If you love to binge-watch singing competition series, then “The Voice” belongs in your weekly TV lineup. Whether you’ve been a fan of music-based reality shows since “American Idol” or are just discovering the genre, “The Voice” is one of the many options worth checking out.

Related: Guide to “The Voice” in 2021: Seasons 20 & 21

The basic concept is like that of many reality singing competitions: Find unsigned aspiring singers among the general public, crown one winner, and shoot them to stardom. However, the show features some unique concepts that make it stand out from the crowd.

The blind auditions at the beginning are especially noteworthy, making for a nail-biting selection process that will have you on the edge of your chair. On top of that, the celebrity judges bring genuine star power and true music industry expertise to the franchise.

Read on to get all the essential information you need about “The Voice”.

“The Voice:” Basics

“The Voice” as you know it is actually an adaptation of “The Voice Holland,” a Dutch television show. NBC premiered the American version of “The Voice”, which was created by John De Mol, in 2011. Since then, it’s aired 20 seasons, been nominated for 133 Emmys, and won 39 times. It continues to air on NBC. Read on for a breakdown of the show’s basic format, key players, and winners past and present.

Show Format of “The Voice”

“The Voice” is a reality show that takes everyday people (aged 13 and up) and has them compete for a recording contract that could kick-start their musical career. A panel of four coaches critiques the singers’ performances each week. Each coach/judge has their own team that they guide throughout the competition — which can spark an intense rivalry between the coaches, making for added viewing fun.

The grand-prize winner of the show is determined with the help of the public viewers, who can vote online, via an app, or through iTunes store purchases of the singers’ various vocal performances. Of course, before the winning finalist is announced, there are plenty of songs to sing on stage — and action to watch off stage.

Contestants must make it through a multi-part selection process:

  • Blind Auditions: The coaches select the singers they want to have on their team. The coaches sit in red chairs with their backs facing away from the stage so they can’t see the contestants. If they’re interested in a singer, they press a button and their chair turns to face the contestant while lighting up with the words “I want you.” If multiple coaches press their buttons, the singer can choose whose team they want to join. If no one pushes a button, the singer is eliminated.
  • The Battles: In the next phase of the competition (the battle rounds), each coach chooses two of their own team members to perform as a duo, singing the same song together. The coach then selects one to move forward in the competition. During this phase, the coaches start mentoring their teams with the help of celebrity advisers (who usually change every season).
  • The Knockouts: The remaining singers then proceed to the Knockout round. In this stage, two singers from one team are chosen to sing solo in succession. They can choose their own songs but are only told who they are singing against a few moments before performing. The coaches then must pick one to advance to the next round. 
  • Live Shows: In the final phase of the competition, artists perform in live playoffs every week, leading up to the live finale. The public gets to vote each week, saving their favorite singers from elimination. Meanwhile, the two singers with the lowest number of votes each week get sent home. Ultimately, one singer is awarded the grand prize in “The Voice” finale.

Throughout the show’s many seasons, there have been other stages and twists that have come and gone. The above reflects the 2021 format. You can still expect surprises as the producers try to keep it fresh. For example, in seasons 15 and 16, singers who were eliminated before the live performances were invited back for a “Comeback Stage,” giving them the chance to rejoin the team of their choice.

“The Voice” Host, Coaches, and Mentors

One of the best things about “The Voice” is the impressive caliber of celebrity coaches and mentors the show books. Carson Daly, formerly of MTV’s “Total Request Live,” has hosted the show since its first season. The roster of coaches and celebrity advisors has evolved throughout the seasons. This section provides a quick summary.

“The Voice” season 21 is set to premiere on Sept. 20, 2021, and will air Monday and Tuesday nights on NBC. Voice coaches/judges slated to appear are:

  • Blake Shelton: A popular country music singer, Blake has shifted his career largely to focus on “The Voice”. He’s been a coach for all 21 seasons.
  • Kelly Clarkson: Kelly found her own fame through a competition singing show (“American Idol”) and went on to have a thriving career. She’s been a coach since season 14.
  • John Legend: John likewise has multiple seasons under his belt, having served as a coach since season 16. More importantly, he’s a Grammy Award-winning R&B artist.
  • Ariana Grande: Pop megastar Ariana is joining the show as a coach for the first time in season 21. She’s replacing the spot of former coach Nick Jonas.

