As Team Alicia’s Chris Blue, Team Blake’s Lauren Duski and Aliyah Moulden, and Team Adam’s Jesse Larson prepare to compete on next week’s The Voice Season 12 finale, Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks catches up with them in the studio, where they are laying down their final iTunes recordings of the season — including their coach duets.
Here, the top four contestants exclusively announce those duet song choices — which include two Prince classics — and share fun memories of their time on the show and their favorite music. The Voice’s two-part finale airs Monday and Tuesday on NBC.
What songs will each of be singing with your coaches Monday night? How did you choose these songs, and how do you feel about it?
CHRIS: The song I will be singing with my coach is “Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince & The New Power Generation. This was masterminded by my coach, Alicia Keys. She really wanted to find a way to honor Prince. She hasn’t performed any Prince songs since his passing and felt like this would be the appropriate time to pay tribute. I love the song and I love the idea! For me personally, this will be special because she gets to honor an icon of her time while I get to sing with one of my own icons.
JESSE: Adam Levine and I are singing “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince. It was honestly an easy choice for me; it’s one of my favorite Prince songs. It’s my way of paying homage to Prince and what he’s done for me. I think it’s a great fit for both Adam and I as well.
LAUREN: We are singing “There’s a Tear in My Beer” by Hank Williams. Blake Shelton chose it and I think it’s the perfect choice — we’re going to have a lot of fun with this one.
ALIYAH: “Dancing in the Streets,” by Martha & The Vandellas. Blake is just awesome; he thought that this would be the perfect song for our duet. He believes that I have an old soul as a performer. I totally agree. It will be an amazing performance. We will have a great time.
If you could collaborate with any recording artist –besides your coach, of course — living or dead, who would your dream duet partner be, and why?
LAUREN: I would absolutely love to collaborate with Ryan Adams. I’ve been a huge fan of his songwriting for years now.
ALIYAH: My dream duet partner would be Prince. I did not get the chance to see him in concert, but now present time I love his music. He was truly a master at his art.
JESSE: I’d love to work with Stevie Wonder. That would be amazing. He’s been an inspiration since I started singing and really getting into music.
CHRIS: I don’t have just one because there are so many! If I had to name a few, I would say: Bruno Mars, Brandy Norwood, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Pastor Marvin Winans, and Kirk Franklin.
What is the first album you bought with your own money?
JESSE: The first one was Boys II Men, Cooleyhighharmony. It was actually a tape, from a record store when I was 9 or 10.
ALIYAH: I bought a One Direction album. I was a big fan of the band.
CHRIS: A Daft Punk album from FYE at the mall.
What was the first concert you attended, and where?
JESSE: My first concert was one of my dad’s concerts. Probably in a club Minnesota when I was really young, or still in the womb.
LAUREN: My first concert was Elton John at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit.
CHRIS: The first concert I attended was a gospel concert in Florida with Fred Hammond, the Canton Spirituals, and Kirk Franklin.
ALIYAH: The first concert I ever attended was the One Direction concert in Pasadena.
What was the artist/song/video/album/concert that made you go, “Wow, making music is what I want to do too”?
LAUREN: Jo Dee Messina’s record “I’m Alright.”
ALIYAH: I remember watching MTV videos. I watched Rihanna performing and I was amazed by her talent. I thought, “When I grow up, I want to be just like her.”
CHRIS: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and the Canton Spirituals’ “Live in Memphis 1”.
JESSE: I’ve never really had one of those moments that was like, “This is it.” Music has always been in my life. There was always music, always guitars. It was in my childhood, and always around.
What song makes you go, “Man, I really wish I’d written or recorded that”?
CHRIS: There are so many! “Fine by Me” by Chris Brown, “In Common” by Alicia Keys, “Happy” by Pharrell, “I Want You” by Marvin Gaye, and “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson.
ALIYAH: Chance the Rapper featuring the Social Experiment, “Sunday Candy,” is one that make me say, “Gosh, I really love this song.” What a great experience it would have been.
JESSE: “Tennessee Whiskey” and “I Was Wrong” by Chris Stapleton both hit me hard. Those two for sure are just amazing pieces of music.
LAUREN: “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney.
Who is your favorite past Voice contestant?
LAUREN: Hands down, Danielle Bradbery.
