Emotions Swell on ‘The Voice’ Over Cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”

To kick off the Battle Rounds on The Voice on March 27, coach Niall Horan chose a more stirring rendition of Bon Iver’s song “Skinny Love” for his teammates Gina Miles and Kala Banham’s performance.

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Presenting the singers with British singer Birdy’s 2011 cover of the song, Horan wanted listeners to “hear the breath in their voice” and “how it’s just all based on feel,” he revealed during the rehearsals. The Birdy version would allow all the starker lyrics—Come on, skinny love, just last the year / Pour a little salt, we were never here … Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer—to ring out by both singers.

“Kala and Gina was an easy pairing,” said Horan during the rehearsals. “Two beautiful storytellers with two really soft and subtle, beautiful voices together in one duet.”

Taking turns through each verse, Banham and Miles pinched in their pop and country harmonization throughout the heartbreaking song, written by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and released on his 2007 debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

Receiving a standing ovation from Kelly Clarkson and Horan, both singers left all four judges visibly emotional following their performance.

“You have a really special gift,” Clarkson said to Miles. Praising both singers’ tone, Clarkson gravitated more toward Banham’s voice. During the blind auditions, Horan blocked Clarkson from adding the 24-year-old Florida native to her team; both coaches also battled it out to get Miles on their respective teams during the blind auditions.

“I love your voice,” Clarkson told Banham. “That broke my heart. It was so beautifully sung. For some reason Kala, I was gravitating toward the sweet, angelic vibe. … Your voices sound magical together. Either one of you can be in the finale. I think you’re both fantastic.”

Coaches Blake Shelton and Chance the Rapper leaned more toward Miles’ vocals. “Gina there were some parts that were a little shaky, but that was what, for me, gave you the edge” shared Chance the Rapper, giving feedback to the 18-year-old singer from Sacramento, California. “It was just fire. I just felt like the presence was there. I feel like either one of you can win this whole thing.”

Shelton added, “This is about as evenly matched as we can get here. Gina, where did you learn to sing like that? Who are your heroes? I’ve never heard a voice like that in my life.”

Miles said that she loved Adele, and Clarkson joked, “never heard of her.”

Still stuck on Miles’ vocals, Shelton added, “You just have this whole different thing happening. … Gina, the thought of your voice on a record doing all those crackly, weird things that you do, I just think it would be so different.”

Nervous about the Battle Rounds, Horan admitted that he “didn’t sleep a wink” the night before, and ultimately named Miles the winner of the round. Clarkson stole Banham and finally got her on Team Kelly.

“I stole Kala because I’ve been waiting for her,” said Clarkson after her steal. “I remembered her from the Blinds and I’m so glad she’s Team Kelly. Watch out, Niall.”

Read the sorrowful story behind the lyrics of “Skinny Love” HERE.

Photos: Tyler Golden / NBC

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