Sorry, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. It looks like your headline-making bromance on NBC’s “The Voice” is about to get completely upstaged.
That was the takeaway from NBC’s preview of the hit singing competition show’s 11th season, which doesn’t officially kick off until Sept. 19 but aired a special episode Sunday after the Olympic Closing Ceremonies.
The big news this season is the addition of coaches Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys, who (along with mainstays Shelton and Levine) will mentor amateur singers who hope to win a record deal. This will make history on “The Voice,” because, as Shelton says, it’s the “first time we’ve ever had two girl coaches.”
The half-hour preview quickly established the veteran coaches vs. the newbies, which naturally divided men vs. women – and Cyrus and Keys clearly stole the show.
While that was likely intentional to play up the new stars – especially Cyrus, who has a reputation for being a wild card on live television – how are Shelton and Levine going to handle not being the center of attention any longer? After all, they’re the only coaches who have stayed on every season; their “odd couple” friendship and televised bromance has become the stuff of legend.
But with Cyrus and Keys at the table, the Shelton-Levine banter became old news. Cyrus, as she tends to do, didn’t hold back fashion-wise and debuted in an all-denim outfit with huge flowers sewn everywhere. She wasn’t too thrilled when Shelton made fun of her by showing up in a similar jacket.
She also got creative with the contestants. During 17-year-old Darby Walker’s impressive audition singing “Stand By Me,” Cyrus made an impassioned case, saying they had similar musical styles. “There’s no way you already know that,” Shelton told Cyrus with a hint of condescension. So Cyrus hopped onstage with Walker for an impromptu duet of “Jolene.” (Walker chose Cyrus as her coach.)
Afterward, Cyrus briefly mocked Shelton’s hit song “Honey Bee”: “I’ll be your honey mustard, I’ll be your chicken wing,” she drawled. Shelton responded by putting on headphones. “Miley-proof? There’s no such thing,” Cyrus shot back. “I want some of those!” Levine piped up, which may or may not lend any evidence to rumors of a Cyrus-Levine “feud.”
Plus, Keys dropped down the gauntlet when she won over powerhouse 17-year-old singer Wé McDonald, who blew the judges away with a version of “Feeling Good.” All four celebrities begged for the chance to coach her, and in the middle of Shelton and Levine’s jokes, Keys delivered this speech:
“You came to this show to meet me. I’m not playing. I’m not joking. I’m so serious, and I’m serious in a place in my heart. I was working on music trying to figure out who I am, and how could people stop telling me to try to fit in with everybody else since I was 14 years old,” Keys said. “I don’t want to be like anybody else and I don’t want you to be like anybody else. You were born to show people what love sounds like and it’s beautiful.”
Even Levine was impressed. “I know I shouldn’t speak at this point, ’cause Alicia just dropped the mic on all of us,” he admitted. Sure enough, McDonald chose Keys.
At the end, the producers hinted that this could become a battle of old vs. new coaches. And really, some coach competition could only improve the aging show.
“I’m pretty sure the vets feel intimidated by me and Miley,” Keys confided to the cameras. “Not just because we’re super fly women phenomenons, but because there’s something really fresh about it.”