Over the years, the judging lineup has evolved significantly. Here’s an overview of previous voice coaches/judges who have appeared on the show:

  • Gwen Stefani: Gwen found fame with ‘90s punk band No Doubt before going on to a thriving solo career. She was a coach on multiple seasons of the show — and even met her current husband, Blake Shelton, there.
  • Adam Levine: Adam comes in second after Blake Shelton when it comes to the person who has appeared the most times as a coach. The Maroon 5 frontman was on the show for the first 16 seasons straight.
  • Nick Jonas: Nick achieved fame alongside his siblings as part of the Jonas Brothers. He was a coach on seasons 18 and 20 of the show.
  • Miley Cyrus: Miley started her career as a Disney pop star and first appeared on the show as a part-time advisor before coaching for a couple of seasons.
  • Christina Aguilera: Christina was a coach on the first season of the show and appeared a few more times thereafter. She’s a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter who achieved fame as a teen.
  • Shakira: Originally from Colombia, Shakira took the American music market by storm in the early 2000s. She coached two seasons of “The Voice” (four and six).
  • Usher: A longstanding R&B sensation, Usher is known not only for his own music but also for mentoring big stars like Justin Bieber. He joined the show as a coach for two seasons.
  • CeeLo Green: CeeLo is a soul artist who gained attention for the hit single “Crazy.” He was a regular coach on the early seasons of the show.
  • Pharrell Williams: Pharrell was first known as part of The Neptunes and later N.E.R.D. before releasing his debut solo album in 2006. He’s appeared as a coach on multiple seasons.
  • Alicia Keys: Alicia is renowned for singing and songwriting, having won multiple Grammys for her piano-driven R&B. She has coached “The Voice” contestants on multiple seasons.
  • Jennifer Hudson: Jennifer got her start on a singing competition herself, having gained attention as a finalist on “American Idol.” She was a coach for two seasons.
  • Kelsea Ballerini: Kelsea is known for her country-pop music. She was featured as a part-time coach on two seasons of the show (15 and 20) and a part-time advisor on another (16).
  • Bebe Rexha: Bebe is best known for her own pop performances, although she also has stellar songwriting credits (e.g., for Eminem’s Grammy-winning “The Monster”). She appeared as a part-time coach on one season and a part-time advisor on another season.

The coach’s advisors/mentors for season 21 aren’t yet clear. However, there’s no doubt that some big names will appear when considering the previous superstar-studded seasons. Here’s a look at just a handful of highlight-worthy celebrities who have made appearances in past seasons:

