Team Blake's Bodie delivers another historic performance on 'The Voice' Season 22. (Photo: NBC)
Last week on The Voice, SoCal singer-songwriter Bodie so stunningly transformed the Proclaimers’ jaunty novelty hit “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” into a plaintive indie ballad that his coach, Blake Shelton, said he was a “visionary.” So, it seemed after setting the bar that high, there was nowhere else for Bodie to go, no way for him to expand his vision. But as The Voice Season 22’s top 10 competed this Monday, Bodie set the bar even higher — so much so that Blake marveled, “This may be the greatest performance I've ever seen on this show.”
Yes, Blake is prone to hyperbole on The Voice — he actually once told a contestant, “You literally just bludgeoned me to death with your vocals!” — but in the case of Bodie’s top 10 tour de force, Blake really was being literal this time. Years from now, when NBC airs a best-of Voice anniversary special featuring Amanda Brown’s “Dream On,” Hunter Plake’s “Higher Love,” and Victor Solomon’s “Freedom,” Bodie’s “Golden Hour” will be right up there on that list.
Monday’s top 10 theme was fan-picked songs, and if viewers had assigned the lightning-quick, partially rapped “Golden Hour” by TikTok star JVKE’s to any other contestant than Bodie, it likely would've been sabotage. “This may be the hardest song I have ever heard someone try to do on this show,” noted Blake. “What you were doing in the verses, and then the way you were singing in the chorus? What? Who are you?”
But Bodie, a true original who’s used to taking risks on this show, totally pulled it off. This was one of the most adventurous, interesting, modern, and relevant performances in Voice history, and it was Bodie’s best yet — in a season already filled with Bodie highlights. I know the coaches make such claims every season, but if Bodie wins Season 22, I really could envision him having a massive pop career after the show, in the real world.
“You walked in here and I felt star-struck by you — and I don't even really get star-struck anymore!” gasped Camila Cabello. “You definitely have your own lane, your own everything. I thought it was just beautiful. I'm always amazed by your voice, because it's like an alternative voice, but it does so much more than an alternative voice,” raved Gwen Stefani. “Oh my God, you're incredible, dude. I don't know what else to say,” Blake gushed.
Whether or not Bodie wins this season, he certainly has a shot at stardom. But several other Season 22 contestants could make it to the winner’s circle in just two weeks’ time, because as host Carson Daly pointed out, this is “the strongest group of 10 artists the show has had in a while.” And that too was not hyperbole. As seen below, this was a phenomenal, talent-packed top 10 episode. What a shame that the season is almost over, just when it’s finally revving up.
Parijita Bastola (Team Legend), “Scars to Your Beautiful”
Parijita received a fan letter from Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Jonas — “my American heartthrob and Indian heartthrob!” — and I imagine she’s made quite a few fans, famous or otherwise, during her Voice run. While she admitted that she was “a little skeptical” about doing this youthful Alessia Cara song, she proved once again that she can sing anything and make it seem effortless and straight from the heart. This performance felt like a finale, not the episode’s opener. Blake called this performance “a master class in combining passion and joy with just great execution,” Gwen called it “beautiful,” and John Legend told Parijita, “I love that [song’s] message for you. I think it really represents who you are and what you've been on that show. I love that flutter in your voice; that vibrato feels so warm and inviting. It feels so mature compared to your 17 years of life. I'm just amazed by you every week.”
Rowan Grace (Team Blake), “I Love You”
Rowan is another one of Seasons 22’s teen hopefuls, and apparently Voice fans wanted her to youth it up as well, because they assigned her a Billie Eilish song. (Rowan chose an ABBA ballad last week.) Blake was all for this, explaining, "This performance strips away most of the band and we get to hear her tone. … If people hear [her] sing like that, it's almost hypnotic.” This was a bit too Billie-soundalike, but aside from that, I thought this was Rowan’s best vocal of the season; she’s better when she’s tranquil and languid, as opposed to power-belting. However, coaches seemed oddly underwhelmed. “I love your tone of voice, but I think that was a little bit of a challenging song, because it's so barren and you can hear absolutely everything. There were times where I was like, ‘I'm a little unsure where this was going,’” admitted Camila. John agreed “it was a bit of a challenge,” but thought Rowan mostly “nailed it,” and Blake thought Rowan “met the challenge” too. I do think Rowan made a valiant effort, but I’m not sure she can go much further in such a fiercely competitive season.
Justin Aaron (Team Gwen), “Just Once”
Unlike the Parijita and Rowan fans, Justin’s fans (among them John and Gwen’s Boomer parents!) definitely wanted him to stay old-school, with this James Ingram classic. “I was so excited when I saw that the fans chose that song for you. I actually kind of forgot about that song,” Gwen said. (It always reminds me of the greatest teen sex comedy of the ‘80s, The Last American Virgin, but I digress.) I actually expected more sheer lung power from Justin after he totally shut it down in the pimp spot last week, but this was a solid vocal with a nice big finish. Camila called him “such a masterful singer” and said her ear was “always so happy” listening to him; Carson told him, “You can flat-out sing — that was incredible”; and Gwen said, “It was beautiful, the way you did it. I think all America is going to vote for you.”
