Adam Levine will return to ‘The Voice’ stage for the first time since his exit from the show in 2019. Ahead of the performance, here’s everything to know about why he left so abruptly.
The May 25 finale of season 20 of The Voice will be jam-packed with celebrity guests who will be taking the stage to perform. One of the guest acts will be Maroon 5, which means that Adam Levine will be making his triumphant return to The Voice for the first time in two years. Adam and his bandmates will be joined by Megan Thee Stallion to sing “Beautiful Mistakes” during the live finale. Before Adam’s shocking departure in 2019, he was a staple on the singing competition show, where he had previously served as a coach for 16 seasons.
Adam’s History On ‘The Voice’
The Voice premiered in April 2011 with four superstar coaches from various genres of music: Adam, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green. To set itself apart from American Idol, The Voice featured a unique audition process — the Blind Auditions. The coaches would not be able to see the singers who were singing to try and get on the show. Rather, their backs would be turned to the stage, and they would only get to see who was performing if they pressed a button, signaling that they wanted that artist on their team. If multiple coaches turned around, they would each have to plead their case to the contestant, who would then get to make the final choice. The Voice has evolved a great deal since its first season in 2011, but the Blind Auditions process has virtually stayed the same.
From the very first season, Adam and Blake developed a rapport that viewers immediately fell in love with. Although the two guys couldn’t be more different, Adam and Blake formed a fast friendship that involved teasing each other incessantly on the show. After season three, Christina and CeeLo took a break from coaching The Voice, and were replaced by Shakira and Usher. For 16 seasons, coaches rotated in and out of two of the seats, but Blake and Adam remained staples in their big red chairs.
“[Blake and Adam] are always hugely popular when we do testing,” NBC’s chairman said in 2016. “We think they are the pillars of the show, and then we have this revolving door of [others] joining the pack.” In addition to Christina, CeeLo, Shakira and Usher, Blake and Adam were joined by stars like Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend at various points during the first five years of The Voice.
During Adam’s tenure on The Voice, he won the show three times — season 1 with Javier Colon, season 5 with Tessanne Chin and season 9 with Jordan Smith. However, as time went on, Adam was noticeably having less luck producing a winner, and sometimes even a finalist, on the series.
When Did Adam Leave ‘The Voice’?
During season 15 of The Voice in the fall of 2018, Adam made a controversial decision that led to him facing some pretty major backlash from viewers. During the Top 10, Adam only had two artists — Reagan Strange and DeAndre Nico — left in the competition, and they both wound up in the bottom three after America’s vote. At that point, the bottom three had a chance to perform one last time in hopes of winning the Instant Save, which meant they would move on to the next round. So, Adam would be losing at least one singer, if not both.
Unfortunately, Reagan was under the weather during the live episode, and she was unable to perform her Instant Save song. However, she was still eligible to remain in the competition — fans had the option to vote for her if they chose to. Before the vote, the coaches had a chance to campaign for their artists who were at risk of going home. Adam urged fans to give Reagan a chance and vote for her, even though she’d been unable to perform. While it was a sweet gesture, many fans were angered that Adam didn’t give Nico, who actually did perform, the same props. Reagan wound up winning the vote, and Nico was eliminated, which a lot of viewers did not think was fair.
Reagan wound up being eliminated in the next episode, anyway, leaving Adam with no artists in the finals. This followed the previous season (14) , where Adam also produced no artists in the finals. He faced the same fate during season 16 — while Blake had THREE artists make the finals, Adam had none. At that point, Adam had already signed on to return for the show’s 17th season alongside Blake, John and Kelly. However, on May 24, following the show’s season 16 finale, host Carson Daly dropped a bombshell — Adam actually wouldn’t be coming back. Instead, Gwen would be returning to take his place.
“[The Voice] went on to be a life shaping experience that will be close to my heart forever,” Adam said at the time. “Thank you NBC for signing me up. I am truly honored to have been a part of something I’ll always cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you to every single coach I ever sat in those chairs with. That is shared experience that is singularly ours. We have that for life. Thank you to everyone who supported this long strange and amazing left turn into a place I never thought I’d go.” He concluded his message by writing, “To all the loyal Voice fans, there’s literally no show without you guys. For me, it was time to move on. Your support has meant EVERYTHING.”
Why Did Adam Leave ‘The Voice’?
Although the statement made things seem pretty straightforward, fans were convinced that there was more to Adam’s departure. At the time, it was reported by TVLine that an incident at a pre-show taping was what led to Adam’s exit. The site reported that Adam and his fellow coaches were due to film some pre-recorded content for a season 16 episode in May 2019. However, since Adam had no artists left in the competition, he reportedly “expressed frustration” at having to be at the taping. TVLine’s source claimed that Adam was “very difficult” during the taping.
The next day, Adam, Blake, Kelly and John all traveled to New York City for NBC’s Upfronts, and execs were reportedly not happy with Adam’s behavior at that event, either, according to TVLine. “Adam had been checked out for a while,” the site reported. “But this was a new low. It was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Meanwhile, People reported that Adam also wasn’t happy about some of the changes made to the show for season 16 — especially the Live Cross Battles, which wound up being removed in season 17. NBC and Adam did not comment on rumors that any of this had to do with the singer’s departure from the show.
Following his departure, Adam distanced himself from the show, and did not speak about his decision to leave again for several months. Finally, in Oct. 2019, he opened up to Howard Stern about the move. “I was ready to not be doing it anymore, I think for a little bit,” Adam admitted. “I think that when it all kind of naturally happened, I was like….okay, it feels right. For better or worse, the moment in which we decided to walk away felt really good. It was the right time for me to go.”
At the end of the day, Adam said his family was his priority (the singer is married to Behati Prinsloo and they have two daughters). “It was a life-altering experience to be on that show, honestly,” he added. “But it got to the point where I got married, I had two kids, and I wanted to spend time with them. They were really little.”
He expressed similar sentiments during his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that same month. “I do miss it, but I also don’t miss how much I had to work,” Adam shared. “I was just constantly working for many years. Very lucky, very fortunate, very blessed and all that, but just to be able to stop in this moment to spend time with my new young family and just have the greatest time ever [was important].”
Will Adam Ever Return To ‘The Voice’?
Even though Adam is coming back to The Voice to perform, don’t expect him to ever take his spot back in that big red chair. In Dec. 2020, he did an Instagram Q&A with his fans, where he flat-out addressed the question. One fan asked, “Come back to The Voice?” to which Adam bluntly responded, “No thank you?” Ouch!
Regardless of what happened in the past, though, Adam is still clearly on decent enough terms with the show to appear on the season 20 finale. When he comes back, he’ll get to briefly reunite with Blake, Kelly and John, who are all still coaches this season, along with Nick Jonas. Blake, Kelly and John will also all be back for season 21, but Nick is being replaced by Ariana Grande. The Voice finale airs on May 25 at 8:00 p.m. on NBC.