By Marc Snetiker
April 22, 2014 at 02:51 PM EDT
Trae Patton/NBC
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The best part of watching The Voice is, well, hearing the voices.

That can’t be said for Top 12 contestant Kristen Merlin, who took the stage during season 6’s first live episode Monday — only to have her microphone fail completely during the last third of her performance.

Merlin was in the midst of singing her solid rendition of Sugarland’s “Stay” (delivering one of her strongest performances) when her voice cut out about 80 seconds into the song. A few seconds later, Merlin removed her in-ear monitor while she continued to sing; when a stagehand finally gave her a microphone 20 seconds later, the audience had already begun cheering as Merlin finished the song with a pitch-perfect “Stay” (that’s the title — everyone take a shot!). Following the performance, overwhelming audience response and enthusiasm from the coaches — including Merlin’s coach Shakira — visibly moved the singer to tears.

Monday’s episode marked the first time this season that viewers would get the chance to vote for their favorite contenders. Two contestants will be eliminated on Tuesday’s results show, which will ostensibly proceed as planned, unless producers decide that Merlin’s tech snafu had a significant effect on the voting outcome. (NBC hasn’t yet responded to EW’s request for comment.)

While technical issues obviously occur every once in awhile on a live show like The Voice, the auditory obstacle couldn’t have hit a more unlucky contestant. Viewers got to see Merlin’s blind audition during the very first episode of the season back in February — due to unfortunate editing, both of her subsequent battle rounds were cut from broadcast. With just an audition and a playoff performance having aired, Merlin entered the live rounds as probably the contestant least familiar to the audience, leaving her at a significant disadvantage.

A rotating chair-full of judges search for the next great superstar singer on this NBC reality show.
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