Josh Kaufman, Usher
Blake Shelton and Adam Levine may be the longest running coaches on The Voice, but on Tuesday's season finale, they had to welcome a new face to the winner's circle: Usher.
After dominating the last five seasons of the NBC singing competition — Team Blake has won three times, while Team Adam has two victories — it was Team Usher finalist Josh Kaufman who took home a recording contract with Universal Music Group and a $100,000 prize.
"It was every bit of what I hoped for. Losing was not an option," Usher told reporters following Tuesday's finale. "I couldn't imagine walking away this season after seeing season after season [of] Blake and Adam winning. I think that Josh really put up an incredible performance and night as an artist in this competition. Though there had been, I guess, a glitch, it is undeniable that he is The Voice."
Add new fall shows to your Watchlist
That "glitch" caused controversy in the hours leading up to the finale, and even after Kaufman, 38, was named the winner. After Monday's final performance show, one of his three performances, of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," was mistakenly listed as an album and not a song on iTunes, making it difficult for fans to find and purchase. Normally, iTunes sales are factored into determining The Voice winner, but all those results were taken out of the equation when the error was discovered. "The night got pretty stressful and I was worried about how that was going to affect everything and, of course, I don't know. I had no idea how it would affect it and for all I knew it wouldn't," Kaufman said of the flurry of messages he received about the error after Monday's show. "It's just kind of that feeling of, 'Wait a minute, what's going on? How do I deal with this?' But I know there were so many people working behind the scenes to figure it all out, and they did."
Host and executive producer Carson Daly revealed the iTunes glitch in the opening moments of Tuesday's show, but assured viewers that taking out that element did not alter the results. "You still clearly won and as per the rules, we can remove any form of voting and you remove that and you still clearly and convincingly won," executive producer Mark Burnett told Kaufman. "Every way you ever look at it, this guy is the winner of The Voice."
Celebrity alter egos
Kaufman's win was an especially tough pill to swallow for Levine, who was Kaufman's original coach before he lost him to Usher in the second round of the battles. "I don't [regret] my decision. ... I do believe that Delvin [Choice] did win that battle. Delvin did not go on to win The Voice, but in that moment, he was the winner and I stay true to what I believe in that moment," Levine said. "But I am nothing but pleased and overjoyed that Josh won because he's a wonderful singer and a wonderful guy."
Added Kaufman: "[Adam] gets a little bit of credit. I started there, but I ended up in the right place."
Daly also praised Usher's unique coaching style for helping get Kaufman across the finish line. "We called Usher the Mr. Miyagi of coaches because when he first started in Season 4, he had these unbelievable little things that he would make the artists do," Daly said. "There was always a method to his madness and it was so much fun to watch him come into this show that pre-existed him, where he could have just watched it on TV and go, 'Oh, this is how you coach. I don't need to do more or less than that.' But he did so much more and it's evident."
TV characters we used to hate
Following Usher's success mentoring Justin Bieber in his early years, Shelton said he was only surprised Usher hadn't won sooner. "I think viewers of the show were ready for somebody else to win. If I watched the show, I would be. You got to change it up at some point," Shelton said. "To be honest with you, when I heard that Usher was coming to this show for Season 4, I thought at that moment, 'Well, it was fun for a minute.' Just knowing his history with developing artists, the fact that he worked with Bieber, and the obvious things like that,?I just thought, 'Well, we're never going to win again.'"
Looking ahead, Usher advised Season 7's two new coaches, Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani, to also think outside the box as coaches. "They should just be true to who they are," he said. "That's what I did. It was a bit unorthodox. I did have them boxing and running laps and carrying dumbbells and trying to work on their diaphragm, but that was all a process of artist development. For me, this show represented something more than just the voice. It was the process."
Although Usher will not be returning to his big red chair for Season 7 in the fall, Tuesday's win "obviously gives great reason and logic to come back and defend the title," he said.
However, it sounds like if and when Usher reclaims his red throne, he will be in for quite a fight. "If there was ever anybody that I thought could beat us it would have been Usher, and now I will go on and say that crap ain't never gonna happen again. Ever," Shelton said. "I concur," Levine added.
The Voice returns in the fall for Season 7. Watch the finale performances here. Do you think the right artist won? Are you glad a new coach was victorious?