JESSE: Judith Hill. She’s a monster. So genuine, honest, sweet, and unbelievably talented.
CHRIS: I was a really big fan of Jordan Smith. He’s been a big inspiration to me as far as past contestants are concerned on the show. Also Avery Wilson.
ALIYAH: Jordan Smith is amazing. I loved his singing so much I bought his music.
Do you have a special pre-performance ritual?
ALIYAH: My performance ritual is to put my lucky onesie outfit on Mondays and Tuesdays before I change into my performance or results outfit.
LAUREN: I have to have at least 10 minutes of no talking to anyone with my headphones on, listening to something uplifting. I always say a prayer right before I go onstage.
CHRIS: I just try to make sure and become one with my song and above all, I have to pray.
JESSE: Nothing special. I try to take a second by myself and clear my head. Maybe close my eyes and take a deep breath and center myself in the moment.
What’s the most surprising song/artist in your iTunes library?
JESSE: It’s embarrassing, but I’ll let it out — The Sister Act II soundtrack.
ALIYAH: Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers.” I think no one would think I listen to that group.
LAUREN: That’s a tough one! I really love Kendrick Lamar’s new album, DAMN.
CHRIS: Anything Shania Twain.
What’s the most recent album you’ve purchased?
ALIYAH: Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. I am a superfan of his music.
JESSE: The last one was a Chris Stapleton album. From A Room: Volume 1.
LAUREN: Prisoner by Ryan Adams.
CHRIS: 24K Magic by Bruno Mars.
Most recent concert you attended?
ALIYAH: I have not attended recent concerts. But I attended the BET Awards and I watched Beyoncé. OMG, it was the most amazing experience of my life. She was flawless.
CHRIS: The most recent concert I attended was Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”. He did a tour and it came to Knoxville. I couldn’t miss it for anything!
JESSE: I guess I’d say Mint Condition.
LAUREN: Chris Stapleton.
Do you do karaoke? If so, what’s your go-to karaoke song?
LAUREN: Oh, yes! My go to song is “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
CHRIS: I do karaoke! My go-to song is usually “My Girl” by the Temptations or Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
ALIYAH: Does car karaoke count? My mom and I like to sing to Little Mix’s “How Ya’ Doing?”
JESSE: No, I do not karaoke. I definitely don’t do karaoke ever. I like creating music with others.
What’s the weirdest or coolest thing a fan has ever done for you or said to you since you’ve been on the show?
JESSE: I’ve gotten a ton of videos of people’s kids dancing and singing to my performances. That’s amazing and makes me feel so great that great music is being handed down to future generations. Especially with how music has been the past 20 years, I’m glad I can pass on some great music.
LAUREN: The coolest thing so far that I’ve seen is a sweet fan took the time to draw me a portrait of myself onstage!
CHRIS: A preschooler was sent home with a note saying he couldn’t stop talking about Chris Blue. I’ve received messages of people calling me Michael Marvin and James Brown.
ALIYAH: I went to a store and the cutest lady came out and recognized me. She was so excited to see me and said that she was a big fan of me. She also showed me a picture of Blake and her at the same store.
What is the single best piece of advice you have gotten from your coach?
LAUREN: “Don’t stand in your own way.”
CHRIS: When you sing and when you are onstage, be in the moment. Don’t try to do anything special, just be. Because we are human beings, not human doings.
ALIYAH: I believe that the best single best piece of advice coach Blake ever gave me was to know and sing to my audience. He said that being aware of that would take me far.
JESSE: Adam just wants me to go up there and be me. He hasn’t tried to change me or my approach, but he encourages to go out there and do the best that I can. He says I just have to do me and it’ll be great.
And finally, what’s the best memory of your entire Voice experience?
LAUREN: Hands down, singing onstage with Shania Twain and Blake.
CHRIS: I would say it was the “Take Me to the King” performance. I feel that was the most honest I’ve ever been on the stage. Also, being able to grow under Alicia Keys and learning from all of the wisdom she has alongside all of the beautiful people behind the scenes that no one gets see. I’ve made some incredible new friends that I can now call family.
ALIYAH: The best memory of the entire Voice experience is meeting some of my new best friends. I created so many friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
JESSE: It’d have to be the friendships I’ve made along the way. You become family here and that lasts forever.