‘The Voice’ Behind-The-Scenes Secrets Revealed Over The Years

Spinning chairs. Battle rounds. Blake Shelton. These are just some of the reasons why The Voice has powered through five years and 11 seasons (so far). Since its inaugural season, the show has breathed fire into the careers of Cassadee Pope, Will Champlin, Dia Frampton, and others all while giving additional screen time to the likes of Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, and most recently Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys. Cosmopolitan.com recently spoke to five past contestants about the realities of competing on The Voice, what the deal is with those spinning red chairs, and whether or not Blake and Adam’s bromance is just for show.

Recruited Contestants

The Voice does not hold stadium-style auditions. Unlike American Idol and other competitive programs, show producers take a more intimate approach reaching out to contestants individually to recruit them for the season. As Vicci Martinez (season one) recalls, The Voice producers were “really persistent” in having her meet up for an audition. “What I realized is they wanted to make it a show that had real artists, people who were serious about doing music and not just people who sing in the bathroom.” Fellow season one contestant Frenchie Davis, who previously competed on Idol in 2003 and was disqualified because of topless photos from her past, was approached by a casting director for The Voice eight years later. “She was like, ‘I don’t think you were given a fair chance on Idol’ and wanted me to consider auditioning.’” Season six contestant Kat Perkins adds that without this auditioning format, she never would have been on the show. “I would have never auditioned standing in line, it just wasn’t on my bucket list.”

Blind Auditions Aren't The First Audition

There is a long training period before the “Blind Auditions” — traditionally the first episode of each season — is even filmed. According to Kat (season six), five months passed between her first audition call and her first day of the “Blinds.” In the month before filming, contestants are trained for every possible situation: fainting, getting sick on stage, reacting to however many coaches would turn around. Kat says contestants also received voice lessons from teachers hired by the show. "We also had social media and interview training by professionals that were brought in by The Voice to teach us skills for living our lives 'out loud' on social media, radio, print, and red carpet platforms," she says. “We never got any of that,” Frenchie recalls, and fellow season-one competitor Dia Frampton says the only instructions she got were about where to stand and where to exit. “They just said, ‘Good luck,’ and then you’re on your own.”


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The Voice Ruins Relationships

The Voice is your life 24/7 until you get eliminated or win. Jessie Poland, who competed under the name "Charlotte Sometimes" in season two, put her New York apartment up for sublet while the show filmed in L.A. The demanding show schedule made it nearly impossible to do anything else, like a part-time job: “I couldn’t make a ton of money. And even though I worked as a film writer and played shows, I couldn’t do that while I was on The Voice. I couldn’t really work. No one can work.” Personal relationships are affected too. Vicci Martinez (season one) ended a relationship while competing. “I was engaged to someone at the time and we had to break up because of [The Voice]. I had just bought a house in my hometown [Tacoma, Washington], and I actually just ended up giving the house away and staying in L.A.”

The Studio Is Actually Kinda Boring

The spinning red chairs are not all they're cracked up to be. When a coach turns around and presses the red button during the “Blind Auditions,” there is no “whoosh” sound — this according to Kat (season six). “It’s in post-production! You almost don’t notice it, especially when you’re focusing and singing to the crowd that’s in the studio.”

They Feed You Like Royalty

Jessie (season two) says she was really well fed, so much that she gained weight during her season. “It was fucking sweet. It was basically like being an adult without having to be one. Once you’re on the show for a while, you got money [a stipend] to go out and catering was really great. I ate really well.” Vicci (season one) and her fellow contestants were also treated like royalty in the food department. “They had a Starbucks there with snacks all day. It was annoying because a lot of the girls were worried about watching their weight. It was anything you wanted.” Dia (season one), meanwhile, stuck to the hotel restaurant. “I remember [having] really delicious oatmeal with blueberries. I ate that almost every day.”

The Coaches Are Spoiled Backstage


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Sometimes you run into Rihanna backstage. Vicci (season one) says she still keeps in touch with the crew from The Voice and during season nine, when Rihanna performed on an episode, Vicci had brief encounter with the Bad Gal. “I was dating somebody who worked with her, so I got to go back and meet her. [The coaches] were all there just hanging out. She was so sweet. She had her own spot and area."

The Coaches Place Blame On Contestants For Their Own Mistakes

Contestants have little say on the songs they want to sing. This is standard, especially for the “Battle Rounds.” For Frenchie (season one), even though she won her round with Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” she never understood why producers and coaches chose the song. “It’s always hysterical when the judges say, ‘I don’t think that was a good song choice for you,’ and I’m thinking, ‘You picked that song.’” Frenchie says for her and so many other contestants, song choice was a constant frustration.

Adam Only Speaks To His Team Through An Assistant

A coach is only a text or email away. Dia (season one) says her coach Blake Shelton always texted her back “whenever I was worried or uneasy about something.” Jessie (season two) also had his number: “It was a different time.” For Kat (season six), Adam Levine was available by a Voice specific email and a phone number that led to his assistant. “I could email Adam literally 24/7 and he was really great about responding and making sure I felt comfortable, even during the night before.”

Blake Is Basically The Coolest Person Ever

Blake Shelton’s house is always open. For the early seasons of the show, Blake often invited the cast and crew to the house he shared with then-wife Miranda Lambert. Vicci (season one) remembers being invited to Blake’s house for parties. “Adam would be there, Christina would be there. You’d see them all bonding. You got to see them be friends and Blake was really good at breaking the ice.” Jessie (season two) also had a similar experience during the show: “Blake had us over at his house when we weren’t filming. We drank and barbecued.”


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Blake and Adam’s Bromance Is Real

Blake and Adam’s bromance is real. “It was ridiculous,” recalls Vicci (season one), who says that even Blake and Adam’s assistants and makeup artists got along right from the get-go. “It was cool to see Adam’s tribe and Blake’s tribe [together]. Adam and Blake are genuine. Adds Frenchie (season one): “I never questioned it, and I wasn’t even on their team.”

Blake Is Exactly The Same Person Off-Screen

As is Blake’s personality. “I didn’t know if his witty stuff was written for him and if he was manufactured, but he was exactly what you want him to be,” says Kat (season six). “He’s so warm and so funny.” Dia (season one), who worked closely with Blake and went on to tour with him after the show, says he always fought for her. “I was expecting an untouchable superstar, but he was the most grounded, most down to earth, friendly person I’d ever met.”

Adam Is A Gentleman

Adam may be a bro, but he’s a nice bro. According to Kat (season six), Adam would always check in with his team even before the cameras were rolling. “He just wanted to know if you were OK, and that was so cool. Every single day he used his manners and opened doors for people. He said please and thank you. He was super kind.”


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You're On Their Schedule

Rehearsal time is often dependent on the schedule of the famous person you're working with. Vicci (season one) says toward the end of her season, she waited until 3 a.m. for then-coach CeeLo Green to show up for filming. The plan was to record three songs to have them ready for iTunes after that week’s episode. “I remember just being so upset because I had to be up for interviews that morning.” Looking back, Vicci says she’s not bitter about it because it made her realize the realities of being a rock star. “If I’m gonna complain about this shit right now … this is what it would be like to be in demand [like CeeLo]. It was practice for what it’s really like out there. That’s why I was able to get far.” (Vicci tied for third that season).

All Strings Are Cut When You're Eliminated

When you’re eliminated, you’re expected to GTFO. You're literally on the next flight home and getting back to reality hours later. "It was very abrupt," recalls Kat (season six). "Even with 'Blind Auditions,' you spend weeks [training] with them and they're gone. You can't call or text." Frenchie (season one) made the most of her elimination after the semi-finals: "The day I got booted off, I flew to New York to sing for New York Pride. I had a blast. I met my ex-partner that night. We were together for almost four years."

Contestants Need A Psychologist

The show employs a staff of psychologists to deal with the aftermath of each episode. “It’s emotionally frustrating,” says Frenchie (season one), who adds that she had to take personality tests before getting the final approval to be on the show. “They know exactly what they’re doing. Every second.” The show’s psychology team is also on hand to smoothen the exit process. In season six, regular checkups were required for the Top 12. “We had to start visiting to check on our well-being. The minute you are eliminated, you walk from that stage and into the psychiatrist’s office for a debriefing. They make sure that you talk about it,” says Kat. “It’s very needed because you’ll never go through anything like it again. It’s traumatic and you’re not really emotionally set up to do something that big that quickly.”

The Voice Creates Lasting Friendships Among Contestants


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The friendships are real. And contestants really do keep in touch. Jessie (season two) says she still hangs out with her team members. She works with some of them and goes to yoga with others. “We all find ways to collaborate. Our jobs didn’t stop after The Voice.”

The Dotted Line

Competition shows how to protect themselves from liability, especially when it comes to the contestants who are competing. In 2014, a contract between The Voice and some contestants leaked on the internet and the public was....disturbed to say the least. The document states that "The show may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing and may expose them to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation," and that, "Contestants can be forced undergo medical and psychological evaluations, and NBC is allowed to publicize the results." For a family friendly show, it's obvious that this didn't go over well.

The Voice Is Your Life Until You Get Eliminated Or Win

Jessie Poland, who competed under the name Charlotte Sometimes in season two, put her New York apartment up for sublet while the show was being filmed in L.A. She said that the demanding show schedule made it basically impossible to do anything else, like a part-time job. She said, "I couldn't make a ton of money. And even though I worked as a film writer and played shows, I couldn't do that while I was on The Voice. I couldn't really work. No one can work." On top of that, personal relationships are often affected too. Vicci Martinez from season one, ended a relationship while competing. "I was engaged to someone at the time and we had to break up because of the show. I had just bought a house in my hometown, and I actually just ended up giving the house away and staying in L.A"


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Audience Guy

How does the audience know when to cheer, clap, laugh, stand up, etc? There's a guy who's entire job is to warm up the audience and get them pumped up for the show. The Hollywood Reporter once wrote, "Oh, the poor warm up guy whose job it is to deliver all the legal rules to the audience while cracking jokes and making sure we clap and stand like good studio audience members. ‘You watch at home, here you participate.’ It’s in the last half hour of the show when the audience, who has been sweating for a straight hour and a half, really makes the guy work. He even comes off a bit desperate to get us on our feet or clapping like crazy people. Its a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.”

Why Do They Replace Judges So Much?

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton have been coaches on the show for thirteen consecutive seasons that aired in a span of seven years. It's reported that they make more than $13 million per season and have become assets to NBC as the show ages and their salaries go up. One explanation is that NBC is constantly trying to cut costs when it comes to the judges, meaning that it is cheaper to bring new talent to the judging panel with each new season in order to keep the show's budget low. With newcomers, they obviously get paid less than the show's veterans, allowing them to keep their costs down.

The Pre-Audition

Have you ever wondered why the show hardly has a bad audition? I mean, sure some people don't get a chair to turn, but they're not TERRIBLE SINGERS. This is because "The Voice" staffers call managers and agents all over the country to find the best singers, particularly those with difficult histories in the business, and recruit them to audition. While the judges haven't heard the voices until the contestants hit the stage, that isn't their first audition. In fact, there are three total: an audition with the producers and other staff, which includes an interview; a callback for executive auditions; and then, if all goes well, an invitation to perform for the judges on national TV.


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The Failure Of The Live Tour

The Voice has obviously been a huge hit since it's the first season, and so NBC had an idea that was foolproof. Why not take the show on a tour, and have it feature season 1's contestants? Hence, so was born The Voice Live On Tour. During the season one finale, they announced that the show would be going on a series of summer concerts featuring the top two finalists from each team. The tour would have six stops overall, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Wallingford, and tickets went on sale immediately. Although the New York show sold out eventually, the other five cities were lacking an audience, causing the tour to be canceled altogether. In 2014, they tried reviving this idea with contestants from seasons 5 and 6, but again, it was not received well by the public.

Season 6 Glitch

If you watched the show during its early years, you'll probably know that buying one of the show's singles off iTunes counters votes for the contestant who's single you bought. During the season 6 finale, the three contestants Christina Grimmie, Jake Worthington, and Josh Kaufman were battling for first prize. However, while Christina and Jake were in competition on the iTunes Charts, it was mysterious that Josh had not even been on the Top 10. According to Apple, there had been a glitch on the iTunes platform and because of this, all of those purchases had to be discounted from the final calculation. In the end, it was ironically the victim of the voting glitch, Josh Kaufman, who won.

Xtina Feuds


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During season 10, Alisan Porter won, and she happened to be on Christina Aguilera's team. Christina Aguilera was celebrated and it seemed that because of this win, she would win a veteran spot on the show. However, fans were surprised to see that she never came back. Two years and three seasons later, there's still no word as to why she went M.I.A. According to reports, Shelton was, of course, rooting for wifey Gwen Stefani to stay on the show, which ended up rubbing Xtina the wrong way. Levine, who is good friends with Shelton, took Stefani's side as well.

The Judges Don't Do Much

Since the judges have careers beyond coaching contestants, it's not surprising that most of them don't do much coaching. Season 6 contestant, Ddendyl said that they only met with coach Shakira for rehearsals to be filmed for the battle intros. "We coached with her a few times and then the majority of our growth was left to us on our own."

