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Gwen Stefani Playfully Shaded Niall Horan in the Battles with a Blake-Approved Dig

Blake Shelton made me do it!

By Cassidy Ward

Blake Shelton is not a Coach on season 24 of The Voice (he's too busy playing games over on USA Network's Barmageddon) but he’s made his presence felt in little ways, throughout. During the Blinds, Shelton appeared in the form of a disembodied voice and a giant foam finger with his name crossed out, replaced by Niall’s. In the latest episode, post-Battle back and forth led to an expected Shelton appearance in the form of cutting remark from Gwen Stefani.

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But before that, Eli Ward and Jason Arcilla took to the Battle stage for a performance of “Make It With You” by Bread.

Jason Arcilla and Eli Ward sing "Make It With You" by Bread on The Voice Season 24 Battles

The song was a perfect choice for Jason and Eli, both of whom have casual but piercing singer-songwriter voices. It’s the kind of performance you could listen to for hours as you sink into an all-encompassing groove. Jason brought a signature tone to the song which commanded attention and Eli — who had a problem with nerves during the Blinds — carried a confidence and command of the stage not yet seen from him. The two of them were perfectly matched, leaving Gwen with a tough choice.

Jason Arcilla performs on The Voice Episode 2412

RELATED: Former Coach Blake Shelton Makes Surprise "Appearance" On Season 24 Premiere of The Voice

“That was so fun and soulful. You guys did it, too. I liked the moves, y’all were so smooth with it,” John Legend said. “Jason, I really loved the gentleness of your tone. Eli, I loved how confident and in command you felt the whole time. I think I would side just slightly with Eli.

More than vocal command or musical tricks, the secret ingredient in Eli and Jason’s performance was their charisma. Neither of them has the most powerful voices you’ve ever heard, but they’re a lot of fun to watch and listen to. “You guys sounded great together. You were having fun. I loved the little choreography moves and the interaction with the audience was really, really good. You both did a great job. I guess if I had to pick, I’d go with Eli, but Jason you did a great job. Very good,” Reba McEntire said.

Blake Shelton sends Niall Horan his regards, through Gwen Stefani

Niall Horan, as usual, had plenty to say but was resistant to putting his chips down on either singer until pressed. “Eli, I love your ‘50s meets ‘70s kind of smoothness, and also hat’s off for taking on that fit because I definitely don’t have the arms to take on a shirt like that,” Niall said. “There’s a real smoothness to your voice, this song really suits you. Your tone is really pure and classic sounding. And Jason, this song suits you also, you have an etherealness that’s just kind of built into you.

When it became clear Niall had no intention of casting his lot, Gwen put her foot down. “You gotta tell me what you think, I’m super confused right now. Be honest, come on. I know it’s hard for you,” Gwen said. Niall, feigning emotional injury, dropped his jaw and, smirking, said, “Just when you thought you’ve made a friend…” Meanwhile, Reba and John expressed shock or amusement at the exchange while Gwen tossed her dearly beloved under the proverbial bus.

“Blake told me to say that,” Gwen said, in her own defense. “Did he?” Niall asked, laughing. “I kind of believe that, actually. That sounds about right.” Having eased the tension with a little gentle ribbing, Niall gives in and names Jason his favorite.

The final decision, of course, came down to Gwen alone. She also favored Jason and gave him the win, noting that Eli still needs some development while Jason is ready to go.

With the battle of Team Gwen’s singer-songwriters in the history books, with Jason Arcilla moving to the Knockouts and Eli Ward, sadly, heading home.

You can catch Jason and the rest of the remaining contestants on The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock!