The Voice judges have largely remained the same over the last nine years, but certain judges have filtered in and out, with The Voice 2020 coach lineup changing once again. New judge Nick Jonas is leaving and veteran judge Gwen Stefani is back. Then there’s former coach Adam Levine, who was rumored to have walked away from the show due to tensions between himself and Blake Shelton, but the real reason was something else altogether.
Adam Levine was one the coaches that stayed on The Voice for the longest time, having appeared on the popular reality singing competition from Season 1 to Season 16. He shocked fans, and even the showrunners, by announcing in early 2019 that he was not going to come back to the show for its 17th Season after all. The Maroon 5 frontman had been listed as one of the returning judges for the season and had in fact signed on for two more years of the show, but he’d apparently changed his mind.
One Emmy voter, who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter later that year, believed that bad feelings between Levine and another long time judge on the show, Blake Shelton, were to blame for Levine’s hasty exit. The anonymous Emmy voter said a “friend who works on” The Voice told them, “Blake Shelton and Adam Levine hate each other.” When prompted by the interviewer, the voter insisted Levine “didn’t walk away — I heard it was a ‘Me or him.’”
Adam Levine later appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he discussed his departure from his hit TV show and the reasons behind his departure. Rather than blaming his co-star or some sort of backstage drama for him leaving the show, Levine simply stated that the reason he left was to spend more time with his family. “I love the people that I met and worked with, and you all obviously know how I feel about Blake,” the singer told Ellen DeGeneres.
“I do miss it but I don't miss how much I had to work. I was constantly working for so many years — very lucky, very fortunate, very blessed and all that — but to just be able to stop in this moment to spend time with my new young family and just have the greatest time ever. Now I'm a stay-at-home dad. I just stay at home and do very little.” Levine went on to gush about his little girls, Dusty Rose and Gio Grace, admitting, “I genuinely just adore them in a way I never knew I could adore any person.” Though he never acknowledged the rumors about what his relationship was really like with Shelton, it’s possible that he was so upfront about his reason for leaving inorder to put that false gossip to bed.
Christina Aguilera was one of The Voice’s very first coaches. The songstress’ initial run lasted three seasons. Once the first three seasons were over, however, Aguilera’s presence on the show became more sporadic. After taking a break during Season 4, Aguilera returned as a coach for Season 5. During Season 7, Aguilera returned as a part-time advisor before joining Seasons 8 and 10 as a full-time judge once more. In 2016, Aguilera opened up about her reason for leaving the show to People, explaining that her 2018 album “Liberation” had encouraged the singer to shed “a certain skin on some level,” adding, “Prior to that, I had given myself fully to television and being a part of a network that really wasn’t quite the fit for me after the amount of time I put in.” In other words, it was time for Aguilera to “move on.” And that’s exactly what Aguilera did.
Columbian songstress Shakira joined The Voice for two seasons, Seasons 4 and 6. The singer first took a break from the show during Season 5 in order to spend more time with her newborn son. “I was really struggling with the fact that I had to leave my nest with my little baby,” Shakira explained to Access Hollywood, via Reuters. “So now I need to stay with him for a little bit and also work on my next album. You never know, maybe (I will be back) for the future seasons.” The next season proved to be Shakira’s last, so far. There’s always a possibility that the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer will return once again.
CeeLo Green, another original judge, left the show after five seasons, stating that he also wanted to move on and concentrate on other projects. There was also the matter of his October arrest the year before for a felony drug charge and was accused of providing a woman with ecstasy. Green later made a series of controversial remarks after entering a guilty plea to the charges, which led to his reality show and several concert appearances being canceled. Though he apologized at the time for his comments, Green made a renewed apology in 2015 and asked to rejoin the cast of The Voice. He did come back in Seasons 8 and 15 as a part-time advisor, but hasn’t made another appearance since.
After Ceelo Green’s departure from the show, R&B superstar Usher stepped in to fill the “Crazy” singer’s shoes. Like fellow judge Shakira, Usher only acted as a coach for the show for two seasons, Seasons 4 and 6. Usher took a break during Season 5 to play Sugar Ray Leonard in his film with Robert DiNero, Hands Of Stone.
Gwen Stefani first joined the judges for Season 7, which is when she first met her longtime boyfriend, Blake Shelton. Stefani has had a fairly sporadic presence on the show, sometimes appearing as a coach and other times joining the show as a part-time advisor. Although Stefani has recently signed on to return for Season 19, she took a break during Seasons 18 and 19 for her Las Vegas residency. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, live concerts in enclosed spaces are a thing of the past, so it makes sense that Stefani would return to her regular TV gig.
Nick Jonas was a part-time advisor during The Voice Season 8 and evidently he was a popular figure on the show. The youngest member of the Jonas Brothers became a coach during Season 18 of the show, though his tenure was short-lived. There’s always the chance that he will return later, either part-time as an advisor or as a coach.
“Fallin’” singer Alicia Keys also got her start on The Voice as an advisor before joining the cast full-time as a judge from Seasons 11 to 12. In 2017, Keys announced in an interview with TV Insider that Season 12 would be her final season. Then, to the surprise and delight of fans everywhere, Keys returned for Season 14, though that has turned out to be her final season thus far. Who knows what the future might bring, she might make another comeback one day.
Jennifer Hudson shook up the judges panel during Seasons 13 and 15. The Dream Girls star had previously served as an advisor way back in Season 3. She’d also been a coach for two seasons on the U.K. version of the show, winning on her very first season. In the end, she chose not to return for Season 16, and instead rejoined the judges on the U.K. version.
After serving as an advisor during Season 10, Miley Cyrus joined the judges' panel as a coach for Season 11. The pop star took a break during Season 12 before returning for Season 13. In an interview with Howard Stern, Cyrus announced that Season 13 would be her last. “This is not my last season maybe forever, but this season I don’t have any more seasons lined up,” Cyrus told the radio host, adding, “So, I’m done.” Cyrus hasn’t made a return to the show since, though anything is possible in the future.
Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes fame had a solid run on The Voice from Season 7 through Season 10. After four seasons, however, Williams had to move on. “Honestly, I have to work,” he explained on Today. “I got so much work to do. It was so much fun and while I was doing it, helping other people was like a drug for me. I couldn’t get enough of helping them, but I have work to do, music to make and so many records.” Williams’ presence on the show has been sorely missed, but with so much talent coming in and out of the show, there’s always someone new to look forward to.