I’ve been a fan of The Voice since the very beginning. Which is a bit strange, since I don’t normally watch reality television or game shows. I think it stems back to my irritation with Simon Cowell from American Idol always treating contestants like raw sewage. By contrast, The Voice seemed to be more uplifting and positive. So several years later, I’m a regular viewer of the show, and am excited to help review the premiere of Season 22 with the Blind Auditions.
While I may have become a bit more jaded about the show over the years, and definitely suspect a lot of the banter between the coaches is somewhat scripted, the undeniable fact is that it’s still very entertaining. At least the majority of the time. There’s some big and bold personalities that have been coaches in the past, from CeeLo Green (I still miss you), to Adam Levine and Shakira. And while I miss Kelly Clarkson a lot, and found her attitude very engaging, the coaches this season are all fantastic. Blake is still a hillbilly jerk, John is the king of smooth and Gwen is a popstar princess in pink. But the big surprise was the newest coach, an advisor to Mr. Legend last season. None other than Camila Cabello!
I honestly wasn’t that familiar with Cabello prior to this, other than the earworm that is Havana. Watching tonight’s episode, I learned that she was also in a group called Fifth Harmony back in the day, so she knows a thing or two about fighting for recognition in the industry. Though she might not look that intimidating, dressed like a glittery buccaneer, she proves tonight she’s ready to fight for every artist. And to my great delight, she’s already proving a thorn in Shelton’s side, though nobody can eclipse Adam Levine’s mastery of driving Blake crazy.
There’s some really great contestants that show up, though I am starting to shift how I look at 4 chair turns. Previously, I thought only the best of the best won that rare distinction. While I do think some truly amazing artists get all the coaches’ attention, I’m starting to believe those that only get a few chairs to turn might be something even more special. An example tonight is Ian Harrison, and he has a truly tragic backstory. Another is named Emma Brooke, dressed a bit like an albino Carmen Sandiego. And then there’s David Andrew, who has the most amazing hair I’ve seen in some time.
There’s also some amazing song choices this evening, starting with Hallelujah, then Separate Ways, The Night We Met, California Dreaming and plenty more iconic tunes. And yes, there’s a few country souls as well. While far from my favorite genre, the artists that sing country songs tonight are really talented, and one even has the moniker The Cuban Cowboy. I won’t say how many wind up with Blake, but I will say I enjoyed how rough of a night Shelton has. Though his consolation prize is that he’s married to the adorable Gwen Stefani now.
There’s also a couple of heartbreaker moments where some really talented artists don’t get a single coach. I won’t say which ones, but suffice to say they really impressed me. Then again, I’m far from trained in any musical sphere, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. I just know what I like when I hear it, and a couple of those voices won’t be singing anymore this season.
One of my favorite artists tonight is named Jay Allen, and he looks like Adam Levine reincarnated into a more muscular form. I won’t spoil what song he sings, but I will say that a couple of coaches fight hard for him to join their team. He also has a tragic but uplifting story about a serious loss he suffered recently.
We get to learn more about Camila, at least as a coach. She’s constantly taking notes, and espouses she wants musical diversity on her team. Though she is a needle in Blake’s side, he gives her plenty of grief as well. In fact, Blake plays more stunts in this premiere than I think he’s played in entire past seasons of The Voice. It all culminates with the “mascot” that he brings on stage for the last few minutes of the episode.
There’s also a really fun moment with Camila singing a song Gwen Stefani is famous for, and being joined by some of the other coaches. John hands out varsity jackets, and has moved farther away from Blake’s seat, with the girls in the middle. Not to be outdone, Gwen hands out badass hoodies, and Camila takes photos with artists. Blake, being the country boy he is, has a very special prize for those that join his team, but I won’t ruin it.
It ends with a to be continued moment, which is honestly a tradition at this point. Overall it was a pretty great premiere of The Voice Season 22. There’s magic in the episode, from literal magical wands to a Harry Potter reference. And there’s someone that looks like a popstar version of Borat. All in all, a really strong start, and one that has me excited to see what other great artists join the coaches to fight for supremacy.