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‘The Voice’ Recap: James Wolpert, Tessanne Chin Shine During First Batch of Live Rounds

NBC

Tonight’s episode of ‘The Voice‘ marked the first ep of the live rounds, where the audience got the chance to weigh in and cast their vote for their favorite singer.

The show opened with a performance of ‘How I Feel’ by Flo Rida, featuring ‘The Voice’ coach Christina Aguilera who pranced around the stage in not much more than her skivvies, and looked pretty awesome doing it.

Up first: Shelby Z from Team Blake. In her voice-over, she said that she’s grateful the auditions were blind, as she’s used to being judged on her physique. Personally, we think Shelby always looks fierce, with a powerful voice to match.

Blake chose ‘Fancy’ by Reba McEntire for Shelby to sing for her first live performance. “You gotta do Reba proud. No pressure,” said Blake during his coaching session. In other words, lots of pressure. Shelby had no problem exceeding these high expectations, and the judges raved about her singing.

Carson Daly then said, “Thanks for dressing up tonight” to Blake, who was wearing casual jeans and a plaid shirt. Awkward! And speaking of outfit choices – Cee Lo Green was wearing some sort of amazing bedazzled black velvet getup and Adam Levine was channeling Don Draper with his grey suit and majorly slicked hair. Apparently it was still Halloween on the set.

Next was James Wolpert from Team Adam, who talked about dropping out of Carnegie Mellon University to work at the Apple store because he is a “geek.” Hmmm. Not sure that is the best life strategy, but hey, at least he’s following his heart!

James sang a sweet version of ‘A Case of You’ by Joni Mitchell, and he completely crushed the song, with Adam lovingly looking on, truly a proud Papa Bear. The judges were unanimous, showering James with compliments. “You can’t be a geek and be that awesome,” Blake said. What is with the geek hate, Blake? Perhaps he is still feeling slighted from Carson’s comment about his attire. Fair enough.

Nic Hawk took the stage for a rendition of ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. During his coaching session, Blake said, “We’re going to try to get Miley to come in and twerk on you.” Will we ever be able to escape the Miley Cyrus/Blurred Lines twerking scandal? The answer is no. No we won’t.

Although Nic is extremely likeable due to his bubbly personality and ability to engage the audience, his vocal chops are not up to the level of his fellow Voice pals. It will be interesting to see if America chooses to keep him on, when there is so much other talent to contend with. The coaches commended his entertainment skills (“You are so fun to watch”) while skillfully avoiding the topic of discussing his actual vocal performance.

Next, it was Louisiana boy Ray Boudreaux’s turn from Team Blake, who sang ‘Home’ by Marc Broussard. Blake said this is going to be the performance of the night. Those are some mighty big words, Mr. Shelton.

Unfortunately, Blake’s prediction didn’t really turn out to be true, with Ray seeming as though he was struggling to hit some of those high notes. Christina said she loved the performance, and Cee Lo and Adam echoed her approval. Coach Blake was smitten as well, again showing us that ‘The Voice’ is more about positive affirmation than real critique.

Next, Team Blake got another shot with Austin Jenckes. Blake chose ‘She Talks to Angels’ by The Black Crowes. Austin talked about his mom, and called her his “rock.” Aww. Austin accompanied himself on the acoustic guitar for his performance, showing us he can multitask with the best of them. With his raspy, soulful voice, Austin gave a great performance, definitely one of the best so far this evening and the coaches, of course, agreed.

Finally we go back to Team Adam, with Grey (no last name. Very hip). Adam chose Paramore’s tune ‘Still Into You,’ and Grey performed with a full band and some very tight leather pants, channeling her inner rockstar. Typically a strong vocalist, Grey missed several notes and suffersed from a few unfortunate voice crackles. Poor Grey. Despite an outpouring on Twitter of negative reactions to Grey’s performance, the judges only had kind things to say.

Will Champlin was next for Team Adam, singing his own arrangement of ‘Secrets’ by OneRepublic, accompanying himself on the piano. Christina praised him for hitting the high notes, and everyone agreed he did a great job. Well done, Will!

Finally, it was Preston Pohl’s turn, again for Team Adam. Preston talked about his father who was diagnosed with cancer and is now cancer-free, and was there to hear him sing. Cue the tears and warm fuzzy feelings. Preston sang ‘Nothin’ On You’ by B.O.B featuring Bruno Mars, where he was tasked with rapping in addition to singing. Preston has a naturally raspy, soulful voice and the song selection was a bit odd, but overall he did a good job with his performance. “That was so good, man,” Blake said. “That was studly. Just studly.” Oh Blake. We love you.

Last from Team Blake was Cole Vosbury, aka Awesome Beard. Cole is one of our favorites and based on his comfy spot on the iTunes charts, it seems we’re not alone in our love for him. Cole sang ‘Maggie May’ by Rod Stewart and nailed it, by just being his awesome, talented, bearded self. This guy oozes raw talent. And hair. Lots of hair. The coaches all lamented their misfortune at not having Cole on their teams, as they should.

Finishing the night was Adam Levine’s last team member, Tessanne Chin, singing ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ by Jimmy Cliff, a nod to Tessanne’s Jamaican heritage. There is no denying that Tessanne is a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. Adam Levine gave her a standing ovation, showing perhaps a bit of favoritism to his star pupil. Cee Lo remarked, “You make me feel things.” And with those shining words, the first night of live rounds on The Voice is complete!

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