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'Voice' hopeful's reaction to having to sing Backstreet Boys: 'Is this a joke?'

May 14, 2013 at 12:04 PM ET

"The Voice” turned up the heat on its top 12 singers Monday night – both figuratively and literally – as a California heat wave knocked out the air conditioning at the show’s studio, adding one more obstacle to an already high-pressure situation.

But for Garrett Gardner, who is on Team Shakira, the physical temperature wasn't the only heat he faced.

The 17-year-old raised some eyebrows with his rendition of the Backstreet Boys’ classic “I Want It That Way” Monday, which received a mixed response from the coaches.

"Adam (Levine) said it wasn't his favorite song, but I have a lot of respect for him. I like the fact that he was honest with me,” Garrett told TODAY.com. “I think I did what I could with the song. I think (there’s) a lot to be said as an artist (with) what you can do with something that sounds completely different. It was more of a statement as an artist (Monday) than it was necessarily about vocal performance, and I think you've got to take risks.”

He also told us about his initial reaction when Shakira assigned him the boy-band tune.

“She actually said, 'Before you get scared, let me tell you what I think you can do with it.' And I think I said something along the lines of, 'Is this a joke?' I wasn't trying to be rude, I just didn't think she was (serious),” he explained. “She's like, 'No, no, I'm serious.' ... At first I didn't expect it, but at that point, once you know what you're going to do, no matter what the song is, you've just got to give it everything you've got and that's what I did.”

How do you think Garrett did with his Backstreet Boys cover? Tell us in the comments!

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