Blake Shelton pulls out all the stops to slow down newcomer Camila Cabello, from a spotlight on himself to muting her mic to attempting to drag a live goat on stage to prove he's the "G.O.A.T." of "The Voice."
Camila did not come to play, immediately getting into it with Blake as if Kelly Clarkson had coached her on how to get under the country singer’s skin. It was good seeing her come out swinging, because Blake was not only shilling for himself, but he and Gwen were pretty aggressively shilling for one another -- until they were going after the same artists.
John settled into Kelly’s old chair on the far end away from Blake, but he’s far too nice to sit in that spot. That’s where Kelly and Adam Levine both sat and tore into Blake every single episode. Based on what we’ve seen in this first episode alone, maybe Camila should be there.
As for the talent, the night kicked off with two four-chair turns as we got a lot of incredible voices already on the show. We also got a couple that got zero chair turns, and we’re still scratching our heads over how the coaches couldn’t hear what sounded clear as day to us.
With his 22 seasons on the show, Blake apparently got a few new tricks up his sleeve, including a button that shines a spotlight on him while he’s talking, dimming everyone else’s shine, and another that can apparently mute Camila no matter what microphone she might be trying to use to talk. That last one got pretty funny by the end of it as she tried and tried and tried to express one thought only to be silenced over and over again.
It was also a wildly uneven night, with one Coach ending the first evening with zero contestants on their team. At this rate, the other three will have to just sit back and wait and wait and wait until the Coach fills their team by being the only person the contestants can choose.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Ariana Grande and Blake Shelton. And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first and then see how they do as the season progresses.
(“Say It Right,” Nelly Furtado - 28, Los Angeles, CA) Poor Tiana, we have to assume she’s a better singer than this out-of-tune mess. The nerves clearly got to her as nothing was coming together right on this one and once she’d lost it, she was never able to regain it.
Results: No Chairs Turn
(“Falling,” Harry Styles - 25, Gallatin, TN) A long-time background singer, David wants to follow in the footsteps of other background singers who found their way to the lead on this show. We think he over-arranged this track, but there’s no denying the silkiness of his voice and how effortlessly he rises and falls through his range. It felt a little too much showing off through a lot of the performance, losing the emotion of the track, but it clearly didn’t hurt him with the coaches -- who actually felt it was soulful.
Results: Gwen, John Turn [Team Legend]
(“Inside Out,” Eve 6 - 34, Pilot Rock, OR) With a classic rock voice filled with grit, somehow J.J. didn’t have the punch that we were expecting on this song. It comes for the jugular in the original, so we were needing that bite, that attack and J.J. seemed a little too mellow on it. And now that this was a coffee house take on it, but just that he didn’t seem to have enough energy to rise up to it. On top of that, his breath control wasn’t where it needed to be, leading to awkward pauses as he gulped for air. He needed a caffeine injection to liven up his audition.
(“California Dreamin’,” The Mamas & The Papas - 19, Lyman, SC) There were a few moments where she didn’t quite nail the note right away, but she hit so many of them spot-on with incredible power. Classically trained, she does sound young, but she also sounds like a singer who’s still finding herself. We appreciated the way she tweaked this anthem into something with a more modern flare without losing the melody. She managed to find tender moments and powerful moments to showcase her range a bit. Not fully formed yet as an artist, she could be someone fun to watch grow.
Results: Gwen, John Turn [Team Legend]
(“The Night We Met,” Lord Huron - 20, Columbus, OH) Camila almost hit her button right away and then didn’t hit it at all. There was something very indie-pop about Ian’s voice, but it never strayed from that very limited vocal range. And even within that range, he didn’t offer any compelling moments. He told us how connected he was to the song emotionally, but it felt more performative and copycat than genuine. He’s young, but he still needs to find out how to express himself through a cover song. And he needs to not fall into that trap of over-prounouncing words that some young artists do, because those bent words just sound ridiculous.
Results: Blake, Gwen, John Turn [Team Gwen]
(“Here I Go Again,” Whitesnake - 25, Conroe, TX) A bit of a shocker, Alexis took on a huge rock anthem and really put a lot of character into it. She’s got a powerful, gravelly voice that is mesmerizing. Perhaps there was concern that there wasn’t enough on the softer side to balance that out, but we heard it in those opening bars. There’s a lot of tools in her arsenal, and she’s bringing a vibe that is largely missing in music today. This is a big loss for the season as it would be easier to rein her in than to get more out of someone not giving enough.
(“Separate Ways,” Journey - 33, Orlando, FL) Camila waited until that last high note, but in the end, Omar got that four-chair turn with a well-deserved very Steve Perry-esque performance. That would be the only concern at this stage in that he did sound so much like the original track. But that takes a lot of talent and power to even be able to do that, so it should translate to an overall talent. The range he displayed was incredible, and his nerves shook off more with each chair turn, making this a stronger and stronger audition.
Results: 4 Chair Turn [Team Legend]
(“Beer Never Broke My Heart,” Luke Combs - 26, Miami, FL) The “Cuban Cowboy” has been building a base, having stepped outside of his Latin familiar roots into country music. In fact, he said if Camila and Blake both turned for him, he’d be sweating bullets trying to decide. In the end, they all turned because once he hit that chorus, that grit in the middle of his voice was just so compelling. It brings an energy to his performance that’s wholly his own and makes him exciting as a performer. He knows how to move a room and get it hyped with just his voice, which is a gift.
Results: 4 Chair Turn [Team Camila]
(“Rainbow,” Kacey Musgraves - 27, Oklahoma City, OK) It started a little shaky, but Kate found her way into the heart of the song and offered up a really interesting singer-songwriter voice. It was a little warbly at places, though we can guess the not-turning chairs were starting to eat at her as the audition went on and on. At the same time, she really did bring a beautifully serene sound in her voice. There was a tender innocence there that felt so believable. We’re still laughing over Camila trying to make this one point with Blake somehow muting every mic she tries to talk on from her own to Kate’s and even John’s. There are clearly benefits to being the “G.O.A.T.” -- another stunt that backfired horribly.
(“‘Til You Can’t,” Cody Johnson - 36, Cedar Falls, IA) We’re surprised there wasn’t more enthusiasm for this because Jay was connecting to this lyric so powerfully it came through in his voice from the very first lines. When he hit the chorus, he was just showing that there is power and range to go with all that heart. He’s got that storytelling voice, and when he connects to that message like he did here, he can create magic. He then shared a bit of the original song he wrote about his mother’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s that took her life in 2019, which was uniquely structured and quite beautiful -- and has raised $50 million for Alzheimer’s.
Results: Blake, Gwen Turn [Team Gwen]
(“Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen - 35, Nashville, TN) Gwen slammed her button as fast as she could when this performance started, but Camila had already blocked her. Her voice was immediately compelling with a lot of range and tenderness, along with a beautifully tender break right in the middle. Even after all four coaches had turned, Morgan had a little more grit and passion in her voice to show off. She’s got a ton of weapons in her arsenal, taking one of the most overplayed audition songs and still managing to demand your attention in about a half-dozen different ways.