The Voice Season 9 Premiere Recap: Chair-iots Afire!

Don’t roll your eyes too hard when The Voice host Carson Daly slips into a state of acute premiere-induced hyperbole (i.e. promising viewers are about to “experience the most shocking blind audition” in show history).

After all, as the erstwhile host of MTV’s Total Request Live, Carson ushered millions of teenagers through the Boyband-Britney Industrial Complex — without a single one’s head exploding like a watermelon at a Gallagher concert (at least not on camera). Now, 15 years later, if he’s slightly overselling “small-town Kentucky fella singing the tar out of a Sia jam,” well, so what?

And in the spirit of total honesty, while Jordan Smith’s cover of “Chandelier” fell well short of “shocking” — I reserve that adjective for acts such as peeling back one’s skin to reveal V-style alien scales or expressing the opinion that Mike Huckabee is just too far to the left on social issues — I’d argue it falls under the headings of “gorgeous,” “chill-inducing,” and “Gospel hand-activating.”

So go on with your excitable self, Mr. Daly. The Voice‘s Season 9 premiere delivered at least two or three folks who could conceivably still be in the mix when you’re arguing with your feisty aunt over who belongs in the finale during Thanksgiving dinner. Throw in a few choice Blake Shelton one-liners, three (rather than the typical two) no-chair turns and the shiny, distracting red object that was Gwen Stefani’s dress, and we’re off to a pretty promising start!

With that said, let’s count down Monday’s eight Battle Rounds-bound vocalists from least- to most-promising:

8. Braiden Sunshine, “The Mountains Win Again” (Team Gwen) | Yes, the Season 8 premiere gave us a wide-eyed teenager who went on to win the whole shebang, but unlike emotional-beyond-his-years Sawyer Fredericks, Braiden’s voice carried all the gravitas of a dish of buttered elbow macaroni.

7. Kota Wade, “Bring It on Home to Me” (Team Gwen) | Not a promising start for the Judge Most Likely to High-Kick With Excitement: Kota’s vocal tone hits the ear as harshly as a fondue fork, her tone reminiscent of a car riding the edge of a guard rail going up a steep incline. There’s a strain that’s present from the first note to the last — and her lack of dynamics only punctuates the problem.

6. Nadjah Nicole, “Tightrope” (Team Blake) | Nadjah looks like a pop star, has the right name to be a pop star and — while her Janelle Monae cover isn’t particularly rangey — proved on the “high, hiGH, HIGH” riff she might have the pipes to be a pop star. That said, Nadjah’s failure to work the stage with authority and the “running through my grocery list” lack of intensity she brought to the lyrics has me worried she’s ultimately no more than a bank teller in pop star’s clothing.

5. Keith Semple, “I’ll Be There for You” (Team Adam) | I’ll give credit to the Irish dad for a far-better-than-competent cover-band vocal, but his performance never really broke out of the Bon Jovi template, did it? Great hair and a handsome face may carry him through the first few weeks of votes, but a distinctive approach may be the one key that’s missing from his Voice keychain.

4. Siahna Im, “Fever” (Team Pharrell) | Babyfaced teenager’s emotional breakdown after scoring a three-chair turn has me worried she’s not quite ready for the grueling obstacle course that Cassidy Pope, Tessane Chin and Josh Kaufman have conquered before her. But on the flip side, The Voice voters have a soft spot for quirky-voiced chicas of a certain tender age, and Siahna’s smokey lower register is a nice juxtaposition against her Betty Boopian delivery.

3. Barrett Barber, “Angel Eyes” (Team Blake) | Survivor of an airline disaster in his college years, the hunky Barrett adroitly balanced his maudlin backstory with an inspirational survivor’s attitude. More importantly, though, he brought a magnetic authority to the Voice stage that most of his Night 1 rivals lacked — and he didn’t hit a bum note in the process, either.

2. Mark Hood, “Use Me” (Team Pharrell) | I loved the little scratches and hiccups and jazzy inflections he brought to Night 1’s most high-energy song choice — and the fact that his pitch held strong even as he broke out the funky dance moves could be a big edge on his rivals moving forward. Yeah, his tone gets a wee bit closed-off in places, but his buoyant personality offers the perfect counterbalance.

1. Jordan Smith, “Chandelier” (Team Adam) | I don’t know why the judges were so out-of-their-minds surprised that Jordan turned out to be a guy — my ears told me it could’ve gone either way — but he’s definitely a prime candidate for a Battle Rounds makeover. (Heck, even an Adam-sanctioned bowling shirt would be edgier than Jordan’s pedestrian choice of gray cardigan and plaid shirt.) Ultimately, though, I don’t think anyone’s going to care if Jordan shows up in cut-off sweats and a T-shirt emblazoned with the face of Christina Milian — just as long as he keeps delivering effortlessly range-y, deeply felt vocals that add a little somethin’-somethin’ stank on the original.

