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“The Voice,” NBC’s answer to “American Idol,” premiered Tuesday night (and aired again last night) and while some may have wondered why in the world the TV gods think we need another singing competition reality show, we must admit, “The Voice” is refreshing and wholly entertaining. Unlike “Idol,” “The Voice” weeds out the not-so-talented beforehand and only brings us top-notch singers, so we’re not left feeling like weeks of our lives were wasted laughing at delusional hopefuls with minimal-to-no talent.

“The unique thing about “The Voice” is that they are not looking for an “idol”- someone who is already a “star,”” explains Lisa Damiani, New York-based vocal coach and CEO of Star Rock for Kids. “They are looking to discover, nurture and develop talent and help pave the way for them to become a star. It is a breath of fresh air to see this.”

With Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine acting as coaches as opposed to judges, we quickly realized that the contestants are being pushed closer to success by being given a mentor. Aguilera, Shelton, Levine and Cee Lo duked it out in the first episode because as coaches they’re competing against each other to put together a winning team of eight stellar vocalists.

However, there’s a catch! Tuesday night was the first half of the blind auditions. Aguilera, Shelton, Levine and Cee Lo are expected to pick who they want to coach based solely on the singer’s voice. Each coach keeps their back to the singer until a) they push the big red button indicating they want to work with the vocalist or b) the vocalist has finished their song. If we’re keeping an “Idol” vs. “The Voice” scorecard we’d have to give a point to “The Voice” for originality. The blind auditions give “The Voice” the perfect twist to separate it from “Idol,” “X Factor” and “America’s Got Talent.”

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So who’s got who? Christina Aguilera ― the clear assumed-favorite since … well … because Xtina is “The Voice” ― snagged the first contestant. Tarralyn Ramsey, a 31-year-old Jacksonville, Fla. native, sang Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and caught the attention of both Xtina and Cee Lo. Xtina prevailed, snagging Ramsey as the first member of her team. The diva would go on to snag Frenchie Davis … yup, Frenchie ― who was booted off Season 2 of “American Idol” for (nude) skeletons in her closet ― is back at it. Xtina’s last pick of the night would go to Beverly McClellan, a shaved head, combat boot-wearing rocker, who nailed Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart.”

Cee Lo’s team currently consists of Vicci Green, who won both Cee Lo and Xtina over with her rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”;  Kelsey Ray, a pretty face with a stellar voice, who choses Cee Lo over Xtina and Levine and Tje Austin, who performed Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” but will likely be known for his afro.

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Adam Levine got off to a slow start and didn’t get his first teammate until deep into the show, but it was a triumphant pick. The Maroon 5 frontman pushed his button for Jeff Jenkins and battled it out with all four judges before Jenkins agreed to go with Levine. Levine would go on to snag Rebecca Loebe, a homeless 27-year-old from Atlanta. Loebe was the first and only contestant of the night to put a completely different spin on her selected tune. Loebe sang a smoothed out version of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” Next, Levine would grab Javier Colon, who impressed the coaches with his stab at Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

Last, but not least, coach Blake Shelton stayed true to his country roots and picked Nashville native Patrick Thomas. He continued to build his team with Elonowen, a husband and wife duo and Xenia Martinez, a California teen with a force much bigger than her admittedly shy personality. 

Each coach now has three singers on their team, so next week we can expect the coaches to select the remaining singers to fill out their groups. We’ll keep watching and continue to take score. So far, “The Voice” trumps “Idol,” which after 10 seasons seems to be staying afloat thanks to high-profile performances and its easy on the eyes judge, Jennifer Lopez.

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