NBC’s Emmy winning The Voice returns tonight with new contestants, old rivalries, and tested lineup of coaches, including Gwen Stefani, Pharrell, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine. OHSOGRAY attended a recent press day where the coaches and host Carson Daly talked about the new season, including guest mentors Selena Gomez and Missy Elliott.
The Voice returns tonight from 8-10pm ET on NBC.
Gwen, what did you learn from last season that will help you this season?
Gwen Stefani: I mean obviously 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.” This time I feel like I know what to expect. I’m looking for different things because I learned so much from Season 7. I learned everything from Season 7 because that was my first time. It’s so great being back and it’s so much funner in a way. I’m so comfortable with everybody. We’re all such good friends. It’s just been amazing. And also I didn’t know I was coming back until the last minute. I was hoping. You know how you don’t know if you are going to get something and then you do and you’re more grateful? I’m just trying to enjoy each moment and it goes by so fast too! We’re already done with the knockouts.
How emotional do you get when you get attached to any of them?
Carson Daly: Very emotional! She was very emotional. Yes it’s very real.
Gwen Stefani: It’s very real and it’s very embarrassing.
Carson Daly: There is nothing about when we do this show that screams “You’re shooting a TV show.” We had a moment yesterday shooting when Adam was talking and there was a mic issue and we had to stop for 10 seconds and it was actually hard to pick up where he left off only because everything that is said out here is so organic and so real and so true in the moment, that’s what you see on TV. It was hard for him to go, “OK action.” He couldn’t resolve it because…
Adam Levine: I didn’t remember what I said.
Carson Daly: So everything that you see and her emotion. If she says, “Oh my gosh. I was back here crying, you can rest assured, she was moved by it.”
What will be different this season aside from Adam’s hair?
Adam Levine: Every season is really different. I think we always try to just do our best job. That’s all we try to do. We leave it up to the producers and the Carson Dalys and the powers that be to add the quirks and the little tweaks and all those things. But we just try to do what we do best and help these guys sing and succeed.
Carson Daly: When we bring the 100+ or however many we bring to the blind auditions to put in front of the coaches, we as producers know everything about them and they know literally nothing. What makes that one season different from the next – sure it’s the hair sometimes or it’s a coach or chemistry and that’s there, it’s fun, it’s fodder. But we’ll notice on a musical side that there are fads and trends in what becomes popular. For a couple of seasons, it was these big soul singers. It was The Voice. I think people came out and were like, “Oh Javier Colon won. I need to sing perfect.” And then there was a bit of a backlash season 3 and 4 to that where every girl that came into an audition was 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.
Gwen Stefani: There are a lot of young people.
Carson Daly: They don’t seem young.
Gwen Stefani: They don’t seem young but they are like, “Hi. I just turned 15.” You’re like, “How? How do you do that?”
Carson Daly: It’s like, “You’re a 26-year-old man.” They are like, “No. I am 15 or 16.” You don’t even believe them.
Gwen Stefani: There is no way. They are lying!
Carson Daly: It’s crazy.
How meaningful is it to change some of their lives?
Gwen Stefani: I think there’s been – that’s the whole thing. That’s why I keep saying this might be one of the funnest things I’ve ever done, being able to touch people in the role that we get to play. It’s just such a cool thing. It’s music in a whole new kind of way and being able to be around all the music, hear everyone else’s opinion, learn so much from the other coaches, and just watch people grow right before your eyes. It’s so different from what we did. We were just making stuff up in the garage and not even trying to make it. We were just doing it because it was fun.
Carson Daly: Could you imagine if you had been on a show with like Chrissie Hynde or Debbie Harry? One of these people is talking to you directly. You would melt. These kids come on and talk to Adam and Gwen and I’m always amazed at how composed they are.
Gwen Stefani: Yeah! How do they do that? I mean I can’t even stand on a stage and talk. Talking is hard. But they do it.
Carson Daly: They don’t even mess up.
Gwen Stefani: It’s so weird.
Are you getting better? Are you recognizing that it’s a sense that you’re developing?
Adam Levine: I don’t know if it’s really that. That’s a matter of taste. But I think I’m getting better at helping these guy get better and knowing that it takes to access whatever you need to access in their heads to make them better singers. Because it’s not just physical. Some of it is but it’s much more emotional and mental and believe it or not, much more about confidence than technicality.
Is it a do or don’t for a contestant to sing one of the coaches songs?
Adam Levine: Not if they sing it well.
You guys don’t inwardly cringe a little bit?
Gwen Stefani: I do. A little bit!
Adam Levine: If they screw it up really bad.
Gwen Stefani: But it is weird. It’s flattering but it’s also hard. It’s really hard to see it from any other perspective other than your own. It’s also kind of cool too.
Adam Levine: It depends on the person.
You’ve had successful attempts at it then?
Adam Levine: Not many. But I guess it does make it harder.
Gwen Stefani: It does make it tougher for sure.
What do you think Selena Gomez will be bringing to the table this season?
Gwen Stefani: Well I already saw what she brought because I got to hang out with her. I don’t know her very well but we kind of know a lot of the same people so before I brought her on the show, I had been talking a lot about her with my friends and mutual friends and stuff. So all of a sudden, she was just sitting there. And 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. It’s so different from maybe my career where she started so young and did so many different kinds of things to get to this point. And everybody’s been with her along the journey and now she’s like “Here. Now I’m going to go here.” I think it’s a really good time for her to be no because I think for her – it’s hard to describe how it feels to be in the position to be a coach. It’s so rewarding. I think it would be really cool for her to go, “Wow! I did all that and now I can say this and it helps this person.” It feels really good and I Don’t know how to describe it but I know that when she left, she was super inspired.
What about Rihanna?
Gwen Stefani: Rihanna is off the chart rad. She’s so cute.
What is it about the show that is starting to attract a way younger contestant?
Blake Shelton: I don’t know.
Pharrell: We refer to them as “artists.” Because when the show’s over, they continue to be an artist. When you’re on a game show, you’re on The Price is Right, you don’t go on to be on The Price is Right. These are people who have the same ambitions as us, and I feel like that connection is like…I don’t know, it’s great to sort of be able to do what you do every day and be able to work with people who have the same ambitions as you. I think, um, the artists getting…becoming younger and younger on the show, I think that’s probably a result of the great scouts here, the talent scouts. They…I don’t know where they’re finding them, but 15, 16 years old…it’s kind of like, “What?”
Blake Shelton: I think we’ve gone through all the old people. After 9 seasons, that’s all that’s left–
Is that what you guys are looking for then is somebody young that you can see kind of like moving up in the industry? Like a young talent like Selena Gomez?
Blake Shelton: I’m kind of torn on that. Sometimes I’ll see somebody audition and they’re 40 and you go, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if this point in their life, this happens?” They work for so long, or whatever they’ve been through and it happens this late in life. But then at the same time, you think, “Man, this kid could have…this could be their life, you know? The rest of their lives.” So I’m always torn on that. It doesn’t matter, I don’t guess, really.
Do you think it’s dangerous for country artists to go with anyone besides Blake?
Blake Shelton: Well, you should ask him. Cause they’re probably on a van on their way home. 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.
Do you guys think it’s a do or a don’t for an artist to do a cover of one of your songs in the blind audition?
Pharrell: I wouldn’t do that. I mean, they’re probably singing far better than me, but I mean, I just always get embarrassed by my own stuff. I just…
Blake: It makes everything awkward. Cause then 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.”
Are the emotions we see real or rehearsed?
Pharrell: Nah, because it’s all based on emotions. It’s still reality so there’s no…you know, what we do is all based on real, raw emotion. And whatever comes out comes out.
Do you ever regret what has come out?
Pharrell: Nah, I just try and be kind at all times. You know, like, I don’t see a reason being anything other than that. It’s such a great opportunity. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I just try to be kind at all times.
Is there room for a hip hop artist on the show, or is that just not compatible at all with this format?
Blake Shelton: We had one. We had one, one time.
Blake Shelton: He was on Christina’s team. He didn’t make it very far, cause it’s just, I don’t think this show really lends itself to that.
Pharrell: It’s doesn’t make sense… It’s a very interesting question.
Like a Drake? Who could do a little bit of both?
Pharrell: Yeah. Yeah, you know…
What was it like seeing Missy Elliott as a mentor?
Pharrell: She was unbelievable and is unbelievable. And I feel like, my contestants, excuse me, my artists…You have me saying the word “contestants” now. I think it’s going to have my artists like challenging themselves to be more open, you know and to be less categorical. Less classifiable and more like, just living in the moment and exercising creative license whenever they want. That’s who she is. That’s what Missy does. It’s like she liberates people.
What about Rihanna? What has she brought?
Pharrell: She’s all vibe. She doesn’t feel it, she tells you in 2 seconds. Doesn’t take her 20 minutes to figure that out. She’s […] “Nope.”
I know you tweeted about new music. Are you going to be performing new songs this season?
Blake Shelton: Probably be a performance of new songs. Hoping that Pharrell will write a song with me. He’s very busy, though.
Pharrell: I can’t wait.
What’s that song going to be about?
Blake Shelton: Titties.
Pharrell: And you’ve just been Blaked. This is what happens. It’s the accent. The accent is like, it just allows him to get away with saying things that…
Blake Shelton: You did a video with titties already. All I want to do is sing about them.
Pharrell: That was a very long time ago.
How do you feel the music industry has changed between the time the show started and today? What major shifts have you seen …
Blake Shelton: Records.
Pharrell: Sales. And I feel like the industry may not have what the show has. The show has an integrity that brings artists on, signed and unsigned, who are competing. Who have to have a vibe. Have to be able to…people, it’s like, yes I hear you, but do I feel you? This show like, the importance of vibration and the importance of having a kinesthetic element to your talent is very important. Cause we’ll hear a lot of people who sound good, but the ones that stay on the show and the ones that America continues to vote through are the ones where they just [feel us?]. “I like her voice and her voice is ok, but there’s just something about her.” Or “Man, not only does he…he sounds great, but like I don’t know, there’s just something about him.” They love that. And we love that. And I feel like the music industry, you know, you kind of can get signed now if you have 12 million followers. Doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s because you have that special thing. This show specializes in the “thing.” So the show’s called The Voice, but it also could be called The Vibration. You know, or The Vibe, because vibe is so important. You’ve got a bunch of people on his team, I’ve got a bunch of people on my team… I, actually, I think…
Blake Shelton: Sawyer is the epitome of what you’re talking about.
Blake Shelton: I mean, he’s just got it. He’s just got that…
Pharrell: Without trying. And you ask him, and you know, he’s literally just turned 16, which he was 15 for a very long time on the show. The songs that he would write and the kind of conviction he would have… You’d think that he was born in the South and 60 years old, when he wasn’t. He was like 15 and he’s from upstate New York. And his first hat, he bought, purchased and chose himself when he was 13 is a derby. It’s like, “Where’s this There Will Be Blood thing coming from?”