The Voice Season 10 Premiere Recap: Who Runs the World? Curls!

Something sort of miraculous happened on The Voice‘s Season 10 premiere — and I’m not just talking about the Chosen Contestant in a four-chair turn selecting the lone female coach for the first time ever.

Nope, somehow NBC’s reality singing juggernaut combined all my least-favorite Blind Audition elements — formerly famous person taking a second swing at success; backstory tugging at the heartstrings; the entire coaching panel devolving into noisy hype; the contestant herself using the word “journey” — and made me fall for it like Blake Shelton hearing a touch of genuine Oklahoma twang.

Absolute pitch perfection — combined with delicate phrasing and hauntingly beautiful breaks — will do that to even the most cynical recapper.

So forgive me if I can’t muster up a whole lot of outrage over Adam Levine slapping Xtina on the back (emotionally, not physically of course) and congratulating her on winning Season 10 now that she has Alisan Porter (aka cinema’s Curly Sue) on her team.

I know, I know… it’s no fun when Mark Burnett & Co. crush any sense of suspense and telegraph the winner some three months out from the finale. But we can all still hold out hope that maybe two or three other contenders will rise up and make the show’s latest cycle more interesting than Sawyer Fredericks’ and Jordan Smith’s smoothly paved victory marches in Seasons 8 and 9, right?

I don’t think any of the other nine singers who advanced to the Battle Rounds on Monday’s premiere have an Olaf’s chance in a convection oven of upending Alisan — though that Maroon 5 duet dude and the former ballet dancer were pretty damn good — but nevertheless, the two-hour kickoff was really, really strong. So, allow me to rank the episode’s contenders from least to most promising:

9. Team Adam: John Gilman, “Don’t Be Cruel” | There was nothing overtly offensive about John’s straightforward approach to Elvis’ boppy hit. But his tendency to drop the ends of phrases and his inability to bring a deep connection to the lyrics puts him at the vert bottom of the potent premiere-night pecking order.

8. Team Blake: Paxton Ingram, “Dancing on My Own” | I wasn’t enamored with a lot of the melodic tweaks the first auditioner of Season 10 made on Robyn’s underrated jam — but maybe I’m just such a fan of Jeffery Austin’s Season 9 cover that I wasn’t ready for anyone else grabbing the baton.

7. Team Pharrell: Abby Celso, “Should’ve Been Us” | On a particularly strong night of auditions, I’m just not sure I’ll remember Abby’s solid but unspectacular attempts to color within the lines of Tori Kelly’s template.

6. Team Xtina: Bryan Bautista, “The Hills” | You could hear some nerves creeping into Bryan’s voice in the opening few bars — not surprising, considering he didn’t get any chairs to turn in Season 9 — but 45 seconds later, I heard enough vocal horsepower and rhythmic swagger that Xtina’s hyped-up rhetoric to wrestle Bryan away from Adam started making sense.

5. Team Blake: Mary Sarah, “Where the Boys Are” | Nashville vet who once cut a duet album featuring Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (to name a few) exhibited an Evian-clear upper register and an easy charisma. I wish she’d found a fresher way to approach her Connie Francis cover — or had put a Connie Francis vibe on a more modern song – but she’s nevertheless got me mildly to moderately intrigued.

4. Team Pharrell: Caity Peters, “Jealous” | I enjoyed the way Caity boldly scraped the bottom range of her register on the opening verse — even though it resulted in occasional strain — and while the teacher-in-training may not want to completely give up on the college path just yet, she’s also someone who could be a dark horse if Pharrell can help her with confidence and showmanship.

3. Team Adam: Nick Hagelin, “Lost Stars” | The former ballet dancer’s Adam Levine cover had a very mid-’90s, blue-eyed-soul vibe — and I’m not mad about it in the least. Yes, there were three or four high notes that got away from Nick, but there was real feeling behind the rangey note choices, too. I’m just not sure how he chose Pharrell over Blake and Xtina despite the megaproducer not offering a single word of enticement.

2. Team Adam: Mike Schiavo, “Talking Body” | Like a Stefon sketch on SNL, Mike had it all: A lilting falsetto, a beautifully shredded rasp, a solid sense of pitch and an ability to breathe fresh life into a lyric. Not only that, but his “Talking Body” moved and grooved, and he was able to keep up with Adam on “She Will Be Love” — even with the Maroon 5 frontman barking out instructions for how to keep up on guitar..

1. Team Xtina: Alisan Porter, “Blue Bayou” | I know I waxed poetic about Alisan’s technique and tone in the opening paragraphs of this recap, but the way she stretched her instrument to a haunted, crumbly place on the phrase “sails afloat” — combined with that boom-boom-pow final run – well, I’m hooked on that Kimberly Nichole/Amanda Brown/Vicci Martinez type of way. Here’s hoping there’s more of this magic in her arsenal, right?

What did you think of The Voice Season 10 premiere? Grade it below, then vote for your three favorite auditions, and hit the comments to expand on your thoughts!

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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  1. Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

    ALISAN FREAKEN PORTER!!! 😍😱😭 YASSS SNATCH MY LIFE!!! 😍😭🙌😂 She is THE BEST!!! And there’s MORE to come from her as well!!! 😍🙌👏😌

  2. SaraPo says:

    This is the first time in all the seasons of The Voice where I have TRULY enjoyed more than just a couple of performances. Alisan, Mike, Mary Sarah and Bryan, in that order were my faves tonight. I actually think Alisan and Mike are tied for first. What a great start to the season, I hope it keeps up this momentum. What irks me the most about this show is the amount of time spent on back stories and constant recapping…the backstories didn’t seem as heavy tonight which is good since I was watching live as opposed to my usual FF through more than half of the show. Hope it stays like this!!! Michael I hope you are feeling better, you have some some idoloonies getting restless for their Michael and Melinda Reality Check Mondays :)

    • The Beach says:

      Good to know I’m not the only one who fast forwards through the all the sappy backstories. I come for the singing, not the soap opera.

    • GregK says:

      Mary Sarah’s “Where the Boys Are” was terrific too. I well remember Connie Francis singing it in the early 60’s and immediately recognized the song after only a few notes. YouTube it; over the many years, Connie has been under appreciated for her pure voice, like a lot of early 60’s women, even Lesley Gore. Another Voice (or maybe AI) contestant sang this song also, but they all lacked Connie’s “delicate phrasing and hauntingly beautiful breaks.”

  3. Andres says:

    A really good start this season. It’s hard to pick a favorite and people ended up being better than expected.

    • Red says:

      Why is it that The Voice has yet to produce a single STAR? Nine seasons done and not one major talent?

    • JM1 says:

      Can I just moan and groan about the guy singing “Dancing On My Own”? My least fave thing on these shows has to be when someone slays an unknown song, and then in subsequent seasons people have to jump on it and steal the first person’s thunder.

      Jeffery slayed that song last season; now leave it alone!

  4. Kim Moores says:

    Alisan slayed
    You’ve rated that meh-pie caty 4-chair much too high.
    Bryan needs to be bumped up to 4th
    That country gal needs to be 3rd.
    This is the right order of the top 4:
    1- Alisan
    2- Mike
    3- Mary
    4- Bryan

    • Andres says:

      I liked Caity tone of her voice. i think it was a good forth.

      • Kaba says:

        Nah I gotta agree. She most certainly did not deserve a 4 chair turn.
        At all.
        Bryan did moreso than she did.

        • Andres says:

          I agree Bryan should have placed higher but not higher than Caity. Maybe higher than Nick and Mary ( even though I thought Mary was pretty good as well)

          • kevstar says:

            Mary was way too nasally for me. That was definitely not a 4 chair turn.

          • Kim Moores says:

            Wtf? I’d argue she’s the best female country contestant the shows had in a long time. If not the best overall. Her voice is just spot on great.

    • Florence+TheMachineRulez!!! #TeamMariah says:

      YASSS!!! QUEEN ALISAN!!! You should check her earlier stuff out, she’s tackled MASIVE FEATS such as Crybaby, the voice within, and she even did a Mariah Carey song . . . A MARIAH SONG!!! This shows that she is a FIGHTER!!! 😍👏🙏😌😁🙌😱

    • SaraPo says:

      That is my exact same 4 ranking too! They were awesome

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I’m ok with this list. I think I’d switch Bryan with Abbie, but that’s close enough. Abbie I thought was on the very edge of spectacular.

  5. Kaba says:

    Nick picked Pharrell >.>

    • Jakay says:

      I noticed that mistake, too. Adam was the only one who didn’t turn around for Nick. He picked Pharrell. Surprised it hasn’t been fixed yet.

  6. Allison Porter has sensation and fame on her side, but she sounds shrill to me. She did choose a good song, or someone chose it for her. At this point, I’m not sure how much the producers of the show had to do with her appearance. I’m not sure she should be on The Voice. Unfair to rest of “real people” trying to make it. Don’t kid yourself that she has been sitting in the drunk tank waiting for this opportunity. I hate unfairness.

    • Kaba says:

      You’re worried about unfairness on the show that Cassadee Pope won?
      Sorry, the time for bitterness over the idea of semi-famous people getting on the show is long beyond over.

    • Andres says:

      The cool thing about the voice is that is an opportunity for a second chance. We have had cassadie pope, Frenchie Davis and Paula deanda and other who had a recoding contract but got dropped. This is just Allisan 2nd chance :)

      • kevstar says:

        Yeah, I’m not mad that people are getting another shot. As long as I don’t know who they are, and if I do, wondering where they have been. The music business is harsh. The fact that they are willing to go through that again , is why they get my respect.

    • danin says:

      Love Blue Bayou..she sounded shrill at times to me too. I liked Mike, a lot. Abby, nice clear voice. Mary,kind of an unusual voice, but I liked her&her old school song.City, dusky tone.. Liked!Nick& his sweet voice when he hit it just right.Bryan..I was half liking.And Paxton had a kind of chipmunk thing going on that didn’t put me fully in his corner. Liked that the contestants were a bit older than teens and had experience under their belts.

    • Gailer says:

      She was shrill to me also and I found the whole thing to be a set up. I bet the judges were told in advance and to all turn for her

  7. NotVirgin Mary says:

    I was not feeling Nick at all. He was a one-trick pony that really likes melisma. Whenever he wasn’t using falsetto, I was severely underwhelmed.
    I actually really enjoyed Paxton’s voice. My interest dipped halfway through for some reason.
    Alisan… Jesus.
    I’ve heard that Christina’s team is stacked this year, so I’m excited for this season.

  8. JM says:

    These singers just crushed the AI singers! Wow, what a great start to the season. It was also nice to see them promoting Jordan and his album (about time they did this with their winners)!!! David Foster–what a master. Hope his magic works for Jordan. Then maybe he can do Jeffery next…

  9. Davey says:

    I wasn’t as crazy about Alysan as the judges were. Yes she sang well but I didn’t like her upper register. I was more surprised by Mary.

  10. Ron says:

    Michael, I, too, usually don’t like when the show so clearly pimps out The Chosen One with the whole song and dance. I’m almost always against that person. (I don’t know, call me a root-for-the-underdog kinda person, I guess.) But I’m ALL IN with Alisan!!! Chills. Absolutely amazing. She was so good, I’m pretty sure all of Melinda’s shoes hit me in the head because she threw them so hard for Alisan.

  11. Amy says:

    If Alisan ends up winning, we will have some kind of reality show crossover/fusion since she is one of Adam Lambert’s best friends. They’ve known each other for years.

    Alisan was fantastic, but I wouldn’t hand her the crown quite yet…Mike and Nick were also really really good and Mary Sarah has a big country voice and an old fashioned appeal that often appeals to voters.

    Out of all the contestants who got chair turns, I thought only the guy who did the Elvis song really seems like cannon fodder. I could see everyone else making it through battle rounds, anyway

  12. Mike says:

    Am I the only one that liked Abby?

  13. Jules says:

    I was slightly annoyed that the first two singers did songs that Jeffery covered last season. It took the originality away for me.

  14. TexasBrigade says:

    Is Christina can’t win with Curly Sue she never will

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      She couldn’t even get to the finale when she had a team of Rob, Kimberly and India. Sorry, 1 or more (preferably more) of those three should have been at the end.

