‘The Voice’ season 20 episode 1 recap: Blind auditions kick off with Nick Jonas back as coach [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

For this landmark 20th season of “The Voice,” NBC brought back one of the best coaching panels in the reality show’s history: Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas. (Nick has replaced Gwen Stefani, who is taking a hiatus after winning last year). Just like last season, the current blind auditions were filmed without a live studio audience as the country continues to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, fans Zoomed in from their homes to watch the blinds remotely. In terms of championship wins, Blake leads with seven, followed by Kelly with three, John with one and Nick with zero. So how did the two-hour season premiere play out on Monday night?

Below, read our minute-by-minute “The Voice” recap of Season 20, Episode 1 to find out what happened Monday, March 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite artists on NBC’s long-running reality TV show, which coach you’re rooting for and who you think will ultimately join “The Voice” winners list for this 20th anniversary season.

Keep refreshing/reloading this “The Voice” live blog for the most recent updates.

8:00 p.m. – “Previously on ‘The Voice’!” In last season’s finale, 15-year-old Carter Rubin of Team Gwen ended up taking home the “Voice” trophy thanks in part because two of Team Blake’s artists, Jim Ranger & Ian Flanigan, likely split the vote. Desz of Team Kelly and John Holiday of Team Legend rounded out the final five contestants. But enough about last year, it’s time for Carson Daly to start the Season 20 blind auditions!

8:01 p.m. – The first artist to audition for the 10th season premiere was Kenzie Wheeler, proud rocker of a “business in the front, party in the back” mullet. While his hair makes him a style icon, Kenzie’s singing career began as a young kid and evolved into performing on rock-country stages. For his song he chose “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” a favorite of Kelly’s that encouraged her to use her block (on Blake) early! Because of Kenzie’s country voice, even Nick was so worried about Blake that he attempted a block as well. By the end, it was a four chair turn for Kenzie, minus Blake who was blocked (twice). Nick and Kelly fought very hard for Kenzie while John sat back and gave a more clear-headed pitch based on his successful runs in past seasons. Ultimately, after a lot of banter, Kenzie decided to go with the country roots and chose to join Team Kelly.

8:15 p.m. – Next up was Dana Monique with “Freeway of Love.” Thought uptempo songs are harder to impress the judges with, both Nick and John got on board with Dana’s vibe with early chair turns. Dana explained that singing on a cruise ship “whipped her into shape” as a singer and called it an amazing experience. Nick told her she has a powerful voice and pitched that they both have something to prove so they should do it together. Both Kelly and Blake said they didn’t turn around because they “knew” she’d choose John, but they were wrong and might have had a chance because she went with Nick!

8:28 p.m. – For Cam Anthony, music inspiration came from being outside and among his neighborhood and community that was listening to hip hop music in the streets. He started posting videos of himself singing at a young age and gained attention that way from people like Ellen DeGeneres and President Obama. As he head to the stage for his rendition of “Lay Me Down,” he was hoping that John would turn for him.  Unfortunately, Nick still had his block to use and stopped John from his shot at nabbing his first artist. The block left Cam with only Nick and Blake as options. In order to get Cam to pick him, Blake made the bold promise of not choosing anyone else that’s in his musical lane, but Nick spoke to aspects of Cam’s life that he also enjoys (like a large, supportive family)…

8:39 p.m. – … It must have been Blake’s plea directly to Cam’s mom that clinched it in the end because Cam is now, unexpectedly, a part of Team Blake!

8:41 p.m.Christine Cain was excited that Nick was back because she thought he’d be best suited for the direction she wants to go. With “Watermelon Sugar” as her audition song Christine hoped to inject a little soul into the pop song, and it worked to reel in John and Kelly, but not Nick. John was captured by her tone and called it the most soulful version of that song he’s heard. Kelly liked that Christine was “performing the song coz she’s having fun.” Fittingly, to give each of the coaches their first artist, Christine joined Team Legend!

8:53 p.m. – As someone that struggles with stuttering, Madison Curbelo found her confidence as a singer where her stutter didn’t present itself. Her take on “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was a bit schmaltzy with a distinct beachy vibe to it, and none of the coaches were willing to turn for it. Nick was looking for a “bigger sense of urgency” and Blake said he could tell from her voice that she’s still young and just needs time to develop it a little more.

8:56 p.m. – Forty-five year old Pete Mroz didn’t have to prove to the coaches that his voice is developed enough. He started in a group of songwriters that sang their songs with each other, but is only now focusing on building a career out of the blues music that he loves. With “Can’t Find My Way Home,” John thought he sounded like Nick, seemingly to urge Nick to turn his chair, but he didn’t. Instead John himself and Blake both turned based on the strength of Pete seeming so comfortable on stage. As it turns out, Blake was a member of The Young Writers along with Pete and allegedly “stole” a bass player from Pete. The connection was hard for John to overcome and so Pete joined a team with Blake once again.

9:11 p.m. – Once again Nick was the most desirable coach when Devan Blake Jones entered the room. He started his singing career in karaoke competitions and in an afrobeat band that he says opened the door to being a multilingual artist. He stayed with English for his rendition of “Hard Place” tonight and luckily it worked for his dream coach Nick, the only one to turn for him. Kelly didn’t turn because she was waiting for his vocal to reach another level, but Nick thought that the top of his register was where the money is and he sees an opportunity to help Devan Blake grow.

9:22 p.m. – Going into Raine Stern‘s audition, all the coaches were ready to claim another artist for their team, but Kelly sat this one out. “Electric Feel” blew the minds of Blake, Nick and John, shell-shocking them with her eclectic voice and control over her guitar. Blake thought she “knows how to milk a performance” and called her a “rare find.” John saw that she was working the audience without a live audience even in the room and that impressed him. Ultimately though she went with Nick’s plea to work creatively with her and the feeling of kinship he felt with her.

9:33 p.m. – The next singer was Madison Marigold who has mixed her knowledge of the Chinese language into her songwriting. That led to her opening a Demi Lovato concert in China, opening her eyes to wanting to do music for the rest of her life. Her audition of “If the World Was Ending” did not strike a chord with any of the coaches though. Nick thought she did some interesting things in her performance, but she never let the song take off. John and Blake both thought that she didn’t bring anything more to the conversational song.

9:42 p.m.Corey Ward failed to impress the judges last season, but determined to do so this year he took the year to practice and do the work the coaches had encouraged in him. This time he sang “Dancing On My Own,” instantly getting the attention of both John and Kelly who didn’t turn for him in season 19! Nick seemed to be on the edge of hitting his own button, but he didn’t feel the passion and emotion that John and Kelly did. With his family members hoping he’d choose Kelly, Corey came through for them and joined her team!

9:52 p.m. – For the final audition of the night, stepping performer Victor Solomon took the stage for his take on John and Common‘s Oscar-winning song “Glory.” He felt the pressure of singing it in front of John, but that didn’t stop John from being one of the three chairs to turn. Only Kelly held back this time despite one of the largest and most emotionally-tapped-in performances in many seasons, but she felt that there was no chance for her getting picked over John. Laughably, Blake made the pitch for Victor not knowing that it was a John song, but Nick was able to made a fair plea based on the shared experience of singing in the church. John’s explanation of the song and in doing so he pointed out that he’s never turned around for someone singing one of this songs. After a quick duet of John’s other song “Ordinary People,” it was a sure bet that Victor would choose John and with that John has a legit contender!

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