After 12 seasons, fans of NBC’s “The Voice” know to watch the premiere carefully. Producers stack the first episode of “blind auditions” with exceptionally talented singers — with especially intriguing backstories — to hook viewers as soon as the show begins. It’s a clear signal that contestants in the premiere have a good chance to go far in the competition.
On Tuesday night, Chris Blue (a 26-year-old worship leader from Knoxville, Tenn.) walked away in first place, landing a record deal and $100,000 prize. His win wasn’t surprising. With a stunning voice and lots of charisma, he was pegged as a frontrunner leading into the finale. However, Blue was not in the season’s first audition episode — and unlike any other winner in the show’s history, he was actually featured in the last one.
“The very last artist selected in the blind audition process goes on to win it all!” host Carson Daly marveled in the closing moments of the finale, clearly excited about this fun fact, as confetti rained down and Blue sobbed on stage.
It’s true: Earlier this year, Blue was the last contestant to perform on the seventh and final blind audition episode in mid-March. (Blind auditions generally run five to seven episodes.) Blue was so far down the list that by the time he belted the classic “Tracks of My Tears” in front of the celebrity coaches, their teams were practically already filled — except for Alicia Keys, who was thrilled to add Blue (with his “bluesy and soulful” voice) as the final member of her contestant roster.
It’s a contrast to the last four consecutive seasons of “The Voice,” where every winner (Sawyer Fredericks, Jordan Smith, Alisan Porter and Sundance Head) was showcased in the premiere; same with previous winners Javier Colon and Danielle Bradbery. This season’s runner-up, country singer Lauren Duski, also appeared in the first episode.
Over the rest of the show’s run, two winners (Jermaine Paul and Tessanne Chin) appeared in their season’s second blind audition episode. Three winners (Craig Wayne Boyd, Josh Kaufman and Cassadee Pope) have been showcased in the penultimate blind auditions.
So why is Blue’s last audition status significant? Sure, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things — but it shows viewers that even though competition reality show structures can get predictable over time, you never know when a contestant without as much fanfare might wind up winning it all.