In news that you probably saw coming but will still surprise the heck out of you, Adam Levine is leaving NBC’s The Voice after 16 seasons. While Levine has been vocal about not being a fan of some of the creative changes made to the singing competition’s format this year, the news still comes as a shock since he had previously been announced as a coach for the upcoming season 17. But, on the Today show Friday, Voice host Carson Daly revealed Levine has decided to retire his giant rotating red chair. Taking his place? None other than fellow coach Blake Shelton’s girlfriend, Gwen Stefani.
Longtime fans of the show may have trouble picturing the show without Levine on the coach’s panel. After all, along with Shelton, Levine is the only other original coach left. Although he has taken home top honors during his time on the series, it’s been a minute — his most recent win was in season nine with Jordan Smith, preceded by season five with Tessanne Chin and season one with Javier Colon. So, maybe he just needs a break to re-focus and perhaps return for a later season? According to Daly, it was Levine’s decision to leave the show for now. “Of course many viewers will miss watching his frenemy relationship with Blake Shelton,” Daly said, adding, “He’ll always be a cherished member of The Voice family, and of course we wish him nothing but the best.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 24, 2019
In case you missed it this season, The Voice introduced a new twist called the Cross Battles that Levine did not appreciate. And, TBH, we don’t blame him.
Once the contestants had been narrowed down to 32 artists, the show spent two weeks whittling it down even more by having coaches face off school-yard pick style. For example, Daly would call on new coach John Legend, who would pick a member of his team to battle. He’d also single out another coach to challenge, and that coach would have to try to match up a contestant of his own to battle against Legend’s pick. It felt super-gimmicky and sometimes ended up so oddly matched that it made it difficult to really pinpoint who should have won a battle.
Because so many of Levine’s artists didn’t neatly fit into one genre, they quickly got picked off during the Cross Battles. Weeks before the finale, the Maroon 5 lead singer’s entire team was wiped out, leaving him to essentially act as a view and occasional commentator for the last stretch of the season. The new format and added pressure made for a few uncomfortably tense moments for Levine, from complaining on-air about the Cross Battles to making artist decisions that fans deemed disrespectful (like imploring fans to vote to keep Reagan Strange on over DeAndre Nico, despite the fact Strange was sick and hadn’t performed that week).
Which brings us to this moment in time, with Levine bowing out of the competition. Still, as much as we’ll miss Levine, his absence doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the show. This marked Legend’s first year, which he impressively won. It was Clarkson’s third year, with her enjoying back-to-back wins her first two years. We probably don’t have to reiterate that Shelton has won six seasons of The Voice, since reminding viewers every few minutes is part of his shtick. Stefani served as a coach in seasons seven, nine and twelve but hasn’t yet won, meaning she’ll be coming in looking for a victory.
And hey, it’ll definitely feel foreign not to have Levine and Shelton bickering non-stop. But at least we’ll get to see more of Shelton and Stefani’s sweet relationship onscreen!