John Legend duets with former “American Idol” contestant in “The Voice” season 24 premiere

The more things change on The Voice, the more they stay the same. Sure, season 24 of The Voice feels different without the cowboy in the big red chair, but even without Blake Shelton, the hijinks, pranks, and one-upmanship he was known for in the quest to out-pitch his fellow coaches for team members is very much present as the new season kicks off. Take, for instance, the final audition of the season 24 premiere, which winds up being a real charm-off between two coaches.

At the end of the first night of Blind Auditions, out steps 21-year-old Mara Justine from Galloway, New Jersey. If she looks familiar, it's because she was a contestant on both America's Got Talent season 9 and American Idol season 16. She gives a confident, stellar performance of Elton John's "Good-bye Yellow Brick Road" that earns her a four-chair turn before she even hits the first chorus. But while coaches Gwen Stefani and Reba McEntire would be more than thrilled to have Mara join their teams, this is really a battle between John Legend and returning champ Niall Horan.

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" Episode 2401 -- Pictured: John Legend
THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" Episode 2401 -- Pictured: John Legend

Tyler Golden/NBC John Legend

John was the first to turn — almost immediately, by the way — and he tells the young singer that he loves the "tone in the lower part of the song" as well as her seamless ability to hit the lighter, higher notes. Niall tells her that she's "in [his] wheelhouse" and is blown away by the confidence to come out swinging with an Elton John song. He then adds that it was Blake who taught him "how to do absolutely anything to make sure you get a team member," just as Blake's old foam finger comes down from the rafters. Only this time, Blake's name is crossed out and Niall's has been added. That's right, he's trying to win Mara over with the old finger pointing trick which somehow really worked for Blake over his time on the show. Niall might have to work on some new tricks though — because John has his own moves.

As Niall approaches Mara to talk about their partnership and the foam finger a little more, so does John. John asks Mara if she's ever performed any of his songs. Of course she has. So, he asks if she'd like to sing "All of Me" with him now. Of course she would. It's such a cool moment for Mara and the two sound great together (also, kudos to Mara for performing so well in what must be an extremely nerve-wracking situation… with no rehearsal!). Niall knows he's losing her as he falls over and then attempts to add a third voice to the duet. Afterward, he even gets on his knees and starts singing a few bars of "All of Me" to Mara solo. Honestly, what a dream scenario to have these two superstars trying their hardest to win Mara over. Well, a dream scenario until she gets to the nightmare situation of having to actually choose which team to join.

But again, in typical Voice fashion, the episode ends before we learn Mara's decision. It's to be continued until night two. Who will she go with — the guy who was ready and willing to jump up on stage and sing with her, or the guy risking it all on a foam finger and a lot of begging? Or, like host Carson Daly noted to Mara's parents, maybe she'll surprise us all and go with Reba in the end.

The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC and Disney+.

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