The Voice season 22 Blind Auditions begin with returning coaches Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and John Legend. Pop star Camila Cabello joins the panel. Carson Daly returns as host. We’ll be live blogging all the Blind Audition performances right here.
The Voice airs on Mondays and Tuesdays this season. During the broadcast, Gwen CONFIRMS that the teams are SUPERSIZED at 14 artists each. During the broadcast A top 56 will emerge by the end of the round.
The winner receives a cash prize and a recording contract with Republic Records, among other announced prizes.
REMINDER: NO SPOILERS IN COMMENTS. Keep spoiler talk under spoiler posts above, thank you.
The show opens introducing Camila, of course. She started as John Legend’s battle advisor last year! Camila mentions that she got her start on a singing show. She never names that show that aired on FOX between 2011 and 2013, but it’s The X Factor USA where Camila competed on season 2 as part of the manufactured girl group, Fifth Harmony. They came in 3rd place and went on to release a bunch of hit records before Camila quit for a solo career.
Morgan Myles – 35 – Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
NBC previewed Morgan’s blind audition a few days ago. She’s been knocking around Nashville for 15 years, and spends most of her time touring the country. She also records demos for other artists. She sings the shop-worn “Hallelujah,” nevertheless, she infuses it with emotion and the song gives her a chance to show off her tremendous pipes. She’s a pro.
All four coaches hit their buttons. But alas, Camila blocks Gwen. I’m a little surprised she didn’t use her block on Blake. But it’s neither here nor there. Morgan, who started out singing country, but is eager to explore pop music as well, chooses Team Camila. She is VERY surprised. She’s handing her Team Members mustard yellow fanny packs with cameras inside as welcome gifts. 4 chair turn, Camila blocks Gwen Morgan picks Team Camila
Weirdly, during the credits, a card explains that Morgan “is a compensated spokesperson for Takamine.” Uhm OK?
Omar Jose Cardona – 33 – Separate Ways by Journey
He’s performed on huge stages around the world, including the Kentucky Derby, and Radio City Music Hall. He’s recorded sessions at Capitol Records. Still, he calls The Voice the “biggest stage.” He sings a rock n’ roll classic in a clear rangy voice. He picks up the microphone stand and works the stage. This performance and song choice is very retro. Blake hits his button, followed by Gwen. When he hits an earth shattering last note, Camila finally hits her button. Dang, he looks much younger than 33! He describes his sound as a cross between pop and old school rock.
Camila calls his range “sick” and says she could feel his energy, even with her back turned. “I haven’t heard a voice like that since the 80s,” Gwen gushes. John notes that the “little turns” in his voice were interesting and “very soulful,” adding “it sounded like a church singer singing rock music.” He also declares that Omar could win the show. “Within the country lane, I rock pretty hard,” Blake boasts. Omar liked John’s pitch, revealing that he did indeed grow up singing in church. John hands out red jackets to his team members. 4 chair turn, Omar picks Team Legend.
Ian Harrison – 20 – The Night We Met by Lord Huron
He’s a college student who works part time in a bar on the weekends. He describes his genre as “alternative indie.” The song he picked is important to him–it’s about loss. He relates because his dad, whom he was close to, committed suicide when he was only 9 years old. Now, he has a very loving step dad. Oh, his voice is very cool. What a great tone. Camila almost pushes her button. The coaches are waiting for something big. That’s the problem with indie performances. No big notes. Blake eventually pushes his button, followed by John and Gwen.
John loved the “character” of his voice, calling it “enchanting.” Blake was waiting for a bigger moment. Then he realized he didn’t need that. EXACTLY. The character of his voice was enough. YES. Gwen calls him a “super interesting artist…you showed me your heart.” Gwen notes that like Ian, she is also more of a character voice than a powerhouse. He admits that he hasn’t played live much. Unsurprisingly, Ian picks Gwen. She has flashy hoodies for her team members. John, Gwen, Blake turn. Ian picks Gwen.
Tiana Goss – 28 – Say it Right by Nelly Furtado
She’s a teacher at a preschool in Los Angeles. Otherwise, she spends time in the studio writing songs. She’s generically soulful. And a little warbly here and there. This one had “no turn” written all over her. I had a feeling.
Gwen was “torn” and had problems with the main chorus. Yeah…she was off pitch at times. But also, she had nothing distinct or special going for her. Camila says she would not have turned around for herself when she auditioned, presumably, for X Factor. “I had so much growing to do.” Yeah, Camila. You were only like, 15 at the time. This gal is in her late 20s. John felt there was a stylistic mismatch between what she was singing and how she was singing it. He suggests she come back. Blake didn’t know the song. – No Turns
Emma Brooke – 19 – California Dreaming by Mamas and Papas
She was introduced to classical singing at 6 years old and learned technique. Although she sang big belty classical songs in church growing up, she is performing a 60s pop classic for her audition. Right off the bat, she has a very pretty tone. John hits his button immediately. She’s delivering the belts, much more than the original version. She’s rangy. Still, she could have picked a better song. Gwen turns a bit later.
Camila loved the song choice, but warns her not to get “yelly.” Gwen would love to help her achieve her dreams. Emma admits that her favorite artist right now is Lauren Daigle. John loves her powerful tone. He wants her to let loose even more–outside of the classical structure. Blake tries to convince Emma to pick Gwen, claiming Lauren told him that Gwen was her favorite artist (LIAR!). John and Gwen turn, Emma picks Team Legend
Orlando Mendez -26 – Beer Never Broke my Heart by Luke Combs
He’s Cuban American from Florida. Although he grew up around Latin music, his heart is in country. “It always kind of spoke to me,” he says. He started a band, and it was popular. Fans dubbed him the “Cuban Cowboy.” He confesses he’ll have a hard time choosing between Blake and Camila if they turn. He’s got the country vibe down, with a twangy growl. Camila and Gwen hit their buttons first. Blake finally hits his button.His tone is a little rough. Nevertheless, John hits his button too. Not sure why!
Blake woos Orlando with his country bonafides. Orlando’s brothers went to high school with Camila’s brothers. “I personally like being put in a box!” Blake declares, meaning that he won’t attempt to mess with the singer’s country style. If he’s serious about country, he really should pick Blake. Camila can hear Orlando’s voice on the radio. “I like things that make me feel.” Gwen claims she’s country by marriage. John suggests Orlando make an unpredictable choice. In the end, Orlando goes with his Latin roots. Hm. 4 chair turn, Orlando picks Camila.
Alexis McLaughlin – 25 – Here I go Again by Whitesnake
She’s influenced by 80s rock like Guns and Roses. But she’s also from Texas. She tries to “throw it all in together.” Currently she teaches reading to 3rd graders. She thinks of her song choice as her anthem, and is also really excited that Gwen is on the panel. She performs a ballady version of the song. Her style is reminiscent of an artist like Ann Wilson. She swallows her words a little and pushes her vocal a little too hard. Maybe that’s why nobody hits their button.
Blake calls her voice too aggressive. He’s not sure her voice is right for the show. Gwen says her aggressive style messed with her ability to connect to the song. John believes that she overused her growl. – No Turns
David Andrew – 25 – Falling by Harry Styles
David has worked as a background vocalist for big artists, including Ed Sheeran, Mickey Guyton, and Kane Brown. He also worked as a stand in for John Legend, whatever that means. His song choice is interesting. It’s pop, but he adds a soulful flavor. He sounds very contemporary and emotional. His tone isn’t strong. He doesn’t hit big notes. But his sound is gorgeous. John and Gwen turn first.
Oh. David stood in for John during a performance with Carrie Underwood. Maybe that was for the “Hallelujah” music video? Gwen noted some tuning issues, but she loved his tone. His tone is his super-power. “You have such a sparkle inside of you.” Unsurprisingly, David chose John. John and Gwen turn, David picks Team Legend
Jay Allen – 36 – ‘Til You Can’t by Cody Johnson
The audition starts in a novel way. The singer comes through the studio doors and addresses the camera. He wishes his mother were here, but he knows she’s in his heart. “I’m just going to go out there and make her proud.” She was diagnosed at 51 with early onset Alzheimer’s. She died in 2019. Fittingly, Jay chooses to sing an emotional country ballad. His sound is radio friendly. Not an incredible voice, but evocative. He hits some big achy notes on the chorus. Nobody has turned yet! Until Blake does, finally. Gwen is next.
Blake appreciated his conversational tone, and that he stayed on pitch. Camila thought he was yelly on the chorus. I disagree! Gwen notes that she’s had country hits with Blake. Gwen liked the chorus. Jay wants to do “Chris Daughtry meets Blake Shelton.” He’s also a songwriter. A song he wrote for his mom helped raise over $50 million for Alzheimer’s research. He sings a little bit of it. I’m hearing the Daughtry influence here. He has an ear for melody. He seems like a really nice dude. Gwen and Blake turn. Jay chooses Team Gwen. WOW. I guess the alt rock side won out.
Jay Jay Hill – 34 – Inside Out by Eve 6
He’s worked a bunch of jobs, including a college administrator, a wood mill worker and a tour boat operator. His dad, who performed in bars at night, inspired him to pursue music. Also, he makes magic wands out of found wood. It’s a bad sign that the performance is montaged. And that his performance is tuneless and pitchy. Even Dad off stage knows that things aren’t going well.
Camila almost turned. She appreciated his gritty tone, but she wanted more from him. Gwen calls him “joyful.” He gives them each one of his home-crafted magic wands. OK. That’s why NBC aired this mediocre audition – No Turns
Kate Kalvach – 27 – Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves
Her parents are very excited that she’s on the show. Both are pastors who studied music in college. She’s married. He’s a musician from the Czech Republic. He pushed her to sing outside of church. Her vocals on the verse are breathy and a little out of tune. Maybe she’s nervous. She sounds nervous. It’s kind of a boring performance, without much dynamics. But for some reason Camila, Gwen and Blake turn.
Blake notes that her performance got stronger and stronger. He has a point, but it was never strong enough. Blake keeps “muting” Camila with his button. Is that going to be a thing all season? Let’s hope not. When she finally got to talk, Camila said she loved Kate’s tone. Although Kacey is country adjacent, Kate considers herself a pop singer. Gwen appreciated the way she changed from her chest to head voice. Blake goes backstage and brings out an actual goat. Or he tries. The goat did NOT cooperate. The point: Blake is the GOAT. Kate complains that he didn’t fight for her, which prompts him to beg her to pick him. He points out, as a fellow Oklahoman, he’ll be humiliated if she doesn’t choose him. – Camila, Gwen and Blake turn
And, y’all will have to wait until Tuesday night to find out which team Kate chooses…
This season’s plotline: Is Blake losing his mojo?
The big narrative of the night is Blake losing country artists to Camila and Gwen. Has the veteran coach lost his touch? Camila is being set up as his huge rival, ready to take his crown.
As far as Camila is concerned, she’s bubbly an engaging and has real presence in front of the camera. Some of her critiques are iffy. She judges singers on whether or not they have a “Star Search” moment. However, we’ll see how she REALLY does once the live shows begin. And also, how she holds on to and steals contestants. Will she help contestants make good song choices? To be determined…
Interestingly, the contestants tonight are on the elder side. Three artists are over 35 years old. One is 19, and another is 20. The rest are between 25 and 30. No tweenies yet.