Christina Aguilera was a ball of energy backstage Tuesday (June 7) when “The Voice” wrapped its first live show, as the singer shared her thoughts on her team’s performance with a crammed line of journalists.
“Tonight I saw enormous growth,” Aguilera told Billboard.com. “My favorite moments have been in spending quality time with my team. To see every one of them have that desire and hunger, to get in the position to be the best — I loved that they took in every note that I gave them…it was so exciting to me to see them be fighters.”
Aguilera’s team took on Blake Shelton’s, the first stage of a round where 16 contestants will be whittled down down to eight by opening the voting to viewers. The top vote-getter on each team will stay, as will one additional singer chosen by the coaches. Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine’s teams will face off on next week’s two-hour show.
However, all four superstar judges took the “Voice” stage to perform a medley of Queen hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” Watch below.
What audiences at home saw was a string of performances that were widely lauded by the coaches, and only one that was dinged. Here’s an assessment of how each artist came off from inside the sweat-inducingly warm soundstage.
1) Raquel Castro
Song: Ke$ha, “Blow”
Judgment: A highly choreographed presentation that was rich in attitude drew accolades from all four coaches. As a perky teenager, she should get a boatload of votes from teens who identify with her and make it to the next round.
2) Beverly McClellan
Song: Melissa Etheridge, “I’m the Only One”
Judgment: Beverly’s powerful vocal chops earned her props from the coaches with Levine reacting to the smack Aguilera was delivering by saying, “You’re so good I shit myself.” But performing the song exactly like Etheridge would put it more in line for a karaoke championship than the semi-finals of a TV competition.
3) Lily Elise
Song: Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”
Judgment: The coaches tried to be polite by assigning blame to an army of dancers. There was no denying it: A truly mediocre performance that started off very rough. She’s a goner.
4) Frenchie Davis
Song: David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland, “When Love Takes Over”
Judgment: Frenchie was an early favorite when she was on “American Idol” and she is a force to be reckoned with here. Levine told her, “You made me love that song,” while Green praised her seasoned stage presence and Shelton marveled at her combination of power and control. She has “the voice,” but will the public vote strictly for vocal ability?
5) Jared Blake
Song: Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody”
Judgment: Shelton wondered if the shaved-head father of six was more country or rock-leaning, and at the end of Jared’s performance, it was determined that he’s a rock star. Our take: he strikes rock-star poses, but in a way that does not feel natural and his appeal may be too much of a niche. End of the line.
6) Dia Frampton
Song: Kanye West, “Heartless”
Judgment: The coaches were floored by her piano-ballad version of this song, with Green promising to phone West to get him to tune in, and Levine calling it the “most unique, refreshing” performance yet on the show. It was great and personal, but may be too subtle for some. For artistry’s sake, she deserves to move forward.
Song: Jessie J, “Price Tag”
Judgment: Jessie J’s bouncy ditty forced Xenia to come out of her shell, which she did — a little. Shelton was so proud that he hugged her and declared, “America is watching a star being born.” The song brought out some interesting tonal qualities in Xenia’s voice, but she lacks the wow factor that every member of Aguilera team possesses.
8) Patrick Thomas
Song: Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance”
Judgment: Pick your reason to find him adorable: He’s singing a song for his sister, or he’s so polite that he actually shies away from Xtina’s flirtatious praise. His voice is pretty good, and Shelton decided Thomas looked classy and made “country music proud.” Paging Scotty McCreery. Your passenger is waiting.
6 THINGS YOU DIDN’T SEE ON TV
Mark Burnett and “The Voice” producers did not leave much to chance for their first live episode, rehearsing and then taping the first segment with the audience in place a good half-hour before the go time of 6 p.m. PT. (A similar tactic was taken this year on “American Idol”). From then on it was smooth sailing, including the judges’ performance of a Queen Medley (“Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.” A few amusing moments that didn’t make it on air:
1) The warm-up comedian razzed Shelton about his lack of conjugal visits with his new wife Miranda Lambert. “What kind of details do you want about my marriage?” Shelton responded, which only added fuel to the fire. The comic speculated Shelton’s tweets sound like something a drunkard would type. “Your tweets should be sponsored by Budweiser,” he cracked.
2) Hair and makeup artists assist talent during every break in every live show. At “The Voice,” though, one assistant brings out a fan to cool off Cee Lo’s dome.
3) Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine’s teams were seated near the ramp that singers used to exit the stage. Best dressed was Nakia in a black suit with matching pink tie, pocket square and Converse high tops.
4) The difference between being a female and a male artist? Aguilera ripped off her jacket and ran — fast — backstage to change into a gown for her team’s rendition of “Lady Marmalade.” To prepare for his team’s performance of “This Love,” Shelton stood up and tucked in his shirt tail. Watch both performances below.
5) Shelton taped a short video, the contents of which will be revealed later this week. Audio was cut off inside the soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot. (Trivia buffs: “The Voice” is being shot in a soundstage that was used for “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.”)
6) Unlike “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daley stays onstage during breaks and interacts with producers and coaches. He also tends to make comments about each performer as he solicits comments from the coaches. We asked him about it backstage and he explained, “I’m playing traffic cop at that point. I know the judges well and I know their tastes in music, so I watch how they respond and then act as a liaison to get good comments out of them.”