'The Voice' Contestant Abby Cates Earned the Compliment of a Lifetime From Kelly Clarkson

We cannot believe she said that!

The competition on season 15 of The Voice is heating up, and contestants' song choices for their performances matter now more than ever. On Tuesday, Abby Cates revealed a bold decision she made heading into the Knockouts: she would be taking on "Because of You" in front of the songwriter herself, her coach Kelly Clarkson.

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The 17-year-old explained that Clarkson was her "childhood icon" and she grew up singing her music at home and at school. Still, Cates admitted that it was "pretty nerve-wracking" to belt out one of the superstar's own hits in front of her. Clarkson helped calm her anxious team member's nerves by explaining the story behind the lyrics, which she wrote when she was just a teenager.

"I wrote it at 16, and it literally just started as a poetry kind of thing because I just needed to get it out," Clarkson revealed. "My mom was like 'you are very angry about something, you should start writing.'"

During Cates' rehearsal, she was lucky enough to receive some advice firsthand from the songwriter to improve her arrangement and showcase her vocals. Even better, though, was the compliment that Clarkson gave her behind the scenes.

"I wanted this song to sound different when I recorded it," Clarkson admitted. "Abby is singing this song how I wish I would've sang it in the beginning."

For comparison, here's Clarkson's rendition of "Because of You" at the GRAMMY Awards ceremony in 2006.

When it came time to sing in front of all four coaches, Cates competed against 18-year-old Claire DeJean, who sang Shawn Mendes' "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back."

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Though both contestants put on impressive performances, Clarkson made it clear that she could only advance one of them because their voices are so similar. She visibly struggled with her decision, but ultimately chose Cates. Given what she said about her during rehearsals, we can't say we're surprised!

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