Brayden Lape (Team Blake), “Homesick”
The youngest in the competition, at age 16, Brayden is Season 22’s token teen heartthrob. But I fear he has already peaked. This Kane Brown song didn’t really allow him to do much or go anywhere, so this was a pleasant but ultimately bland performance. However, Gwen praised Brayden for being “so calm,” and Camila told him, “You just glided right over that.” Even Blake acknowledged, “You could almost come out here and not do anything, and people still love you.” Blake seemed convinced that Brayden’s “‘it’ thing” would be more than enough, even predicting that Brayden was “going to get way too big for us to ever get to come back on this show.” But while I agree that Brayden has star quality, I think he ought to be trying just a little bit harder.
Kim Cruse (Team Legend), “Love on the Brain”
Kim’s sizzling Rihanna cover was a welcome and needed jolt of adrenaline after Brayden’s tepid performance. She looked fierce, like a true star in that glowing white lightbox, and I loved hearing her be contemporary again. (She fantastically auditioned with a H.E.R. song, and this week’s performance was on par with that.) “Kim has been one of the best vocalists on the show from the beginning. She's shown different sides: She's done modern R&B, classic soul, country, and now she's coming back to a modern R&B song with classic roots. I love that journey for her,” said John. “I feel like I know Rihanna well enough to say she loved that performance,” claimed Carson, who was offering his own commentary a lot more often than usual tonight. “I think your voice could simultaneously kill things and bring them back to life; you can do it all. I don't even know what to say to you anymore — congratulations on being born that way,” quipped Blake. “I feel you're underrated this season… now everybody is going to wake up and say, ‘Why weren't we making a bigger deal about Kim?’” said Gwen. I agree that it can be all too easy to take Kim’s talent for granted, but hopefully that will never happen again this season.
Bryce Leatherwood (Team Blake), “Sand in my Boots”
Problematic as he is, Morgan Wallen is technically The Voice’s biggest success story. (Morgan competed in Season 6, and while Morgan’s coaches that year were Usher and then Adam Levine, Blake noted, “We still claim Morgan Wallen around these parts.”) So, I could see why a Wallen song was a good fit for a commercial country crooner like Bryce. This wasn’t a big vocal showcase, but it was the first time I truly witnessed Bryce being tender and wistful instead of being a hokey hat act, and I appreciated this stripped-back storyteller vibe. I don’t know if Bryce can become a superstar like Morgan Wallen, but this was far and away my favorite performance of his. The coaches loved it too. Camila described Bryce's tone as being like “salted butter,” John called him “so classic,” and Blake said, “You have ascended, and people are buying into Bryce Leatherwood now in a big way.”
Kiqué (Team Gwen), “Call Out My Name”
Kiqué sang for his life on last week’s results show with the Weeknd’s “Earned It,” and America saved him — so this week, America assigned him another yearning, angst-y Weeknd ballad. Sadly, he was unable sing live Monday because he tested positive for COVID-19, but his pre-taped studio performance showcased him at full strength. This was so dynamite and exciting! “You make every song your own. You give it your personality and flair. You're so daring every time — you're doing these songs that are popular by huge artists, and it's so impressive,” said John. “That was a flawless performance. The fact that you have to be sick right now, I'm so sorry, but I'm praying for you and voting for you, and so is America,” Gwen declared confidently. Kiqué definitely proved that deserved to be saved last week, and I think he’ll be back next week to compete live again.
Morgan Myles (Team Camila), “Tennessee Whiskey”
Poor Camila started the Live Playoffs with such a strong team, but then she lost two artists, Devix and Eric Who, last week — leaving her with this one contestant, her “last woman standing.” But Camila could still win it all, because one great singer is all any Voice coach needs. And Morgan Myles is a great, great singer. This song was an genius choice by her fans, the “Mylestones,” playing to all of her blues/rock/country crossover strengths and allowing her to shred on Bonnie Raitt-style guitar as well. “I've never seen you so in your element as this song,” Camila told Morgan during rehearsals. Both John and Carson said this seemed like an “awards show performance,” and John assured Morgan, “It felt like you were doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing.” Camila raved, “My eyes hurt from how much you are absolutely shining up there tonight. I feel like you were just totally superstar status today. … We need this woman at award shows! We need her!” I think at the very least, we need this woman on The Voice. Morgan is a force.
Omar José Cardona (Team Legend), “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Omar went modern with a Martin Garrix bop last week, which I found refreshing after all of his ‘80s retro-rock performances. So, I was worried when I found out that his fans had assigned him this potentially schlocky Foreigner power ballad. But by channeling all of last week’s rawness and vulnerability and spending most of this performance at a piano before finishing big with a gospel choir, Omar had a moment. “That was euphoric. Only you, I feel, can pull off that song we've heard that song so many times; it can so easily come off as karaoke. But for you, it's magical,” said Camila. Gwen said, “You're so incredible emotionally — this was more emotional than last week. It was so passionate.” And John proudly stated, “I feel like you're going from being an incredible singer to being somebody that connects with people's hearts and emotions. I felt it even more this week. It feels spiritual when you're singing.”
So now, it is prediction time — and this one’s a toughie. On Tuesday, two singers will go home, and I feel based on Monday’s performances, those two should be Brayden and Rowan. But they’re both Team Blake contestants, and Blake is so popular (he’s the only coach with all four of his original Playoffs team members in the top 10), so they might skate through. As long as Team Blake’s Bodie is safe — and he will be — I’ll be happy, of course. But honestly, after this fantastic night, I’ll be sad to see almost any of these talented singers exit the competition. But tune in Tuesday to see what happens — and be ready to vote for the Instant Save if your favorite is in danger.
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