  • Alanis Morisette: This Canadian-American singer and songwriter was a big hit in the 1990s with her rock-oriented album “Jagged Little Pill.”
  • Reba McEntire: Reba is often known as “The Queen of Country” and has sold over 75 million records globally.
  • Sia: This Australian singer is famous for rarely showing her face, using star dancer Maddie Ziegler to feature in her popular music videos instead.
  • Robin Thicke: This American-Canadian singer is likely best known for the 2013 single “Blurred Lines,” although he has collaborated with everyone from Nicki Minaj to Usher.
  • Mary J. Blige: Mary is an R&B legend, having released 13 studio albums, sold 100+ million records globally, and won nine Grammys.
  • Taylor Swift: Arguably one of the world’s best-known pop stars, Taylor has sold more than 200 million records globally and won 11 Grammys.
  • Lionel Richie: A former member of the funk band Commodores, Lionel is today best known for writing romantic ballads like “Three Times a Lady” and “Sail On.”
  • Miranda Lambert: This country music star won the Grammy for Best Country Album with her 2014 album “Platinum.” She’s written many chart-topping hits.
  • Chris Martin: This English singer-songwriter got his start as the frontman of Coldplay. The band has earned multiple Grammys and sold upward of 100 million albums globally.
  • Meghan Trainor: Meghan entered the spotlight with her hit “All About That Bass,” and earned accolades with multiple Grammy nominations plus a 2016 win in the category Best New Artist.
  • Diana Ross: Even this Motown legend has made an appearance on “The Voice”. Diana is best known as the lead singer of the Supremes and is recognized as one of Motown’s biggest stars.
  • DJ Khaled: DJ Khaled is an award-winning producer who has worked with everyone from Justin Bieber to Beyonce. He’s also released award-winning music of his own.
  • Halsey: This singer went double platinum with her first studio album, “Badlands,” in 2015. She’s remained in the spotlight ever since, garnering multiple nominations and awards for her music.
  • Will.i.am: This music producer is famous for working with all the biggest names in the business, from Lady Gaga to Britney Spears. He’s also a founding member of Black Eyed Peas.
  • Snoop Dogg: This iconic rapper has been a household name since 1992, when he was featured on a Dr. Dre album. His first solo album, “Doggystyle,” was released in 1993 and debuted at No. 1 on multiple charts. Since then, he’s released numerous hits.

This list of celebrity advisors isn’t even complete — many more famous faces have appeared as mentors and advisors on the show. The above roundup at least gives an idea of the type of star power you can expect from “The Voice” program.

Where to Stream “The Voice”

“The Voice” airs on NBC. You can stream it live using platforms like Hulu and YouTube TV. Both offer free trial versions. If you don’t have a subscription, you can test out “The Voice” by watching the premiere via your free trial — and then decide if you want to spring for a subscription to keep watching in the future. Locast is another streaming option but is less widely available in U.S. markets.

“The Voice:” A Breakdown of Each Season

If you’ve never watched “The Voice” before, prepare to get addicted — and make time for binging! You have 20 seasons to catch up on. If you want to jump right into season 21 (airing in fall 2021), you can get a quick recap of past winners using the below summary. You’ve been warned: Spoilers ahead!

* Spoiler Alert! * If you’re preparing to catch up on previous seasons of “The Voice” and don’t want to know the winner for each season, skip this next section!

Season one

The first season of “The Voice” saw the grand prize go to Javier Colon. His coach was Adam Levine. Javier’s winning performance in the grand final included renditions of “Man in the Mirror” and “Stitch by Stitch.”

Season two

The second season of “The Voice” was won by Jermaine Paul. He was coached by Blake Shelton. Jermaine performed three songs in the finals, including “Soul Man,” “God Gave Me You,” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Season three

Another one of Blake Shelton’s team members won in season three. This time the prize went to Cassadee Pope. Her winning songs in the finals included “Cry,” “Steve McQueen,” and “Over You.”

Season four

Blake’s team took home the grand prize again in the fourth season of the show. Danielle Bradberry won big this season. Her performance in the finals included renditions of “Born to Fly,” “Maybe It Was Memphis,” and “Timber, I’m Falling in Love.”

Season five

In season five, the grand prize went to Tessanne Chin. The winning coach was Adam Levine, ending Blake’s winning streak. Tessanne performed “Let It Be,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Try” for the final show.

Season six

Josh Kaufman took home first place in the sixth season of “The Voice”. His winning performances included “Every Breath You Take” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Usher was his coach — making this the first season in the series where the winner wasn’t coached by Adam Levine or Blake Shelton.

Season seven

In season seven, Craig Wayne Boyd won the show. Originally from Nashville, Craig stayed true to his country roots, performing tunes like “Walk the Line” and “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin'” throughout the season. He was coached by Blake Shelton.

Season eight

Season eight saw a new coach win, with a team member of Pharrell Williams’s taking home the grand prize. Sawyer Fredericks was the winner. His performances included tunes like “Shine On” and “Take Me to the River.”

