The Voice Season 17 continued Monday night (Oct. 21) with a full-on dive into the Battle Rounds, which features contestants going head-to-head and also receiving instruction from special guest star mentors as well as coaches Blake SheltonKelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani and John Legend.

The first solidly country pairing of the night came not from Shelton's team, but rather from Clarkson, who paired her straight-up country lane contestant Jake Hoot—a single dad from Tennessee whom she repeatedly claims sounds like Ronnie Dunn—with Steve Knill, who is a soulful, more adult contemporary-styled vocalist from San Francisco. With the help of pop star Normani as mentor, Clarkson put the two to work on Willie Nelson's classic "Always on my Mind."

"People might see that as a country song," Clarkson noted, but added,  "Ray Charles has done it. Rod Stewart has done it." She even encouraged Krill, who is engaged to marry his partner, to use the pronoun "boy" instead of "girl" while singing the song. 

The pairing was an inspired one, as the two singers' voices melded beautifully on the classic. Both Shelton and Legend preferred Hoot, with Shelton noting, "Jake has the most awesome, perfect amount of nasal to be a good country singer," and adding that he will always go with the more traditional stylistic choice. Stefani leaned a little more toward Krill, calling his voice "extraordinary." 

The final decision came down to Clarkson, of course, who ended up going with Hoot. "I grew up hearing this song at 6:00 AM. every morning in our household," she explained.  "I love Willie Nelson, and you both executed it perfectly... I am a sucker for straight-up, old-school country, and that's what Jake is."

Knill was not saved or stolen, so unfortunately will be heading home.

We'll be following along each week to keep up with the Season 17 competition, so be sure to check in weekly to check the progress of your favorites on the show.

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