The Voice crowned its Season 2 champ on Tuesday night, but backstage, everyone was talking about the feud between coaches Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine -- everyone, that is, except winner Jermaine Paul, of Team Blake Shelton.
"I don't pay attention to any of that," Paul, 33, told reporters after his victory. "Tony Lucca is an amazing artist. Chris Mann is an amazing artist. Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine are both great coaches. They put so much effort into this whole process. I think, at the end of the day, they really love each other. It's just like sisters and brothers." He added: "America made their choice and it is what it is."
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Aguilera and Levine may care for each other, but they have a funny way of showing it. On Monday's final performance show, Aguilera criticized Team Adam finalist Lucca for performing a song with derogatory lyrics (Jay-Z's "99 Problems") and later said that her finalist, Mann, was a "real man."
Considering that Mann and Lucca — an early favorite because of his dedicated online following and his Mickey Mouse Club past — placed fourth and third, respectively, many wondered if the coaches' squabbling had backfired on their contestants. "I have no idea," Mann said. "There was a lot of negativity surrounding a beautiful night, which is too bad, but I'm so lucky to be here and to be in the finals. I don't really care about the feud." He added: "I'm happy it's over."
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Paul brushed off the idea of compromised voting, saying only that he was glad that it didn't affect the results in another way. "It's such an amazing feeling to know that you're here not because of a coach or a person or a producer but because America said you're the guy," he said. (Lucca received vocal Twitter support from his former Mickey Mouse Club co-star Justin Timberlake.)
But he would have been happy no matter the outcome. "At first I was in disbelief that I wasn't fourth or third and then I just began to pray like I always do," Paul says, citing runner-up Juliet Simms as his biggest rival. "I kind of accepted the fact that I was either going to win or lose, and I was OK with it."
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Win or lose, all the contestants sounded eager to keep in touch with their coaches and figure out what's next. "I'm going to see her tonight," Mann said of Coach X-Tina. "I'm excited to just kick it and probably have a couple of drinks and talk about what's next. We talked about maybe working together, which would be amazing."
Simms and her coach, Cee Lo Green, wasted no time in planning a possible collaboration. "He's become a really, really great friend of mine. We're going to make music. He's already sending me a song tonight."
The same is true for Paul, who said he and Shelton would "definitely" work together despite their different styles. The former Alicia Keys back-up singer said rehearsing with his coach had been his favorite part of The Voice experience. "Towards the end, it just got so cool. It really lightened up," he said. "He let out a little bit more of his personality, which of course allowed me to do the same and we really forged a friendship."