Blake Shelton blasts ‘Voice’ rival Kelly Clarkson’s ‘American Idol’ Past

Long before Kelly Clarkson officially joined The Voice panel five seasons ago, the show’s producers were already in complete denial when it came to the rival talent show that launched her career (and arguably created the blueprint for The Voice itself).

Kelly’s Idol pedigree was not mentioned when she was a Voice guest adviser way back in 2012, and later, when recognizable American Idol alumni like Sundance Head (who actually won The Voice in 2016) and Jon Peter Lewis competed on The Voice, they too underwent complete erasure of their Idol history.

When Jennifer Hudson became the first ex-Idol contestant to join The Voice as a full-time coach in 2017, she never mentioned her TV past either — not even when Kelly was her Battle Rounds adviser, and not even two seasons later, when she and Kelly were Voice coaches at the same time. Sure, they might’ve vaguely referenced their previous singing show experience in an attempt to recruit a potential team member, but the words “American” and “Idol” never, ever left Kelly or J.Hud’s lips.

Kelly has been on The Voice for so long now that she almost never needs to allude to her status as the O.G. American Idol champ. She has three coaching wins as a Voice champ that she can brag about instead. But on Tuesday’s Blind Auditions episode, Kelly must have been feeling a bit desperate — after getting a “rough start” to the night and being mercilessly teased by her onscreen nemesis, Blake Shelton — because there were two instances during the merely hour-long episode when she brought up her talent show credentials.

She told one contestant, “I’ve obviously navigated a singing competition myself before, so I do think there is some strategy to it,” and urged another to join Team Kelly and “pick someone that won a vocal competition!” Even Voice host Carson Daly got in on the act, defending Kelly against Blake and the other coaches by noting, “She’s won a show just like this! Arguably she knows more about this than any of you!”

Of course, The Show That Shall Not Be Named was never mentioned specifically. But Blake knew exactly which program Kelly and Carson were talking about, and so he flatly retorted to Carson, without a missing a beat: “That show was canceled!” Oh, snap.

Yes, the Fox network did cancel American Idol in 2016. (Kelly actually played a big role in Fox’s farewell season, appearing as a guest judge and/or a guest performer on two episodes, as well as singing on the grand finale.) But it only took two years for Idol to be successfully rebooted on ABC, so Blake’s comment was extreme. If Kelly had wanted to get back at Blake, she could have mentioned his pre-Voice judging stint on Nashville Star, a show that was, in fact, permanently canceled long ago.

And if Blake had really wanted to insult two of his fellow Voice coaches at once, he should have made a dig at Duets, ABC’s long-forgotten 2012 ratings-disaster singing competition, which was judged by both Kelly Clarkson and John Legend! That’s a show that probably everyone wants to erase.

Anyway, it was amusing to witness a bit of that old Idol/Voice rivalry; it took me back a whole decade, back to spring 2011 when The Voice premiered and was the shiny new show everyone was talking about. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to talk about this week; Tuesday’s Voice episode was uneventful, never really getting past its “rough start,” with two no-chair auditioners even receiving a bizarrely generous amount of screentime. But these were the few successful singers of the night:

Connor Christian, 23: “Bright Lights”

This bluesy everyman attempted to honor his hero, Gary Clark Jr., but both his voice and presence were too light to do Gary’s song justice. Connor’s performance was utterly lacking in fire, and the song was all wrong for his distractingly goaty vibrato.

I have no idea how this guy turned three chairs, or why the delusional Blake was “blown away” and compared Connor’s pedestrian guitar playing to that of Angus Young. (Um, what?) Ironically, Connor seemed disappointed that John, who has dueted with Gary, was the one coach who was not impressed by this by-the-numbers bar-band number.

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