After 10 years and 20 seasons, Blake Shelton thinks 'The Voice' has finally found its 'first superstar' - Yahoo Entertainment
May 11, 2021 6 mins, 20 secs
The Voice Season 20 Live Playoffs commenced Monday, and although the season had gotten off to a slow start, this episode was surprisingly one of the strongest in recent Voice memory, with all but a few of the top 17 semifinalists delivering stellar performances.

One of the night’s top moments came courtesy of Team Blake soul-pop belter Cam Anthony, who took all of the coaches to church and received a standing ovation for his dynamic rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” But when Blake Shelton gushingly praised Cam, he (inadvertently?) threw shade at The Voice, proclaiming, “I've never had more people asking me about an artist on my team in 20 seasons of doing this show, man.

Host Carson Daly had just mentioned that The Voice was celebrating its tenth anniversary, and you’d think in all that time the show could have spawned at least a couple superstars on the level of, say, Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Hudson — who of course got their start on rival series American Idol and have ironically both served as Voice coaches.

Sure, there have been some Voice success stories, like Blake’s own winners Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery (who probably feel a bit slighted right now), or Team Adam’s Jordan Smith.

But the show can’t even take credit for its biggest stars: Morgan Wallen, who only made it to the top 20 in 2014; Melanie Martinez, who after stalling in sixth place in 2012 forged an indie path for herself on YouTube and eventually signed to a label with no Voice affiliation, Atlantic Records; and Season 2’s Chris Mann, who reinvented himself during the 2020 pandemic as a viral musical comedian.

Several of the Voice coaches, including Blake’s mouthy former costar Adam Levine and Blake himself, have been vocal about the show’s shoddy track record — or, more specifically, Universal Records’ shoddy track record — when it comes to launching viable recording artists.

For instance, during the Season 11 finale press conference in 2016, Blake memorably sat next to newly crowned winner Sundance Head and declared, “I want to personally issue a challenge to Universal Records.

And that has to start with Universal Records getting involved and behind him.” Blake’s frank comments echoed similar stern sentiments expressed by Adam at the Season 9 finale press conference exactly a year earlier, when Adam demanded that Universal “do right by Jordan Smith.”.

(In December 2017, about a year and a half before original coach Adam acrimoniously left The Voice after 16 seasons, Adam also blasted Universal/Republic’s lack of support in an interview with Parade magazine, saying, “Once we pass the torch, it is the record label that completely destroys that. My last two winners never even had an album released.”) And now, almost five years after that awkward Sundance Head press conference and a full decade after the Voice series premiere, the New York Post is running an article with the title “Won and done: Why ‘The Voice’ hasn’t produced a big star in its 10 years.” Maybe Blake, the only coach to have served on the panel for all 20 Voice seasons, perused that NY Post story before Monday’s Live Playoffs.

Regardless, it’s kind of endearing to see that Blake apparently still clings to the narrative that The Voice is in the business of promoting any “superstars” other than, well, Blake and his current costars: the aforementioned Kelly Clarkson (who goes to great pains to never utter the words “American Idol” while sitting in her red chair), John Legend, and Nick Jonas.

While it might be putting the cart before the never-to-arrive horse to speculate if any of them can break the decade-long Voice curse, let’s assess the top 17 performances and predict who’ll at least make it to Season 20’s top nine.

It's like watching an actor in like the best scene of the movie,” said Kelly.

… You have the biggest voice on the show right now.”.

Zae is another power-belter on Kelly’s stacked team, and since his slightly pitchy performance wasn’t as technically polished as Gihanna’s or emotionally intense as Corey’s, either of those two could edge him out.

Team Kelly voters will have a tough decision this week.

This was such a mature and self-assured performance (once again, it’s hard to believe he’s a high school kid), like something from the 1990 CMT Awards.

Blake, who’d once predicted that Kenzie will win the show, didn’t back away from that prophecy now.

(Apparently he is expecting Kenzie and Cam to be the top two?) Kelly, who blocked Blake during the auditions to secure Kenzie for her team, declared, “I'm so blessed.

Ryleigh is the quirky girl of Season 20 (every season has one), and she put her own stamp on Olivia Rodrigo’s ubiquitous teen-angst anthem, sounding like she wrote it herself.

Zania has always seemed like a dangerous competitor, a true threat, but this performance was disappointing.

The performance started off wobbly and flat, and while she did sell the sensual song, it was her worst vocal to date.

Blake called it a “breakout, awesome performance,” and John said, “You just give everything — the outfit, the energy, the runs, the high notes.

Perfect physical performance, vocal performance, so much energy and charisma.

Kelly threw almost all of her earthly possessions at the stage, then raved, “My whole life I've been waiting for someone like you; you have such a gift, it's crazy!” Said Nick, “I'm just going to say it's an honor to be your coach.

And Andrew didn’t upgrade his also-ran status with this bland performance, which guaranteed he’d be outshined by the bigger power-singers of the season.

Nick pretty much say goodbye to Andrew right then and there, telling him he’d “had an incredible journey on this show” but “not everything came together perfectly during this performance.

Your best vocal performance I've heard on this show with you so far.

This songbird’s Kacey Musgraves cover ticked all the boxes: a perfectly pristine and crystalline vocal, a deeply connected and heartfelt delivery (she shed real tears, as did easy crier Kelly), and a Vampire’s Wife-style maxidress that made her look like a chic country-folk style icon.

Blake told the winsome warbler she “really set the bar pretty high,” and Nick called her a “special artist” that was “born for this stage.” Nick better be relieved that he has Dana and Rachel on his team, because even though he supposedly had an advantage with his extra contestant, his team had an overall weak showing tonight.

This was a very cool performance — “way too cool to be on Blake's team,” as Kelly joked.

Kelly said Jordan’s performance had “the right amount of mystery,” and Blake told him, “There's nobody anywhere near what you do in this competition.”.

Said a nostalgic Blake, who used to know Peter 25 years ago when they were both starting out in Nashville, “To see you still have the same raw talent and passion for singing, great job.”.

Maybe Blake was right about Cam.

Do right by Cam Anthony, Universal/Republic.

Unfortunately, team quotas are still in place this week, which means coaches with especially strong teams — i.e., Kelly and John — will have to bid premature farewells to some very worthy contenders.

I predict for Team Kelly, Kenzie will get the most votes, and Kelly will then save Corey (or possibly Gihanna).

And for Team Blake, it’ll be Cam and Jordan

Blake Shelton jokes that Kelly Clarkson got Adam Levine fired from 'The Voice'


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