  15. kevstar says:

    It was really good to see Jordan Smith working with David Foster. To all the naysayers last season who said he’d never make it in the business, this finger is for you. Not only is Jordan working with Foster, he’s also working with a guy that worked on that Weeknd record you might have heard about.

  16. donalberto says:

    Alison has been blessed with those rare pipes only a few get…..Linda Ronstadt, sang that song to the Muppets, incredible and Kelly Clarkson just a few…..Alison Porter….remember her. ..

  17. jcp says:

    i thought the Hagelin guy chose Pharrell?

  18. Timmah says:

    The most amazing night of blinds I’ve ever seen. I was thoroughly entertained.

  19. KatydidL says:

    I couldn’t stand Mary Sarah’s voice. She sang through her nose the entire time and the tone of her voice sounds so contrived and not really how she normally sings. It’s like she’s imitating a 50’s sound to get the retro vibe.

  20. Mary says:

    Hey Michael why 2 weeks in a row no reality check? I miss it!

  21. analythinker says:

    Michael, didn’t Nick go with Pharrell?

  22. MSD says:

    Alisan choosing Christina in that 4-chair turn reminded me of Matthew Schuler…. a chosen-one of sorts who chose Christina. Although that was one of the strongest seasons of the show (Tessanne won), I still am not over Matthew. He was talented beyond belief and had marketability.
    Rooting for Christina (as I always do) even more this year! Glad to have her back… the other two don’t fill her void, not really
    Gwen and certainly not Shakira.

  23. L Lawrence says:

    Team Pharrell: Caity Peters, “Jealous”—that’s the one that I thought you should say: “but maybe I’m just such a fan of Jeffery Austin’s Season 9 cover that I wasn’t ready for anyone else grabbing the baton.”

  24. mamamitzvah says:

    What is happening with Reality Check?

  25. stevessf says:

    Overall, great first blinds. However, Mikey, and I’m a big fan of yours, but you’re going to have to pickup your game quickly. After John Gillman’s unremarkable but mildly entertaining “Don’t be Cruel” you wrote about ” his tendency to drop the ends of phrases (very true) and his inability to bring a deep connection to the lyrics”! Deep connection to lyrics like, “I don’t want no other lovah, baby it’s still youah I’m thinking of.” Huh?? This is a rock n roll ditty, not @%$## The Times They are a Changing! Mikey, you have mad insight, use it. Please don’t get lazy and roll out the boilerplate. The season has just started.

  26. Rich says:

    I am tired of re-boot contestants. Guess the Sawyer/Jordan combo the last two seasons didn’t generate enough…. what??? If you’ve been in a major motion picture, you should have established enough contacts to be able to carve out a singing career. If you blew it, well sorry – welcome to life.

  27. SoozinCA says:

    I’ve been a fan of Alisan’s voice for years – really – since she was 5 years old on Star Search. I got to see her perform with her previous band, The Canyons, when they opened for her close friend Adam Lambert at the end of his Glam Nation Tour in 2010. Even though I already knew her talent, she blew me away last night. I want to cast all my votes for Alisan, she’ll even make me use my iTunes account this season!

  28. pdamico says:

    OMG, how refreshing was it to just sit back and enjoy really talented singers… instead of awkward, semi-talented packaged products? Watching this show while A.I. is still fumbling its way into the fading twilight, is like a genuine breath of fresh air. On that note: I was not as enamored with Mike (yet) as everyone else, I thought Nick sounded radio ready and Mary Sarah was very good. However, I actually thought Alisan had more of that Connie Francis hurt thing in her voice than Mary Sarah did (there was nothing shrill about Alisan’s performance. Waybe the shrill commenters need to go out and buy some sound bars for their TV’s, or turn down the treble, or something… ).

    Can we now have a separate Reality Check for The Voice? Please, don’t make me beg. BTW, world class editing this week, Jason. Thank you for that.

  29. E Rodgers says:

    Marriage comes first. Alisan Porter was definitely the best of week 1 blinds. Given that she knows the business and the promiscuity that runs rampant within it, is it any wonder that she picked Xtina? Her comment to Adam (about her husband being backstage after Adam hugged her) screamed her caution. Phew! I wonder what her past stories are.

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