Substitute coach Kelsea Ballerini has a tough call on her very first battle!
Kelsea is standing in for pal Kelly Clarkson, who was sick during the filming of this season's battles, and, with input from Kelly, she paired up Gean Garcia and Ryleigh Modig for an impressive cover of Ariana Grande's "pov."
Both young singers wowed the coaches with their range and stunning runs. "If Kelly was here, I would tell her, 'Why did you pair these two together? It's awful!'" Blake Shelton said of the tough decision ahead, praising Gean's "intense" performance style and Ryleigh's unique, "fresh" tone.
"As a songwriter, you're the kind of artist that I'd die to write songs for, to write with," Nick Jonas tells Ryleigh, eliciting a stunned reaction.
John Legend admitted that he was "starting to question myself as a human being," when he realized that he didn't turn his chair in the Blind Auditions for either Gean or Ryleigh. "Both of you have really unique approaches and unique voices."
"I would say that you've got the hardest job here today," Nick told Kelsea. Check out the full battle performance in the clip below:
Faced with the tough call, Kelsea had to pull out her "phone a friend," calling Kelly to get her input. "I'm so sorry!" Kelly apologized. "Either way you go, it's great. You should feel safe picking whoever, 'cause I don't think either of them are going home."
"Kelly sounds just fine to me," Blake teases in the meantime. "I think I heard ocean waves in the background."
Ultimately, Kelsea chose Ryleigh on Kelly's behalf, noting "there's just nobody on the show like" the young singer. "She nailed every lick, every note."
And Kelly's prediction proved correct, as both John and Nick hit their button to steal Gean. "I made a mistake in the blinds...you have a home on Team Legend and I would love to work with you," John pitched.
The apology worked, as Gean said he thought he fit best on Team Legend! "I had to steal Gean," John said while celebrating. "He has that fire, he has that range. I needed him on Team Legend."
Kelsea was announced as Kelly's substitute last week, as Blind Auditions came to an end and the coaches finalized their season 20 rosters. "Just pretend I'm Kelly," the country star said in a promo for the upcoming shows, proving that she's got Kelly's spark when it comes to landing steals and taking shots at fellow coach Blake Shelton: "Hey Blake, have I ever told you that you look like my dad?"
ET spoke with Kelsea ahead of the Battle Rounds, and she detailed how her last-minute involvement in this season of The Voice came together in "the biggest whirlwind" when Kelly fell sick.
"I was home in Nashville and got a text from Kelly at like 9 p.m., like, 'Hey, girl... I'm not feeling well. I don't have COVID, but with the protocols, don't feel safe going to set, could you cover the Battle Rounds for me?'" Kelsea recalled, noting that saying yes meant she had to be in Los Angeles the next day to start filming. "So I got on the plane, studied everything and watched everything. Landed, hair and makeup, set, said hi to Nick Jonas and John Legend and Blake Shelton, got in Kelly's seat and said, Fake it til you make it!'"
Thankfully, Kelsea had some kelp from Kelly herself, who was watching a livestream of the Battles and texting her notes, "and picking on Blake the whole time," she added with a laugh.
"I really enjoyed it," Kelsea shared, though she couldn't tease much about what moves she got to be a part of on Team Kelly. "I didn't have the time to get nervous, 'cause it was so quick, and that's good for me. If I know something's coming up, I mull over it and I get so nervous and anxious, so it was actually a real blessing. But yeah, I really liked sitting in the seat, I'm not gonna lie."
The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. PT/ET on NBC. See more from season 20 in the video below!