‘The Voice’ Season 14 Premiere Is an All-Out Kelly/Blake Battle
Country music fans who were rubbing their hands in glee anticipating a bunch of frictional moments between NBC's The Voice coaches Blake Shelton (the veteran) and Kelly Clarkson (the newcomer) were well-rewarded during Monday night (Feb. 26)'s season 14 premiere. The show afforded a few moments toward coaches Adam Levine and Alicia Keys, but was for all intents and purposes a Kelly/Blake battleground.
The episode featured blind auditions, in which the coaches were turned around without seeing the vocalists, spinning around only if the vocals caught their fancy. It started out with an oddly timed block—a new feature on the show's famous red chairs that allows one coach to block another coach from turning around—against Shelton.
There was a bit of kerfuffle as to just who blocked Blake, but never mind, as the vocalist in question went to Team Alicia.
From there, things began to get hairy between Shelton and Clarkson. Next up was 14-year-old Brynn Cartellli from Massachusetts, who chose a soulful version of Labrinth's "Beneath Your Beautiful." Clarkson turned around almost immediately, and noted, "You’re my absolute first person I ever turned for!" She later noted that her reasoning for appreciating the teen's voice laid in her flexibilty: "You could be pop, you could be country."
However, Shelton threw a wrench into the works by spinning around at the last minute. "It doesn't matter where it starts, it matters where it ends," he dryly observed.
Alas for Shelton, Cartelli chose Clarkson and received a custom "14" jersey to welcome her on board.
The next Kelly/Blake battle came in the form of Kyla Jade, who makes her home in Nashville and has a seasoned career as a backup singer to such country legends as Carrie Underwood and Wynonna Judd. She explained also that her most recent work involved backing former Voice coach Jennifer Hudson.
Jade chose an upbeat "See Saw" by Aretha Franklin, which Clarkson immediately bonded with (she's a fan, and sang Franklin on American Idol). However, Jade went with her country roots, citing her work with Judd as her ultimate reason to go with Team Blake.
Shelton termed Jade "The biggest shock and gift to me of season 14"; meanwhile, Clarkson jokingly whined "I need a glass of wine!"
Yet another Kelly/Blake match-up came in the form of D.R. King, a former schoolteacher who grew up singing in church, and who decided to tackle Imagine Dragons' rocker "Believer."
Both Shelton and Clarkson spun around, with Clarkson praising the singer's "sick" runs, and Shelton raving "Your voice is explosive. I was feeling every note... What in the hell is this guy doing to me? He’s going to kill me." What did end up perhaps symbolically killiing Shelton was the fact that King decided to go with Clarkson.
The fourth Kelly/Blake battle (keeping count?) was Kaleb Lee, who related to the audience his touching story of adding an adopted child to his already established family.
He gave a version of Kenny Chesney's "Never Wanted Nothing More," and Clarkson appealed to his family side by serenading his kids with "Don't You Wanna Stay," but the vocalist unsurprisingly went with Team Blake. He noted "My kids watch the show and they're huge fans of Blake."
Phew. That makes four battles between Kelly and Blake, with winners split down the middle. However, Clarkson ended up pulling ahead of the pack with the show's final contestant, Justin Kilgore, who gave an emotional backstory of growing up as a closeted gay man in rural Texas.
He delivered a competent version of Chris Young's "Tomorrow," which was not particularly standout, but his overall story had all four coaches turning around. Clarkson was the ultimate winner, claiming this final prize as her own.
Tune in Mondays and Tuesdays for recaps of Season 14 of The Voice, and see if Clarkson manages to continue her streak against Shelton.
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