Premiering right after Super Bowl XLVI, the singing competition brought out more incredible performers – including R&B crooner Jessie Campbell and former Mouseketeer Tony Lucca – and sparks between mentors Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green as they battled for coaching slots to round out their teams of 12.
RaeLynn, 17, of Baytown, Tex., showed off a sweet, country sound while singing the Pistol Annies’ “Hell On Heels.” “I hope Blake turns around,” she said. “I love him and his wife.”
Getting her wish, the singer, who found herself picking between Shelton and Levine, ultimately joined Shelton’s team. “Miranda Lambert is my inspiration,” she told him. “Well I happen to know her!” Shelton, who is married to Lambert, said with a smile.
Up next: Jessie Campbell, who told a story of sleeping in his car with his daughter after his wife left him. “That was the toughest time of my life,” said the singer, who now earns money by performing in churches and weddings. After he sang “A Song For You,” all the judges turned their chairs around. Campbell decided to join Aguilera’s team. “I would work hard for you to take you to the top,” she said. “I’m ready to fight,” he told her.
Rocker Juliet Simms, 25, of Clearwater, Fla., initially wowed both Levine and Green with her version of “Oh! Darling.” Aguilera eventually turned her chair around as well and likened Levine’s sales pitches to that of a car salesman. Levine hit back by saying Aguilera was a great singer, but not a great coach. “The dirt in your voice is incredible,” Levine told Simms. But it was Green’s “I’m in awe of you” that won Simms over.
Dapper in a suit, opera singer Chris Mann, 29, of Wichita, Kan., paired himself with Aguilera after singing a heartfelt “Because We Believe.” He said he’d love to win the show for his mom who’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “Now that‘s a voice,” said Aguilera.
Tony Lucca, who has performed with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears as well as Aguilera, was a fellow Mouseketeer back when the music superstars were on The Mickey Mouse Club. But when the show ended so did his place in the spotlight. Now with a wife and son, Lucca said he’s “in search of that next big break.” Lucca placed himself with Levine, who’d jumped out of his seat to push Green’s button as well. “It’s kind of hard to turn down someone who pushed the button twice,” said Lucca of Levine. It took Aguilera a moment to remember him but she did head backstage to say hello after she realized who he was. “Britney [Spears] used to have the biggest crush on you!” she said.
The Voice returns Monday (8 p.m. ET), when the coaches perform a rocking Prince medley.
By Jessica Herndon