'Voice' contestant awkwardly covers song by coach Camila Cabello's ex: 'Is that Shawn up there?'

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“I was so excited when I heard that Camila was going to be a coach… but I had already chosen ‘Mercy’ by Shawn Mendes,” 29-year-old contestant Tanner Howe sheepishly explained at the top of Tuesday’s The Voice episode — right before he went onstage, in front of new panelist Camila Cabello, to audition with her ex-boyfriend’s hit song. “Um, I hope she likes it!”

The skeptic in me of course wondered if the show’s producers had sneakily withheld the news of Camila’s casting from Tanner, or if they’d refused to let Tanner switch his song once he found out, or if maybe Tanner had known all along but had picked “Mercy” anyway to deliberately orchestrate a viral TV moment. Whatever the circumstances, the song choice did make for good, if awkward, television… especially when all of the coaches except Camila turned around for him.

Camila Cabello reacts to Tanner Howe's Blind Audition on 'The Voice' Season 22. (Photos: NBC)
Camila Cabello reacts to Tanner Howe's Blind Audition on 'The Voice' Season 22. (Photos: NBC)

“Is that my… is that Shawn up there?” Camila gasped, her back turned in her red chair, as Tanner began to sing. But apparently the reason that she didn’t hit her button wasn’t because she held a grudge against Shawn, with whom she split in November 2021 after almost two and a half years of dating. Camila had a much more professional — and much more valid — reason for refraining.

“The reason I didn’t turn around is I thought you sounded a little bit too much like [Shawn],” Camila told Tanner. "I would be curious when you pick your coach for you to just kind of distinguish yourself." And she made an excellent point. There was absolutely nothing original about Tanner’s pedestrian performance, so Camila might not have even been joking when she supposedly mistook Tanner for her ex. “I know [Shawn] better than everyone in this room,” she noted — so she knows a Mendes soundalike when she hears one.

"I really respect Shawn as an artist and I see myself in that lane, but I totally love what you're saying," Tanner told Camila. "I'll try to be more unique."

"I was in his lane deeply," Camila quipped, to which John Legend said, "All right now! She's trying to make it as awkward as possible!"

Coach Gwen Stefani, however, said her fellow O.C. singer Tanner sounded “like an artist on a record” — and she apparently meant an original artist, not some Shawn Mendes impersonator. So, of course, Tanner joined Team Gwen. Gwen is a true original herself, so perhaps she can help Tanner tap into his sense of individuality. If she doesn’t, Tanner may end up covering “Stitches” on “In My Blood” for his next The Voice Season 22 performances, and things will just get more awkward from there.

These were the other successful Blind Auditions of Tuesday night:

Sydney Kronmiller, 25: “Latch”

A moody singer-songwriter with an androgynous, elastic voice that can reach the lowest lows and some impressive highs, Sydney wowed with her acoustic take on Disclosure’s EDM banger. Gwen called her performance “understated and beautiful,” and Camila said Sydney was “brimming with potential,” telling her, “That’s a very vulnerable and intimate [song] choice. … You’re everything that I’m looking for.”

Who turned? Camila and Gwen.

Result: Team Camila. Camila clearly values originality!

Tanner Fussell, 28: “Anymore”

This growly country-rocker of course inspired Blake Shelton to turn with his Travis Tritt cover. Blake and his alt-rock missus, Gwen, also appreciated the ‘90s rock edge to this other Tanner’s voice, comparing him to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. And Blake especially appreciated what appeared to be Tanner F.’s ‘90s-style mullet, though he was disappointed when he found out that Fussell really had more of a one-length bob hidden under that trucker cap. Luckily, Blake still wanted this guy on his team anyway.

Who turned? Only Blake — but it’s not like Tanner F. would have ever signed up with any other coach.

Result: Team Blake, obviously. “There’s no way I was gonna let you come out here without getting a button pushed,” said Tanner’s new coach.

Kayla Von Der Heide, 30: “Jealous Guy”

An old-souled, artsy folkie with a vibrato-heavy songbird voice that the coaches compared to Stevie Nicks and Fiona Apple, Kayla was a standout from the start. She’s one of my favorites of Season 22 so far. Gwen called Kayla “super-original,” and John called her a “great artist.” Since Kayla confessed that John and Gwen are her two favorite coaches, she had a big decision to make here.

Who turned? John and Gwen.

Result: Team Gwen. Kayla revealed that she used to “annoy” her family by playing No Doubt records over and over as a kid, so this made sense. “Yay! I love annoying people!” Gwen cheered. John was probably pretty annoyed that he didn’t score Kayla for his team.

Eva Ullman, 21: “Light On”

Eva was one of several contestants who were ruthlessly montaged during this one-hour episode, so we didn’t get to hear much of her. Blake claimed Eva demonstrated huge potential and was “shocked that no one else turned around,” but maybe there was a reason why she her one-chair performance wasn’t shown in full.

Who turned? Just Blake.

Result: Team Blake.

Destiny Leigh: “A Song for You”

Another one-chair montage victim, Destiny had a cool look, like a ‘70s disco diva, and an overall cool vibe. I hope we get to see and hear more of her in the future.

Who turned? Only Gwen.

Result: Team Gwen.

Eric Who: “Bad Guy”

I’m really sad that this showman with what Camila called “spunky creative energy” was also montaged. This cool dude definitely seemed ready for his closeup.

Who turned? Camila.

Result: Team Camila.

Parijita Bastola, 17: “Jealous”

After a slew of one-chair probable also-rans, the night ended strong with this quadruple-chair threat. The daughter of Nepalese immigrants who’s been watching The Voice with her family since Season 1, Parijita was definitely ready for her closeup, and she delivered a classy, classic, flawless rendition of this Labrinth ballad. Camila called the performance “masterful” and said, “I had goosebumps on my whole body. … I would be so excited to work with you.” John, who like all of the coaches was flabbergasted by Parijita’s tender age, called her a “magical young lady” and “one of the most formidable contestants” of the season. Gwen marveled, “You’re so in touch with you heart, it’s incredible.” Blake totally knew he was “in over his head,” but he couldn’t resist buzzing in anyway.

Who turned? All four coaches.

Result: Team Legend — a decision that Parijita made after hearing her family’s insistent shouts of “John! John!” from the stage wings.

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