A former Junior Eurovision winner, a mystery contestant, and a middle-aged trio were among the successful acts to have made it through the third audition round of this season’s The Voice of Georgia.

The now 21-year-old Iru Khechanov, who was part of Georgia’s Junior Eurovision 2011 girl group Candy, managed to impress three of the four coaches (all but Stephane turned their chairs around). Khechanov’s take on Loren Allred’s “Never Enough” kicked off the evening, but it was enough for most judges and she elected Dato’s team.

Iru Khechanov is the middle girl in Candy’s formation during their performance of “Candy Music” at Junior Eurovision 2011. Khechanov also auditioned for a Eurovision spot in 2020, not receiving a golden ticket when she first tried out for Georgian Idol.

25 year-old Ani Bibiladze was next up with Avicii’s “Addicted to You.” No coaches turned around.

21-year-old Irakli Arishvili was next with his take on Rag ‘n Bone Man’s “Shin,” but no coach was willing to buy what he was selling.

Anka Tatarashvili started off her segment with a bang. Literally. At the shooting range testing his marksmanship on photos of Vladimir Putin. All the coaches except Sopho turned around during her version of Aretha Franklin’s “I never loved a man,” and it was fitting she selected the original singer who didn’t “want to put in,” and went on Stephane’s team.

It wouldn’t be a Georgian talent contest without one person trying “Kiss on a Rose” by Sting, and it was Anika Gabiskiria who succeeded with it, earning a place on Sopho’s team.

All four coaches picked Gvantsa Kupatadze, who dazzled the coaches with her voice and after seeing her, they approved of her style. After performing Jorja Smith’s “Teenage Fantasy,” she went on David’s team.

David got another team member when he selected 27-year-old Sopo Garakanidze, who wowed him in particular with Kodaline’s “All I Want.”

Next up was a mystery contestant whose identity was hidden before the show and who performed behind a curtain. Stephane blocked Dato, and the other two coaches also turned around for contestant Sopho Batilashvili, whose cover of Sinead O’Connor’s version of the Prince song “Nothing Compares to U” impressed.

Batilashvili won Rustavi 2’s show “Only Georgian” in 2019, earning a record deal with Bravo Records.

In terms of age, style, and being a trio, Alegro impressed with their version of Josh Groban’s “Per Te.” They will be an interesting group to watch, and David was the only coach willing to take a gamble on three fiftysomethings with a love for pop opera and classical.

Lastly, 22-year-old Irakli Kapanadze sat down at the piano to belt out Sam Smith’s “Lay me down.” Sopho and Dato turned around, and he chose to be on Dato’s team.

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 Voice airs at 22:00 local time on Thursday, December 8, 2022. 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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