The start of Season 12 of NBC The Voice has been punctuated with wild card auditions (13-year-old Quizz Swanigan, anyone?), intense competition, and the ever-present bromance between coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. But no performance has been quite as weird – or as good – as Jesse Larson and Taylor Alexander’s battle round performance of “Shameless.”
Originally written by Billy Joel and covered by Garth Brooks in 1989, the single catapulted to Number One on the Billboard country charts in 1991. Coach Adam Levine chose the track for his team members by saying, “They’re both such oddballs, that there was only one place for the both of them. And it was in this pairing.” Though 25-year-old Georgia native and now Nashville resident Alexander grew up on Brooks, 34-year-old Larson went into the song fresh, having never heard it until the night before rehearsal.
As the duo practiced, Levine and guest mentor John Legend advised Alexander to tone down the twang and Larson to focus on nailing the melody before venturing too far from the song’s core. After some harmonizing flubs in the final rehearsal, the two entered the ring for their battle round, each sporting a guitar around their shoulders. Given Larson’s captivating powerhouse vocals, the match did seem a tad unfair, but Alexander took his coach’s advice to heart and sang with real gusto, showing a mastery of his lower register. Somehow, the combination of Larson’s soulful, blues-inspired vocals and Alexander’s Garth-channeling sound worked.
“You were both one chair turns and I take a certain amount of pride in that because I believe that I see something in you that no one else saw, so I never want that to end,” said Levine after the one-of-a-kind mashup. “The people who do really well on this show. . .are the ones who really share their joy for making music with the world, and that’s exactly what you both did and I’m super proud of you guys,” he continues, before ultimately choosing Larson to advance.
The Voice returns next Monday, April 3rd at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.