‘The Voice’ voters go ‘straight down the middle’ with disappointing first live results of Season 22

Bryce Leatherwood, Sasha Hurtado, Kevin Hawkins, and Kate Kalvach await their fate on 'The Voice' The top 16 live results for season 22 show.  (Photo: NBC)

Bryce Leatherwood, Sasha Hurtado, Kevin Hawkins, and Kate Kalvach await their fate on ‘The Voice’ Season 22 top 16 live results show. (Photo: NBC)

Tuesday was brought The voice Season 22’s top 16 results show – the season’s first live results show – and for the first half of the episode, there were a few surprises. In fact, if I may zoom in for a second, I correctly predicted 10 of the top 12 contenders, although the voting order was slightly different for John Legend’s team.

It was only when it came time to fill the final spot of the top 13 rounds – by singing a real-time Instant Save, which was publicly voted on among the other four contestants – that the episode became unpredictable.

So, at the start of the night, host Carson Daly explained that each team’s two vote-getters, based on Monday’s top 16 performances, would advance, after which each coach would save a third artist. For Team Blake, America voted for alternative singer-songwriter Bodie and country trope Brayden Lape, as I had predicted, although it was a bit of a surprise when Blake Shelton then chose to save teenage pop singer Rowan Grace over “straight down the middle ” country coroner Bryce Leatherwood, which Blake was therefore it would certainly make it to the top 13. But Blake revealed that he strategically based this decision on “who had already gone through,” so maybe he thought that Bryce and Brayden would cancel each other out in future votes. Or, maybe, just maybe, Blake was simple and sure that (spoiler alert) Bryce could win the Instant Save.

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For Team Legend, America deservedly voted through the deserving teen diva Parijita Basola (as I had predicted) and the rock showboat Omar José Cardona (John was right about that result; I was wrong). Then John saved “The Velvet Powerhouse,” Kim Cruse, of course — and since I assumed America would vote for Kim’s dynamite Aretha Franklin cover, basically the three main Team Legend lines ended as I had predicted anyway.

As for Team Gwen, America voted for new school song stylist Kiqué (he looked shocked, but I sure wasn’t) and old school soul belter Justin Aaron, just as I had called him. It was also no surprise when Gwen Stefani rescued her mini-fi “muffin”, 19-year-old pop star Alyssa Witrado – although her recently stolen rival, Kevin Hawkins, clearly shares a less solid bond with him, having deliver the stronger vocal performance on Monday.

And that left new coach Camila Cabello and her team. America (and I) got it right by choosing country rock badass Morgan Myles and cool cat Devix, and while I was pleased (and unsurprised) that Camila saved the dynamite show Eric Who, who was the star self-published from The Eric Who Showmy heart went out to veteran Kate Kalvach, whose performance on Monday was hampered by technical issues that were in no way her fault, which she handled like a true pro.

But all was not lost yet for Kate – or for Bryce, Kevin, or Sasha Hurtado from Team Legend – as they sang about redemption and a wild spot in the top 13, all doing tunes of their own choosing. I thought that Bryce going with “Let Me Down Easy”—the Billy Currington song, not the Chris Isaak one, which would have been much more interesting—was an odd choice for a save me song. It was hardly a vocal display, and the feeling almost seemed overwhelming, as if he had expected to go home. I thought that this, together with the fact that he was singing in the deprived first place, meant that Bryce it would be go home But (spoiler alert) I should never have underestimated the country voter/Blake fan base of this show. “I wasn’t too worried about putting Bryce in this situation,” Blake asserted.

Sasha’s cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” was a great fight anthem, and her coach John told her, “I loved that you chose this song about resilience!” It was a tricky song, very wordy, and there were moments when Sasha was clearly struggling to keep up, but she really nailed it at the end as her confidence grew. It probably wouldn’t be enough to save Sasha from elimination, but John praised her for “never being afraid of the moment – you always rise to the occasion.”

And so, it seemed it would all come down to Kevin and Kate. It is it appeared so, anyway.

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Choosing Kevin to do Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” was a risk, even though he was on brand… but man, did he ever pull it off! This was the most exciting performance of the night, the whole atmosphere. It was obvious that Kevin really was wantthis victory, and he went deeper and deeper into the groove as he worked that flexible falsetto and worked the crowd like a true star. And the crowd loved it, with even the four coaches giving him a standing ovation. “Wow, there’s the room explode,” said Gwen, who must have been second-guessing her decision to save the uncooked Alyssa over the seasoned Kevin. “That was so amazing. Everyone is blown away by you. I can’t even talk, it’s so loud in here right now!”

Kate went last – historically the best Instant Save site – and while Miley Cyrus’ 2010 movie theme “When I Look at You” may not have been the best fight song choice, and Kate’s performance wasn’t as bold or fiery as Kevin’s , there was no doubt that Kate had the best voice of the night. Her crystal-clear tone was lovely, and this time, her redeeming performance went off without a hitch. “Kate, my God! Everyone was freaked out. I choked up. Everyone choked,” Camila gushed. “You have one of the best voices all season.” Camila later declared that Kate had “one of my favorite voices of all time.”

But America apparently disagreed, and the voters at home went “straight down the middle” for… Bryce, of course. Bryce actually gave the weakest performance among these four contestants, but this kind of disappointing result seems to happen every season with Blake’s team; perhaps this outcome was not so unpredictable after all. It will be interesting to see if average country singers do this well, and coast this easily, once Blake leaves The voice after season 23.

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But in the meantime, Season 22’s top 13 – Bryce included – will be back next Monday to compete again. See you then.

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