Over the past 11 seasons, the hit NBC reality competition “The Voice” has produced some amazing performances from hundreds of artists mentored by superstar coaches. Those coaches have changed over the years outside of mainstays Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. So far 10 coaches have taken part in total, but who was the best? Below are our rankings from best to worst coach in the history of the show. You can also tour through the photo gallery above to see more. Sound off in the comments to let us know who you think is the best coach from “The Voice” history.
1. Blake Shelton
It is tough to argue Shelton topping this list considering he just took home his fifth championship as a coach. In fact, in five of the six seasons that he wasn’t victorious, his artist was the runner-up. That’s just pure domination. Some may argue he has a lock on all of the country artists, but his first win came in Season 2 with R&B singer Jermaine Paul. Up next was Cassadee Pope in Season 3, who was more of a pop singer at the time. But since then country artists have reigned supreme on Team Blake with Danielle Bradbery (Season 4), Craig Wayne Boyd (Season 7) and Sundance Head (Season 11) all taking home trophies. It is also worth noting that to date, artists on Shelton’s team have had the most success on the music charts after their time on “The Voice” has ended. And to top it off, Shelton is just the most fun.
2. Adam Levine
No coach to date is more vocally and visibly competitive than Levine. He is tenacious in his quest for victory and has come out on top three times with Javier Colon (Season 1), Tessanne Chin (Season 5), and Jordan Smith (Season 9). What Levine understands, perhaps more than anyone outside of Shelton, is the importance of song choice. All three of his winners had the ability to sing big, sweeping ballads and he knows these are the type of artists that can win. He is relentless when he wants an artist to join his team, and will even beg them on his hands and knees to convince them he is the best coach. Levine has had proven success, maintains a competitive spirit, and most importantly knows how to play the game.
3. Pharrell Williams
There simply isn’t a more likable coach than Williams, who is better than anyone at luring artists to his team after blind auditions. His ability to look an artist in the eyes and convince them that they are individuals who need to be celebrated for their own unique ability is unmatched. The highlight of Williams’ time on the panel was Season 8, when he coached Sawyer Fredericks to victory. The one quality Williams lacks is a competitive spirit. He has literally chosen weaker performers over stronger ones in battle or knockout rounds, knowing the other would be stolen, just to keep everyone in the competition. More than anyone, he puts the contestants first and it is endearing. But unfortunately, he will never be the #1 coach with that mindset.
4. Christina Aguilera
Known for being one of this generation’s most gifted singers, Aguilera was the top choice for “Voice” producer Mark Burnett when he was creating this series. But it took her a while to find her groove as a coach, not always able to convince contestants to choose her over others on the panel – and sometimes failing to even get an artist to the finals. But by season 5, a refreshed and more determined Aguilera led Jacquie Lee to a runner-up finish. And she was never more convincing than in Season 10 when she lured Alisan Porter to her team after a four-chair turn blind audition. Porter ended up winning the season, making Aguilera the first female coach in the winner’s circle. Aguilera wins the “most improved” coach award and receives extra props for being a trailblazer. Plus I just find her attitude and banter with Levine and Shelton entertaining.
5. Alicia Keys
In her debut season the iconic soul singer met expectations as a force to be reckoned with, but it wasn’t without mistakes. Perhaps the most impressive piece of Keys’ game is her ability to win over contestants after the blind auditions. Watching her put the smackdown on her fellow coaches, especially veterans Levine and Shelton, was a thing of beauty. However, her inexperience as a coach came into play as the season progressed. Her first major mistake was letting go of Josh Halverson, a potential finalist, after the live playoffs. From there, she had trouble choosing songs for her contestants that resonated with viewers at home. But her connection to her artists runs deep; and no other coach besides Pharrell is able to sound so genuine and sincere when praising an artist’s talent and individuality.
At times it seemed like Usher would rather be anywhere but the coach’s chair, but you simply can’t deny his track record. Usher expressed in an interview that he would, at times, purposely act indifferent because he thought the reverse psychology would lure contestants to his team. It wasn’t a great tactic and it made for poor television. That being said, in his debut season he led Michelle Chamuel all the way to second place. In his second and final season (so far), he took Josh Kaufman all the way to the winner’s circle, after coyly stealing him from Team Adam. In conclusion, Usher ranks right in the middle with low scores for entertainment value, but major kudos for results.
7. Miley Cyrus
If being fun to watch was the only criteria, Cyrus would rank much higher on the list. Unfortunately, it takes more to be a successful coach. There may not be anyone more invested in her contestants. It has been reported that she dedicated more of her time to her artists than any other coach. But she also made a ton of mistakes. She paired up contestants in the battle and knock-out rounds that made no sense. She also made very obscure and horrible song choices for many on her team. It is great that she helped them develop as artists, but at the same time, the point is to win. And her song choices were not the kinds that garner votes from the public.
8. CeeLo Green
Although he was one of the original coaches of the series, CeeLo feels like more than an afterthought at this point. It is difficult to remember standout moments he created outside of wearing crazy outfits all the time. He was never fortunate enough to coach a winner but he did have moderate successes in his first three season, including Juliet Simms taking second in season 2. But by his final season he seemed completely uninterested in being there at all, failing to lead anyone to the finale.
The bubbly Colombian superstar was a breath of fresh air when she joined “The Voice” in season 4. She would often make jokes about Usher, Adam and Blake not understanding women when trying to convince female artists to join her team. And her connection to the artists she worked with felt genuine and heart-felt. But the harsh reality is that during her two seasons on the coaching panel, she never got a single artist to the finale. That just can’t be ignored, no matter how likable she is.
10. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani always felt like an odd choice to be on this series, and she’s had mixed results. My biggest issue with Stefani is her love affair with the clothes and image of an artist. For a series called “The Voice,” it is the opposite of what the show stands for at its very core. For this reason, and the fact that she hasn’t had a top-three finisher to date, Stefani ranks last.