Gwen Stefani to return to 'The Voice': Are coach shake-ups a good thing?

Stefani, who has appeared on the show as a coach in the past, will reportedly be back for the program's next season, while current coach Miley Cyrus will depart. Do these coach changes keep viewers interested or should the lineup be more stable?

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Gwen Stefani arrives at 'The Voice' red carpet event in Los Angeles in 2014.

“The Voice” coach Gwen Stefani will be returning to the show in the newest shake-up to the lineup on NBC’s hit singing competition, a feature of the program that has become somewhat of a signature for the show. 

Ms. Stefani, who appeared as a coach during the seventh and ninth seasons, will return for the upcoming season of the show. The eleventh season of the program is currently airing and will likely conclude before the end of the year, then a new season is set to kick off in February. 

Fellow coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will return for the upcoming season, as they have for every season of the show, and singer Alicia Keys, who debuted as a coach on the program for this current season, will reportedly return as well. Singer Miley Cyrus debuted as a coach alongside Ms. Keys this season, but Stefani will reportedly take her spot. Ms. Cyrus will come back for the fall 2017 season. 

Unlike, for example, fellow singing competition “American Idol,” which kept its judging lineup the same for seven seasons, shaking up its coaching lineup has been part of “Voice” since the program debuted its fourth season. Mr. Levine and Mr. Shelton are mainstays, but other than that, coaches often come in and out from season to season (though departing coaches usually return in the future). 

Hollywood Reporter writer Marisa Roffman sees this as an advantage for the show. “The show's ability to switch up many of its coaches ... has led to a freshness every season that's rare in reality television,” Ms. Roffman wrote. 

Meanwhile, Myles McNutt of the A.V. Club thinks that swapping coaches in and out can keep the show durable, even if a certain past coach isn’t available for a new season. 

“ ’The Voice’ has passed its most important test this spring,” Mr. McNutt wrote in 2013. “With Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green on the bench, Mark Burnett and company successfully slotted in Shakira and Usher during their absence and delivered a season that lived up to ratings expectations and helped NBC complete a rejuvenating year (even if they also canceled most of their new series from last fall). It’s proof that it’s the format and not just the individual coaches that America has become attached to, and it bodes well for the show’s future as a season-long staple for the network.”

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