Let the games begin! The Voice's blind auditions are over, and the 48 contestants now battling for the top spot in the 12th season of NBC's vocal showdown are in place. The four coaches now each have a dozen people on their squads — folks who'll now be belting out their best "Ooh baby oohs" in the battle rounds, which start Monday. That's when the coaches will pit two of their own team members against each other in "dueling duets" (which sounds like something you wanna safeguard antsy pets from) to choose who's strongest. It's also when we'll start to see advisors: DJ Khaled (with Alicia Keys); John Legend (for team Adam Levine); Luke Bryan (for Blake Shelton) and Celine Dion (for Gwen Stefani's team).
Before all that gets underway though, we thought we'd take a step back and see exactly how these teams — the full lineups for each of which are below — came to be. All the coaches have their own distinct styles in selecting artists; here's a very unscientific assessment of their approaches.
Persona: Your Long Lost Bro
Intel: Always ready with a wisecrack — and the sense that there's a vape pen and/or a brewski under his chair — Adam makes his charges feel like he'll swoop them up in a loving headlock and impart cool-guy knowledge like how to sing so girls (or boys) will like you. So far this season, Adam has tended to overcompensate for being passed over for other coaches, which only ramps up the intensity of his hard-yet-appealing sales pitches. It's from a good place though: Very fond of singers with soul and/or an edge, Adam projects a sensitivity and sense of caring that feels really genuine. He's a big bro with a heart.
Motto: "Dude! No, seriously. Dude."
Hallmarks: Upbeat compliments, cute self-depreciation
Best attribute: Gushing over singers he likes and offering encouragement
Weakness: Blake, and whining about losing out to Blake
Greatest success story: Billy Gilman, Season 11's outstanding 2nd place winner
Persona: Earth Mother
Intel: Practically radiating patchouli and a quiet hum from lots of meditation, Alicia conveys a kind of ever-present calm — and a sense that she knows exactly what she's looking for in a member of her team. She tends to gravitate toward singers whose voices convey the sense that this isn't their first time here — not The Voice, mind you, but life itself — and are receptive to her advice on how to use music to become fully enlightened.
Motto: "Show me your soul!"
Hallmarks: Verbal hugs, actual hugs, really deep advice about being true to yourself
Best attribute: Reminding contestants that they're unique, special and have a story to share
Weakness: Defaulting to singers close to her R&B/soul wheelhouse
Greatest success story: Wé McDonald, the New York teenager she helped get to the finals in Season 11
Persona: Ms. Most Popular
Intel: Gwen Stefani is flawless and she knows it; her singular blend of squeaky peppiness, glamour and yes, extensive music knowledge obtained over decades (she's 47!) is unsurpassed. As vast as her education in music is though, Gwen more than anything seems to be seeking people a lot like her: confident, not easily defined and looking to have a good time. Which is not to say seriousness about the competition isn't important to her. She's discerning, for sure, but folks who don't have skills, swagger and sunshine in their voices aren't going to hang out with The Voice's version of the cheerleading squad captain.
Motto: "We could have so much fun together!"
Hallmarks: Charm, big smiles, being gorgeous
Best attributes: Versatility/experience across multiple genres including pop, punk, ska and hip-hop
Weakness: Blake Shelton
Greatest success story: Nabbing this season's frontrunner JChosen
Persona: The Wise, Sneaky Owl
Intel: Blake's goofy Southern charm act is a cover for his cunning — and his gift for being able to quickly hear (and get) some of the strongest competitors in the game. That's not always due to his talent-scouting ability — nor his comfort recognizing talent across country, soul, rock and more. Blake is not above using some tricks to get people for his team — as he did earlier in Season 12's blind auditions when he snatched contestant Enid Ortiz from other coaches' clutches at the last minute. His approach clearly works: of the current lineup of coaches, he's won the most at five times.
Motto: "You want to win, right?
Hallmarks: Dispensing wisdom, laid-back nonchalance
Best attributes: Southern gentility, ability to annoy Adam without trying
Weakness: Mind games and dirty tricks that undermine his superiority
Greatest success story: Sundance Head, his most recent winner, from Season 11
The Voice airs Monday and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.