NBC’s hit reality competition “The Voice” premiered its ninth season this week, with returning coaches including Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, country singer Blake Shelton, No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani, and “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams.
The first episodes of “The Voice” include the judging round, in which the current coaches listen to each contestant sing with their backs turned. The coaches then press a button to indicate they want to coach the contestant. If more than one coach is looking to have the contender on their team, the contestant gets to choose between the judges.
Past coaches on the program have included Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, and Usher. Shelton in particular has done well with the show, with several of the contestants he has coached going on to win the competition.
This week’s episodes, which aired on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, consisted of the auditions. One of the contestants who made the cut included Jordan Smith, who had all the judges signal they wanted him on their team. He ended up being coached by Levine. Some other contestants who did well enough to garner interest from all the coaches were Barrett Baber, who ended up on Shelton’s team; Mark Hood, who will be coached by Williams; James Dupre, who will be a part of Levine’s team; and Evan McKeel, who joined Williams’ team as well. Joseph Bommersbach, who goes by “Blind Joe” because of his problems with his eyesight, also gained the interest of all the judges and joined Shelton’s team as well.
Other contestants who made the cut included Zach Seabaugh, who joined Shelton’s team also, and Regina Love, who became a part of the team coached by Levine.
“The Voice” airs seasons during the fall and spring and the ninth season premiere was fairly steady in the ratings compared to the last few season premieres, though the season premieres for the last few seasons have declined a bit from the show's highs.
The previously reigning music competition, “American Idol,” is ending its run on Fox in 2016 after 15 seasons. The show, which previously had Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson as judges, was a big ratings hit and produced such stars as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. However, there’s been a lot of turnover at the judges table in recent years at “Idol” and ratings have slid.
“Voice” is still fairly new and it remains to be seen whether it can sustain its ratings success. While its struggles recently with keeping judges was not the only reason for the decline of “Idol,” “Voice” has maintained a fairly similar rotation of judges – Shelton and Levine have been on the show since the beginning and other coaches have cycled in and out, with former judges like Usher, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera exiting and then coming back for other seasons. This gives the show a cohesive feel.
In addition, there is a more positive feeling to “Voice.” In its heyday, one of the hallmarks of “Idol” was the critiques by judge Cowell, who would insult contestants. In contrast, on “Voice,” the coaches are trying to woo the contestants to join their team. The coaches continue to give advice to and support the contestants on their team throughout the competition.