What Luke Combs Blames For Being Kicked Off The Voice

NBC's reality singing competition "The Voice" has produced plenty of vocal prodigies in its 10+ years on television, notably big country names like Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradberry. However, for every star to emerge out of the franchise, there have been the ones who got away. Enter Luke Combs. Combs is one of the biggest names in country music today, but the "Beautiful Crazy" singer didn't even make it onto "The Voice." As he recounted to Whiskey Riff in 2016, Combs auditioned for the show while on spring break in Atlanta, Georgia, and was cut following the preliminary rounds.

It may sound far-fetched given Combs' massive success today, but he's not alone. According to Us Weekly, Grammy winner Maren Morris was rejected by the trifecta of reality singing shows: "The Voice," "American Idol," and "America's Got Talent." Similarly, country star Morgan Wallen spent some time on 'The Voice' but was kicked off prematurely before the playoff rounds. In retrospect, Wallen credited the experience as the first time he realized his potential for music stardom.

What we're looking at here is proof that reality shows aren't the sure-fire recipe for industry success. "American Idol" winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are the exception, not the rule. According to Combs, producers look for more than just raw vocal talent; they also look for big personalities that will help boost ratings. Unfortunately, they didn't feel he had the magnetism or charisma to do well on "The Voice."

Producers on 'The Voice' thought Luke Combs was 'too boring'

You'd think that a show called "The Voice" really would be all about vocal talent, right? At the end of the day, though, it's still a reality show that functions on ratings. "Essentially, [the producers told me] I was too boring to be on television," Luke Combs recounted in an interview with the "Full Send" podcast. "I didn't even make it [through] the auditions. I didn't even make it to the show. I still have the letter in storage that's like, 'You're a great singer, but...'"

Previously, Combs shared his experience with Whiskey Riff, where he said that producers didn't find him "interesting enough for the show's ratings." The silver lining is that Combs still walked away feeling positive despite the rejection. "It gave me a lot of confidence because I was good enough voice-wise to make it through all those producer auditions," he explained. Clearly! As of writing, Combs has seven Grammy nominations under his belt, and he's also won CMAs for Entertainer of the Year in 2021 and 2022. He's probably not sweating that rejection from "The Voice" way back when.

Interestingly, Combs named another reality show alum, Morgan Wallen, as his biggest competition in the music industry today. "I think anyone who says there is [no competition] is lying. I think any business is competitive," Combs told Billboard in 2022.

Blake Shelton is 'embarassed' by the situation

Luke Combs isn't looking back on his audition with regret, but another country superstar sure is. Blake Shelton, the winningest coach in the show's history, said the whole situation left him feeling embarrassed. "Luke told me that ... he put [his rejection letter from the show] in his dorm room in college, and he hung it on the wall to push him on, something to fight for," Shelton said. "I don't know if he still has that letter or not, but if he does ... I think he should frame it and put it next to his first triple-platinum album that he has." What a good reminder that everyone can learn a lot from rejection!

All in all, it seems like Combs really wasn't fazed. That initial rejection held him in good stead, as he also experienced setbacks when he was first pursuing a record deal. In 2022, the Grammy nominee sat down with Scott Van Pelt and Stanford Steve on "SVPod" to talk about how producers in the country music biz didn't ever think he'd make it big because he "didn't look the part." He clapped back, "If anybody looks the part, it's me." He added, "The other guys don't look the part, that's the problem. ... Throw these other guys at the Jiffy Lube, they're gonna look outta place. You put me at the Jiffy Lube, and you're gonna think I manage [it]."

Luke Combs, everybody — just telling it like it is.