At the start of this spring’s The Voice Live Playoffs, Blake Shelton, the only coach to sit on the Voice panel for all of the series’ 10 years and 20 seasons, boldly (and controversially) predicted that his standout team member, soul-pop wunderkind Cam Anthony, would be “the first superstar that we launch off the show.” And Cam continued to live up to that hype in the weeks that followed, ending his spectacular run on Monday’s finals with stylized, supercool Cynthia Erivo and Bon Jovi covers that showcased his artistry and range. Blake doubled down on his prediction Monday evening, and on Tuesday’s grand finale, just as host Carson Daly was about to announce the winner of Season 20, he tripled down.
“I meant what I said last night — I think you being on this show and giving us the chance to be a part of this journey, it changed the show forever. And we've been needing that,” Blake proclaimed. “We're 20 seasons in, and here you are. So I want to say thank you for being here, man.”
And so far, it seems like Blake’s prophecy is coming true: On Tuesday’s finale, Cam did indeed triumph, and hopefully Cam's superstar journey has just begun.
Actually, that journey began long before The Voice, when Cam was 4 years old and his parents were wowed when they overheard him singing the Folgers coffee commercial jingle. Ellen DeGeneres was equally impressed when she saw Cam singing Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” on YouTube and invited the “kid with the golden voice” to perform on her show when he was 12. Appearances on Showtime at the Apollo, on The Steve Harvey Show, and at the While House singing the “Star Spangled Banner” for the 2014 Easter Egg Roll (where Cam even played basketball with Barack Obama) followed. Clearly this kid was born to do it — and now, at age 19, he is ready for prime time.
On Tuesday as he thanked his coach, Cam noted that he and Blake were an “unlikely pairing,” something that was glaringly obvious during their somewhat awkward finale duet of Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy.” (Thankfully, Blake was willing to cede the spotlight to Cam’s glorious falsetto for much of that performance, and just relegate himself to guitar-sidekick status.) Both Nick Jonas and John Legend had turned for Cam in the Blind Auditions, and John probably would have recruited Cam (who actually gushed during Monday’s show about how much he looks up to John) if Nick hadn’t blocked him.
Pop singer Nick also seemed like an obvious fit, but Blake, believing in this teen prodigy from the very beginning, had vowed to “keep that lane open” and not recruit any similar soul singers that would compete within the Team Blake ranks with Cam — so he surprisingly recruited Cam instead. Blake doubled and tripled down on that promise too… and that lane led right to the winner’s circle.
“This has been the time of my life, just being able to explore my artistry on the show and have as much fun with it as possible, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to take it as my personal job,” Cam told Blake Tuesday. “And I would have to say over the time I've been doing music, I haven't had the option to explore it that way. I just appreciate you.”
Coming in second was another contestant that Blake had once predicted could win this season — and who probably would have ended up on Team Blake, if Kelly Clarkson hadn’t used her Block in the Blinds — country crooner Kenzie Wheeler, followed by Team Blake’s roots-rocker Jordan Matthew Young and Team Jonas’s folk chanteuse Rachel Mac. The only real surprise in this ranking was that Team Legend’s Victor Solomon came in fifth; on Monday, his show-closing, Grammy-worthy tour de force of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s “Freedom” was declared by pundits and the coaches alike as the greatest performance in Voice history, and if there was anyone who seemed set to outperform Cam in the voting, it was Victor. But that performance was so magnificent, it just might have been enough to launch Victor to post-Voice superstardom anyway, regardless of how the voting bizarrely played out.
As for Tuesday’s other finale highlights, the two best coach/contestant duets were Victor and John’s sublime “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway, and Nick and Rachel’s acoustic indie interpretation of the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You,” marking the first time that the Foos had ever cleared one of their songs for The Voice. There were other enjoyable performances from members of the extended Voice family, like on/off coach Gwen Stefani, substitute coach Kelsea Ballerini, and Mega-Mentor Snoop Dogg. But the much-hyped return of original coach Adam Levine to The Voice after his seemingly acrimonious departure two years ago proved to be anticlimactic, as he wordlessly exited the stage immediately following his “Beautiful Mistakes” performance with Maroon 5, without chatting with Carson or even hugging it out with his former bromance buddy Blake.
Oh well. Maybe Adam was still in hyper-competitive mode and feeling jealous knowing that Blake was about to win his historic eighth season with Cam. Obviously Adam won’t be returning to the Voice panel any time soon. But come back for Season 21 this fall, when that fourth red chair will be occupied by new cast member Ariana Grande. See you then.
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