Last week, on the final night of The Voice Season 22’s Blind Auditions, mullet-headed dreamboat Jaeden Luke made coach Camila Cabello swoon with his sexy cover of “Make It With You” – but she couldn’t recruit him, because her team was already full. When she promised to steal him in the Battle Rounds if she ever got the chance – saying with a wink, “I’ll save you, baby!” – Jaeden flirted right back, confessing that he’d been crooning Bread’s sappy love ballad for her all along.
This week, as the Battles continued, Camila finally shot her shot… and now it’s looking like Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani might not be the only power-couple on the Voice set.
Blake, Jaeden’s coach, pitted Jaeden against fellow quirky singer-songwriter (and four-chair contestant) Bodie on an eerily pretty remake of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” – a decision that guest adviser Jimmie Allen complained was downright foolish, considering how uniquely talented both standout contestants were. But of course, it was a decision that played right into Camila’s eager hands di lei. When Jaeden and Bodie first emerged onstage, Gwen exclaimed to Camila, “Hey, it’s your boyfriend!” and Camila visibly blushed, but she looked delighted to see Jaeden again and was no doubt hoping that he’d lose this Battle and become a free agent.
Jaeden and Bodie’s Bieber cover, which Jaeden said they’d arranged to “make it sound like something we wrote,” was absolutely magical – Jimmie even said it was like a “next-level” Best New Artist Grammy performance. Bodie possessed the technically stronger pipes, but Jaeden was giving super-cool, super-intense Alejandro Aranda vibes, (Blake actually compared Jaeden to Chris Isaak circa “Wicked Game.”) So, this could have gone either way, and there was a good chance that Jaeden would remain on Team Blake.
“Wowsa, wowsa. Guys, that was good. I was, like, really hot and flustered for a second there. That was a really sexy arrangement of the song, ”Camila purred, telling Jaeden,“ Hi again. I missed you! “
“I missed you too,” Jaeden replied with a flirtatious smile.
“Your tone is so beautiful, I want to hear it my ear,” Camila said, supposedly jokingly. “You’re my boyfriend!”
Camila claimed she would be willing to steal either contestant, but she was especially ready to hit her red Steal button after Blake chose to let Jaeden go. However, Camila wasn’t the only coach who swooped in for the Steal: She had competition from Gwen, who’d also been unable for turn for Jaeden in the Blinds and is a huge Bread fan. “I was staring at you most of the time,” Gwen told Jaeden after his Bodie Battle – probably making both Camila and her husband di lei a bit jealous.
“Watch it!” Barked Camila. “I’m right here!” Blake warned Gwen.
However, Jaeden’s decision, whether he consulted his heart or his brain, was clear. “Jaeden, you know we had something special from the moment we met. … In all seriousness, I think your voice is very special, ”Camila said. Then she added, again semi-jokingly: “If [you don’t pick me] I will break up with you! “
“You guys do have a lot of chemistry, and I don’t want to get it the way of that,” Gwen conceded.
“I can’t say no to my girlfriend,” Jaeden eventually announced, thus joining Team Camila. His new coach di lui, and possible new love interest, later said backstage, “He was a good boyfriend, because I would have broken up with him if he picked Gwen.”
“Camila was able to play the ‘I’m single, come whisper that song in my ear’ card,” said Blake. “Thank God Gwen didn’t play that card – that would’ve been really embarrassing!”
Of course, I am sure this is all one big showmance, since I imagine there are various ethics and rules in place at NBC when it comes to coach / contestant canoodling. But I have to say, Camila and Jaeden do make a cute couple. Whatever happens, I wish them all the best, even just in the context of this competition, because Jaeden is one of my favorite Season 22 contestants and I’d like to see him go all the way, so to speak.
Read on for the other Battle pairings of the night:
CAMILA TEAM: Ava Lynn Thuresson vs. Orlando Mendez, “Rocket Man”
Camila managed to lure these two “cool country singers” away from Blake, interestingly right around the time that Blake announced he’ll be leaving The Voice after next season. But Camila obviously isn’t a country star, so she gave Ava and Orlando an “out-of-the-box” song: a countrified classic by Elton John. Both contestants were daunted, but Orlando, despite calling the song assignment a “tall order,” was clearly more up for the challenge. While recent high school graduate Ava, who struggled with nerves during rehearsals with guest adviser Charlie Puth, did “come out of her shell di lei” onstage, as proud coach Camila put it, she was still on the edge and in her head di lei . Meanwhile, Orlando, a four-chair contestant, was a natural performer, with ownership of the stage and what Camila called “swag.” Ava demonstrated impressive control over her distinctively high voice, and Blake said she had more vocal variety, but Orlando’s “gravel and growl,” as John Legend worded it, rested more comfortably with the song – especially when he got to that long sweeping note that Blake said “pulled out the victory.” Camila had no choice but to heed country expert Blake’s advice from lei.
WINNER: Orlando Mendez
TEAM GWEN: Jay Allen vs. Dear Brindisi, “Leather and Lace”
These “seasoned artists” with “storytelling voices” were two other Season 22 country singers that Blake didn’t get. I guess non-Team Blake country artists are something we are just going to have to get used to! Gwen also went classic rock and a bit leftfield with her Stevie Nicks / Don Henley song assignment – which she sang as a duet with her di lei contestant Jeffery Austin on The Voice Season 9 finals, and also thought might be a good choice for her and hubby Blake to cover someday. Cara and Jay had a sublime vocal blend – so much so that when they started harmonizing, the studio audience immediately erupted with applause – but Jay’s raspy solo was more compelling. Blake actually said Jay had “the more Stevie Nicks approach” to the song. Gwen initially chose the more delicately voiced Cara, which was surprising, but then she decided that both singers had something to offer, so she attempted to use her own Save on Jay. But then Blake swooped in and tried to steal Jay for himself, and Jay had to tell his now former coach, “I’ve been in Nashville for 10 years, and Blake Shelton is a legend. … Gwen, please forgive me, but I think I’m gonna go with your husband. ” Host Carson Daly quipped, “Jay Allen may cause a celebrity divorce!” Gwen said she was so mad she was “shaking,” she called Blake a “jerk,” and grumbled, “My actual husband stabs me in the back! Blake is going to pay for that later! ” Blake said, “The good news is, I got Jay; the bad news is, we may have to go through some marriage counseling. ” I’m sure America’s favorite reality TV couple will put this (and Gwen’s light flirting with Jaeden) aside once they get home, but their proposed “Leather and Lace” duet might not happen any time soon, after this tiff.
WINNER: Cara Brindisi / STOLEN: Jay Allen moves to Team Blake
TEAM LEGEND: Emma Brooke vs. Nia Skyfer, “She She She’s All I Wanna Be”
Sweet young Emma, with her precise and polished voice and Pollyanna demeanor, couldn’t really relate to Tate McRae’s dark and angsty hit; the song totally seemed chosen for the edgier Nia, who didn’t quite have Emma’s chops di lei but more than made up for it with attitude and energy. “Both of you could not be more different artists,” Blake chuckled when he saw the ladies’ good-vs.-evil setup onstage, with Emma in a prairie dress and Nia looking like a Dolls Kill model in her holographic plastic robo-girl outfit. My eyes continuously went to Nia during this performance, because she really gave it her all di lei and had rock-star stage presence; my ears, however, admittedly preferred Emma. And John’s ears preferred Emma as well, although he pointed out that Emma was a compelling performer in her own understated right di lei, because she heeded guest adviser Jazmine Sullivan’s instruction to tell the song’s story through her eyes di lei. So, John picked Emma, but surprisingly, no one stole Nia – not Gwen, who seemed like such a kindred spirit to Nia that Blake jokingly accused Nia of raiding Gwen’s closet, and not Camila, even though the Cuban-born, Miami-raised Nia had originally auditioned with Camila’s “Bam Bam.” (Camila hadn’t been able to turn for Nia’s Blind Audition because her team was already full, so I always figured she might steal Nia if she ever got the chance; but of course, I now realize that she was saving her Steal for her “Boyfriend.”) I have a feeling if Nia had continued on this show she would have been a polarizing contestant, but she was an interesting one, at least, and her run was fun while it lasted.
WINNER: Emma Brooke
CAMILA TEAM: Grace Bello vs. Raina Ley, “Time After Time”
Raina may be the youngest contestant of the season, but the 13-year-old was a formidable opponent for 21-year-old Grace. This was a fairly even match – “If I had a Save, neither one of you would be going home,” Camila claimed – with two supple and gentle voices that Charlie Puth described as “butter against butter.” But then Grace disastrously fumbled her big moment (Blake noticed that Grace had “lost her confidence”), while Raina absolutely nailed her own power note. I’d dare say Raina was even more emotionally connected to the Cyndi Lauper ballad, despite her having eight fewer years of life experience to draw from. “I can feel you, that you understood what the lyric was saying,” Gwen told Raina, calling the prodigy “unbelievable.” Camila, who wasn’t much older than Raina when she tried out for The X Factorsaw that Raina had similar potential, and she made her decision accordingly.
WINNER: Raina Ley
TEAM GWEN: Justin Aaron vs. Destiny Leigh, “No More Drama”
Who would have thought a Battle between a one-chair contestant (Justin) and a previously montaged one (Destiny) would end up being the performance of the night? (Well, this Battle was shown last, which was a tipoff that it was going to be awesome, but still.) annex drama; John even gushed, “That was electrifying! Mary would be proud. ” Destiny was “on fire,” according to John, drawing inspiration from her own tough childhood di lei to tap into Mary J. Blige’s raw pain, while Justin showcased a “crazy range.” This had a similar vibe to the above-mentioned Emma / Nia pairing, with one singer, Justin, being clearly technically superior, but the other shining like a star. Gwen even said 18-year-old Destiny’s stage presence made up for her occasional vocal shortcomings di lei. Gwen ultimately picked Justin with the “God-given gift,” but unlike Nia, Destiny did get a reprieve, when Gwen saved her. I bet Destiny was thrilled that Jay Allen had decided to defect to Team Blake, so that Gwen’s Save was still in play – and I’m happy with this result too, because I think Destiny has a ton of raw potential.
WINNER: Justin Aaron / SAVED: Destiny Leigh
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