‘The Voice’: Blake Shelton Reunites With Beloved Contestant for Moving Duet

by Emily Morgan

During the Monday night episode of “The Voice,” Season 20’s Top nine finalists performed live for votes, but viewers got a surprise they never saw coming. Fans of the show got to see season 19 finalist Ian Flanigan make his return to the stage.

While he was a contestant on the show, he represented the country genre for Team Blake. He gave knockout performances of songs by country’s biggest stars, such as Jamey Johnson and Travis Tritt. He made it to the finals last season, ultimately finishing in third place. 

Flanigan impressed viewers with his country covers but also with his own material. As a top-five contestant, he performed a song called “Never Learn,” which earned high marks from coaches Blake Shelton and John Legend for its lyrics.

Before his return to the popular singing competition, the former finalist revealed that he was thrilled to get the chance to collaborate with his mentor, Blake Shelton, again. 

“I am beyond grateful for any opportunity to share the stage with Blake again,” he said at the time. “He’s been such a huge part of my growth and this process. I can’t thank him enough. It’s also an honor to be invited back to ‘The Voice,’ feels great to return to perform my own music.”

Shelton also opened up about the pair’s duet, saying that Flanigan is “the real deal.” Shelton explained that “The name of the show is ‘The Voice’ because of singers like Ian. He has such a unique voice and I always loved his song choices and you just can’t limit him to one genre. Can’t wait for y’all to see what we have in store!” 

Former Finalist Returns to ‘The Voice’ to Perform New Song

Flanigan gave a live performance of his new song, “Grow Up,” featuring Shelton on backing vocals. With a powerful drum beat and the singer’s raspiness, “Grow Up” showed fans that Flanigan had done nothing but improved his songwriting style since leaving the show in December of 2020.

They say we’re never gonna grow up 
Well, they might be right 
‘Cause we’re loud, we’re alive 
And tonight we’re raisin’ somethin’ cold up,” 
We thought we would one day
But hey, we ain’t 
‘Cause one day still ain’t showed up 
Guess we’re never gonna grow up….”

Flanigan recently released a studio version of “Grow Up,” which also features Shelton’s vocals. The song premiered early in May 2021. In addition to reuniting with the former contestant, Shelton also served as the coach to two remaining contestants on Season 20: Jordan Matthew Young and Cam Anthony.