If there’s anyone who understands what it feels like to go through an internationally televised singing competition show, it’s Niall Horan. After getting his start in 2010 as part of One Direction on The X Factor, where he and his bandmates placed third, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter is now seeing what it’s like on the other side of the buzzer by joining Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Chance the Rapper as a coach on this season of The Voice.
And in a Monday night (Feb. 27) appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Horan opened up about how going through the ringer on X Factor has made him a more compassionate coach on The Voice. “I’ve been on a show like that,” the “Slow Hands” singer said. “I understand how it works.”
“That’s how I got half of my team,” he added. “They understand I’ve got that empathy with them. I was that 16-year-old knowing that, that person there has got my future in their hands. That’s the hardest thing about The Voice, is I have to make end-game decisions over two singers that are standing in front of me knowing I have their future in my hands.”
Horan, whose third album The Show arrives this summer, also opened up about what it’s like to work with his fellow Voice judges — particularly Shelton, who recently announced that the upcoming 23rd season, which premieres March 6, will be his final stint as a coach. “It’s been so fun — we were very lucky with the crew of coaches I’m with,” Horan said. “It could have been horrific, if you’re sitting there every night pretending that you like the person you’re sat next to. I got very lucky in Blake Shelton alone.”
“He’s stone cold, that man,” he continued, admitting that Shelton is just as cocky in person about his nine Voice wins as he appears on TV. “That’s all he does, anywhere, to everyone that will listen to him or don’t want to listen to him. He’s constantly nailing everyone. But he’s an absolute beauty, and he’s going to be missed around that show. He’s so good to work with.”
Then, at Meyers’ request, the “Heaven” musician seamlessly switched from his trademark Irish accent to a deep Oklahoma twang, showing off his perfect impression of the country star. “This is my last season on The Voice, and I would love if you would be on the last ever Team Blake,” he mimicked, noting that impersonating Shelton’s southern charm makes him feel like “a politician.”
Watch Niall Horan talk about being a coach on the Voice, working with Blake Shelton and more above.