Season nine

Jordan Smith was the big winner in season nine, standing out from the crowd for his uniquely high pitch. He caught the judges’ attention with his audition song, “Chandelier.” Adam Levine ended up being his coach.

Season 10

Season 10 saw Alisan Porter win the recording contract prize. She sang songs like “Let Him Fly” and “Desperado” on the show. Christina Aguilera coached her to victory.

Season 11

Sundance Head won season 11. The Texas native sang songs by diverse artists, from Otis Redding to Keith Urban. He was coached by Blake Shelton.

Season 12

In season 12, Chris Blue came away the champion. He was coached by Alicia Keys. He captured Alicia’s attention in the blind audition by singing “The Tracks of My Tears.”

Season 13

Chloe Kohanski won season 13. She was coached by Blake Shelton. Chloe scored her victory singing songs like “Landslide” and “The Chain.”

Season 14

Brynn Cartelli was the winner in season 14. She performed songs like “Here Comes Goodbye” and “Beneath Your Beautiful.” Her coach was Kelly Clarkson.

Season 15

In season 15, Chevel Shepherd took home the grand prize. Kelly Clarkson helped coach her to victory. Chevel sang songs like “Travelin’ Soldier” and “If I Die Young.”

Season 16

The recording contract went to Maelyn Jarmon in season 16. John Legend was her coach. Maelyn sang songs like “When We Were Young” and “Fields of Gold.”

Season 17

In season 17, Kelly Clarkson’s team won again. This time, the grand prize went to Jake Hoot. He won singing renditions of tracks like “When It Rains It Pours” and “You Lie.”

Season 18

Todd Tilghman won season 18. His performances included renditions of “Glory of Love” and “We’ve Got Tonight.” Blake Shelton was his coach.

Season 19

Carter Rubin won season 19 of “The Voice”. He was coached by Gwen Stefani. Another fan favorite of the season was Ian Flanigan, who was coached by Blake Shelton.

Season 20

In season 20, Blake Shelton got another win for his team. Cam Anthony took home the grand prize, beating out Victor Solomon, Kenzie Wheeler, Jordan Matthew Young, and Rachel Mac.

“The Voice” FAQs

“The Voice” is a popular show thanks to its engaging format, which encourages the audience to participate by voting, and the big-name celebrities it attracts. People often have questions about the long-running program, which has been around since 2011 and aired more than 20 seasons. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked queries.

Which coach has won the most seasons of “The Voice”?

Blake Shelton is “The Voice” coach with the most victories from his team. Adam Levine comes in second. However, it’s worth noting that both Blake and Adam have been on the show for the most seasons, automatically increasing the odds that they’d have more wins than other coaches.

How do you vote on “The Voice”?

You can vote for your favorite “The Voice” artists when the live shows begin. Voting methods include online (nbc.com/the-voice ), via NBC’s “The Voice” app, or by purchasing your favorite singer’s songs on iTunes or streaming them via Apple Music after each episode. For updated voting methods and rules, visit nbc.com/the-voice.

When do new seasons of “The Voice” usually start?

In the past, “The Voice” has run two seasons per year. The winter season would generally start in late February or early March, while the fall season would generally start in September. In spring 2021, NBC announced that the show would start running just one cycle per year, starting in September.

Why did Adam Levine leave “The Voice”?

Adam Levine was on “The Voice” for 16 seasons, more than any other coach except for Blake Shelton, so his departure was big news. In a 2019 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the dad of two revealed that he left the show to focus on his family.

What do winners of “The Voice” get?

The winner of “The Voice” receives a recording contract with a reputable record label as their grand prize. They also get a $100,000 cash prize.

Get All the Latest Updates on “The Voice” From BuddyTV

Whether you’re a longstanding fan or new to the show, if you watch “The Voice“, you don’t want to risk missing a single update. Stay on top of all the latest news with Buddy TV. From winners to celebrity appearances, voting outcomes, and more, we’ve got you covered with all the essential news.

Andrea Basse

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV