’m just saying.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Agree with analythinker here. In any form of art, whether it be film, literature, dance, music, visual art, etc there’s ALWAYS going to be comparison. If you’re going to put “you” into a cover of anything in any medium, comparisons to the original and any adaptations thereafter will rightfully be compared.

  34. v says:

    Pharrell is an adorable young man who looks like a little boy. I love the judges but will get tired of all the begging antics real quick.

  35. Sharon says:

    Bryana is another screechy teen who will likely advance far for reasons that I won’t understand. James David Carter’s classic country voice reminds me of an old-time country artist, but I can’t pin it down — can anyone help me ID his sound? My top 3 are fairly consistent with reader votes so far, except I put it as Carter, Rene and Wade as 1-2-3. I hope we see some stronger female performances tonight.

  36. Patrick says:

    Just hope Blake doesn’t put Allison and James David against each other in the battle rounds

  37. christopher bee says:

    Yes, some nice tunes tonight, but what´s disturbing me more and more are the pre-commercials ” next to come..” segments. I hate that filler stuff, plaese more music, less chitchat.

  38. Mytake says:

    Were you hungry when you wrote this recap Michael? I have never seen the word JAM used so many times in one article before. Have some toast and jam before next weeks recap please :)

  39. mara says:

    Pharrell = coherency (98% accuracy) ! Blake still funny and full of bs! Gwen – comme si comme ca

    Really didn’t like Michael’s #1- which is rare. He usually transcribes my very thoughts as though he were my personal secretary. Too many flames for me and not that there’s anything wrong with that!! It just gets in the way of my already low attention span.

  40. Karen says:

    Enjoyed the whole show, but the bantering doesn’t seem as sincere as it used to be. A little over the top imo. Pharrell seemed to fit right in and had great comments for the contestants. I didn’t like Gwen so much. Maybe she will grow on me. I was disappointed no one turned around for the 52 year old country singer. I think he had a lot of potential.

  41. I am so turned off by why everyone contestant has to have a sad story to tell- that is actually very boring and don’t see why it is necessary.

  42. Billie says:

    James Carter looks and acts like Toby Keith. He sounds somewhat like Toby but he has his own style. He is going to be the WINNER of this season.

  43. Dee T says:

    This writer obviously did not really care to watch this show. The contestants were good and the judges are all awesome. This is a fun show.

  44. Sherlene says:

    This the best season out of all I have watched. Love the new judges. They all fit so perfect together. Wasn’t going to watch if the other two judges were on again. They didn’t seem real in their comments. These two new ones are awesome. Please keep them. My husband and I both laugh at this group. They r so funny and complement each other. My husband usually doesn’t even watch it but this season he loves watching it.

  45. Now Michael, this is a question for your week segment:
    Was Gwen going for Christina or Madonna when she chose her hair for The Voice?
    I kept seeing the two singers when she was singing with the boys, like she could play their twins, which is very odd since I don’t think Christina and Madonna are that alike, even with Madonna in the glory days.

  46. WL says:

    Luke Wade at 7?! How did you miss his interp skills? Josh had an amazing sound last season but how he felt about, and interpreted it, was lacking.

  47. Peter Arponen says:

    Is the headline meant to be bilingual to all the Hispanics?

  48. COLTON says:

    I THINK Luke Wade WAS THE BEST IN THE NIGHT , AFTER THAT James David Carter AND Clara Hong

  49. Imam Oscar says:

    Somehow I just don’t feel connected with James, so suprising many comments here like him. Yeahh he seems nice and humble but his look typical like many similar country guys and easy to forget. Elijah’s voice maybe sounds ordinary but his unique look and nice personality with typical of mama’s boy that catch my eyes. About Luke,, yeahh I like his voice, so crispy and different, but I’m not sure he can stand out far in the competition. He needs more personality on stage. And about Bryana ? aaahh, she’s still young and so energetic but need much breath control of her high voice and tone down a little bit. Coz I think she tried too hard to be as good as Ariana while her voice hasn’t ready to get on that phase. Taylor John’s ability to make a song to his own amazed me, but I’m not sure he has strong voice to compete with another big voice contestants, he’s better in slow tempo song which shows more emotions. I’m also still waiting for Anita. I like her way of singing and brings up a song, so catchy and fun. Well that’s all my favourites on the voice this season..