It’s only been since May when season 16 of NBC’s The Voice wrapped, but for die-hard fans of the show, that’s a long four months. However, the wait is officially over! Coaches Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who stepped in after Adam Levine resigned, have resumed their spot in those crazy, spinning red chairs and host Carson Daly has stepped in to wrangle this rock-and-roll rodeo.
It seems that in every season the talent gets better and better, and in the debut episode for season 17, the elevation continues.
Some of the changes with this season include more glimpses behind-the-scenes and the fun banter between the coaches has become even sassier with the relationship between Gwen and Blake.
And here’s a recap of the first night of performances:
KATIE KADAN (38), Chicago, Illinois – “Baby, I Love You” by Aretha Franklin
- Katie accompanied herself on the piano. Has only been a musician for eight years. Said she was afraid to perform because “I was a chubby chick living in a skinny girl’s world.”
- CHAIRS: John turned first, then Blake, then Kelly (blocked by Blake) and Gwen.
- Kelly rushed the stage to hug Katie and Katie told her that she would have been her pick.
- KELLY: “I was already 100-percent in when I was turned around listening to you.” Then told Blake, “I am going to take you down, Shelton.”
- GWEN: “The people that actually rise to the top, it’s really personality and originality that people are attracted to.”
- Picked: TEAM LEGEND – “As soon as she started singing, it was just power.”
JAKE HALDENVANG (24), Charlotte, North Carolina – “Wish I Knew You” by The Revivalists
- Started a band with his dad in middle school and played all over the country.
- CHAIRS: John, Gwen and Blake turned simultaneously.
- BLAKE: “Thank you for rocking. And if anyone needs someone on their team to rock, it’s this guy right here.”
- JOHN: “Blake has done very well on this show in the past, but he’s never won since I’ve been on the show. I’ve never lost and I’d like to continue this unbeaten streak with you.” (Remember, this only John’s second season)
- Picked: TEAM GWEN – “He has the kind of voice that I love. A lot of style, a lot of character. I feel pretty lucky right now.”
JAY MIAH (30), Tampa, Florida – “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman
- “The Voice, I just love how it’s all-inclusive. They don’t care if you’re gay or straight or big. It’s about music. This platform gives you the opportunity to just be you.” Jay is a drag performer, but did not audition in drag.
- NO CHAIRS – coaches were all stunned to see a man standing there.
- GWEN: “It was so intense. Your voice is so passionate. I can hear you in the way that you sing and I’m sorry I didn’t turn around.
- KELLY: “It was really, really good, the only thing is, I couldn’t tell if it was nerves or you were just out of breath, but I don’t know what you want to do in life, but you were born for Broadway.”
- JOHN: “The blind audition is what makes this show special and Jay is an example of that, but it just wasn’t enough all together.”
- Coaches encouraged him to come back.
BRENNAN LASSITER (20), Dacusville, South Carolina – “You Are My Sunshine” by Jimmie Davis
- FOUR CHAIR TURN: Blake, then Kelly, Gwen and John. Kelly: “I should have blocked!”
- KELLY: “All I’m saying is give us a chance. This is me begging for the three of us. What is your name and are you excited to wear my jacket?”
- GWEN: “I feel sorry for Kelly, me and John because Blake Shelton obviously is the best country singer in the whole world, but…I have a lot to offer for a young girl. It doesn’t matter what genre it is.”
- KELLY: “I’m just defeated already. She’s gonna pick Blake.”
- JOHN: “All of us here were moved because you have so much power and beauty in your voice. I didn’t have to grow up listening to country music to know that, I felt it. And I would love to help you reach your full potential.”
- BLAKE: “These people know as much about country music as I know about getting a pap smear. Country music is what I live and breathe.”
- Picked: TEAM KELLY
ROSE SHORT (34), Killeen, Texas – “Preach” by John Legend
- Former corrections officer
- CHAIRS: Kelly (told Blake, “Don’t you turn!”), Gwen
- GWEN: “Your voice is ridiculous. Honestly, there’s a lot of talented people that come through that have spectacular voices, but the way that you start so low and controlled and giving us a little bit at a time of your talent is so tasteful…I would probably learn a lot from you.”
