On "The Voice," Melanie Martinez sang, played guitar, and rattled… (Tyler Golden/NBC )
On Monday, fans of "The Voice" struggled to process the news that both Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green would vacate their big red spinning chairs next season, to be replaced during their temporary coaching hiatuses by Shakira and Usher. Who will reveal way too much cleavage, don sparkly diapers and randomly rid herself of talented contestants? Who will adorn himself with feathered and furry friends and make us uncomfortable by flirting ruthlessly with comely female contenders? And will Blake Shelton and Adam Levine bromantically cling more tightly to each other in Aguilera and Green's absence? (Shelton, in fact, has hinted that he himself might soon step away from his coaching duties. Bah!)
Oh, the drama! The turmoil! The sense of abandonment!
But none of those forthcoming changes were apparent on Monday night's pre-taped blind auditions show, in which yet another batch of talented singers solemnly serenaded the coaches' backs in hopes of getting them to spin around and usher them into the competition.
Here's who we met (along with a few other successes and failures we were shown only glimpses of):
Melanie Martinez: This adorable, gap-toothed 17-year-old from Baldwin, N.Y., dabbles in photography and has a definite look: two-toned hair, big bow, baby-doll outfit. Singing her own interpretation of Britney Spears' "Toxic," Martinez accompanies herself on guitar and tambourine, playing the latter with her feet. Shelton, Levine and finally Green turn around for her, praising her originality. She opts for Levine, saying she wants someone who will let her "express my creativity" and be herself.
Cupid: This one-hit wonder, who apparently scored a big viral dance hit a few years ago with "The Cupid Shuffle" -- he says it's big at bar mitzvahs – wants to prove he's more than just that one novelty song. So what does he sing for his audition? That one novelty song. No one turns. Green, the only coach to recognize Cupid, asks the obvious question, "What are you doing on the show?" Cupid is then encouraged to sing another song, which he does, ably, but it's too late. "Cupid could have done something different to show his range," Levine notes, sagely, "especially if he was trying to get away from that." You think?
Brian Scartocci: This 26-year-old single dad from Austin, Texas, says he's here thanks to his two kids, then sings "Isn't She Lovely," which Stevie Wonder wrote for his daughter. Levine, Shelton and Green all turn, but Levine drops Wonder's name – saying he's dueted with Stevie "multiple times" and would love to see Scartocci team up with the star – thus snatching the singer right out of Green's hands.
Beat Frequency: A husband/wife duo from Vancouver, Wash., with roots in Christian rock and sports dancing, escapes the unhappy fate of many auditioning duos and manages to get Aguilera, at least, to turn around with their take on "E.T." The judges agree Beat Frequency is the "best duo so far." Which turns out not to be saying much.
Tyler Lillestol: This fresh-faced 23-year-old singing baseball player – or baseball-playing singer – gets his "Voice" audition invitation while singing at Dodger Stadium. Alas, no one turns for his take on Usher's "You Got It Bad." Levine says the song is "hard … to shine on." Maybe he didn't know who'd soon be sitting next to him?
Liz Davis: A self-dubbed "fireball" from Madison, Miss., Davis has been determinedly going about breaking into the country-music scene in Nashville. She says she'd like to be the first country singer to take a "Voice" win. But while her powerful "Here for the Party" spins Aguilera and Levine straightaway, Shelton plays coy until the last minute. Despite his initial reluctance, Shelton pulls out his country music cred – quite literally embodied in his ACM award for best male vocalist – and scores Davis for his team.
J.R. Aquino: A singer from Anchorage, Ala., whose songs have racked up millions of page views on YouTube, Aquino sings an earnest rendition of "Just the Way You Are" that spins first Levine and Aguilera, then, at the very last minute, Green. But while Levine and Aguilera praise Aquino's tone and pitch, Green critiques the weakness in his high notes. So naturally Aquino picks … Green. "What'd I do right?" the "Forget You" singer wonders.
Agina Alvarez: This pretty young singer had early success with a Latin album, but hasn't been able to follow it up. Sadly, her "Turn the Beat Around" doesn't impress the judges, though her looks apparently do. "I'm embarrassed for all four of us right now," Shelton says. "You are so good." Alas, too little, too late.