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Blake Shelton Shows Humor, Easily Holds His Own Against Pop Stars on ‘The Voice’

Blake Shelton
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Blake Shelton may have been outnumbered three to one by pop stars in the coaches’ seats on the first week of NBC’s new singing competition ‘The Voice,’ but he used gentlemanly humor and graciousness to distinguish himself from the pack and assemble the first part of a pretty good singing team.

Being the only country star on the panel worked to Shelton’s advantage early on, as the second amateur singer to perform that night, a cowboy hat-wearing young wonder named Patrick Thomas, made the pretty simple decision to work with Shelton after performing a highly traditional version of Tim McGraw‘s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ — despite a strong case from fellow coach Cee Lo Green. (The coaches start each performance facing away from the singer, then turn around during the song if they want to work with the artist, based solely on their voices. If more than one coach wants to work with a contestant, that person gets to pick their team.)

Apparently, the celebrity coaches didn’t realize duos were allowed into the competition, as they all expressed shock when real-life married couple Josh and Nicole Johnson, performing as Elenowen, traded vocals on the song ‘Falling Slowly’ from the film ‘Once.’ “What the heck? I gotta see this!” declared Shelton as he became the first to turn around. The folk sound of their music was a natural fit for his team, but Blake sealed the deal by promising good advice on balancing career and relationship (remember, he’s about to marry Miranda Lambert) to the young couple.

Even when a performer didn’t impress him, Shelton took care to offer kind, non-patronizing feedback to contestants such as Joanne Rizzo, a mother from New Jersey who performed the standard ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ in a rather dated, loungey manner. “I’m looking for something a little more raw,” Blake explained. “But I’m sorry.”

The next singer, 16-year-old Xenia, who performed ‘Break Even’ by the Script, was more to his liking, and Shelton used a sly sense of humor to separate himself from the other coach competing for her vote — notably flamboyant dresser Cee Lo: “[He's] gonna come dressed as Batman one day.” Shelton promised to be a more dependable male figure, and got his final team member of the night.

Even though he still has five more singers to pick to fill out his team next week, Shelton’s already pretty happy with the hand he dealt himself. “I feel so good about my singers, because all of them have a shot at this thing.”  Is he right? Tune in next week.

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