- KELLY: “I cannot see a world where people don’t turn around when you sing…you should be in the finalé, you could win this show.”
- Picked: TEAM GWEN
WILL BREMAN (25), Santa Barbara, California – “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls
- Has Asperger’s syndrome, “I got told by some people I wouldn’t amount to much. Music became my biggest solace and helped me express my feelings in a way that would not come naturally to me.”
- CHAIRS: John, Gwen
- GWEN: “Technically, you have this crazy voice that can do all these crazy runs, but you have so much character as well, which is really rare. Plus, I got to see you perform and you’re so into it. I would love to be your coach.”
- JOHN: “You came here and did a super inventive version of a pop song that everyone has heard. It was so artistic. I was the first one to turn around because I heard the quality of your voice.” (John jumped up and sang with him)
- Picked: TEAM LEGEND
ALEX GUTHRIE (25), Marietta, Georgia – “Love and Happiness” by Al Green
- Sang in an insurance commercial with Jennifer Hudson
- CHAIRS: Kelly and Gwen
- GWEN: “I feel like me and Kelly, we have so many similarities, not in our voice, obviously. You have this crazy, ridiculous voice. But I know how to work with someone like you because you’re trying to take the things you love and cross-pollenate it.”
- KELLY: “The fact that it was kind of jam session is my favorite part because what you want to do on a show like this is build. You don’t want to blow it all on the first thing.”
- Picked: TEAM KELLY
KAT HAMMOCK (18), Encinitas, California – “Vienna” by Billy Joel
- CHAIRS: Blake, Gwen
- GWEN: “I was just saying that what I want next is a little princess girl that sings beautiful that would be my little girl.”
- KELLY: “No joke, she was saying that!”
- BLAKE: “I don’t have cool jackets, I don’t have cool swag to hand out like the girls have, but I did bring these (camo hip waders).”
- Picked: TEAM BLAKE “I feel like she has the talent and charisma to make it to the finale.”
TIMMY HOOD (19), Lenox Township, Michigan – “Make It Rain” by Foy Vance
- The audition is only his second time to perform.
- His brother, a soldier deployed in Afghanistan, surprised him at the auditions.
- NO CHAIRS
- JOHN: “You just need more experience. Performing live is not easy. For your second performance, you did it in front of some blank chairs and a bunch of people on television.”
- GWEN: “You can come back!”
CJ WASHINGTON (29), Sacramento, California – “Tired of Being Alone” by Al Green
- NO CHAIRS
- GWEN: “I think what I did like about the performance was coming out here and trying to get everyone into it because it takes confidence.”
- JOHN: “It’s clear you’re a very good singer, but it didn’t feel like you were connected to it at all. That’s fixable. Figure out the songs that express who you are as a vocalist and an artist and then perform those songs.”
- BLAKE: “When you spend too much time trying to get the crowd into it, you’ve got to realize, we’re only hearing this and so maybe don’t worry about, ‘Y’all come on.’ Lay down the most solid vocal you can.”
- KELLY: “Mom and Dad are fighting!”
MARINA CHELLO (37), Soviet Union/Plainview, New York – “Walk Me Home” by Pink
- Moved to the U.S. at age 11. Music helped her learn English.
- CHAIRS: Blake, Kelly
- GWEN: “I didn’t turn because it was obviously such a Kelly lane.”
- BLAKE: “The one thing that I was drawn to is how powerful your voice is and how connected you are to the lyric.”
- KELLY: “I love your voice. I love that you chose something soulful and pop and rock at the same time.”
- Picked: TEAM BLAKE
KYNDAL INSKEEP (22), Nashville, Tennessee – “Never Been to Spain” by Three Dog Night”
- Nanny by day, songwriter by night
- CHAIRS: Gwen (blocked Blake), Blake, Kelly
- JOHN: “You’re personally responsible for breaking up one of America’s favorite couples.”
- GWEN: “I think my favorite thing about your voice is your vibrato and the style. It’s very distinctive…You don’t sound like anybody, you sound like you.”
- KELLY: “Your vibe is kind of like a little rock, a little soul, a little country…I think you stand out among all the people we’ve heard this far.”
- Picked: TEAM GWEN
The second round of Blind Auditions takes place September 24.