Nick Jonas returns and quickly helps Kelly Clarkson and John Legend gang up on Blake Shelton on a night that included two epic blocks ... and one epic mullet!
Nick Jonas replaces Gwen Stefani for the latest season of “The Voice,” and it’s already making things a lot harder for Blake Shelton.
Let’s face it, Gwen’s engaged to the guy so she’s not going to be too harsh. Nick was more than happy to team up with Kelly Clarkson and John Legend to gang up on and ruthlessly tease and pick on the king of this show.
Especially considering that one of Blake’s former bandmates competed on the show and Blake had no idea who it was … even after he’d turned around and the guy pointed at him with a big smile. But even that wasn’t Blake’s most egregious offense on the night.
You’d think if you’ve got an EGOT in your midst, you’d at least take the time to know some of his work. In particular, you might be familiar enough with the song that got him an Oscar (along with a Golden Globe and a Grammy) to recognize it when you heard it.
You might. But Blake clearly wasn’t. And that wasn’t even the night’s most hilarious moment, as these coaches may be having more fun this season already than they’ve had in several of them.
But it’s not all about the coaches. We also saw some incredible talent, with an authentic country vocalist rocking an authentic country mullet, a rocker chick who might just be cooler than anyone else on the show, and a viral kid sensation grown up into a bona fide singing powerhouse.
But we also know it’s a little about the coaches, so stick around for some of their best banter moments after we break down the night’s performances. And thanks to Covid, they had new gifts to give out this time around (so it was goodbye to John's creepy glove).
Kelly is still handing out jackets, but Blake now has terrible bobbleheads of himself while Nick is offering his contestants their very own journal for taking "Nick's Notes." John, meanwhile, is singing his an original impromptu song on the spot ... and damn if it's not catchy!
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton.
And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are, and then see how well they do as the season progresses.
(“Don’t Worry Be Happy,” Bobby McFerrin - 18, Westfield, MA) Music was a way for Madison to communicate without her stutter holding her back. She certainly presented a sweet personality with an unexpected, but joyful, song choice. There’s a gentleness to her voice that was very soothing, but she also struggled to quite nail her pitch consistently throughout. Add to that a general lack of range in the arrangement, and we don’t think she showed enough to the coaches. Still, with a little polish, she could drive a pleasant and pretty unique lane in music.
Result: No chair turns
(“Watermelon Sugar,” Harry Styles - 27, Pasadena, CA) After years of hiding from the spotlight after high school bullying over her size, Christine’s mom encouraged her to pursue this dream. This was her fourth-ever performance, and you could hear it in a hesitancy she carried throughout the performance.
It’s amazing how much she opened up after John turned his chair, as if knowing she was on this show was enough to shake off those nerves. She’s still rough around the edges, not quite hitting cleanly every note she went for, but her weaknesses are eminently coachable. She could show real growth on this journey.
Result: Team Legend (John, Kelly turn)
Devan Blake Jones
(“Hard Place,” H.E.R. - 35, Denver, CO) It took him a bit to grow into the full potential of his voice, and it still felt like he was holding a bit back even after his dream choice, Nick, turned his chair for him. Devan has a good range and a lot of control over his voice, but we just feel like there’s more strength in that tank to really take the track to the next level and make it something that feels like his. There was a waver that felt a bit like nerves, but the tools are there for him to really be impressive if he can harness all that potential and fully command it.
(“Freeway of Love,” Aretha Franklin - 41, Houston, TX) Dana has an incredible wail and hit some incredible notes taking on the Queen of Soul, but there was also a slight inconsistency in her delivery. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but there was something missing. She had us for moments, but not through every moment of this performance.
Finding out the struggles she’s endured, including living out of her vehicle with her two children as a single mom, came as a bit of a surprise because we somehow didn’t feel that pain and the depth of her life. Maybe it’s too polished from her time singing on a ship. She’s got a great big impressive voice, now she just needs to inject more of her heart and soul into it.
Result: Team Nick (John, Nick turn)
(“If the World Was Ending,” JP Saxe f. Julia Michaels - 21, Santa Clarita, CA) ss
Result: Team (x) Madison got an incredible opportunity through a fortuitous series of circumstances that saw her learn Chinese for work purposes with her mother and then upload a popular Chinese song and then get seen by the organizers of a concert headlined by Demi Lovato over there. Boom, Madison opened for Demi Lovato in China one time.
What her song choice lacks in range and dynamism, it makes up for in emotional power if the artist is truly connected to its lyrics. Honestly, we felt that from Madison. She slipped in and out of her head voice effortlessly, and really sold us on the heartache and pain of the track. Maybe it’s because the original is so powerful that she wasn’t able to rise up to it enough for the coaches, but it’s a shame as she really is quite good.
Result: No chair turns
(“Can’t Find My Way Home,” Blind Faith - 45, Nashville, TN) Unbeknownst to the coaches, Pete actually shares a musical connection to Blake, having performed with him. But he put all that on hold to focus on family, and selling golf gear from a makeshift retail store/van. Yeah, it’s actually an impressive setup.
Even more impressive was the surprise upper register Pete performed in. He attacked it with chest voice, offering strength and control and an emotional connection that really resonated. We didn’t love the opening “Oooo,” but he had us from the first actual word. He also got Blake, though his former bandmate didn’t recognize him after 25 years.
