Shakira & Usher return to “The Voice”

Superstar coaches Usher and Shakira returned to the red coaches' chairs on "The Voice: Season Six" premiere. (Photo property of NBC)

Superstar coaches Usher and Shakira returned to the red coaches’ chairs on “The Voice: Season Six” premiere. (Photo property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

Two familiar faces made their return to The Voice!

Stalwart coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton welcomed Shakira and Usher to the show as they began their search for the best undiscovered “voice” in the country.

Did they find artists that could join Dia Frampton, Chris Mann, Cassadee Pope, the Swon Brothers and recent winner, Tessanne Chin, in the Voice Hall of Fame?  Read on to find out…

Before the coaches got down to business, the Season Six quartet tackled a medley of their hits. It was fantastic to hear Blake cover “Whenever, Wherever” while Shakira infused some Latin flair to “Boys Around Here” and it was amazing to see Adam Levine hit all the high notes of “Without You.”

Up first to face the judges were 19-year-old YouTube sensation Christina Grimmie. With over 2,000,000 subscribers…Christina Grimmie already knows how the power of the Internet can change people’s lives. Her cover of “Wrecking Ball” was outstanding and it was better than both Ms. Cyrus’s and Matthew Schuler’s cover.  She caught the attention of all four coaches and scored the first vocal touchdown of the season! Adam loved her passion and engagement while Usher wanted to win the entire season with her. However, she decided to enlist with Team Adam.

After Adam met the Grimmie Family, he went back to his chair to wait for the next artist.  T.J. Wilkins arrived at the show courtesy of longtime host Carson Daly.  The L.A. native decided to surprise everyone with his interpretation of Sir Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets.” His smooth and velvety take of the song caught the attention of Blake, Usher and Adam. He took the audience to church and I loved listening to his falsetto.  Adam liked the fact that he had a unique flair to the song and Blake added that he respected T.J.’s falsetto.  Shakria advised T.J. to be “adventurous” and pick Blake.  In the end, he decided against her advice and picked Usher!

29-year-old Kristen Merlin wanted to bring music to her audiences. The country music artist played with Sugarland in Vegas and since then, the openly gay artist performed four to six shows a week.  Her cover of “Something More” showed her spunkiness and a Jennifer Nettles-like vocal vibe that caught the attention of Adam and Shakira.  Despite, Adam’s attempts to woo her…Shakira’s promise of getting Miranda Lambert to assist her made Kristen enlist in Team Shakira.

Up next to face the coaches was 45-year-old church leader Biff Gore. The Denver, Colorado native brought his hero, his brother, who saved him from the Gulf War to the Blinds.  His family could not make it because his wife was expecting his sixth child.  Before Biff went on stage, his children and wife surprised him with a good luck video.  While I like Biff’s vocals and it caught the attention of all four coaches, I thought that his cover was far less superior to Adam Lambert, Joshua Ledet and Will Champlin’s performances. Before the break, his brother predicted that Biff would choose Blake…he predicted incorrectly as Biff went to Usher!

The duos are back! Miranda Dunn and Chris Hawkes’ act (Dunn and Hawkes) hoped to follow both the Swon Brothers and Midas Whale in getting a chair turned.  The two Austin, Texas singer-songwriters brilliantly tackled “I’ve Just Seen a Face” that showcased incredible harmony and caught the attention of both Adam and Shakira. Adam was happy that the duo brought him back to his roots and declared their performance…the best performance he has ever seen.  They also left Shakira stated that they would go “all the way to the top!”  Both Blake and Usher endorsed Shakira but the audience chanted “Adam!” and they said his name.  (I just hope they don’t suffer the same fate as Midas Whale!)

Rocker Jeremy Briggs picked up his first electric guitar when he was 12-years-old. The Sacramento native balanced working at the CUIAS Office and working with his band at clubs in his hometown.  However, he really wanted to be a full-time musician. When he sang “Bad Company,” I loved hearing the edge in his voice and Jeremy was the first person in this season to give me chills.  Despite Blake pulling out every trick in the book, Jeremy chose Team Shakira.

Over the past five seasons, viewers have seen previous eliminated acts like Daniel Rosa, Garrett Gardner and Michelle Chamuel return in style and conquer the Blind Auditions.  Texas native Jake Worthington hoped that the coaches recognized that he grew as an artist. I loved the a cappella start and his breath control. Both Voice veterans (Blake and Adam) beamed with pride as Jake sang “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Watching Adam and Blake battle it out was watching an intense Ping Pong tournament and Blake edged out as the victor as Jake became the first member of Team Blake.

The last performer to face the coaches tonight was a familiar face to NBC viewers: America’s Got Talent: Season Seven alum Bria Kelly.

In addition to surviving Howard, Howie and Sharon, she also opened for Miranda Lambert.  Both of her parents are very active parents as her mom taught her how to sing and her dad is the “Swiss Army Knife” of band managers. Outside of Kim Yarbrough’s opening wail, Bria’s astonishing opening notes of “Steamroller Blues” caught my attention right away and her wonderful performance caught the attention of all four coaches!  The winner of the swag bloodbath (and won Bria over) was Usher (who successfully seduced her with his Grammy Award).

Tomorrow night, the coaches continue to search for “The Voice.”

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar