‘The Voice': Blake Shelton and John Legend Battle Election-Style Over Jim Ranger [WATCH]
The Voice Season 19 Blind Auditions kicked off on Monday night (Oct. 19). Socially distanced, coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend returned to set, as did Gwen Stefani, who also has past coaching experience on the show.
Things got competitive early on in the premiere episode thanks to a battle over 38-year-old contestant Jim Ranger from Bakersfield, Calif., who delivered a lilting and assured version of Keith Urban's "Blue Ain't Your Color," adding just the right amount of rasp to make the song prance. He spurred Legend to turn right away, followed closely by Stefani.
During a climactic burst of vocal emotion toward the end, Ranger finally got Shelton to turn as well (Clarkson remained static, despite the camera catching her singing along with him). While Ranger's family jumped and cheered, it was clear there was going to be some serious negotiation going on.
Ranger explained that he was raised by a pastor father, which immediately spoke to Legend's church-trained soul. "I was feeling the spirit," he exclaimed, before going on to praise his vocal build and soulfulness.
Stefani, ever the quintessential California girl, practically noted, "Just so you know, Bakersfield ... No Doubt had some of our greatest all-time concerts there." She went a little further, saying, "Have you seen me on the country chart?" which caused Clarkson to squeal in delight.
Shelton latched on to the Bakersfield angle as well. "I love Bakersfield; I love the music history there," he said, before drawing into a discussion of his history in the town.
Legend took the opportunity then to treat the audience to a video describing all the lies Shelton has told during his tenure at the series, posing it cleverly as an election season-type spoof. "Isn't it time you pick a coach you can believe in?" crowed the video, while Ranger laughed helplessly in disbelief. "This season, pick a coach we can all trust ... Pick John!"
"I'm John Legend and I approve this message," Legend added.
Unruffled, Shelton replied, "It's worth it to me to lie to these other coaches to get someone like you on my team."
After a bunch of nervous giggles and waffling, with Stefani singing "Don't Speak" in the background, Ranger threw up his hands and said, "I pick Blake."
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8PM ET on NBC at 8PM ET.
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