(“Don’t Close Your Eyes,” Keith Whitley - 22, Dover, FL) This is true, authentic, born-with-it country, so of course Blake was going to get immediately blocked. We’re not sure about Kenzie trying to bring back the mullet, but there’s no denying that he has a beautifully genuine country spirit about him, and a richness to his tone that almost feels like an ‘80s throwback sound, but with a modern pitch.
Result: Team Kelly (4-chair turn, Kelly blocked Blake)
(“Glory,” Common & John Legend - 22, Peoria, IL) It takes a lot of nerve to come out and sing an anthem like this in front of the guy who wrote and performed it, but Victor has reason to hit the stage with that level of confidence. He absolutely has the voice and the passion to pull off not only the intensity of the song itself, but the passion of it.
His voice was so rich and textured, he probably deserved a four-chair turn … but Kelly knew it was a lost cause once John had turned. It’s such a distinct piece that stayed in one lane throughout, we didn’t get to see as much of what Victor is capable of overall as a vocalist but if he’s that good here, we imagine he’s got the range and diversity to tackle a lot more.
Oh, and we are still dying -- but not at all surprised -- that Blake had no idea that John wrote this song … this Oscar-winning song that everyone in the whole world knows except for Blake. That pretty much shot his chance right there, but this was a no-brainer from the jump.
Result: Team Legend (Blake, John, Nick turn)
(“Electric Feel,” MGMT - 22, Madison, WI) We kind of liked that we couldn’t tell whether this was a pre-puberty voice or post- before the lights came on. Raine has a very cool quality to her voice that sounds both weathered and new at the same time. She was definitely able to put her own stamp on this track, keeping it recognizable but definitely sounding like it was her angst pouring through.
Her overall artistry is the first thing that stands out about her, so finding out she plays multiple instruments and writes all the music for a nine-part band isn’t a huge surprise. She’s got depths to her and music has been how she’s expressed every bit of her, and that showed in even this single performance. She’s a rare and special find that, if handled properly, could really blow people away on this journey.
(“Dancing on My Own,” Robyn - 34, Hartsville, SC) Corey missed out on a chair turn in Season 19, so this was a shot at redemption for him. Boy did he make the right call going with a song he could connect with emotionally, because it got him two chairs immediately, And they were deserved as he had so much pain and emotion, we believed every word.
On top of that, he’s got a beautiful natural gravel in his voice that is so suited to tugging at those heartstrings. It’s how artists like Christ Stapleton can make you start to cry after just one word. Corey has that naturally in his arsenal, so if he sticks with songs he feels a real connection to, he could be a force to be reckoned with on this show.
Results: Team Kelly (John, Kelly turn)
(“Lay Me Down,” Sam Smith - 19, Philadelphia, PA) Cam became a bit of a viral success on line after scoring 8 million views for a Bruno Mars cover when he was young, appearing on “Ellen” at 12 and even meeting the Obamas when he performed for the Easter Egg Roll. He’s already trying to record an album, but still wanted this opportunity (and a chair turn from John).
Cam had an incredible voice pre-puberty, and found a texture just as rich as a young adult. It has an incredible texture to it reminiscent of John, but with more of an ethereal quality. We kind of love that Nick smartly blocked John seconds before John was going to turn. His control is incredible, even if he should push himself even harder at his upper register.
Result: Team Blake (Blake, John, Nick turn, Nick blocked John)
“I want you guys to know this guy has the triple-threat mullet. First of all, he’s got the party in the back, he’s got the shaved sides, but then the rare widow’s peak. The rarest of all mullets. This guy is a unicorn.” --Blake (about Kenzie Wheeler)
“Can I just talk for a second?” --Blake
“Only if it’s helpful to me.” --Kelly
“What if we all only use our blocks for country? That’s the alliance I’m looking for.” --John
“You guys use that psychological trickeration.” --John
“I know you’re probably standing there thinking, ‘Why would I pick Blake Shelton when Nick Jonas is sitting there in a freshly-Windexed jacket.” --Blake (to Cam Anthony)
“How else could he look at himself at every moment?” --John (Nick blocked him)
“That’s my mother’s name, which could be a big moment if Denise and my mom get to celebrate.” --Nick (Cam’s sister’s name is Denise)
“Because people with the same names often get together and celebrate. Hey we’re having a Blake Party. Come on over, Blake!” --Blake
“Kelly started this thing of giving gifts, so I’m giving bobbleheads; a bobblehead of Jonah Hill that I’m telling them is me.” --Blake
“I hope that it’s a theme this season that those two lock horns a lot because NIck’s gonna be real easy for me to beat.” --Blake (about John and Kelly)
“John, I think your performance was longer than hers.” --Nick (after John sang a welcome song to Christine Caine)
“I am not against Blake.” --Nick (after throwing Blake under the bus to Pete Mroz)
“That’s funny because it sounds like you’re going against Blake.” --Blake
“I am totally against Blake.” --Kelly
“These are disgusting Hollywood lies, Pete.” --Blake
“Says the guy who is getting married to Hollywood.” --Kelly
“And how’d that happen?” --Pete
“I don’t know, either. I’m just going with it, buddy.” --Blake
“Congratulations, Devan, you got of the Jonas Brothers here, The least of them all, but it’s still a Jonas.” --Blake
“Your very own vintage Webster’s Dictionary.” --Blake (making fun of Nick’s Notes)
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.