Unlike last week, there was no shock elimination as a pre-tournament favorite and Junior Eurovision winner cruised to the next round, with three eliminations and a withdrawal ending this phase of The Voice of Georgia’s live rounds.

In this round, Coach Dato Porchidze and Coach David “Dato” Evgenidze’s artists each had to perform a number, with the top four from each 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. The two lowest were eliminated. Except for one moment of confusion where a coach made an unusual save, which we’ll discuss.

Starting with Dato’s team, Iru Khecharov cruised to victory with 35.31% of the vote. Iru has amassed a sizeable fanbase, and they turned out for the young hopeful who was part of Candy, the five member girl group who won Junior Eurovision for Georgia back in 2011.

After the show opened with a tribute to famous Georgian actor, writer, politician and singer Vakhtang Kikabidze, who passed away this past weekend (he was hailed for his performance in the 1977 Soviet era movie “Mimino”), Iru performed a jazzy take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Dark horse and cult favorite Erekle Turkadze came in second with 22.67%, though this time his taste favored the modern, yet eccentric, performing JVKE’s “Golden Hour.”

Another pre-tournament favorite in Tako Kakalashvili came in third with 16.11% of the vote. The former Gori Girls Choir lead performed Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High).”

Tsotne Barbakadze crooned his way into fifth place with his take on Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’s “If you don’t know me by now.” 5.62% for the young man who kind of looks like the love child of Stiffler from American Pie and the Canadian rapper Snow, and I mean that in a complimentary way.

The two quirkiest covers were also the ones that were eliminated, with Irakli Kapanadze doing a gender swap with the Billie Eilish song “Everything I wanted” and Ekaterine Mdivani going full-on classical with her rendition of “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen.” Both tried differently to be out of the box, but both resulted in 15.09% and 5.2%, respectively.

Worth noting is that Ekaterine had to perform twice as an advertisement break cut into her first performance. She was given the opportunity to perform her number again after the full roster had completed their sets.

Now, you may be asking: 15.09% > 5.62%, so why was Tsotne kept and Irakli was sent home? Per The Voice rules, anyone named in the “outsider” group is up for elimination, though almost always the coaches abide by the televote. Coach Dato did not, and of the three lowest place members of his team, opted to save 5th place Tsotne in favor of 4th place Irakli. And given the production gaffes of the evening and the way the announcement was handled, it left some observers with the impression Irakli was saved.

(P.S. Thank you to an eagle-eyed ESC United reader on Instagram for going through this in detail and clarifying this situation.)

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On David Evgenidze’s team, the evening began with notice of a withdrawal, with Ani Nozadze being the artist to pull out.

Giorgi Putkaradze won this group with 28.55%, diving into Muse’s early catalogue with “Sunburn.”

It was very tight margins for the rest of the group, though, as second place earned 19.3% and the eliminated artist was only 2.5% behind in 5th.

No surprise, Allegro chose to go Italian, covering Alessandro Safina’s “Luna.” If this trio does, against the odds, win The Voice of Georgia, then we shall henceforth refer to them as “Old Volo” as a nickname, given their love of the same material as Italy’s slightly younger Eurovision 2015 3rd place trio Il Volo.

Kakha Aslamazashvili went classic rock with Pink Flord’s “Time,” and Giorgi Datiashvili went Andrew Lloyd Webber with “Heaven on their Minds” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Kakha was 3rd with 17.9% and Giorgi 4th with 17.39%.

Only 0.53% behind, though eliminated, was Gvantsa Kupatadze’s twist on Michael Jackson’s “The way you make me feel” coming in with 16.86%.

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After this round, the teams are as follows:

Sopho Toroshelidze’s Team: Tina Datikashvili, Mariam Toronjadze, Lika Siradze, Salome Tsintsadze.

Stephane Mgebrishvili’s Team: Likuna Tutisani, Dato Rusadze, Saba Chachua, Anka Tatarashvili.

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

David Evgenidze’s Team: Giorgi Datiashvili, Allegro, Kakha Aslamazashvili, 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 26, 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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