This Tuesday, Josh Kaufman made history on The Voice, becoming the first stolen contestant to win the show. Josh had started the season on Team Adam, but was poached by Usher in the second round of battles. And soon after that, the hypercompetitive Adam Levine rued the day he let Josh go.
Josh's victory this week — the first win for Usher, whose contestant Michelle Chamuel came close in Season 4 — officially shattered the shared five-season winning streak by original coaches Adam Levine (who triumphed in Seasons 1 and 5) and Blake Shelton (Seasons 2 through 4). This time, Team Blake's Jake Worthington came in second, while Team Adam's Christina Grimmie placed a surprising third (but was promised a record deal with Adam Levine's label anyway).
Josh had a perfect made-for-TV story arc. He was the kind of sleeper contestant no one really saw coming, but under Usher's guidance, he transformed from underdog to frontrunner with his phenomenal, iTunes-charting performances of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," and especially John Legend's "All of Me."
But Josh's journey from obscurity to singing-show victory actually began years ago: The 38-year-old blue-eyed soul crooner and father of three once unsuccessfully auditioned for The X Factor Season 1, and in 1993, when he was just 16, he survived two rounds on Star Search before eventually getting eliminated.
This was an especially impressive come-from-behind win. Due to a controversial iTunes glitch that made Josh's "Set Fire to the Rain" almost impossible to find, producers decided not to count any of the downloads during this week's post-show, 14-hour voting window — and base the verdict only on other voting methods (phone, text, online). This might have seemed unfair to some (to Christina, whose "Can't Help Falling in Love" charted at No. 4, or perhaps especially to Jake, who'd landed two songs in the iTunes top 10 this week). But it was absolutely the right decision to ensure that the reputation of Josh as the rightful champ, and of the entire Voice franchise, would not be tainted. Host Carson Daly assured viewers that this decision didn't affect the outcome in any way.
However, the fact that Josh still charted at No. 20 with "Set Fire" this week, despite the glitch, and that he still won after this setback, speaks volumes about both his fanbase and his talent.
Other highlights of Tuesday's show included Christina Grimmie dueting with Ed Sheeran; contestants Delvin Choice, Jake Barker, Morgan Wallen, Patrick Thomson, and Stevie Jo forming a Voice soul supergroup for Hall & Oates's "She's Gone"; a Robin Thicke/Josh Kaufman duet of "Get Her Back" in which Josh was such the star player, Paula Patton might give him a call instead; and a confetti-strewn Coldplay performance of "A Sky Full of Stars."
Josh will soon join castmates Christina and Jake, Season 1's Dia Frampton, Season 5's top three finalists, and fan-selected fellow Season 6 contestants Jake Barker and Kristen Merlin on this summer's Voice Live tour. And then, it will be time for him to record his own album.
Will Josh continue to dominate the iTunes charts when he releases his own music? Most past Voice stars have had trouble establishing themselves in the pop market, but with his amazing voice (and fanbase), Josh has a real shot, so watch this space. And see you on the tour!