‘Voice’ Host Carson Daly on a More Assertive Nick Jonas & the Incredible Talents on the Show’s 20th Season

The Voice Season 20 Coaches Blind Auditions
Trae Patton/NBC

“During quarantine, people have been practicing!” So says The Voice host and producer Carson Daly of the contestants on the NBC singing competition’s 20th season.

In a massive Hollywood soundstage — Daly reckons it might be the biggest on the Universal Studios lot — coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Nick Jonas have already filmed the Blind Auditions and are heading into the first of the elimination rounds. (Gwen Stefani is sitting this season out after winning the last one.)

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“What always gets me is that the level of talent in America is still so high,” Daly says.

In its landmark 10th anniversary year, The Voice will again contend with restrictions due to COVID-19. Some rounds will include a virtual audience, and contestants’ loved ones are not allowed on site (so no banter with Daly). But Daly thinks the “stripped-down” version highlights what the show is really about: “The stories of these artists, the way our coaches now interact with them, is more intense.”

Later in the season, Team Legend will welcome R&B artist Brandy as his Battle Rounds adviser, while Team Blake will be helped by country duo Dan + Shay, Team Kelly by Luis Fonsi, and Team Nick by Darren Criss. Shelton, the only coach to appear in every season and the one with the most wins — seven — also points out a slight seating rearrangement. “I’m on the end with Nick to my right,” he teases. “We’re having a lot of spirited conversation.”

Nick Jonas The Voice Season 20 Blind Auditions

(Trae Patton/NBC)

Friendly rivalry between the coaches has always been part of the fun. Last season Clarkson and Shelton frequently blocked each other from recruiting singers to their teams. In Season 18, Shelton even went so far as to call Jonas a “sucky coach” after the younger pop star sent contestant Joanna Serenko home.

Jonas, returning for his second chance, now takes things to a new level. According to Daly, Jonas’ laid-back routine may not have been the best strategy last time. For example, despite getting close to tears over Mandi Castillo’s audition, she still chose to join Legend’s team over Jonas’. “The coaches really have to assert themselves,” Daly explains. “I think Nick learned that lesson. It’s fun to see him fight for artists.”

“I try to keep [my competitiveness] in check,” Jonas says. “Blake brings it out of me from time to time.” Expect to see him go head-to-head with Clarkson as well, as they try to attract some of the same singers during the Blind Auditions.

(Trae Patton/NBC)

And Daly sees no sign of the show slowing down. “It’s hard to be both really popular and really cool,” he says, “I think The Voice‘s legacy is that it was able to achieve both.”

The Voice, Season 20 Premiere, Monday, March 1, 8/7c, NBC