During the Season 22 premiere of The Voice Monday night, all eyes were on rookie coach Camila Cabello, who made a fine and feisty addition to the bank of red swivel chairs. But all ears were on the first batch of contestants in the Blind Auditions. At least a couple of Girl Named Tom’s would-be successors stood out, with a couple more showing great promise. Read on, and we’ll discuss the ones that Camila, John Legend, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani especially liked — oh, and me, too — then you can hit the comments with your faves.
Morgan Myles (Team Camila), “Hallelujah” — Grade: A | This 35-year-old Nashvillian’s countrified Leonard Cohen cover started off the season with a four-chair turn (and Camila blocking Gwen). For the longest time, I kept thinking, “OK, this is good, but it’s not really going anywhere.” And then Morgan took it somewhere — big time — rocking a memorable growl and a glory note that rose all the way up to the heavens.
Omar Jose Cardona (Team Legend), “Separate Ways” — Grade: B | No doubt about it: This 33-year-old who dreams of merging pop and old-school rock has pipes for days. But throughout his performance, I kept wishing that he hadn’t swung for the fence, because as good as he is, he just didn’t have Steve Perry’s oomph. Camila suggested that he gave off “Freddie Mercury vibes.” I maintain that he was good, not great.
Ian Harrison (Team Gwen), “The Night We Met” — Grade: C+ | After relating his song selection to his dad’s suicide when he was just 9 years old, Ian, now 20, delivered a soulful and understated rendition of Lord Huron that played like a confession. For a while there, it seemed like it might be too understated — no wow. But ultimately, he earned three chair turns with just the memorably lived-in character of his voice.
Emma Brooke (Team Legend), “California Dreaming” — Grade: A | Poised and intense, this classically trained 19-year-old knocked me the hell out from the moment she opened her mouth. She sang her Mamas and the Papas golden oldie with precision, power, emotion… and jeez, that last note went on for longer than a commercial break. Glad she chose John as her coach, as his initial guidance to loosen up seemed sound.
Orlando Mendez (Team Camila), “Beer Never Broke My Heart” — Grade: B | This 26-year-old Floridian, AKA “the Cuban cowboy,” could charm the hooves of a horse. And his rollicking rendition of Luke Combs wasn’t just fun, it demonstrated that he has some chops, too. I’m not entirely convinced that he can hold the reins on those chops, but the coaches were; he rode off into the sunset with a four-chair turn.
David Andrew (Team Legend), “Falling” — Grade: C | A background vocalist for Ed Sheeran and Kane Brown (among others), David didn’t really dazzle until he opened wide on his big notes. And they were lovely to the nth. Everywhere else, though, the two-chair turn sounded kinda… leaden. His eventual coach thought the performance was “soulful and dramatic.” I thought it straddled the line between “oo” and “eh.”
Jay Allen (Team Gwen), “’Til You Can’t” — Grade: B | After telling us about losing his beloved mom to Alzheimer’s, this 36-year-old (who totally looks like a movie action hero, right?) delivered a nicely nuanced, emotional rendition of Cody Johnson. The second he opened his mouth, it seemed like he was destined for Team Blake. Instead, the would-be cross between Chris Daughtry and Blake chose his missus. Hmm.
Kate Kalvach (Team TBD), “Rainbow” — Grade: B- | This daughter of two pastors, encouraged by her husband to pursue singing outside of the church, started off wobbly to my ear. But once she found her footing, she revealed a voice as sweet and fragile as a sunbeam. Still a bit too much vibrato — for my taste, anyway — but the three-chair turn clearly has something. (And enough to inspire Blake to keep muting Camila).
How did you think Cabello fared on Night 1? Which performance knocked your socks off as well as your shoes? And what did you make of the premiere overall? Vote in the polls below, then hit the comments.