Camila Cabello has only been a coach on The Voice for a week, and already there’s an unofficial Season 22 drinking game: Take a sip every time she mentions that she once competed “on another singing competition.” Actually, on second thought, don’t do that — if you did, you’d probably have a case of severe alcohol poisoning before Monday’s latest Blind Auditions episode even ended. Watch The Voice responsibly, people!
In all seriousness, Camila seemingly alludes to the fact that she was a contestant on The X Factor USA more often than her predecessors, Voice coaches Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson, ever referenced their American Idol pasts combined. But when she brought up The X Factor while trying to win over 18-year-old pop/rock power-singer Sasha Hurtado this Monday, it totally worked — because she invoked the name of another X Factor-launched superstar.
After Sasha boldly belted Bishop Briggs’s “River” and inspired both Camila and rival coach John Legend to turn their red chairs, John asked Sasha about her favorite current artists. When Sasha namechecked Harry Styles, John brought up the fun fact that he was the very first person that Harry ever followed on Twitter, which was pretty impressive. “Ooh, that’s a flex!” Sasha exclaimed. But then Camila brought up an even more fun fact, one that she also confessed when she went on “Carpool Karaoke” earlier this year: “I actually auditioned for my original singing competition show because I thought that I would meet Harry Styles and we would fall in lovvvve,” she told her Voice castmates with a giggle.
Two years before Camila was on The X Factor and eventually placed third as member of the prefab girl group Fifth Harmony, Harry, of course, famously got his start on the British X Factor as a member of the third-place prefab boy band One Direction. And the rest was music and television history. While Camila and Harry never became an item, they did become two of the biggest pop solo stars ever to emerge from the X Factor franchise. And so, this apparently gave Camila the edge over John — despite John’s above-mentioned Twitter bragging rights and aggressive attempt to recruit Sasha — because Sasha decided to join Team Camila.
“I have no shot!” John lamented, while coach Blake Shelton proclaimed, “It’s official! John can’t beat Camila!”
Camila continued her winning streak, prompting John to grumble, “OK, I’m retiring now; I quit,” when she scored another promising singer, four-chair contestant Andrew Igbokidi. She also continued to mention her singing-show past at pretty much every opportunity. But (spoiler alert!) in the end, John did finally defeat her. These were the other successful auditions of the night:
Andrew Igbokidi, 22: “When the Party’s Over”
A first-generation American of Nigerian descent, Andrew is a high achiever from a family of medical professionals and has already been accepted to four medical schools. Well, it’s nice to have a plan B, I guess! Now “at a crossroads” in his life, he has decided to give singing one more shot, and the coaches were “intrigued” (John’s word) by his prominent vibrato and unique tone. “I’ve never seen someone on this show someone that has such a mixture of styles,” marveled Gwen Stefani. “I really, really believe in you. ... I just want you so badly,” Camila gushed.
Who turned? All four coaches.
Result: Team Camila, again! The girl is on a roll this season. “You can’t beat her,” Blake sighed in frustration.
Cara Brindisi, 34: “All Too Well”
With a tender, storytelling voice — more of a whisper than a shout at first — and a keen sense of dynamics, Cara gradually drew the coaches in. Gwen loved Cara’s ‘70s singer-songwriter vibe, while Blake loved her “country side,” insisting, “I hear some twang coming out.” Camila, a huge Swiftie who oddly didn’t turn for Cara despite the song choice, even more oddly advocated for Cara to choose Blake — which had an outraged Gwen feeling betrayed by her new supposed “bestie.”
Who turned? Blake and Gwen.
Result: Team Gwen! Cara admitted, “I really didn’t expect this,” but she decided to listen to her gut instead of listening to Camila.
Valarie Harding, 41: “Something He Can Feel”
A Tulsa mother of four who moonlights in a corporate band with her husband, Valarie delivered a smooth, polished, and capable performance, but it was totally old-fashioned and, well, very corporate band-like. Maybe it was just her song choice. However, it was a choice that did meet with John’s approval — in fact, he had two of his contestants sing it in the Battles last year.
Who turned? John and Gwen.
Result: Team Legend. Gwen tried to play the “Okie” card through her husband Blake’s Oklahoma connection, and frankly, Gwen might have been a more adventurous choice for Valarie. But John was the more obvious fit for the R&B singer.
Julia Aslanli, 23: “Let’s Stay Together”
Julia is a horse whisperer of sorts, because she rides horses competitively and has a very soft, whispery vocal style. I am not sure if this passionate Al Green classic was the best pick for her, even if she sentimentally dedicated it to her fiancé. (“There was nothing that super-excited me about the song choice,” noted Camila, who did not turn around.) But Gwen adored Julia’s tone and declared her “one of my favorite singers” of Season 22, and she wasn’t wrong when she said Julia was “channeling something special.” Could Julia be this season’s — no pun intended — dark horse?
Who turned? Only Gwen — but she spun almost immediately.
Result: Team Gwen, obviously.
The Dryes: “Islands in the Stream”
This husband-and-wife duo was oozing Blake/Gwen-like lovey-dovey vibes during their duet; in fact, Gwen said it would be her “dream” if she and Blake ever tackled the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton classic themselves. I didn’t think Derek Drye’s solo vocal was that remarkable, but there was a certain magic when his better half Katelyn joined in. Their chemistry was undeniable.
Who turned? Blake, as soon as he heard Katelyn and realized that this was a harmonic twosome; Gwen followed suit when she heard Katelyn’s chiming, bird-like solo vocals.
Result: Team Blake. “Shocker!” Gwen said sarcastically.
Ava Lynn Thuresson, 18: “… Baby One More Time”
Radically remaking Britney Spears songs isn’t exactly a new gimmick on talent shows, so Ava Lynn didn’t need to claim that this was some creatively brilliant move on her part. Her bluesy version was giving me dated Alannah Myles vibes, and the arrangement was awkward and all over the place. However, the coaches recognized that there was a strong voice in there somewhere — so with better songs and arrangements and some much-needed direction, this young, raw talent could do well.
Who turned? Camila — who mentioned her X Factor past yet again — and John.
Result: Team Camila.
Madison Hughes, 25: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
This Americana artist’s quirky, reedy voice actually reminded me a bit of Gwen’s. It certainly was distinctive, and I am not at all surprised that Gwen turned. Gwen called Madison a “melting pot” who could try out a bunch of different musical genres, but her husband had a different idea. “Country is what comes out of your mouth,” Blake told Madison matter-of-factly.
Who turned? Blake, Gwen… and Camila, who (yes) mentioned that she “used to be on a singing show.”
Result: Team Blake.
Morgan Taylor, 20: “Cuz I Love You”
A wallflower who confessed that her anxiety “controls every aspect of her life,” Morgan channeled her “alter ego” on the Voice stage and transformed into a powerful, if imperfect, performer. Camila noted that pulling off this breathless, half-sung/half-spoken Lizzo banger was “no small feat” and noticed Morgan’s nerves, and John agreed, saying, “That rap-singing part, I feel like it trips everyone up.” But John appreciated that Morgan was a “risk-taker” and praised her “bold, big, powerful” vocals.
Who turned? All four coaches, with everyone but Camila hitting their buttons right away.
Result: Team Legend. Apparently Camila’s tough-love approach — noting that Morgan was only working at “95%” potential but could get to “99.9%” with her help — was not what a shy and sensitive soul like Morgan needed tonight.
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