The Voice Australia has moved onto the battle rounds section, and with it, Johnny Manuel found himself up against Mongolian throat singer Bukhu Ganburged. While the former Equinox singer won the round and will continue in the competition, it was a tense, controversial decision.

Johnny Manuel and Bukhu Ganburged were an oddly matched pairing, put together by their coach — and Australia’s Eurovision 2015 star — Guy Sebastian.

The pair sang Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” and while the gospel ballad was a good match for Johnny’s vocal style, it was an unusual pick for Bakhu. The Mongolian throat singer spent much of the performing playing a morin khuur — a traditional Mongolian string instrument — but he came in with some unique throat singing and finally delivered a standard pop vocal performance.

While both artists delivered good performances in their own way and impressed their coach Guy Sebastian, the other three judges weren’t so happy. Delta Goodrem, Boy George and Kelly Rowland all gave comments to the effect that it was an unfair match, designed to favour the soul singer over the throat singer.

Click here to watch the performance.

Australian pop icon Delta Goodrem told Johnny, “It felt like Bukhu was your backing player”. Former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland said she felt the mismatched pairing took away from both performers “because Johnny can’t just relish in this incredible moment”. While 1980s pop icon Boy George had praise for both performers, saying he wasn’t expecting the battle to work but it did.

Things got tense, with Kelly Rowland intensely critiquing Guy’s choice with the two coaches heading towards a passive-aggressive meltdown, with Kelly eventually walking off the set.

The action picked up on the following night’s episode, with Kelly saying “My feelings ain’t hurt, but this sh*t is redundant.”

In the end, it was up to coach Guy Sebastian to pick one of the two performers to head to the next round. He went with Johnny Manuel, saying “It’s quite clear this show suits somebody like Johnny, so I don’t think it’ll be any surprise that I’m going to go for Johnny.”

Guy later reflected on Twitter, saying “I’m sad that this went down the way it did due to my choice. It’s something that cuts me & I didn’t handle it well”.

But once the live shows begin, things will be a little different. Due to current travel restrictions, Boy George and Kelly Rowland are unable to fly back to Australia for the shows. Instead they’ll coach remotely, while Australian soul legend Marcia Hines and indie-pop twins The Veronicas will take their places in the live shows.

Johnny Manuel’s journey

Johnny is no stranger to talent shows. In 2017, he competed on America’s Got Talent. While he received the Golden Buzzer from the judges and wowed the audience, he ended up being eliminated in the semi-finals.

In 2018, Johnny was part of the group Equinox, who represented Bulgaria at Eurovision with “Bones”. Despite the immense hype surrounding the song, Bulgaria only finished 14th in the grand final.

While Johnny Manuel is originally from Michigan in the United States, he’s now enjoying life Down Under with his Australian partner. And he’s making the most of the experience, auditioning for The Voice Australia. Now that he’s made it through to the next sound, Johnny’s The Voice Australia journey will continue in coming weeks.

What do you think? Was it a fair pairing? How far do you think Johnny will go in the contest? Tell us your thoughts below!

Read more Australia Eurovision news here

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Zoe
Zoe
15 days ago

So.. Bringing American singers to sing most of your competing song while the locals do some backing vocals is acceptable by the fans, but bringing an American singer for the interval act isn’t?

James
James
15 days ago
Reply to  Zoe

How is this relevant to the article?

Zoe
Zoe
15 days ago
Reply to  James

This is an article about one of those Americans, that’s how.

Roo
Roo
13 days ago
Reply to  Zoe

Um This is an article about the voice in Australia. Your comment is about Israel using Madonna as an Interval act, something Australian television producers had no say over.

BTW said American singer is living in Australia which is more of a connection than Madonna has with Israel.

Zoe
Zoe
11 days ago
Reply to  Roo

I love how you react without actually understanding what I’m talking about. This article is about one of the 2 American singers that sang for Bulgaria in 2018. Almost nobody was super mad about it, but when an American singer was invited just to do an interval act everybody was furious. How genius is that?

Roo
Roo
11 days ago
Reply to  Zoe

Because this article is about Johnny Manuels sing off in the voice, where it was noted he sang mostly too, giving him an advantage over another voice contestant.

Your comment never specifically stated his Bulgarian participation. So then is seems that your comment was addressing his participation in the voice.

If you specifically mentioned why is it okay for an American to represent Bulgaria but not to be an Interval act then myself and others would understand.

Jonas
Jonas
15 days ago

Who would have been a good match for Bukhu? He seems unique. Leave Guy alone, Kelly – act professionally. Do the producers have nothing to do with these decisions?

As for Boy George, how did his career ever recover from kidnapping someone, chaining them to a wall for days and torturing them? He went to jail for it. I wouldn’t pick him as my coach…

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonas

As you say, he went to jail for it, which means that he received and fulfilled a punishment. He was let out for good behaviour, which presumably involves rehabiliation and probation, perhaps including being completely sober from the drugs he was taking. The rest of his life can’t also be a punishment.

Jonas
Jonas
15 days ago
Reply to  Jimmy Smit

I wasn’t necessarily judging him on a personal level, more wondering how such a huge scandal has been so forgotten. Especially in the #MeToo times…if his victim had been a woman, I imagine it would be very different. His release from jail only means that his legal punishment is over, it does not erase the act from history. People are free to remember or be wary – and it certainly doesn’t mean he should now be held up as a role model, like The Voice does.

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonas

Production have quite a lot to do with the decisions and the way the footage is edited. I wouldn’t be surprised if the drama was entirely overseen by production.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
15 days ago

Bukhu is amazing. However, as I’ve said on some of the other talent show posts, it seems an odd choice of show for him. Obviously, on The Voice, he’d have to get through battle rounds against somebody with a pop voice like Johnny at some point and that was always going to be hard. If he had been on …Got Talent, he’d be one of the favourites to win, no?I understand where Guy was coming from in his comments, for sure!

Alphalpha
Alphalpha
15 days ago

Does this article have anything to do with Eurovision. Must be a slow news week.

sam
sam
15 days ago
Reply to  Alphalpha

johnny manuel and guy sebastian were both in eurovision. guy and delta goodrem have both written songs for eurovision events too. so yes, it does have to do with eurovision

FanESC
FanESC
15 days ago
Reply to  Alphalpha

It concerns 2 Eurovision artists so yes.

Generic Eurovision Fan
Generic Eurovision Fan
14 days ago
Reply to  Alphalpha

Johnny was in Equinox