‘The Voice': Orlando Mendez Advances Into Knockout Rounds After Country Take on ‘Rocket Man’ [Watch]
A country singer is moving into the Knockout Rounds on Season 22 of The Voice after treating coaches to his impressive battle performance.
Orlando Mendez, 26, beat out his peer, Ava Lynn Thuresson, on Monday night (Oct. 17), appearing in the first hour of a two-hour episode. Onstage, the pair, who have been competing on newbie coach Camilla Cabello's team, collaborated on a cover of Elton John’s ‘70s hit, “Rocket Man.”
Before stepping out in front of a live audience, Mendez and Thuresson brushed up on their vocals in rehearsals. Mendez was told to practice his long notes while walking on a treadmill. Aside from the feedback and necessary changes that had to be made, his deep connection to the song may have helped his performance shine through for the coaches.
Mendez told viewers that “Rocket Man” connected to his roots, as his grandparents were forced to flee Cuba and reside in America.
“It’s like being a rocket man,” Mendez said of his grandparents' experience. “The sacrifices they made for me, I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Once it came time to hit the stage, Mendez gave it his all. Sporting a cowboy hat and strumming on his guitar, the dimpled cowboy showcased his natural vocal tone and unique growl to an intrigued panel. And even though his opponent had the higher range, Mendez waited until the very end to hold a long note, which sent his battle over the top.
“Oh wow, Ava Lynn. It was exciting when you went up, and we got to hear your head voice. It was flawless. It sounded great,” Gwen Stefani shared afterward. “Orlando. You have a lot of character just onstage. I was not expecting when you did that long strong note that your voice was going to do that so well. You kind of blew me away with that.”
“That was so fun! It was an interesting take on the song,” John Legend said, agreeing. "Ava Lynn, you sounded great. I love hearing your range and all the things you can do with your voice. But Orlando, that gravel and that growl. You just seem to own the stage. Your presence was felt by everyone. That was fun to watch.”
“I feel like Ava Lynn gave a little more variety in her performance as far as what she did vocally,” Blake Shelton remarked, “But Orlando probably pulled out the victory because of that long sweeping note. Overall, Ava Lynn did more, but that was just the really great moment you had right there, Orlando.”
“I’m so proud of you guys! Ava Lynn, you came out of your shell from when you were in rehearsals,” Cabello shared. “You’ve really grown since the last time I saw you. And Orlando, your voice has so much character and personality. That was a crazy moment. I hadn’t seen that in rehearsals. I was so excited about it! It was so cool. You have such stage presence, and it’s so fun to watch you.”
Although both singers showcased different vocal strengths, Cabello chose to keep Orlando for her team, reasoning that he "just has a swag that’s exciting.”
Aside from having "swag," Mendez also earned a four-chair turn in an earlier episode of the popular reality competition series. He auditioned with Luke Combs’ hit “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”
Mendez, who is from Miami, is bound to have an interesting run on the show. Of course, it’s too soon to know whether or not he will win it all — keep up with his journey on The Voice Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC.