The Voice‘s coaches panel, except for Adam and Blake, is a revolving door of (surprisingly) influential and popular artists. While most reality competitions end up finding judges (or coaches) at the twilight of their careers, The Voice usually lands the exact opposite and the superstar coaches can be a selling point of the season. The chemistry doesn’t always work however and while the coaches can be entertaining and give good advice, the panel doesn’t always work as a unit. However, in season 13, with the return of Miley and newcomer Jennifer Hudson, The Voice has one of its best panels in years.
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Coming Out Singing Swinging
While Miley has already established herself as a great fit for The Voice (against all odds) in season 11, it’s really Jennifer Hudson who makes the new panel work so well. J-Hud is an incredible amount of fun on The Voice precisely because she is enjoying herself so much.
For a while The Voice‘s resident coach of color (Usher, Alicia Keys, Pharrell, etc.) was very laid back. This tended to lead to a very boring presence on the panel. Except for Pharrell, who managed to be both quiet and engaging, the spot has been filled with some real duds. Usher never seemed to want to be there and Alicia did very little to mentor her artists in the long run.
From the very start, Jennifer has been engaging and fully invested in The Voice. The woman threw a shoe (as a compliment) at the first singer who auditioned. Jennifer has a fire in her as a coach that typically isn’t found until someone has been on the show for several cycles. Jennifer has all the energy and passion that Christina Aguilera had in her last (and only winning season) with Alisan Porter but none of Christina’s otherwise obnoxious behavior.
Jennifer has been playing “the game” that is the audition portion of The Voice very well. She fights with the other coaches but doesn’t take it too far and is always willing to go to bat for an artist she really wants, explaining it in a very clear and concise way. While bickering with Adam, Blake and Miley, Jennifer is still showing that she can be an excellent mentor to artists.
Jennifer’s on-the-spot coaching of Dylan Gerard on the second night of the auditions was a wonderfully simple and perfect example of how easily Jennifer can guide her artists. She’s not only fun to watch but she’ll help out her artists as well which is precisely what The Voice needs in a coach.
Harmony in Conflict
All that being said, Jennifer Hudson’s biggest benefit to The Voice is how well she melds with Miley, Adam and Blake. More than anything the panel’s chemistry (or lack thereof) has been a continuing problem on The Voice. There has been something off in the interactions of the panel for a considerable time.
It’s not really a matter of if the panel gets along well (although the current four do appear to enjoy each other’s company), it’s just how well they work as a unit playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, Gwen and Blake obviously get along but they were so chummy on the show it was distracting and annoying. There is a ton of fun competition between the current panel. They balance each other out and aware of this fact, using it in their arguments to gain artists.
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There is also the fact that the different genres of the coaches are working out better than they have in a long time. Each coach has a distinctive point of view and voice as an artist but they still manage to intersect with other genres. This has happened before on The Voice but it’s never been so interesting to see which coach an artist is going to choose. There’s a compelling argument for each coach, no matter the genre of the artist, based on the coach’s history. Miley mixes country and pop, the same way Jennifer Hudson combines pop, gospel and R&B. There is no easy decision (except maybe for the fact that country artists are always going to be drawn to Blake.)
The Voice is in season 13 and that could mean that the formula of the show is getting played out and it’s not quite as interesting as it used to be anymore. With this new coaching panel however, The Voice feels fresh and exciting. It might not last long (because no coaching panel does) but it definitely should.
Do you enjoy the current panel? Do you hope Jennifer and Miley stick around? What has been you favorite panel from seasons past?
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC. Want more news? Like our Voice Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of NBC)