The Voice crowned its 13th winner on Tuesday night when 23-year-old Nashville native Chloe Kohanski took home the silver microphone trophy. If you’ve been following along all season, the Team Blake win wasn’t a huge surprise; Kohanski was immensely popular with viewers, who lit up social media each week when she performed.
Kohanski is only the third singer in Voice history to hit No. 1 on the iTunes singles chart three times in one season for her performances of her original song “Wish I Didn’t Love You,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. The previous two singers with that distinction are season 3 Voice winner Cassadee Pope and season 9 winner Jordan Smith.
Her competition in the finale included Addison Agen from Team Adam, Red Marlow from Team Blake, and Brooke Simpson from Team Miley, but Kohanski prevailed, winning a recording contract and joining the cast of “The Voice: Neon Dreams,” which premieres in the spring at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
After her whirlwind night, Kohanski told Rotten Tomatoes that she was pleasantly surprised by how well she and coach Blake Shelton worked together and that she can’t wait to collaborate with more artists that might be unexpected partners.
Andrea Reiher for Rotten Tomatoes: You just won The Voice. How are you feeling? Has it even sunk in yet?
Chloe Kohanski: I feel pretty insane, honestly. I think it’s still sinking in, like every minute of every hour [laughs]. I know for a fact when I got back to my hotel room last night, I just kind of sat there and was like, “I just won The Voice!” It’s kind of nuts. It’s crazy cool. I’m super excited.
Your blind audition was great and you got three chair turns. What made you initially choose Miley for your coach?
Kohanski: So I kind of went into it thinking I was going to pick Miley because she’s a little outside the box and not afraid to be different. We’re kind of similar and I thought I could learn and grow under her. I think it was a really good team, I really liked being on Team Miley, but for some reason, it just didn’t end up that way and I wouldn’t want anything to go any differently because then I would never have worked with Blake. I think that we’re going to be friends forever, and I really appreciate Blake and everything he did for me.
When Miley chose Ashland over you in the Knockout Rounds when you performed “Landslide,” were you surprised? That came as a huge shock to the viewers.
Kohanski: Truthfully, and I’ve said this to everybody that’s asked this question, that was the only time in the entire season that I felt like I knew I was going to make it and it’s the one I actually didn’t win. [laughs] I was so confident in “Landslide” because I love Fleetwood Mac, I love Stevie Nicks, and I really felt like I truly embodied everything that song represents. I gave it my all, I gave it my best and I was pretty confident. Not cocky, but I was just like, “I got this.” And then she picked Ashland and I was like, “Whoa. I’m about to be off the show!” Luckily Blake stole me and everything worked out, but I was kind of shocked just because I laid it all out on the line with that song, you know?
You and Blake ended up working so well together. How was Blake different than Miley as a coach?
Kohanski: I don’t think that there’s two more different people than Blake and Miley. Miley is extremely hands on. She’s a visionary, she’s a creator. Blake is more laidback, he’s more low key, and he doesn’t focus too much on the visuals … I think if I would’ve stayed with Miley, we both would have had a lot of dreams and a lot of vision and it might have gotten a little hectic. But Blake just letting me do my thing was really the perfect yin-yang relationship, where he just told me if it sounded good or not and I just did my thing. We joked around about how he had no say whatsoever in my outfits because half the time he didn’t understand what I was wearing. [laughs]
Do you have a favorite performance from the season?
Kohanski: Before Monday night, I probably would have said “Total Eclipse of the Heart” just because I really transformed in the middle of that song. Literally, if you watch it on YouTube, in the beginning I’m holding back, I’m overthinking and in the middle of the song I just kind of let go and really gave it my all and really felt the emotion of the song. But then Monday night happened and even though I think it was a risky move, “Bette Davis Eyes” was my favorite performance of the season because I was able to just have fun. Rock is supposed to be fun and I was having the time of my life up there.
Your single, “Wish I Didn’t Love You,” is a beautiful piece. How did you feel about it? Is it the type of music you want to release as an artist?
Kohanski: It was important for the first piece of original music that I release to have a timeless feel because that’s the type of music I want to make. Now, is everything going to sound like that one song? No, because I still want to have up-tempo rock songs as well as ballads, but I think it’s a good representation of me as an artist as far as lyricism goes. It’s a story and it was emotional and a little vulnerable and I think it’s important to sing songs like that. Love isn’t always pretty, it’s not perfect and it’s messy and it hurts and sometimes as much as you want to say you love someone, you have to say I wish I didn’t love you.
After the final performances, social media seemed to think you had it in the bag. How did you feel about the finals? Did you think you were going to win?
Kohanski: No, I never, never, not once thought I was going to win the show. The only thing I knew was that after “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” I started to become somewhat of a “fan-favorite,” I think that’s what they call it. So I saw the social media reactions and I was like, “OK, cool. There’s traction here.” I’m growing as an artist and the fans are growing too and the numbers are growing. And then iTunes was consistently pretty high on the charts. So I never thought I was going to win, but I wasn’t surprised I made it to the finale because the feedback I got week after week was so encouraging. But iTunes was neck and neck Monday night, we were all up there in the Top 10 and that’s not the only way that voting happens, so I think it could have swung either way, anyway. I’m just blown away that I won. I think that’s just wild. For a woman in rock music, that is so cool.
So, what’s next for you?
Kohanski: I think I get to go to Universal [Studios Hollywood] later, and I get to meet the Grinch [laughs], and I get to go to Harry Potter World. No, um, obviously I think I’m going to be with my family for the holidays, but then after that I’ll sign with Republic [Records] … and then I’ll start working on a record and hopefully working with people that maybe are unexpected. I never would have thought I would be able to learn as much as I did from Blake Shelton, so I want to open up the doors to working with people that might not make sense on paper, collaborating with different artists like that, because you can never stop learning. That’s the most important thing.
The Voice returns for season 14 in a two-hour premiere on Feb. 26, 2018, with coaches Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton.