The Voice Season 20 Live Playoffs commenced Monday, and although the season had gotten off to a slow start, this episode was surprisingly one of the strongest in recent Voice memory, with all but a few of the top 17 semifinalists delivering stellar performances. One of the night’s top moments came courtesy of Team Blake soul-pop belter Cam Anthony, who took all of the coaches to church and received a standing ovation for his dynamic rendition of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” But when Blake Shelton gushingly praised Cam, he (inadvertently?) threw shade at The Voice, proclaiming, “I’ve never had more people asking me about an artist on my team in 20 seasons of doing this show, man. You could be the first superstar that we launch off the show.” (Italics mine, of course.)
Gee… the first, huh? Host Carson Daly had just mentioned that The Voice was celebrating its tenth anniversary, and you’d think in all that time the show could have spawned at least a couple superstars on the level of, say, Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Hudson — who of course got their start on rival series American Idol and have ironically both served as Voice coaches. Sure, there have been some Voice success stories, like Blake’s own winners Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery (who probably feel a bit slighted right now), or Team Adam’s Jordan Smith. But the show can’t even take credit for its biggest stars: Morgan Wallen, who only made it to the top 20 in 2014; Melanie Martinez, who after stalling in sixth place in 2012 forged an indie path for herself on YouTube and eventually signed to a label with no Voice affiliation, Atlantic Records; and Season 2’s Chris Mann, who reinvented himself during the 2020 pandemic as a viral musical comedian.
It’s doubtful that Blake’s remark was just a careless slip of the tongue. Several of the Voice coaches, including Blake’s mouthy former costar Adam Levine and Blake himself, have been vocal about the show’s shoddy track record — or, more specifically, Universal Records’ shoddy track record — when it comes to launching viable recording artists. For instance, during the Season 11 finale press conference in 2016, Blake memorably sat next to newly crowned winner Sundance Head and declared, “I want to personally issue a challenge to Universal Records. … This is the guy that I think can break the mold and become a star out of this show. And I give my word that I’ll put my work in, and I know he will. This guy deserves to be a star, and there’s no excuses anymore. We need to make the record and put the work in that he deserves, to have this success that he deserves. And that has to start with Universal Records getting involved and behind him.” Blake’s frank comments echoed similar stern sentiments expressed by Adam at the Season 9 finale press conference exactly a year earlier, when Adam demanded that Universal “do right by Jordan Smith.”
While Jordan went on to moderate success, Sundance became one of 11 Universal-signed Voice winners who never released albums or EPs while still under contract with the show. (In December 2017, about a year and a half before original coach Adam After 10 years and 20 seasons, Blake Shelton thinks ‘The Voice’ has finally found its