On that note, I turn the mic over to you. What did you think of The Voice Season 9 premiere? Vote for your favorites in our poll below, then expand on your thoughts 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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  1. Kim Moores says:

    Pretty boring start.
    Absolutely adorable kids on tonight.
    The 15 year old girl on Pharrell’s team, and boy with the jewfro on Gwens, Nadjah’s baby.
    I admit, I overlooked things because of cuteness.
    Did not care, whatsoever, about that Jordan boy.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      The kids were so cute, but I couldn’t muster even an ounce of interest in them as singers. Give me Koryn, or give me death.
      Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but you get the gist.

      • Kim Moores says:

        The girl on Pharrell’s team caught my interest. I wasn’t expecting that out of her and she’s got tons of personality on stage so I’m truly curious as to what can come of her.
        Overall…not a strong night like you also said. Hopefully tomorrow has the bangers.

    • pixie says:

      something is wrong with your hearing then

  2. Kim Moores says:

    Also, holy hyperbole on that last guy. Not a 4 chair turn whatsoever and then add on that cheesy stage grooving? Pass.
    Just another archetypal country guy going to blake’s team.
    These sob stories kept one-upping each other tonight.

  3. Andres says:

    I thought it was a decent start but in the past 2 seasons we get a boring episode and the the tuesdays ones are like BAM! So i am hoping that’s the case. I really liked Barret, Jordan, and Mark in that order. I also really like Kota surprisingly.

    Also is there gonna be a reality check this season? I really hope so.

    • Andres says:

      Since we are on the topic of the voice. Have you guys heard ” Sleep State” with Troy Ritchie from season 7?

      • ET says:

        I have and the two songs released so far are really good. Their EP is coming out soon. The boys in the band are not hard on the eyes as well. Heh.

  4. Angie_Overrated says:

    And we’re back! I think this is the first premiere where I was barely paying attention. I’m not sure if that’s an indictment of the talent or the fact that the format is getting older.
    Like Slezak, I loved Jordan as his performance was the only one that gave me the feels. Kind of “meh” on the rest. I was most confused by the last guy. Dramatic and touching personal story, but the singing felt a tad middling to me. I’ll give him another round.

    • Christian says:

      I agree in the last guy. There was this, almost nasal quality in his voice that couldn’t win me over

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        I mostly stopped watching, which was the story for nearly all of them tonight. I said last season that the winner was not in the premiere, and lo and behold, Megan, Sawyer and Joshua were all featured in the premiere.

    • bobsaccamanna says:

      Maybe because I wasn’t expecting that kind of sound coming from her, but the young girl with the braces really caught my attention with her cover of Fever. She may end up being one of those young quirky kind of singers that eventually go down in a blaze of quirk fanned flames, but I thought she had a very nice tone and quality to her voice, and some real soulfulness for someone so young. The rest of the show was kind of meh for me, I really hate when they make such a big deal over someone just because he or she might be a little outside of the norm. He had a nice voice but all focus centered around how “different ” he was. Anyhow, just happy to have something to feed my addiction back, the withdrawal was painful, thank god for adavan.

    • analythinker says:

      Hi Angie! :)

      Pretty meh too, here, but I have faith in Kota, for some reasons I can’t pinpoint.
      Jordan’s the only one I really paid attention too, though. Not sold on the last guy at all, but he seems nice.

    • “I was barely paying attention..” followed by criticizing the format and the talent.

      I’m glad you’ll give him another round. I know Barrett was on the edge of his seat wondering how a keyboard warrior whose childish name mocks a 19 year old competitor viewed his performance. I’m sure he was thinking of dropping out had you not given your approval.

  5. Christian says:

    Kind of a disappointing episode.
    Jordan is really the only one I can see making it far in competition. I don’t think we should count that Kota girl out just yet. Sure the performance had its problems, but I see mad potential.

    • Jon says:

      Wow, I enjoyed the premiere more than most of you. The buzzword for the night was “adorable” — I can’t remember a group of kids so universally cute and likable on the show. I mean, come on, “Braiden Sunshine”? The kid was clearly grown in a lab, engineered for maximum cuteness, and I was cooing like he was a newborn puppy. (And Gwen was right there with me.)

      The judges’ banter was as fun as always, and Jordan Smith had me standing in my living room and throwing my slippers at the screen. SO talented. (A non-PC aside: everything about his demeanor and “I learned to accept my difference” speech had me assuming he had suffered anti-gay bias in KY, and then he kissed his girlfriend on the lips. And his Twitter peeps talk about his GF as well, so my gaydar was WAY off on this one…)

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Your gaydar wasn’t off on this one. I’m not familiar with the town he’s from in KY, but I’m guessing there are lots of Kim Davis’es there.

        • Jon says:

          LOL…so it wasn’t just me, Angie! I honestly assumed that’s what Adam meant when he called Jordan “important.” I’m expecting a Very Special Coming Out Episode of The Voice for November sweeps…

      • Paige says:

        Your gaydar was and is spot on. Jordan is 101% gay, and who cares? His voice is magnificent. The “girlfriend” is what’s called a beard. Manilow was married, as was Leonard Bernstein, Danny Kaye, Cole Porter, Peter Allan & Liza Minnelli (both gay and married to each other), and others which would surprise you. The list is endless. Jordan will come out eventually. In the meantime, bask in the beauty of his mellifluous magic.

  6. DL says:

    Barrett Baber, not Barber.
    Also, for me Nadjah’s lack of stage dynamics came off as extreme nervousness. The fact that she was able to keep her voice so on point despite that was pretty impressive. I think once she begins working with her coach she’ll loosen up a bit and hopefully start to really work it.

  7. Timmah says:

    Can’t wait to see who the next winner that will be completely forgotten in six months is.

  8. zac says:

    Is it weird that I already forgot who won S8 until I read his name on this article?
    I thought this was an okay premiere. Maybe they should dial back and do one The Voice season per cycle.

  9. ruth close says:

    it would have been better if i could have heard it. sound on tv gone.

  10. Henry says:

    The boy Jordan Smith has unbelievable voice. All you need to do is just style him up.

    • Timmah says:

      Yes, amazing voice. Unfortunately he has the charisma of the Pat character from SNL, so he has no chance to win.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Amazing voice and he has no chance of winning, but the kid is super marketable if he loses weight, fixes his hair, fixes his styling, then makes his marketing package about A) his voice and B) coming to terms with his sexuality while stuck in Kentucky.
        I see some hope for him actually. Won’t happen during the show, but maybe Adam or Pharrell can help him after the show is over.
        That stupidly high male voice thing is en vogue right now, and he’s not even singing it falsetto. Those are full throated tones and they sound damn good.

        • Timmah says:

          I’ll have to take your word on it that that’s whats en vogue, because I don’t pay attention to pop music much anymore, and when I do all i ever see are good-looking people with auto-tuned voices. I think the kid’s got a long way to go in the makeover department, but I suppose it could happen. I’ll be rooting for him at any rate.

  11. janecek456 says:

    video killed the radio star thank goodness for the voice bringing it back to what it should be.the 15 year old belted out a sure fire swig of fever that burned into my brain all others paled in comparison

  12. Shannon says:

    Wish the show spent less time getting into each singers personal life.. Only part of the show that is a big Snorefest.. Drags on to long!!!!

  13. AlyB says:

    We had the usual endless previews of what was coming eating into the time & the energy level from the coaches struck me as muted. Everyone kind of seemed to just be going through the motions so while I had been excited for this 1st night, the whole thing just kind of fizzled out for me. The singers were ok. None of them made a huge impression on me as someone I really couldn’t wait to see again though. Decent enough singers got through but even Jordan felt more like a novelty act than someone who I’d find musically interesting. I’m hoping there are better contestants coming but I can’t figure out why they wouldn’t stack night 1 with more compelling vocalists. The format itself is so old, drawn out & tedious in between the singers that I mostly ignore it now while doing something else till the next person comes up. I know having 8 minutes of singing in a 2 hour show is what they’ve always done. I had some hope that they’d change that but it looks like they’re sticking with it. I’m just not sure I can stick it out unless they bring out some great people.

  14. Judi says:

    Was I the only one who almost flipped off my set due to Gwen Stefani’s antics? Cutting the other panelists off, running to hug everyone she wanted on her team, and mostly, jumping up to run stand in front of Blake while a contestant was STILL SINGING??? Hope they tune her down or I’ll tune out.

    • bobsaccamanna says:

      Did you know she started a band when she was 17, as if somehow that’s so unusual for anyone in the music industry today. Whether you have made it big or not, EVERYONE!!! who plays music as an adult started when they were 17, or younger. Ugh, she will mention it at least 30 more times before the blinds are over.

  15. Sue says:

    Loved the Premiere!!! The judges make me laugh. This is by far the best combo of judges for the show! As for the contestants I thought this first group was really good. My super early faves are Jordan, Barrett and the 15yr old girl.

  16. Michelle says:

    Jordon Smith is amazing. I ❤️ Him I am so happy he is on team Adam.

