She’s baaaaaaack. And by “she” I mean the behemoth that is The Voice. If you’re thinking gee, it feels like it’s been so long since Coach Kelly Clarkson led sibling trio Girl Named Tom to victory in season 21, you’re not wrong! The Voice has been cut down to just one season this year and honestly, I think that’s for the best. Give everyone time to rest and regroup, you know? Well, season 22 has finally arrived and with it a bit of a coaching switch-up: Sure, eight-time Voice champion Blake Shelton is back, and John Legend returns for his eighth season as a coach. After a little hiatus to bask in her win with Carter Rubin in season 19, Gwen Stefani has rejoined the coaching panel. Rounding out the group is brand-spanking-new coach Camila Cabello. She seems very excited and not at all into Blake’s tricks (that “mute” button thing is going to get so old so fast) and we love her for that.
As for the Blind Auditions, this season each coach has 14 spots on their team and one block to utilize. We’ve got team gifts — Blake, who is giving out a cooler to his team members, points out that “these other coaches have nothing to offer these artists as far as refrigeration goes” (he isn’t wrong!) — and we’ve got goats as mascots that want nothing to do with this show. Doesn’t the first episode of the Blind Auditions always feel like the first day of school? I’m both excited and nervous! Anything could happen! So let’s get into it. Here’s a rundown of all the contestants that made it onto a team in episode one:
Morgan Myles // 35 // Nashville, Tenn.”Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
This working musician from Nashville is polished but loose and comfortable on stage, and she’s got a dynamic, powerful voice. There’s no surprise that she’s a four-chair turn. Legend loves her “confidence” and calls this “one of the best blind auditions [he’s] seen in some time.” But Cabello — who uses her block on Stefani right out of the gate — wins Morgan over by talking about her experience blending genres, appreciating a good, emotional storyteller, and how she can tell that Morgan knows herself as an artist. Morgan is the inaugural member of Team Camila.
Omar Jose Cardona // 33 // Orlando, Fla.”Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey
This song choice is amazing and I can’t believe more people haven’t done it in auditions before. It also doesn’t hurt that Omar, who is no stranger to big stages (Radio City Music Hall, ahem), has excellent vocal control. When he hits that high note at the end, he gets Cabello to turn, making it yet another four-chair turn audition. Cabello says Omar gave her “Freddie Mercury vibes” and Legend praises Omar’s incredible range, but also notes that he can tell Omar has a church-y, soulful hint to his voice. That attention to nuance (which turns out to be true — Omar grew up singing in church) seems to make the decision easier and Omar joins Team Legend.
Ian Harrison // 20 // Columbus, Ohio”The Night We Met” by Lord Huron
Shelton, Stefani, and Legend all turn for this indie alternative singer who says he’s shied away from performing in public because of confidence issues. Legend was “impressed by the character of [Ian’s] voice” and how effectively it conveyed the emotions of the song. Stefani agrees, and since she has more of a “character voice” as well, she understands artists like Ian. She also wants to help him boost his performance factor. With Ian’s indie-alt background, it feels like a great fit and he happily takes a spot on Team Gwen.
Emma Brooke // 19 // Lyman, S.C.”California Dreamin'” by The Mamas & the Papas
Emma Brooke comes from classical voice training, and you can tell. Technically, she’s got the skills, but Legend — who turns his chair along with Stefani — is correct when he points out that he’d love to see her “let loose” a little. If he were her coach, he’d want to help her “unlearn some of the structure” she’s used to and you can see in Emma’s face how exciting that prospect is; she’s been wanting to move toward a more “contemporary” sound. She joins Team Legend, so we’ll see how his plans for her work out in the next round.
Orlando Mendez // 26 // Miami, Fla.”Beer Never Broke My Heart” by Luke Combs
Back home, Orlando is called “the Cuban Cowboy,” and even before he auditions, he feels conflicted between joining Cabello’s team, since they have the Cuban and Miami connection, and Shelton’s team, since Orlando wants to go into country music. Orlando gets the third four-chair turn of the evening. While Shelton makes a compelling argument with his country credentials, Cabello tells Orlando that she can hear his voice on the radio and wouldn’t try to change what kind of artist he wants to be. That Miami bond wins Orlando over and he joins Team Camila.
David Andrew // 25 // Gallatin, Tenn.”Falling” by Harry Styles
David Andrew is a background vocalist who once worked as a stand-in for Legend, so that’s fun! The back half of this performance is much better than the front, but David still manages to win over both Legend and Stefani. Legend was into how “dramatic and soulful and heartfelt” the entire performance was, and David is a huge fan of Legend, so it’s no surprise that he winds up on Team Legend.
Jay Allen // 26 // Cedar Falls, Iowa”‘Til You Can’t” by Cody Johnson
Welcome to the weepy portion of the evening: Jay Allen tragically lost his mother in 2019 to early-onset Alzheimer’s and he’s dedicating this performance to her (the coaches also have him sing an original he wrote to raise money for Alzheimer’s research). The newlyweds both turn for Jay and while it seems like once again Shelton should have this in the bag, Jay, who carries a lot of emotion in his voice, describes his sound as a mix of rock and country and decides to join Team Gwen. She’s as shocked as everyone else.
Kate Kalvach // 27 // Oklahoma City, Okla.”Rainbow” by Maren Morris
Kate grew up singing church music until she met her very well-dressed husband, who pushed her out of her comfort zone. She seems super nervous, but hits some gorgeous high notes. Shelton, Cabello, and Stefani all turn at the last second. The whole “Blake mutes Camila’s mic” thing goes on for way, way too long, and even Kate is like, I would like to hear what she has to say? Cabello thinks Kate’s falsetto is her “secret weapon” and would like to help her with that pop/country blend. Kate admits she wants to pick Shelton, but wishes he would “fight for [her],” which is a gutsy move! Shelton goes all in on their Okie connection and Kate picks… well, we’ll have to wait until Tuesday night to find out.
Team Legend: Omar Jose Cardona, Emma Brooke, David Andrew
Team Gwen: Ian Harrison, Jay Allen
Team Camila: Morgan Myles, Orlando Mendez
Team Blake: 0
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
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A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.