Adam Levine with a freshly bicked head, the return of Gwen Stefani, and A-list advisors, like Rihanna and Selena Gomez, are just a few of the things that viewers can expect on the upcoming installment of The Voice. The show returns on Sept. 21 with its ninth season. And this year, it’s about the fresh young talent.
“Each season, we’ll notice that there are fads and trends in what becomes popular,” says host Carson Daly. “For a couple of seasons, it was these big soul singers. I think people came out and were like, ‘Oh Javier Colon won. I need to sing perfect.’ Season 3 and 4, it seemed that every girl came into an audition wearing a little hat and singing a Tove Lo song to a ukulele. It was really understated and singer/songwriter and ironic. This is a very youthful season of straight forward singing talent.”
Stefani seconds Daly’s sentiments, adding that she has been shocked by what she’s seen so far during the Blind Auditions and Knockout Rounds. “There are a lot of young people. They don’t seem young but they are like, ‘Hi. I just turned 15.’ You’re like, ‘How? There is no way!’” she explains.
The No Doubt frontwoman/solo songstress is thrilled to be back amongst Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams in the big red seats. And with one season under her belt, she’s coming into this round with a whole new attitude. “Before Season 7, I never even knew at all what I was doing. I just kind of showed up and was like ‘Whoa. This is so amazing,’” she tells Billboard during a press day to promote the show. “This time I feel like I know what to expect and now I’m looking for different things.”
Another development the coaches have seen this year is that contestants are jumping outside of their genre in the hopes of mixing things up. Shelton informs Billboard, for instance, that Team Levine has already claimed a promising young country singer during the show’s Blind Auditions. “He’ll pick ’em, even though he doesn’t really want ’em. He just doesn’t want me to get ’em. It always amazes me when country artists fall for it!” he jokes.
And in true Voice style, Season 9 will feature a panel of celebrity advisors, each with their own unique mentoring style. “Rihanna is all vibe. If she doesn’t feel it, she tells you in 2 seconds,” says Williams. “It doesn’t take her 20 minutes to figure that out.” Stefani tells Billboard that Gomez has a lot to offer the show’s competing talent. “She’s just in a really cool place in her life. She’s about ready to bust open and blossom in a cool artistry type way.” And Missy Elliott, says Williams, is all about living in the moment and challenging artists to be more open. “It’s like she liberates people,” he explains.
While the coaches are open to any type variety of talent that they come across this season, there is one thing that they have come to universally agree on — it’s never a good idea for a contestant to take the stage and sing a Blake Shelton, Maroon 5, No Doubt or Pharrell Williams song. Stefani actually admits that hearing someone attempt one of her tunes makes her cringe a little inside. “It’s weird. It’s flattering but it’s also hard. It’s really hard to see it from any other perspective other than your own,” she explains. “It makes everything awkward,” adds Shelton. “You feel like, ‘Maybe I should hit my button, because, like, thanks.’ But then if they suck and you don’t, then you’re like, ‘Thanks for doing my song. You sucked!’” he jokes.
In terms of other Season 9 surprises, Shelton alluded that he may be performing a few new tracks on the show. And in addition to destroying Team Levine (his usual goal for each season of the show), he revealed that he’s been bugging Williams to hit the studio and write a song with him. When asked what the track would be about, Shelton coyly said, “Titties. All I want to do is sing about them.” Williams fired back to tell the press that they had just been “Blaked. This what happens. It’s the accent. It allows him to get away with saying anything!”
And the banter has already begun!