One might have assumed when Blake Shelton’s onscreen nemesis Adam Levine left The Voice and was replaced by Blake’s real-life girlfriend Gwen Stefani that there’d be nothing but love on the set this season. But Gwen, who is apparenly just as competitive as Adam was, is not coming into Season 17 like a L.A.M.B. It turns out she is a hollaback girl, and she was doing a lot of hollering back Tuesday when she and Blake attempted to court the same contestants. “Mom and Dad are fighting!” fellow coach Kelly Clarkson even exclaimed, as she surveyed the cutthroat (if still kind of cute) scene.
What made all this so bizarre was that it was obvious that such fights were futile. Take 30-year-old Royce Lovett, for example. The charismatic, Lauryn Hill -obsessed rock ‘n’ reggae troubadour strummed a raw, passionate, altogether rendition of Mary J. Blige and Wyclef Jean’s “911,” and it was clear that he was Team Gwen material. Gwen was even up out of her red chair, busting out her sexiest hella-good dance moves. So why did Blake even try to buzz in? Was he trolling? He must have known he had no chance.
“This is not his lane. This is my lane!” Gwen protested. “I tried to introduce [Blake] to, like, Steel Pulse and UB40.” Eventually Blake had to admit that his “lake playlist” of reggae began and ended with Bob Marley (and, um, Jimmy Buffett?) and forfeited: “All right, screw it. Just pick her,” he shrugged. Royce later made it clear that Blake – despite him reading off a Gold Derby article filled with “staggering” stats about his many Voice wins and near-wins -- never had a chance.
And yet, later in the night, it was Gwen who refused to stay in her lane. Twenty-four-year-old country crooner Cory Jackson, who auditioned with Glen Campbell’s “Galveston,” was so Blake-baiting I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s related to Gyth Rigdon, and yet Gwen still turned her chair. (So did Kelly, which made a bit more sense, but was still a longshot.) And Gwen, sitting there in her high I Dream of Jeannie ponytail and sculptural Thierry Mugler-esque bustier, somehow thought she had a shot, explaining that she appreciated Cory’s “theatrical” performance of the old-school rhinestone cowboy classic and pleading, “If you wanted to take a risk, I really could help you with being really unique because that song, for me, is like a crossover song.” But once Cory made it clear that he had no desire to crossover and wanted to stick to his country lane, it was Gwen’s time to back off and accept defeat.
Hopefully by the time Season 17 ends, “Mom and Dad” will still be together. But really, their little lovers’ spats are fun, and after all of Blake’s gloating and bragging and statistics-quoting about being The Voice’s winningest (and only original) coach, it’s nice to see Gwen building a formidable team so far. Royce was a particularly good recruit. So remember, all is fair in love and The Voice.