  17. NotVirgin Mary says:

    I would rather stab my eyes with rusty forks than watch Gwen’s cringey antics next epsiode. Apparently I’ll have to look away from the screen for a majority of this season.
    Anyways, I thought Mark and Jordan were very interesting. Mark didn’t nail all of the acrobatics but when he did it was pretty gorgeous. His tone is really, really nice.
    When Jordan hit that falsetto, I woke up. His voice is butter. In fact, his voice is clarified butter. But I’m still not sold on him for some reason still unbeknownst to me.
    Nadjah was enjoyable. I thought she was just really nervous. She was thinking a lot, and it kind of showed, but you can’t really do that on Tightrope. I like her voice, though.
    Siahna’s lower register was really cool.

  18. Rain says:

    And so it starts, yet again I can’t stand the singer everyone loves – I don’t know why I torture myself every year watching. I just never get why everyone is always so in love with the dude who sounds like a girl – it happens every season. Mark and Siahna were the only ones I enjoyed and I’m not sure either has it in them to make it to the end. Hope tonight’s episode has some more potential or this is going to be a very short season for me!

    PS: To anyone not liking Gwen’s antics, record it and fast forward through the judges completely, that’s the only way I can keep watching. As much as I love Adam and Blake, the whole play arguing antics have gotten old and I just can’t listen to it any longer.

  19. RD says:

    Those back stories will be the death of this show. It’s gotten VERY old

  20. good mom says:

    I wish the judges made it more about the contestant rather that a popularity contest for Them! Pick Me Pick Me! That go old, it’s not about them…is it?

  21. JW says:

    Agree, boring start. Only one exciting vocal. And Barrett’s reading of “Angel Eyes” was totally off mark. He may have the vocal ability, but he didn’t bring the emotion to the story.

  22. Dan Levin says:

    once again you seem to amaze me , that kota wade girl has a very powerful voice , you should really check your ears man

  23. Timmah says:

    I give this episode a D. One standout (Jordan) over a two hour span is not a good ratio, and the last guy was bland and overhyped. If it doesn’t get better tonight I’m bailing on this season.

  24. Florence+TheMachineRules!!! :) #MariahSlays says:

    My favorites were Jordan, Kota, mark, nadjah, and siahna!!! Still looking out for this Excellent singer called Shelby Brown!!! She is a CONTENDER!!! 😃😃😃

  25. TP says:

    Who are The Voice editors!!! Do we really need to see every preview before going to commercial? Do they think we have the attention span of a child and will change channels unless Carson sells the heck out of it.

  26. Lloyd says:

    LOL, Gwen’s dress AND hair were distracting.
    Braiden – he has a nice voice, but I have a hard time supporting contestants who look super-young.
    Kota – nice hair color. She was not bad, but her tone sounded very… ordinary to me. Didn’t really get why she got three chairs so quickly. Or why Adam rooted for Gwen to get her.
    Nadjah – she seemed a bit stiff, and not as confident as her styling suggested.
    Keith – I loved his sound, but not the song choice, and besides, I have prejudice against contestants who have an established musical career already.
    Siahna – her speaking voice sounded like she has damaged vocal chords, but when she sang, it was really nice and interesting, except for that one high note near the end.
    Barrett – the way he moved on stage made his performance into a caricature of sorts. His upper register didn’t sound that great, either.
    Mark – his mother’s parenting skills are terrible. That aside, he was OK, but didn’t really get the standing Os.
    Jordan – I like that he put his on spin on the song in certain places, so it wasn’t just a karaoke cover. Interesting tone, too. The fact he doesn’t look the way he sounds could be a plus for him.

  27. jamezd50 says:

    You may be underestimating Barrett’s range, depth, and staying power. Multi-layered voice…
    Jordan on Sia (get that visual) was spectacular, but can he maintain that level?
    My dark horse is Ivonne. Incredibly sophisticated sound for such a young person…
    Looks and sounds like a season with promise…
    Who can meet those very lofty expectations?

  28. HTGR says:

    Gonna have to go with Jordan Smith too. Although again definitely others were very good too.
    Man this is boring haha I basically agree with both Michael and the crowd for #1 more or less every time the whole season so far. I think one my #1 was everyone else’s #2. Horrible that!!! Gosh darnit! hah.
    Maybe it means I’ll be happy with the voting at the end. nah.
    Pretty nice start, especially the first couple nights. A nice bunch spread across the teams.

  29. Around fields says:

    Jordan Smith so far winner team Adam

  30. Around fields says:

    Good looks, cute kids, but Jordan’s voice got it!

  31. TeeOna says:

    They lost a lot of good singers this year in the knockout rounds.
    The coaches are too busy trying to find “different” instead of paying attention to good singers. Different isn’t always good.

  32. Victoria says:

    Jordon is the best on the voice He is the voice and if you guys can’t see it then yall need new ears and a new heart. Im goin keep praying for yall