There were a couple of surprises in this evening’s first Live Round of The Voice of Georgia, as one pre-contest favorite was eliminated and another two favorites came perilously close.

In this round, Coach Stephane and Coach Sopho’s artists each had to perform a number, with the top four from each six artist team progressing to the next round. The artists were selected by televote, with the phone lines having being opened from the end of last week’s show to the conclusion of performances tonight.

From Sopho’s team, well-regarded up-and-coming singer Sopho Batilashvili came second bottom with only 8.19% of the televote, despite her rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” being a hit with the coaches.

Anastasia Vashakmadze came in last and was eliminated alongside Batilashvili, with her take on Everybody Loves an Outlaw’s “I See Red” only garnering 4.49%.

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Tina Datikashvili came in top of Sopho’s group with 34.80%, performing Jessie J’s “Queen.” A popular number in Georgia, apparently, as Barbara Samkharadze nearly knocked Tornike Kipiani off his perch with her take on the same song in Georgian Idol back in 2020.

Mariam Toronjadze came in second in Sopho’s group with her take on Lorraine Ellison’s “Stay with me baby” earning 20.06%, and Salome Tsintsadze just behind on 17.93% in an oddly timed performance of Gwen Stefani’s “What you waiting for?” (Oddly timed as just this morning Gwen Stefani made international headlines for comments she had made about Japanese culture.)

Lika Siradze came in fourth and narrowly qualified with 14.53% with what was a well-received take on Audioslave’s “Cochise,” with her gender swapped takes on alternative rock classics being well received internationally, but evidently not locally.

From Stephane’s team, Nini Asiliani and Mariam Kokeladze were eliminated with 9.46% and 9.9% of the vote, respectively.

Cruel jokes about their eliminations could be made from their song choice titles, as Nini performed Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” and Mariam opted for Duffy’s “Mercy.”

Escaping elimination was another pre-contest favorite in Dato Rusadze with 17.28%. He went with a traditional Georgian romantic ballad, and perhaps as with his stint on Georgian Idol three years ago, where he made it to the semi-finals pretty much on the strength of his vocal technique alone, he has yet to find a groove and settle into an identity.

Stephane’s group was won by Likuna Tutisani, appeasing the Georgian adult contemporary crowd with a smooth rendition of Jill Scott’s “He loves me,” with 34.8% of the vote.

Anka Tatarashvili’s take on Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to be real” got her second with 21.51%, and Saba Chachua (moustache dyed blue for tonight’s performance) came in third after performing Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You.”

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Next week, the live rounds will be continue with Coach Dato and Coach David’s teams being winnowed down from six to four. At present, their teams are as follows:​

Dato Porchkhidze’s Team: Tsotne Barbakadze, Iru Khechanovi, Ekaterine Mdivani, Tako Kakalashvili, Erekle Turkadze, Irakli Kapanadze.

David Evgenidze’s Team: Giorgi Datiashvili, Allegro, Kakha Aslamazashvili, Ani Nozadze, Gvantsa Kupatadze, Giorgi Putkaradze.

The Voice of Georgia is being used to select Georgia’s Eurovision entrant for the 2023 season, and two coaches have a direct connection to past Georgian Eurovision entrants.

Sopho Toroshelidze was the lead singer of Georgian nu metal band Eldrine. Eldrine’s “One Fine Day,” which was entered at Eurovision 2011, is currently Georgia’s joint-best entry coming in 9th (Sofia Nizharadze’s “Shine” also came in 9th at Eurovision 2010). Eldrine won the Georgian national final, and Toroshelidze later replaced original vocalist Tako Vadachkoria due to a contract dispute between GPB and Vadachkoria.

Stephane Mgrebishvili was kicked out of Eurovision 2009 as part of Stephane and 3G when the band refused to change lyrics to their entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” in response to the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) political content rule. “We Don’t Wanna Put In” was a reference to Russia’s invasion and subsequent occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. Stephane was also a judge on the season of Georgian Idol that selected Oto Nemsadze to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2019. He was also a judge on The Voice Season 3.

The man with the bandanna that everyone recognizes as the third judge is Georgian musician and film composer David Evgenidze. He was previously a judge on Georgian Idol when Tornike Kipiani was selected to represent Georgia at Eurovision 2020 (he was internally selected to compete at Eurovision 2021 after the cancellation of Eurovision 2020). Evgenidze is also a regular judge on Ranina, Georgia’s method of selection for Junior Eurovision. He also wrote “We Need Love” for Giorgi Rostiashvili, which came in 14th at Junior Eurovision 2019.

Lastly, Dato Porchkhidze returns as a coach on The Voice of Georgia having been a coach on the first two seasons in 2012 and 2013. Dato’s proteges Salome Katamadze and Mariam Chachkhiani won Season 1 and Season 2, respectively. A musician in his own right, with over 600 compositions to his name, he was also a part of the famous Georgian group Face.

Georgia have not qualified for the Eurovision Grand Final since Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz’s “Midnight Gold” at Eurovision 2016. Though Georgia is often highly regarded in the Eurovision fanbase, their cult status has not translated into qualification for the Grand Final of late.

Georgia’s last entry, Circus Mircus’s “Lock Me In,” came in 18th and last in Semi-Final 2 at Eurovision 2022 in Turin, Italy.

The next episode of The Voice of Georgia airs at 22:00 local time on Thursday, January 19, 2023. The Voice is presented by Gvantsa Daraselia. Non-Georgian viewers will be able to check it out directly on TV-1’s livestream on their own website or The Voice’s Facebook page.

Do #YOU think the Voice of Georgia is the right method of selection for Eurovision 2023? Do #YOU think this and the recent change to Semi-Final voting rules will bring Georgia’s first Grand Final qualification since 2016? Let us know in the comments below, our social media, our forum or Discord.

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