“Blake vs. Gwen! How will it end?” John Legend gasped during the last few minutes of Tuesday’s The Voice finale. Team Legend’s contestant, John Holiday, had already placed fifth, followed by Team Kelly’s DeSz in fourth place and Team Blake’s Ian Flanigan in third. That left Blake Shelton’s other top five finalist, country-rock troubadour Jim Ranger, standing onstage with Team Gwen’s teen prodigy Carter Rubin, waiting for host Carson Daly to announce the winner of Season 19.
This meant that Blake, the series’ winningest coach (with seven victories) and the only coach to appear on all 19 seasons, was competing against his fiancé, Gwen Stefani, who’d previously only made it to the finale twice, both times coming in fourth (with Jeffery Austin in Season 9 and Rose Short in Season 17). But Voice history was made Tuesday, when Gwen won for the first time in her five seasons. Additionally, Carter, who was 14 years old when he auditioned and just turned 15 last month, became the series’ youngest male champion.
Usually Blake is hyper-competitive on The Voice — we all recall his fierce rivalry with original coach Adam Levine — but he seemed more than delighted to concede this onscreen victory to his offscreen love interest. He didn’t even seem jealous when Carter took his regular place in an adorable duet performance of Gwen’s holiday hit “You Make It Feel Like Christmas.” (Other musical highlights of Tuesday’s two-hour finale included powerhouses Kelly Clarkson and DesZ dueting on “I’m Every Woman”; John Legend and John Holiday, a.k.a. “The Johns,” singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”; and Keith Urban and P!nk remotely performing “One Too Many.”)
Since there haven’t been many Voice success stories since the show premiered in 2011, and Carter is very young and not at all in line with what’s going on in pop music right now, it remains to be seen what sort of career he could have going forward. But Gwen, a very involved and enthusiastic coach, said, “I hope that Carter realizes it's just a series of moments that we are all in in this life, and that winning is just one part of one moment. … I really want him to go and learn an instrument and start writing songs, because he has such a big heart. I think he has some good songs inside him.”
And Carter seemed grateful for Gwen’s advice and encouragement, telling her, “Not only are you a phenomenal coach, you're a phenomenal human. If I've gained one thing from you, you've shown me that it's OK to be myself. It's a dream come true to just work with you, and I'm so grateful and honored to have gotten to this point.”
And that’s a wrap! Congratulations to Team Gwen. The Voice will return for its 20th season in spring 2021, with Gwen taking a well-earned hiatus and last season’s newbie, Nick Jonas, back in that fourth red chair alongside returning coaches Kelly, John, and of course, Blake.
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