Contestants Have Little Say On The Songs They Sing

This is a given, especially for the "Battle Rounds," for Frenchie (season one), even though she won her round by singing Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies", she never understood why producers and coaches chose the song. She also added that to was incredibly hysterical when the judges would say, "I don't think that was a good song choice for you," and I'm thinking "You picked that song."


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When You're Eliminated You Are Expected To Leave ASAP

When you're eliminated, you're literally on the next flight home and getting back to reality hours later. Kat (season 6six) recalls that, "It was very abrupt. Even with Blind Auditions, you spend weeks in training with them and they're gone. You can't call or text." Frenchie from season one made the most of her elimination after the semi-finals, "The day I got booted off, I flew to New York to sing for New York Pride. I had a blast. I met my ex-partner that night. We were together for almost four years."

Season 1 Winner Gave Up His Prize

Since the birth of the show, the winner has always left the show with a record label contract. Winners are happily signed to Universal Republic Records, which if you're in the music industry, you know is a HUGE deal! Unfortunately, just because you're signed to a record label, that doesn't mean you're guaranteed success. In fact, the first winner of The Voice, broke ties with Republic Records, saying he was incredibly disappointed with the entire process. After only one year of being signed to the label, Javier Colon decided to no longer be attached to it saying, there was an "unforeseen bad marriage between the label and I."

The Spinning Chairs Aren't As Big A Deal As You Think

When a coach turns around and presses the red button during the "Blind Auditions", there is no "whooosh" sound. According to Kat, from season six, "It's in post-production! You almost don't notice it, especially when you're focusing and singing to the crowd that's in the studio."


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Cee Lo's Controversy

You remember the core four, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, and CeeLo Green that were featured as coaches on seasons 1,2, and 3. On season 4, Aguilera and Green decided to take a break from the show, which created the tradition of rotating coaches. Producers said that the two would always have spots as coaches if they ever felt like doing the show, regardless of what other artists came in to fill in for them. Producers quickly revoked this promise in 2014 after Green found himself in the middle of assault accusations and was seen tweeting things like, "If someone is passed out, they're not even WITH you consciously! So WITH implies consent."

The Shows Biggest Success Didn't Win

The biggest criticism of the show is that unlike American Idol and The X Factor,  this show has produced virtually no mainstream superstar, despite having so many seasons over the past 7 years. The closest thing the show has come to a superstar is Melanie Martinez, who was a contestant on season 3, and ended up being eliminated in Week 5. It's incredibly awkward that a singing competition show has yet to produce a single mainstream singer in the music industry and the closest it's gotten with a contestant was quickly eliminated. 13 winners with a recording contract, and the show has yet to prove that placement in the show can get you a solid career afterwards.

Gwen Stefani's Marital Drama


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Gwen Stefani joined the voice during season 7, and during that season, she brought her then-husband Gavin Rossdale to serve as a secondary advisor to the contestants on her team. Gwen later admitted that they would often fight because they had "only collaborated on babies before." Almost less than a year later, it was announced they were separating. Gwen Stefani was then extremely public about her new boyfriend, Blake Shelton, fellow coach, who was also mid-divorce with ex-wife Miranda Lambert.

"The Voice" Is Actually A Spinoff

The original is, "The Voice of Holland," which aired in the Netherlands in September 2010. "The Voice" U.S. premiered in America in April 2011, and has continued for 14 seasons. There's also now a "The Voice of the Arab World", "The Voice of China", and "The Voice Kids" (in ten countries).

Gwen and Adam Don't Really Get Along

Although it may seem like they get along while the cameras are rolling, Gwen has said that she is often rubbed the wrong way by Adam. She said, "He's offensive to me sometimes. He is also inappropriate. And I have been in a band [with all boys] for my whole life-I know inappropriate. He's Juston another level. Adam has raised the bar for me. He's bad. Whatever version of this show you see at home, I get the X-rated version."


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You're On Your Coaches Schedule

Coaches are extremely busy people, which often makes coordinating schedules extremely difficult. Martinz recalls the time that CeeLo Green made her wait until 3 a.m to begin working. Although she doesn't hold grudges, she claimed that she was frustrated, "I remember just being so upset because I had to be up for interviews that morning. If I'm gonna complain about this sh*t right now...this is what it would be like to be in demand. It was practice for what it's really like out there. That's why I was able to get far."