[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Monday's season premiere of The Voice. Read at your own risk.]
Those famous red chairs on The Voice have seen quite a few famous faces come and go over the years. Which means it's really saying something that it took just one episode of the reality hit for Gwen Stefani to catapult from fresh face to fan favorite. So how did she do it? Here are the 8 reasons why Team Gwen gets our vote this season:
1. She's OK with being the new kid Going up against three-time winner Blake Shelton and two-time winner Adam Levine, who have both been on The Voice for all six previous seasons, would be intimidating for anyone. But Gwen used her rookie status in her favor. "They're kind of calling it in at this point. They've been doing it so long," she said on the premiere. "I am so pumped up. I've never done anything like this before. I'm all fresh and excited so I could really give you a lot of focus."
2. She brings presents Veteran coaches Adam and Blake promise hopeful singers everything under the sun to get them to join their team. But have either of them ever actually given their team members gifts on the spot? No, but Gwen has! She had 12 black shirts made with "Team Gwen" emblazoned in gold. We bet she brings the best snacks to her kids' soccer practice too.
3. She doesn't rely on the girl card For whatever reason, The Voice's female coaches have always been outnumbered by males three-to-one. Which has made it easy for Christina Aguilera and Shakira to appeal to recruit female singers by playing the, "I'm a girl, you're a girl" angle. Surprisingly enough, the woman behind "I'm Just a Girl" rarely used that to her advantage in the two-hour premiere episode, instead focusing on her experience.
4. She's not afraid to use her age, and experience, to her advantage Getting older is notoriously taboo in Hollywood, but Gwen embraced her age to illustrate her many years in the business (she's been in No Doubt since she was 17!) and her subsequent plethora of experience. Even when Adam tried to throw some subtle shade Gwen's way and mentioned that he had been listening to her since he was 16, Gwen just accepted his compliment and went back to trying to make her best sell.
5. Yet she's still humble Like any good music industry veteran, and more importantly any good businesswoman, Gwen also knows that flattery will get you everywhere. When R&B singer Damien Lawson got a three-chair turn, Gwen didn't hesitate to say tell him, "I could learn a lot from you." She even told Taylor John that she wanted to work with him in a "greedy" way because she needs to write new material. Even when she was victorious, she didn't rub it in her fellow coaches' faces. Instead, she kept it classy and told Adam she didn't fully expect singers like Taylor John Williams to pick Team Gwen.
6. Two Voice coaches are better than one Although Gwen and Pharrell Williams may both be new to the competition, the two go back more than 10 years thanks to their collaborations on "Hella Good" and "Hollaback Girl." Both, smartly, took a page from executive producer Mark Burnett's other massive reality hit, Survivor, and formed an alliance very early on in the game. When Gwen was pushing for young songstress Bryana Salaz, Pharrell threw all his support behind his "boo" and gave her a winning endorsement. Pharrell succeeded again when he told Taylor John that Gwen is the one that "understands your future" and the singer subsequently picked her. Friends in high places, indeed!
7. She doesn't hesitate to get her hands dirty A huge part of The Voice is the coaching and mentoring the hopeful singers receive throughout the competition. But the blind auditions are usually a time for either effusive praise or helpful hints for the hopefuls who don't get a chair turn. However, Gwen didn't hesitate taking the stage, grabbing a microphone and teaching Clara Hong her tricks of the trade for getting the audience's attention and "suck them into your world," as she put it. And Gwen's death-defying climb on top of her red chair to beat Adam at his own game and get the attention of country singer James David Carter has us so excited to see what she'll do next to assemble the best team possible.
8. She did her homework Climbing her big red chair was just part of Gwen's strategy to win James David. She also showed some serious savvy and knowledge about The Voice when she reminded him that Blake's team would soon be full of country artists and that, come the battles, many of similar-sounding artists will get the heave-ho no matter how good they sound. "This is strategy," she told him. Alas, James David still chose Blake, but Gwen's unique pitch was impressive nonetheless.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC. What did you think of Gwen and Pharrell? Which coach are you rooting for so far?