Nicole Nelson competes in "The Voice" blind auditions (Tyler Golden / NBC )
"The Voice's" premiere week wrapped up three-night marathon Wednesday with a passel of perfectly fine performances and a few contestants we barely glimpsed who made it onto teams. I guess, with 64 slots to fill by the end of the blind auditions, you've got to cut a few corners. Not that I'm complaining.
First we met Samuel Mouton, from Ft. Collins, Colorado, a 19-year-old reggae lover who works at his family's restaurant and said the show perfectly suited him "because I sound different than I look." Mouton's father quipped that he was "really proud" of his son for taking this important step, since he'd "been a loser forever." Dads!
Mouton's ultra-Marley "Redemption Song" spun first Adam Levine, then Cee Lo Green, and finally Christina Aguilera. Blake Shelton, the only coach who didn't push his button, tells Mouton his song was "really cool" but not as cool as the bickering between the three other coaches was about to be. Aguilera did the hard flirt, saying she wanted to know what Mouton's "what your turn-ons are." Green said he'd captured the Marley flavor without imitating him. But Levine reeled in the first fish of the night, telling Mouton he was a "scholar of reggae music" who "made us feel something."
Afterward, Aguilera said she'd "definitely expected some dreads" and certainly "wasn't expecting white kid with a baseball cap on."
After we saw Chris Trousdale, a 26-year-old former member of the boy band Dream Street, now a server at a sushi restaurant, sadly fail to turn a single chair (though he did manage to shame Shelton into showing off his moonwalk), we met a 32-year-old Nigeria-born, Baltimore-based singer who goes by the name of Nelly's Echo.
Nelly told us he and his family were forced to flee Nigeria amidst political unrest. "Our lives were in danger," he said. They had to leave behind their father, jailed for a crime Nelly said he did not commit, though he eventually joined them in the U.S. Through the hard times, "music was a big part of the coping mechanism for us," the singer said.
His "Ain't No Sunshine," on which he accompanied himself on guitar, turned Aguilera almost immediately, and later Levine, who'd waited to hear a specific section of the song before pressing his button. Levine's pause carried consequences. Nelly, who seemed perhaps to not know much about the judges, picked Aguilera. "You turned your chair first to me," he told her. "I'm going with you."
Next up, a mother-daughter duo Allison and Krystal Steel, who perform as 2Steel Girls. Mom Allison believes in their dream of musical success so fervently, she has sold the family's house and car and given up her job to try to make them come true. "Huge things can happen to you if you just keep trying," she said.
Shelton announced before they even sang a note of "Before He Cheats" that he was "getting this one." But then he fingered his button, pushing it only after Green pushed his.
Levine explained that he hadn't pushed his button because duos confused him and he didn't know how to handle them, but compared their power to a "freight train of angry jilted women."
Green called them "exceptionally good," but his heart didn't seem to be in it. Shelton, meanwhile, said "I really want y'all badly" and then pledged to protect their mother-daughter relationship against the ravages of the "savage, dirty world of entertainment." I'm guessing no one was surprised when they said, "We're gonna go with Blake."
Was Green's heart in it? "You didn't sell it at all, Cee Lo," Aguilera chided. And then we got a quick cut of two Aguilera snagging two singers in a contest with Green and Levine swiping another one.
Green had no competition for Domo, a 26-year-old hip-hop dancer and singer from the Bronx, New York, who said she could dance like Michael and Janet and sing like Mariah, Whitney, and Celine. "In China," she told us, "I am like Lady Gaga." She certainly didn't lack for confidence. But only Green turned for her rendition of the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha," which he wrote. He couldn't seem to get enough of her spitfire moves. "Cee Lo is currently in heat," Levine warned Domo. "I would run."
But Green just purred that Domo's voice was even better than his song and welcomed her "home" to his team.
Last to make a team was a self-described "hippy" from Berlington, Vermont, Nicole Nelson, whose "Hallelujah" ultimately made all four judges turn. Aguilera called Nelson's voice "great" and "magical" and thanked her for waking her up and exciting her. Green gave "praise and thanks." And Shelton tried to find common ground with the earthy singer by saying he too was "an organic kind of guy." But Levine pointed out that he had spun way before he fellow judges, and that seemed to do the trick. "I'm gonna go with Adam," Nelson said, bringing a "Voice"-packed week to an end.
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