Niall Horan talks bond with 'dad' Blake Shelton on 'The Voice': 'He's just so funny'

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The tune of “rookie season” has struck a chord on The Voice.”

Niall Horan and Chance the Rapper joined the latest season of the NBC singing competition, alongside veteran coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, who will help shape the show's next generation of stars. Despite their newbie status, Horan and Chance have quickly flourished, scoring four-chair singers and stealing vocalists from Clarkson and Shelton.

“It’s been a really cool experience so far,” Horan, 29, who rose to fame on the U.K.'s "The X Factor," tells USA TODAY. “I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it being on the other side, considering where I came from, but it’s been a really good experience working with all the artists, and it’s been really fun.”

Chance, 30, a Grammy-winning rapper and producer, says he’s enjoyed bringing his musical flair to the “rich history” of the show.

“I’ve always loved working on live arrangements of music and updating or reimagining certain songs,” Chance says. “Getting to be on TV and doing that with some of the world’s best singers is fun for me.”

Here’s what else Niall and Chance had to say about their time on “The Voice,” from their relationships with the other coaches to Jimmy Fallon’s surprise audition.

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Niall Horan, left, and Chance the Rapper joined the latest season of NBC's "The Voice."
Niall Horan, left, and Chance the Rapper joined the latest season of NBC's "The Voice."

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It may be a competition, but Horan and Chance have found the perfect harmony with coaches Clarkson and Shelton, something Horan doesn’t take for granted.

“We got very lucky,” Horan says. “It could’ve been a disaster in terms of trying to put on a friendship for the cameras, but the first time I met them, straight in we’ve got very similar senses of humor and we just have a good rapport between us, on and off camera.”

Meanwhile, Shelton and Clarkson’s playful, laid-back approach to coaching put Chance at ease from the get-go, he says. “They just made me feel comfortable immediately from the first day of work and let me know that it was a chill environment and that we can hang and joke around,” Chance says. “They don’t take it too seriously, but they do have love doing the show.”

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Perhaps the most shocking four-chair turn of the season came when "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon auditioned for the show. Fallon performed a humorous cover of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)," prompting Horan, Chance and Clarkson to spin around in their chairs.

“The second he started singing, I knew exactly who it was and had to turn around,” Horan says. “I’ve been a fan of Jimmy’s for so long and know that he can sing and (that) he’s incredible at doing impressions.”

Shelton was the lone coach who didn’t turn his chair around for Fallon. Fallon eventually walked across the stage and pushed Shelton’s button, giving himself an illegal four-chair turn.

“I was saying ‘Blake, come on. Come with me, turn around,’ and he was like, ‘No, I’m not going anywhere. I know exactly who it is, and I’m not going to give him that satisfaction,’ ” Horan added.

While Shelton may not have been on board with Fallon’s audition, Chance relished Fallon’s unapologetic silliness. “I was genuinely belly-laughing when I first turned around and saw him,” Chance says. “I just like Jimmy’s sense of humor.”

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Horan is no stranger to the reality-TV competition world. He came in third place on “The X Factor” in 2010 as a member of boy band One Direction, and went on to enjoy a five-year stint of pop superstardom.

Horan says his one kernel of wisdom for his team is to live in the moment. “Because the level of talent is so high, you get a lot of serious technical singers coming on,” he says. “And it was just trying to get everyone to relax and enjoy it.”

One contestant on Team Niall Horan wanted to drive home this advice with is Ryley Tate Wilson, a teen vocalist. “It’s just trying to get him to really take it all in and remember where we are,” Horan says. “We’re on a TV show where there’s a lot of big lights and cameras – it can be a scary thing – but just to make sure you enjoy every performance and every part of it because you want to remember it.

“I remember my ‘X Factor’ days very fondly and all behind-the scenes stuff and people you meet. There are still some people on the crew that I speak to now. Just take it all in ... and we’ll worry about the longer career after the show.”

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Chance the Rapper says he orchestrated Blake Shelton’s final battles steal

Shelton scored a sweet victory during the final installment of the battle rounds last month when he stole powerhouse vocalist NOIVAS from Team Chance.

The 30-year-old singer, whom Shelton was blocked from pitching during the blind auditions, lost his battle for R&B crooner Ray Uriel, leaving him available to be snatched by another coach.

“I was able, for once, to get somebody back on my team that I thought needed to be on my team from the very beginning,” Shelton said of his final battles steal on “The Voice.”

But Chance says Shelton’s triumph was all part of his design. He says he chose Uriel as the winner of the battle because he knew his fellow coaches were more likely to steal NOIVAS, which would allow both singers to remain on the show.

“You can kind of control the competition if you just get in another judge’s ear,” says Chance, adding that he “talked up” NOIVAS to Shelton prior to the battle. “That’s really the whole game: keep everybody who deserves to be there in the competition, even if they’re not on my team.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Niall Horan talks Jimmy Fallon's surprise audition on "The Voice"