“I’m waiting for the perfect moment to really crush another coach’s dreams,” Blake Shelton snarkily declared at the top of Monday’s The Voice episode. Viewers just hadn’t expected that those crushed dreams would belong to... his own wife.
It was the fifth night of Season 22’s Blind Auditions, and Blake, the series’ winning-est incumbent coach, had gotten off to a slow start this year — frequently losing contestants to his better half, Gwen Stefani, or to his new rival, rookie coach Camila Cabello. So, when a promising 17-year-old jazz stylist named Daysia came out with her own spin on the Willie Nelson-penned Patsy Cline country classic “Crazy,” he was ready to go to battle against his wife, even though he admitted, “It’s awkward for me to fight in these situations.”
“Let’s see what fighting feels like in our marriage!” gleefully proclaimed Gwen, who has always had a soft spot for — and a good track record with — young contestants. (The only time she won was with the then-15-year-old Carter Rubin, in Season 19.) Daysia was of course a great catch for any coach, at any age — as Gwen told her, “You sound like a grown-ass woman!” — but despite her old-school country song choice, it was clear that Daysia had a soft spot for Gwen; she visibly brightened when Gwen turned for her. So, for the moment, it was Blake’s Voice dreams that were crushed.
“Mom and Dad battled — and Mommy won!” declared Gwen. “I just got the winner of The Voice!”
Not so fast, Gwen. The next audition was by another talented teen girl, 15-year-old Ansley Burns, crooning a version of “Unchained Melody” inspired by obvious Patsy disciple LeAnn Rimes. This adorable South Carolinian, who went viral as a kid from a video of her singing Carrie Underwood in her mom’s car, had “deep country roots” and actual family ties to Hank Williams Sr. — so this was one young contestant that seemed like a Team Blake shoo-in.
Once again, only Gwen and Blake buzzed in, despite Blake claiming, “I’m not pushing my button anymore today!” Blake, in fact, pushed two buttons — the second one being his Block, thus automatically pushing Gwen out of the running. “I wanted you so much, I blocked my own wife,” Blake told Ansley.
Honestly, Blake probably didn’t need to use his only Block of the season in this case, since Ansley said Blake was her “idol” and likely would have chosen him anyway. Plus — while Ansley did showcase a nice vibrato, and I’m sure viewers will adore her — her youthful, untrained vocals were so wobbly, I actually assumed she’d turn no chairs and just be nicely encouraged to work on her craft and come back in Season 23. Hopefully the Block risk was worth it for Blake, if he ended up sleeping on the couch once he and the missus got home after this episode.
Monday did end with a four-chair turn in which (spoiler alert) Blake beat out all of his castmates without resorting to his usual shady gameplay; even Gwen had to give him props. Read on for that moment and the other successful Blind Auditions of The Voice Season 22, episode five:
Kique, 18: “Beautiful Girls”
A Miami resident with Cuban roots, Kique was hoping to join Team Camila — but Camila didn’t turn. I’m actually more surprised than John Legend didn’t turn for this soulful, old-fashioned crooner, who channeled both Frankies Lymon and Valli on this retro Sean Kingston hit. John actually noted later that he’d liked Kique’s “cool” version.
Who turned? Blake and Gwen. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for!" Camila shouted. "We’re gonna fight!” Gwen exclaimed. "Bring it on!" Blake retorted. And so, the marital drama continued.
Result: Team Gwen, of course. Blake really didn’t put up much of a fight this time, practically handing Kique over to his more qualified wife while admitting that he didn’t even know who Sean Kingston is.
Hilary Torchiana, 34: “Easy on Me”
This power-singer “took the safe route” in life, with a normal nine-to-five job; however, after losing all of her belongings and both of her pets in a house fire, she had an epiphany and decided focus on what makes her happy, notably music. After that sad backstory, I expected more rawness and pain in her performance — but as Camila noted, any Adele song is a “hard pick,” because comparisons to the original G.O.A.T. artist are unavoidable. That being said, Hilary did have the range to pull this off.
Who turned? Just Blake — probably because he didn’t recognize the song and has nothing to compare it to! He actually heard some “twang” in Hilary’s voice, so I expect him to push her in more of a country direction this season.
Result: Team Blake.
The Marilynds, 30 and 34: “What If I Never Get Over You”
Sisters, best friends, and former Miss Maryland pageant queens Lindsay and Kasey were, interestingly, a rare case of a duo where the parts were better than the sum. Each sister delivered a gorgeous solo, but when they harmonized, something was lacking; it just didn’t the quite pack the punch or payoff that I’d expected. I am not sure if the Marilynds can repeat the success of Voice harmonic sibling act Girl Named Tom, who won last season.
Who turned? John, Camila… but surprisingly not Blake, even though they covered a Lady A tune that he presumably recognized.
Result: Team Legend. John has a lot of experience with arranging harmonies, so hopefully he can help these ladies harness their vocal powers for good.
SOLsong: “Turning Tables”
SOLsong went with another hard pick by Adele, so maybe that why he got montaged, and why only John turned for him. From the brief clip I saw, he was clearly capable of hitting all those power notes, and John seemed thrilled that he been “gifted” by the “Voice gods” with this “super-cool” contestant. So, maybe SOLsong will get his big TV moment during the Battle Rounds.
Who turned? Just John.
Result: Team Legend.
Kara McKee: “Woodstock”
I thought this montaged contestant’s brief clip was unimpressive, and Blake noted that she was “so far out of the comfort zone” of the only coach who turned, John. I expect she’ll get montaged in the Battles, but maybe John, who’s actually covered this CSN&Y classic himself, heard some potential here. Kara may not be so outside John’s wheelhouse after all.
Who turned? Just John.
Result: Team Legend.
Zach Newbould, 19: “Use Somebody”
This suburban kid with a Normal Rockwell upbringing was likable and had a lovely raspy tone, but he admitted that his voice has changed a lot in the past year, leading to a sort of artistic identity crisis. “I would really like to work with a coach who can help me figure out what type of music is best for me,” he admitted. It’s a good thing Blake didn’t turn, because I’m sure Blake would have made Zach go country — and Americana/rock, a la this Kings of Leon cover, seems like the right lane for Zach. Maybe this kid already has it all figured out.
Who turned? Camila and Gwen, who gave Zach a standing ovation.
Result: Team Camila. Gwen volunteered to be Zach’s “momager,” but this time, "Mommy" did not prevail. Camila’s previous background as a singing-show contestant sealed the deal. (It’s funny that Camila accused Blake and John of being “drunk” because they didn’t turn for Zach. Maybe they were playing that new Season 22 drinking game — of taking a sip every time something she mentions her X Factor past!)
Lana Love, 30: “Candy”
This fab-u-lous fashionista/theater queen really was selling the drama with her radical torch-song remake of Mandy Moore’s 1999 TRL hit. (I’d actually love to hear Mandy herself re-record “Candy” in this balladeer, cabaret style.) Such poise, such power! Lana gave one of my favorite Blind Auditions of the season. This should have been a four-chair turn.
Who turned? Just John?!? Maybe the other three coaches were drunk this time — either that, or Lana’s performance was shown out of order and the other teams were already full.
Result: Team Legend.
Bodie, 29: “You Found Me”
A punk-rock, neck-tattooed father of three who “grew up on Gwen” in Orange County, Bodie seemed like obvious Team Gwen material. But as Monday’s only four-chair contestant, he had his pick of teams. Blake lamented that there have been more rock contestants this season than usual, because he rarely stands a chance of scoring any rocker for his team. But maybe it was his new Team Blake incentive prizes — customized beer cozies — that gave him an advantage this time.
Who turned? All four coaches.
Result: Team Blake! “I beat Gwen without using any tricks,” Blake gloated, while his wife admitted, “Blake might have the team to beat this season.” And so it seemed the two lovebirds had seemed to call a truce... until the Blinds continue Tuesday.
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