And The Voice is back!

Not soon enough in my opinion.

For the last month, the contestants have been competing in the blind audition phase, where the four coaches (Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton) pick teams to compete in later rounds. The coaches, sitting on rotating chairs, hear the contestants perform and decide if they like them enough to press a button and turn around during the performance. If only one judge turns, the singer joins their team. If more than one judge turns, the singer gets to pick which coach they prefer to work with. If no one turns, the contestant does not move on.

The blind auditions were my favorite part of last year’s competition. I love watching the judges during the auditions and seeing the decision play across their face. Does this person really have a unique talent? Does it make sense for me to work with them? If I don’t turn, will I be sorry? This year they all seemed to consider a bit more what the other judges were thinking and doing. In fact, that’s one reason I really like this show: the obvious respect these judges have for each other and their sincere camaraderie is infectious.

The final teams are as follows:

Team Adam: Tony Lucca, Angel Taylor, Chris Cauley, Katrina Parker, Mathai, Karla Davis, Pip, Nicolle Galyon, Nathan Parrett, Kim Yarbrough, Whitney Myer, Orlando Napier

Team Blake: RaeLynn, Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, ALyX, Jordan Rager, Gwen Sebastian, Naia Kete, Lex Land, Jordis Unga, Charlotte Sometimes, Brian Fuente, Adley Stump

Team Cee Lo: Juliet Simms, Jamar Rogers, James Massone, Sarah Golden, Angie Johnson, Jamie Lono, Erin Martin, Justin Hopkins, The Shields Brothers, Tony Vincent, Cheesa, Wade

Team Christina: Jesse Campbell, Monique Benabou, Ashley De La Rosa, The Line, Jonathas, Anthony Evans, Chris Mann, Moses Stone, Geoff McBride, Lindsey Pavao, Lee Koch, Sera Hill

I think Blake probably has the strongest team, with some fantastic country singers and the unique sounds of Naia Kete and Charlotte Sometimes. Also, I had no idea who Blake Shelton was last year, but I’m happy to say he remains completely adorable.

After fielding an extremely weak team last year, I think Christina managed to do quite well for herself. I’m particularly interested to see what she does with opera singer Chris Mann and quirky Lindsey Pavao, but I’m most rooting for Lee Koch. She still needs to get a better stylist though.

No one stands out for me on Adam’s team, which is odd since he managed to create such a great team last year. There are people I like, but I just don’t see any obvious contenders to go all the way.

Cee Lo has some real clunkers (Angie Johnson, The Shields Brothers, Cheesa), but if he manages to ditch them in the battle rounds, he could end up fairly strong. I’m more concerned that he seems to have turn into a Bond villain.

All in all, the battle rounds should be interesting. They begin tonight (Monday) at 8pm on NBC.