Niall Horan got down on one knee begging country singer Ross Clayton to join his team after his smoldering rendition of Keith Urban‘s 2016 No. 1 hit “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” The Oklahoma native also got a four-chair turn, including first-time judges Horan and Chance the Rapper, on the premiere season 23 episode of The Voice during the blind auditions on March 6.
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“I need to pitch you properly,” said Horan to Clayton, a married father of three. Before continuing his pitch to Clayton, Horan pressed the chair buttons of veteran judges Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson, along with Chance, so they would face the audience while he pleaded with the 33-year-old singer to join his team.
“How are you doing that?” said a surprised Clarkson as her chair turned back around. “I never knew you could do that.”
Once the other three judges were facing the audience, Horan continued speaking to Clayton. “Your voice is absolutely incredible,” said Horan. “You have that country tone to your voice, but to me, I was hearing so much soul.”
Horan also related to Clayton by sharing his own success on the UK singing competition The X Factor in 2010, which ultimately led to the formation of One Direction.
“I’m telling you please, please,” Horan said dropping to one knee. “Forget about whatever any of them said. That’s why I spun them around. I didn’t want to hear any more crap.”
To further sway Clayton on his team, Horan even impersonated Shelton, which made the judge laugh, by saying “This is my last season on this show. It would be an honor and a privilege.” Once the three judges turned back around to face Ross, Shelton still tried his best to get Ross on his team.
“I kind of hate to say anything now,” said Shelton. “If I’m going to have to pitch myself to him, I’m going to have to talk about our kinship as Oklahomans. I would have to talk about, if I was pitching myself, the fact that Ross probably might like to get out and do some gigs and I just happen to have venues that he could do that in, one in Oklahoma.”
A native of McLoud, Oklahoma, Clayton, who released the single “Turn Up Again” in 2017, gave up music after getting married and having kids. Working as a senior product manager at a software company for five years, Clayton used The Voice audition as a return back to music.
“I was away from home and sort of reevaluating things,” said Clayton. “Is my time out here worth as much as my time with my kids? And to me, it wasn’t, so I gave it up and I went home.”
After hearing all the judge’s pitches, Clayton decided to go with Horan. “Niall, let’s go,” he said.
Horan said he was inspired by Clayton’s dynamic vocals. “He took us on a real journey through the song,” said Horan. “The people of America are going to fall in love with this guy.”
Photo: Casey Durkin / NBC