It’s March and it’s time for a new season of The Voice. Let’s not sugarcoat this: NBC is hoping that this new season can take them out of the winter rut that they have dug themselves. After all, it catapulted them from last place during the fall. But Cee-Lo is off trying to create a new series for the network and Christina Aguilera is off doing things with her album, or so I’ve heard. So NBC has tried to recreate that chemistry by replacing them with Usher and Shakira, two musicians who are demographically the same, but that’s about it.

In the opening number, Blake, Adam, Usher, and Shakira all tried to pretend they’re the best of friends. They nuzzled backs and shared sassy smirks with one another, but don’t try to play us for a fool, NBC. They even tried to subliminally make us think they’re not thinking that by having them fill opposite chairs. Oh, okay. We know something’s missing. Shakira keeps saying words like “deposit” and “input” and “transmit” and such. Usher is quite literally strewn on his chair like he’s relaxing to a movie. They try to poke fun of each other but even then, it’s unnatural. Shakira has resulted to pointing out how all of the guys try to sell themselves and even Usher was called out for flirting with a female contestant, otherwise known as trademark responses by both Christina and Cee-Lo respectively.

Overall, it was an okay night, and I definitely feel like the two hours took longer than they previously have felt. How much of that was the coaches or the contestants is yet to be seen, but I don’t think there was any damage done. We got a couple of solid performers during this episode, and truly that’s all that matters. Though I do miss the old dynamic, I’m kind of already liking this new one. Shakira was definitely likable, and the same could be said for Usher. And as if you needed reinforcement, Adam and Blake’s bromance is still strong.

Let’s rundown the contestants. They’re listed below as they in order of performance, but I’ve numbered them as my favorites (1 being my top favorite).

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9. THE MORGAN TWINS – “Fallin'”
It’s never before seen on The Voice before: two people who look alike. The Morgan Twins do everything the same: they look the same, they dress the same, they talk the same, they both want Usher to pick them. First off, they should have known better: duos never last. But who cares because they begin to open their mouths and its amazing, though only technically amazing. Other than that… Team Blake.

6. JESS KELNER – “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
She sounds better than The Morgan Twins, only because she has a lot more emotion, but sometimes overly so. At points, I felt like she was slurring her words and I could hardly understand what she was saying. I’m okay with that, though. Team Usher.

4. MARK ANDREW – “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
Mark has this certain twang that I usually love, and this was no exception. I feel as though his voice may get a bit lost in the shuffle, however, and I definitely don’t mark this performance was memorable. Team Shakira.

11. JANETZA MIRANDA – “Titanium”
She birdcalls. She dances bachata. She’s from Jersey! Unfortunately, she suffers from something Mark Andrew does too, which is what I call “Uh-uh-uh Syndrome.” That’s not the problem however; in this instance, I have to agree with the judges: Janetza was close, but not close enough.

Danielle is nice, but I sort of feel that “Mean” was exactly the song that I was expecting her to sing and then was a bit disappointed when she did, you know? I shouldn’t fault her for being particularly safe during the auditions, though. Team Blake.

8. VEDO – “Boyfriend”
Oh, my god. That was the first thing I said when heard the first few beats playing. Of course, Vedo sings it much more differently than The Biebs, but personally he sounds a bit generic. Doesn’t matter, because I’m not a coach. Team Usher.

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1. CHRISTIAN PORTER – “Sexy and I Know It”
From the first few notes, already my favorite of the night. Christian’s got a fantastic, unique voice… especially one you wouldn’t guess right from hearing him speak (about not speaking). On top of that, he’s got a great knack for arrangement, as shown by his unique cover of “Sexy and I Know It.” Update: the arrangement actually belongs to another artist. I’m surprised it took as long as it did for the coaches to turn around. Team Blake.

At this point we got a flash of contestants who didn’t make it, some of whom sounded way too close to their artists… and other who definitely did not deserve a spot.

3. LEAH LEWIS – “Blown Away”
Apparently, The Voice waited until the second hour to get to the more memorable contestants. Also, apparently, the coaches severely disagree with me. But at the young age of 15, Leah could be a special sort of powerhouse with a bit of mentoring from these four singers. I think this was a missed opportunity.

5. KRIS THOMAS – “Saving All My Love For You”
I know, I know, Kris was kind of perfect. But, like many a-Voice winners, I won’t ever buy a record from Kris. That said, I’ll be enjoying his live performances. Team Shakira.

10. JAMES IRWIN – “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”
Ugh, this one is bittersweet. He started out so promising that I was going to make him my number two, but somewhere after the beginning he sort of squandered it. I hope he works on it and tries again.

2. JUDITH HILL – “What a Girl Wants”
Judith was poised to tour with Michael Jackson, but decided not to take offers from the commotion that was caused from his passing. Morally correct, sure; unfortunately, she missed some huge oppuritunities, but now she’s on The Voice — and thank goodness she is. She’s definitely a powerhouse, but not as imposing as previous contestants. She has a big, but approachable voice. I like it. Team Adam.

Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.