NBC’s The Voice has revealed it’s judging panel for the upcoming ninth season, and fans should prepare for a small surprise in this season’s casting: Gwen Stefani has returned to the mix! After making her glorious return to the show this season Christina Aguilera has opted out of this season’s show and has been replaced by fellow pop hit maker Gwen Stefani. The “Rich Girl” siren will be joined by The Voice regulars Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and this season’s winning judge Pharrell Williams.
This is not the first time that Gwen Stefani has replaced Christina Aguilera as a judge on The Voice. Stefani made her The Voice debut during the seventh season in 2014 while filling in for a pregnant Aguilera. The season also marked the first appearance for “Happy” singer Pharrell William’s. Although the judging switch up may surprise some fans, the show’s host Carson Daily revealed that this was always the way things were planned to happen.
Daily revealed that the prospect of a rotating cast originally unnerved producers on the show; however they recognized the benefits of allowing the judges to balance their duties to the show with their solo career plans. “We always felt like we had A-list artists who need to tour” Daily explained. He also revealed that Aguilera has already signed a contract to return for the show’s tenth season. “She has been very vocal about not doing Season 9 to take a break to spend time with her family and her kids.”
It has been perceived that Christina Aguilera’s absence from The Voice next season is meant to open the musician up for a new album release. The “Dirrty” chanteuse has been hard at work in the studio recording her either studio album, the follow up to 2012’s Lotus. Currently there are no official plans for the album’s release, but it is possible that her open schedule will give Aguilera a free promotional schedule. While fans wait for an official release, Aguilera has continued to tease them with smaller releases. She most recently flexed her pipes on Finding Neverland ballad “Anywhere But Here,” but she has also explored the country genre while flexing her acting chops for an appearance on ABC’s Nashville.
Gwen Stefani is also in the midst of preparing to release a new studio album, her first since 2006’s The Sweet Escape. In 2014 Stefani released “Baby Don’t Lie” and “Spark the Fire” as promotional singles. Thus far neither single truly achieved the success expected from Stefani’s return to the scene. The “Hollaback Girl” siren also hopped on fellow The Voice judge Adam Levine and Maroon 5‘s 2014 release V, singing on “My Heart Is Open.” Although the song never received an official single treatment Levine and Stefani performed the track during the 2015 Grammy Awards. Currently there is no official release date or title for Gwen Stefani’s upcoming release, and it is unclear how the musician will juggle promotion for The Voice alongside the album. Either way, welcome back to The Voice Gwen Stefani!
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