It’s been both a topsy and a turvy three months of competition, with one crushing elimination (Kim Cruse’s) after another (Parijita Bastola’s), an early exit for Gwen Stefani’s entire team, a fauxmance cut short (between rookie coach Camila Cabello and contestant Jaeden Luke), approximately a zillion promos for Carson Daly and Blake Shelton’s new show and the traumatization of one unfortunate goat. But finally, The Voice on Tuesday revealed the winner of Season 22.
Based on the polls that followed TVLine’s recap of Monday’s performances by the Final Five, most of you were hoping that Team Blake’s bodie would be awarded the title — and expecting that he would be, too. But the finale had been arguably teammate Bryce Leatherwood’s finest night in the sing-off; plus, he was the country-est country act left. Team John Legend’s Omar Jose Cardona had made a compelling play for the crown with his epic Queen cover, and Team Camila’s Morgan Myles had finished strong with her rendition of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” As for Team Blake’s Brayden Lape… hey, his hair looked terrific.
Before we found out which of the finalists scored the victory, we were treated to a star-studded show. Among the highlights were OneRepublic doing “I Ain’t Worried” (complete with a whole lotta whistling that it was hard to fathom was really done live), Adam Lambert 1,000-percent upgrading Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” (and dedicating his stunning performance to the LGBTQ+ community and the victims of the horrific Colorado Springs shooting) and Maluma serving up two of his hits (while backup dancers managed to do cardio in leather onesies).
But wait, there was more. So. Much. More. We probably could’ve done without Howie Mandel tutoring Camila on how to land a joke and the silly Blake/John Odd Couple skit that went on forever. However, on the plus side, Girl Named Tom, sublime as ever, returned to wish for “One More Christmas” with their late dad and remind us why they’d so richly deserved their Season 21 victory, BRELAND in all caps schooled future contestants on lowkey-cool on “For What It’s Worth,” and Blake (who was having a very busy night) teamed up with the ubiquitous Kane Brown to sing “Different Man” on a Wheel of Fortune that made me dizzy just looking at it. Finally, Kelly Clarkson, who will be back in her revolving chair for Season 23, asked “Santa, Can’t You Hear Me?” so spiritedly that ya had to hope that he did.
As always, we also got a bunch of coach/contestant duets. How’d they go down? Rather like this…
Bryce Leatherwood and Blake Shelton, “Hillbilly Bone” — Bryce’s Grade: B+ | Is it just me, or has Bryce turned the star quality way up this week? Here, standing in for Trace Adkins, with whom his coach usually does this single, he was loose and playful and rockin’ a voice that was so deep, it might have come from his ankles. Fun stuff — and a better match of contestant/song than what came next.
Omar Jose Cardona and John Legend, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” — Omar’s Grade: B | Wearing the entire glitter aisle from The Voice’s neighborhood Michael’s store, Omar sounded perfectly fine on his and his coach’s Stevie Wonder team-up. The number just didn’t leave any room for the vocal pyrotechnics that had made Omar such a contender. He’s better than “fine.”
Brayden Lape and Blake Shelton, “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” — Brayden’s Grade: D | After Blake razzed his teen heartthrob about everything from his football team’s hairdon’ts to his skinny jeans, the duo tackled Alan Jackson’s hit, with Brayden often looking unsure when he was supposed to come in and, when he did come in, sounding, well… ya know.
Morgan Myles and Camila Cabello, “Never Be the Same” — Morgan’s Grade: A- | Kinda interesting hearing Camila’s voice next to Morgan’s whiskey-soaked one — and it mostly worked. More importantly, whereas John’s song selection gave him more chances to shine than Omar, Camila’s choice of her own song still allowed Morgan to show off.
bodie and Blake Shelton, “God’s Country” — bodie’s Grade: A | Hmm. Did all of the contestants choose their coach duets? ’Cause ahead of his and Blake’s performance of the coach’s hit, bodie informed us that he himself had picked it because it “slaps.” On stage, bodie slapped back, giving the country-rock number slamming alt-rock overtones. Takes a lot to match Blake’s intensity on this song, but by God, bodie did it.
And in the moment of truth, we learned that viewers had voted into…
Brayden Lape (Team Blake)
Omar Jose Cardona (Team Legend)
bodie (Team Blake) and Morgan Myles (Team Camila)
Season 22 Winner
Bryce Leatherwood (Team Blake)
So, what did you think of Season 22? Grade the finale below, then click here to read what Bryce has to say about his polarizing victory.