For over a decade, The Voice has been one of the most popular reality competition shows on TV. Fans love watching aspiring singers put it all on the line to be mentored by celebrity coaches, who have included everyone from Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green to Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Miley Cyrus, and Alicia Keys. But while the show appears to be fairly straightforward, little of what we see on TV is real — especially in reality TV. This list exposes a few truth’s about NBC’s The Voice.
1. Contestants Receive Pre-Show Training Before The Blind Auditions
While it may appear otherwise, contestants do not simply show up for the Blind Auditions and hope for the best. The people who compete on the show are recruited by the show’s producers and must go through professional training before making their first appearance in front of the cameras. This training is intensive and includes more than vocal coaching. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, season six contestant Kat Perkins revealed: “We also had social media and interview training by professionals who 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.”
2. Pre-Show Training Can Take Up To Three Months
Because training has so many components, contestants spend months preparing for their first appearance on the show — something audiences don’t really get a sense of from their brief Blind Auditions. “I had no idea that reality TV was filmed kind of like a drama,” season six contestant Ddendyl Hoyt said in an interview with the Washington Post. “So everything is filmed in segments and [the Blind Auditions are] kind of the longest process of it all.”
3. Contestants Don’t Choose Their Own Songs
Season one semi-finalist Frenchie Davis told Cosmopolitan that the coaches/judges choose the songs for contestants — something she found to be quite frustrating. “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!’” The Voice executive producer Audrey Morrissey confirmed this, noting that song selection tends to become hotly debated between coach and contestant as they reach the Battle Rounds. “The No. 1 communication is about song choice,” she told She Knows.
4. Contestants Also Get Style Makeovers
Contestants are responsible for putting together their own clothes, hair, and makeup looks for the Blind Audition. But once they get chosen by a coach, the producers step in to make sure they look as polished as possible. “We shop for each artist to come up with great looks,” Morrissey revealed in her interview with SheKnows. “Once we get to the live shows, looks are customized for each specific performance.”
5. Celebrity Coaches Really Do Work Closely With Contestants
Are big-time musicians like Adam Levine and Blake Shelton really as dedicated to coaching their unknown team members as the show makes it seem? The answer seems to be yes. Season one contestant Dia Frampton told Cosmopolitan that she could freely reach out to Blake Shelton via text and that he responded “whenever I was worried or uneasy about something.”
Kat Perkins had the same experience with Adam Levine, telling the same magazine, “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.”
6. But Contestants Must Work Around Their Coaches’ Busy Schedules
While it’s great that contestants have access to some of the most famous musicians in the world, they have to be flexible to accommodate their coaches’ hectic superstar schedules. Season one contestant Vicci Martinez, who ended up tying for third place, told Cosmopolitan that she once had to wait until 3 a.m. to get in a recording session with her celebrity coach, singer-songwriter CeeLo Green. Though it was frustrating for her at the time, Martinez said it was also important for her to learn how to be patient when working with big-time artists. “If I’m gonna complain about this s–t right now…this is what it would be like to be in demand [like CeeLo],” she explained. “It was practice for what it’s really like out there. That’s why I was able to get far.”
7. Contestants And Coaches Hang Out Off The Air
This was certainly true during the first few seasons of the show. Season two contestant Jessie Poland (also known as Charlotte Sometimes) told Cosmo that Blake Shelton invited the cast and crew to his house to hang out. “Blake had us over at his house when we weren’t filming. We drank and barbecued,” she said. Vicci Martinez also recalled going to Shelton’s house for parties during season one, noting that all of the coaches came and enjoyed spending time with each other. “Adam [Levine] would be there, Christina [Aguilera] would be there,” she said. “You’d see them all bonding. You got to see them be friends and Blake was really good at breaking the ice.”
8. The Coaches Aren’t The Only Professionals Contestants Work With
In her interview with the Washington Post, Ddendyl Hoyt revealed that the celebrity coaches aren’t the only professionals who help the contestants hone their skills and perfect their act. “What they don’t show is all the coaching that comes from the staff: The vocal coaches, the band director, the producers, everyone has notes for you,” she explained.
9. Contestants Pretty Much Have No Life While They’re On The Show
Jessie Poland admitted that she had very little time to do anything else while she was competing on The Voice — including work. “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,” she told Cosmopolitan. Vicci Martinez relayed a similar experience about her personal life “I was engaged to someone at the time and we had to break up because of [the show],” she told Cosmo. According to Newsweek, other than being given a small stipend (and the opportunity to win the grand prize), the contestants are not paid for appearing on the show.
10. They Also Have To Sign A Crazy Legal Contracts
All reality shows require contestants to sign detailed contracts to prevent lawsuits and other legal issues. But apparently, The Voice’s contestant contract really takes the cake! Back in 2014, a 32-page contestant contract was leaked to the Daily News. It revealed contestants had to agree to a litany of crazy terms to appear on the show, including undergoing psychological and medical evaluations that could potentially be shown on TV. They also agreed not to sue the show if they were shown in a “disparaging, defamatory and embarrassing” manner or even portrayed in a “false light.”
According to the report, the contract also gave The Voice permission to change the contest rules at any time and eliminate contestants for any reason, even if they received majority votes. “Producer and the network … shall have the right at any and all times … to remove or replace me as a participant in the series, for any reason whatsoever, in their sole discretion,” the contract reportedly read.
11. When Contestants Are Eliminated, They’re Immediately Given The Boot
Getting eliminated from a popular TV competition show can’t be easy. But it sounds like the experience is especially painful on The Voice because contestants get used to working closely with so many important professionals, including their celebrity coaches. “It was very abrupt,” Kat Perkins said of her elimination experience. “Even with Blind Auditions, you spend weeks [training] with them and they’re gone. You can’t call or text.” Imagine becoming so tight with Adam Levine only to be instantly ghosted when you lose. Ouch!
12. Psychologists Are Kept On Staff To Help Contestants Cope
Fortunately, producers of The Voice recognize how stressful the competition process can be and how deeply it can affect people on a personal and emotional level. Kat Perkins told Cosmopolitan that the show had psychologists on staff to help contestants get through the grueling competition process. She also revealed that contestants who made it into the top 12 were required to have regular counseling, as were contestants who lost.
“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,” she said. “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.”
13. The Big Red Chairs Are Less Impressive In Person
Those bright-red chairs are very impressive looking, especially when the red button is pushed and the coach is turned around during the Blind Auditions. But Kat Perkins revealed that in person, these iconic chairs are not quite as dramatic as they appear on TV. You know that mighty “whoosh” sound you hear when the chair spins around? “It’s [added] in post-production!” Perkins told Cosmopolitan. “You almost don’t notice it, especially when you’re focusing and singing to the crowd that’s in the studio.”