NBC’s The Voice returned last night with the original four coaches, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton, seated in their rightful red spinning chairs. I must admit, it felt good to have the old team back together again. That’s not to say I disliked having Usher and Shakira as judges last season. In fact, I really enjoyed having Usher around to look at and also to offer inspirational musings like “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But in my heart I knew he was always just a seat warmer for Cee Lo and the assorted outfits and animals he brings to set.
As I sat through last night’s two hours of blind auditions, I listened as contestant after contestant waxed poetic about how The Voice is awesome because it’s not like those other superficial singing contests that only care about flash and looks; all a contestant needs to win is a fantastic set of pipes. Well, not to be buzzkill, but I must politely disagree. Go ahead and look up the winners of the last four seasons on Google. You’ll find that they’re all young, thin, attractive people. Sure, they’re talented singers, but really, the winners of The Voice don’t look any different than the winners of shows like American Idol or The X Factor.
That said, The Voice does start out much fairer than those other shows. By using a blind audition system, where judges pick singers based on what they hear and not what they see, singers of all styles and ages really do get a fair shake at getting picked for the show.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any tricks the contestants can use to land a spot on the team of their dream celebrity coach. Just what tricks am I speaking of, you say? Why, I’m glad you asked. Here’s my fool proof method for getting each judge to turn his or her chair around.
The recipe for getting Blake Shelton to turn his chair around is really quite simple: Sing a country song. The three-time defending champ is definitely a guy who likes to stick with what he knows, and hey, why mess with a winning formula? That’s not to say that Blake will turn around for every country crooner who walks on stage; with three wins under his belt, he can afford to be selective.
Don’t want to sing country but still want Blake Shelton as a coach? He has also been known to turn around for singer-songwriter types and anyone whom he thinks might have a slight Southern twang. Still, singing country music is definitely your best shot at getting him to turn his chair, just ask Shelby Z., Team Blake’s first member this season.
Unlike Blake, I feel as if Xtina deliberately does not push her button for singers who are clearly catering to her. Time and time again I’ve watched Christina pass on belting females who seem to be perfect fits for Team Christina. Personally, I think she judges the female singers much more harshly than she does the males, but I can’t say that I blame her. Because Christina Aguilera is kind of one of the most amazing vocalists in the world, she’s much better than most of the girls who try to sing like her. So why would she be impressed by singers who are less talented versions of herself?
While she usually picks a few super talented belters for her team, Christina mostly lands a lot of charismatic, good looking guys. I’m not quite sure how she’s able to pull it off, since these are blind auditions and all, but the hot ones always seem to find their way to her team. For example, Matthew Schuler. Heyyy, Matthew. How you doing?
Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green is The Voice‘s resident quirky coach. Whenever a singer comes on that gets the coaches smiling and tapping their toes but wondering what the hell they’d do with a voice like that, all heads turn to Cee Lo. And when they turned that direction last night, they likely noticed that Mr. Green is sporting an extensive new head tattoo. I don’t know if it’s real or not, but it’s definitely a look that solidifies his image as a guy who goes against the grain and is happy to take fellow non-grain-following singers with him.
But don’t be fooled by his flair for the funky. Cee Lo only picks performers who have enough vocal prowess to pull off a unique sound. Take Caroline Pannell, aka the happiest, most adorable person to ever be on a reality show.
Even though all of coaches are talented and creative, somehow Adam Levine has ended up as the coach for “artists,” as opposed to just singers. I think it must be his too cool for school hipster vibe that does it. He and Cee Lo actually overlap a bit in their artist preferences, but while singers who land on Team Cee Lo get the quirky label, those on Team Adam are more likely to be referred to as innovative artists. I don’t know any other way to explain it. I think it must be a hipster thing that I only sort of understand.
Adam’s label as the coach for artists also helps him score some real powerhouse vocalists looking for a coach to help them celebrate their craft. Last night, he was lucky enough to get uber-talented R&B singer Donna Allen. At 54 years old, Donna’s age makes her a great underdog story, and her voice makes me hope she’ll be around for a long time this season.