NBC’s ‘The Voice’ review: Judith Hill, Danielle Bradbery, Mark Andrew top premiere

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The VoiceYou’ve waited for it for quite a while now, and on Monday night, it was finally here: the season 4 premiere of “The Voice.” It was a welcome return to what is genuinely becoming the best singing competition on TV. We like that the coaches actually get along with each other, that there are no terrible singers thrown in there for people to make fun of, and there are some very good singers. Were there a few too many sob stories? Sure, but aren’t there always on these sort of shows?

The biggest thing we got out of this episode is that while we love us some Cee Lo Green, Usher and Shakira are both worthy additions as new coaches. Neither takes themselves too seriously, and they each did sell themselves well to the singers as worthy of being picked. As for the returning coaches, let’s just say that everyone loves Blake Shelton. Why not? The dude has won twice, so he’s of course the man that everyone wants.

The Morgan Twins – This is an interesting twist; we’ve seen duos on the show before, but never have we actually seen twins actually perform on the show. With that being said, were the buzzes a little early? There wasn’t really anything about this take on Alicia Keys’ “Fallin'” that was particularly memorable musically. What was not a surprise? To see this as Blake Shelton’s first act of the night, since he is probably going to pick plenty of artists all season thanks to his winning status.

Jess Kellner – It’s one of those quirky auditions! We didn’t really care for the way Jess phrased some of her notes, but some of these polarizing sings have done well on “The Voice” over the years. This was our first major battle of the newbies, with Shakira and Usher battling it out alone, and with Usher taking her home.

Mark Andrew – A major sad story here about losing two of his band members over the course of the past few years. Vocally, what we really liked about this is that Mark really didn’t force anything here in order to pretend like he was anything more than who he was; it was subtle, and that’s important in a genre where EVERYONE over-sings. We thought that guy had Adam written all over him, but instead, he ended up making his wife happy and picking Shakira.

Janetza Miranda – She loves Shakira, so you knew that this would be who Janetza would pick if she turned around … right? Here’s what we don’t get about this: you claim that you are a Latin artist, and then you sing a rock version of a club song. Go Latin! She didn’t get a chair to turn around, and this was probably why.

Danielle Bradbery – Wait, Danielle’s sob story is that she had crooked teeth as a kid? For this show, that’s a little weak. We just wish that these shows would allow these contestants to have a little bit more fun! She needs to work on her pronunciation, but we like that she had a nice stage presence, and she didn’t try to make Taylor Swift’s “Mean” into anything other than what it was. As for a coach, she’s a country singer … so she did the smart move for her career (and the boring thing for us) and chose Blake.

Vedo – It was apparent, just like with Danielle, that Vedo was really just gunning for Usher from the get-go. Both have similar styles, and the dude even performed a Justin Bieber song in “Boyfriend.” He’s got some serious promise here, mostly in that we sense some artistry, drive, and a work ethic that he needs to go far.

Christian Porter – Go listen to James Arthur or CeCe Frey and ask if this arrangement of “Sexy and I Know It” is something completely original. With that being said, he really tried to make the “wiggle wiggle” part somewhat cool, and his voice is actually similar in some ways to the aforementioned James. We really like Christian, and we have a feeling that Blake does, too as his coach.

Leah Lewis – First things first, we really don’t like hearing a 15-year old say that they want to take care of their family. It’s too much pressure for someone their age, when they should just be having fun. The truth is that she really does need a little bit more time to grow and mature at this: there’s something there, but she is just not ready for this show just yet.

Kris Thomas – Well, this was a little different. Rather than a sad story, this was more of a second chance story of a guy who had already had a single, but lost that and also struggled with alcoholism. If he can stay on the straight and narrow, this guy has a pretty great, Bruno Mars-like voice. Plus, he has Shakira on his side now as a coach!

James Irwin – This was the only story during the episodes that we legitimately were moved by. James really seemed genuine talking about the twins that he and his wife lost, and we felt very bad for him to see nobody turn around for him. The moment that we heard the voice break, we knew that it was over for him.

Judith Hill – Judith closed out the show, and she is someone with plenty of music experience already, having actually performed at Michael Jackson’s funeral (which Usher attended). She has an absolutely knockout voice, and almost from the get-go you have to think that she could be a favorite to go far this season with the right songs and the right support. So who is her coach? She really had her pick, and she ended up taking Adam.

For the record, we really liked how she explained her not getting a major career after performing at the Jackson funeral, saying that she didn’t want to be seen as someone taking advantage of that.

What did you think about “The Voice” premiere: did you like the new coaching panel, and who was your favorite singer from the blind auditions? Be sure to share some of your thoughts below, and you can also read what Usher had to say about the show prior to the premiere over at the link here.

Photo: NBC

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