Adam Levine may be the defending champion on “The Voice,” but it doesn’t look like that will give him much of an advantage in season six. In fact, the other coaches seem to have spent the time between seasons devising ways to knock him off his pedestal.
Much like Blake Shelton had the target on his back a year ago after his three consecutive victories, it’s the Maroon 5 frontman who now finds himself getting triple-teamed. And if Monday’s premiere is any indication, he may have to worry a little bit about also losing his bromance partner. The country star seems to have found himself a new friend in Shakira
Though the two men still bickered back and forth like an old married couple, Shelton wasn’t the coach who spent the most time up in Levine’s grill. Instead, it was Shakira, who clearly has spent a lot of time strategizing since her last appearance in season four. Her plan seems to be a two-part approach: emphasize her own popularity on social media, and tear down the champ.
It began with the first singer of the day, Christina Grimmie. The hopeful turned all four chairs, and Shakira immediately tried to steer her away from Levine, noting that he’s been there all six seasons and might not be as fresh as he once was.
“He hasn’t had a day off. He’s tired,” Shakira noted.
“Do I look tired?” Levine shot back.
“Yes!” every other coach replied.
Christina picked Levine anyway. Can’t win ‘em all. But that time, Shakira was acting on her own. Soon, she formed an alliance with Shelton, and things got more intense.
Soulful singer T.J. Wilkins turned everyone’s chair but Shakira’s, so she gave “impartial” advice. “I say mix it up, go with Blake,” Shakira told him.
The hopeful picked Usher, but the superstar's effort was appreciated, and Shelton returned the favor when it was country artist Kristen Merlin onstage. Her choice was between Shakira and Levine.
“Man, if I was you, I think I’d be picking Shakira,” Shelton said.
Shakira took full advantage. “I’ll call Miranda Lambert myself — with your permission,” she said, glancing quickly at Shelton, “and ask her to coach me to be your coach.”
That was enough to win the hopeful over. And considering we’ll soon see Mrs. Blake Shelton as Shakira’s guest mentor, Shakira is clearly a woman of her word.
The Maroon 5 frontman may have lost out on a big talent in that round, but he explained on Twitter later that it's no big deal. He's a winner in ways his fellow coaches aren't.
Levine had better success going head-to-head with Shakira over Dawn and Hawkes, a duo whose act had him declaring, “That was my favorite performance I have ever seen ever on ‘The Voice.’” (Oh, Tessanne Chin ... last year’s champion so quickly forgotten.)
Shelton again tried to get the duo to go Shakira’s way, repeating her earlier point about having more Twitter followers than the other three coaches combined — more than 20 million. “And 70 million Facebook friends,” Shakira helpfully added.
This time, they were joined by Usher: “Shakira does have one major major point. Not just the followers, but the attention to detail is 100 percent laser focused on you being recognized as the artists that you are.”
It didn’t work: They picked Levine, but the effort was noted.
“I don’t know if Blake was trying to help me because he likes me or hates Adam,” Shakira said.
Usher got perhaps the best catch of the day in Bria Kelly. The teenager once opened for Lambert, but she came into the show with her choice apparently already made. “They’re all amazing coaches, but my preference is Adam," she admitted before her performance.
The 17-year-old had that chance because Levine, along with everyone else, turned his chair. But it was Usher who, flashing one of his Grammys, made the strongest case that he’d get her where she needed to go.
“Usher made a really good argument. He stole me, basically,” she said.
Between Bria and Biff Gore, Usher got two of the night’s three four-chair turns. Last year, Levine dominated that category. But clearly, with everyone working together to take him down, he can’t expect the sailing to be as smooth in season six.
"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.