Stakes are high on "The Voice," but emotions are running higher.
With the live playoffs officially one week away, eliminations are only getting harder for the coaches. Or as Ariana Grande put it on Monday's show: "More knockouts … more decisions I’m not emotionally equipped to make."
"It’s really hard watching good people go home," added John Legend on the third and final night of the knockout rounds. "Once you get to the knockouts, everyone’s good. These decision have been tough for all of us."
Mega-mentor Ed Sheeran and Legend predicted that one of the toughest decisions would be between Team Legend's Paris Winningham and Jershika Maple. They were right.
"You have a great team and a tight choice ahead of you," Sheeran told Legend. "If I had a steal, I would steal one of you." (Blake Shelton is the only coach with a steal left.)
Last week on 'The Voice': Kelly Clarkson feels 'like such a jerk' after pairing teen singers backfires
— The Voice (@NBCTheVoice) November 2, 2021
Maple, 24, selected Natalie Cole's "Inseparable" in tribute to her mother. Winningham, 33, switched genres by picking Chris Stapleton's "Tennessee Whiskey" because "it has that soulful feel to it" and "fits my voice like a glove."
They both received a standing ovation for their renditions. "I can’t actually sit down because it would be disrespectful," Clarkson quipped, noting that Legend is "so screwed."
Legend stole Maple from Clarkson in the battles. The coaches didn't let her forget it.
"Kelly shouldn’t have let you go," Legend said. Shelton added, "I can't believe Kelly. … I felt like Jershika was going to come out here and pour a little more salt in the wound and you did. I love you for that."
Legend said Maple gave a "master class" and noted that Winningham's "voice was the star" of his stripped-down version. "It’s not fair that I have to choose one of you," he said.
Grande said she was "drained emotionally" after watching their "incredible" performances, admitting that she "started welling up" while Winningham sang. The newest coach called for the rules to be changed to allow both singers to advance.
"Can we change the rules of this show just this once?" Grande asked. No rules were changed, but both singers remained in the competition, thanks to Shelton.
After Legend dubbed Maple the winner of the knockout, Shelton used the last save of the round on Winningham: "I mean, he sang a country song for God’s sakes."
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) November 2, 2021
Viewers at home didn't have a say in who advanced and who was eliminated in the battles and knockouts, but that's about to change.
In a first, each coach has nominated a singer eliminated during those rounds for "another chance" at competing in the live playoffs, host Carson Daly announced.
Grande nominated Vaughn Mugol, Legend selected Samara Brown, Clarkson picked Aaron Hines and Shelton nominated Hailey Green, the singer he sent home after she performed his hit single "God's Country."
Viewers can vote by tweeting #Voicecomeback with the preferred artist's name.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'The Voice': Ariana Grande pleads for rule change to save this singer