Photo Credit: Adam Taylor/NBC
You'd think Shakira and Usher had been swiveling for years. On Monday night's Season 4 premiere of The Voice (NBC, Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET), the two new judges -- who have replaced Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green this season -- slipped comfortably into the show's giant leather armchairs alongside Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.
With no opening night jitters in sight, the foursome actually looked utterly at ease as they rocked out to the Beatles' "Come Together" to open the show.
Latin pop star Shakira's known for being a fiery, hip-shaking presence on stage and in her videos. But here she came across as sane and self-possessed, and less emotional than Levine (who told one contestant, 28-year-old Judith Hill, that he'd light himself on fire to get her on his team.) Check out their dynamic in the scene below.
Contestant Kris Thomas proved the power of the blind audition when his falsetto voice betrayed his gender. Shakira swiveled, saw him, and then didn't let on that his gorgeous voice wasn't coming from a woman. No other judge turned, and later both Levine and Usher clearly regretted losing him. “Women go crazy over a guy with falsetto; they love that,” Usher said, while Shakira grinned with pride.
Usher's competitive nature emerged immediately, and not surprisingly, the R&B titan who mentored Justin Bieber used his smooth-talking powers of persuasion to his advantage. "It may be an obvious play for me to speak of Justin Bieber while I'm sitting here, but … I'm not promising that you'll be at every [Bieber] concert and every awards show," he said while trying to convince 16-year-old Danielle Bradbery to join his team. "I really feel like you have the talent, and we could win together." Naturally, a mock-outraged Levine fired back: "Are you bribing her with Justin Bieber tickets?!"
As well as the newbies performed their judging duties, it became obvious that Usher does need to brush up on his geography. While trying to persuade Bradbery to his side, he cautioned her not to limit herself to the country genre (presumably by choosing country guy Shelton). "You have an opportunity to speak to the world," he said. "Nashville is a state."
"It's a city," Levine cracked within a nanosecond, confirming to Maroon 5 fans everywhere that their favorite front man isn't just cute and tattooed. He's smart, too!
Tune in Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET for the next round of blind auditions.