American Idol might have introduced us to televised singing competitions, but it is The Voice that has cemented the genre into a now defining aspect of America's culture. That is in no small part thanks to the eclectic collection of coaches that the producers select each season. In addition to permanent judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, The Voice has tapped world-renowned artists like Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera to helm various teams—propelling the celebrities themselves into even higher ranks of fame.
With a new season kicking off tonight, which marks the return of both Keys and Gwen Stefani as female presences on the rotating red chairs, we take a moment to rank all the artists that at least for one season occupied those coveted seats. Full disclaimer: We never disliked a coach and are constantly flabbergasted by the excitement that the various foursomes incite in us, so our unofficial list is purely based on coaching ability—as perceived from the comfort of our own couch at home.
9. Christina Aguilera
Aguilera has one of the most powerful voices that the music industry has been privy to in the past half a century—and mama knows exactly how to use it. It would follow, then, that she'd be able to teach others how to utilize their own precious gifts. Wrong: Aguilera sort of just tooted her own horn throughout all six seasons that she was a part of, which we can't blame her for doing but clearly leaves much to be desired when trying to coach someone else.
She tried, she relatively failed. Could it have been the accent? Could it have been Levine's and Shelton's palpable chemistry, one that didn't necessarily involve her and fellow coach Usher? Shakira just wasn't connecting with us. What takes her coaching abilities a notch above Aguilera's is her passion for all different sorts of musical genres—which allowed her to work with all kinds of contestants.
7. Gwen Stefani
Bias alert: Stefani's outfits, overall calm and super-cool vibe turned us into huge fans right off the bat (Shelton would agree with us on this one). Not necessarily the most talented singer, Stefani is undoubtedly one of the best performers to ever become a Voice coach. Adding a touch of eclectic creativity to each of her teammates' performances, Stefani really tries to educate her mentees. Also, her voice, which has a unique sound to it, makes any duet and mashup that much more special. (Have you watched her sing an acoustic version of TLC's "Waterfalls" with Keys, Shelton and Levine? Drop everything you're doing and click here.)
6. Cee Lo Green
Cee Lo Green is larger than life and so is anything he touches. Sadly, the artist hasn't been a coach since season five and, yes, this is our call to action: let's get Cee Lo Green back on the show.
5. Blake Shelton
Shelton is one of the wittiest and comedically-prone personalities currently on television without his own late night show. He also really knows country music and seems to cater to his mentees even after the show is over. We do sometimes wish that his coaching capabilities could extend to different musical genres but let's not get too greedy here.
4. Alicia Keys
All bow to queen Keys. She sings, she plays the piano and she coaches the hell out of each contestant that she works with—truly turning each one into a better performer. Her palpable excitement at joining the show is infectious and we are oh-so-delighted to get us some more Alicia in the upcoming months.
3. Adam Levine
Levine has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, which allows him to be a grand coach to each sort of artist that comes his way. Do we wish he were a bit less pompous about it all? Yes, we do.
2. Pharrell Williams
No surprise here. Williams is a genius producer who, well, became the Pharrell because of his amazing skills. From perfectly crafted vocals to memorably choreographed performances, everything that enters the Williams aura is bound to succeed. Also, he has this way of showing us his excitement when hearing an out-of-the-ordinary-awesome singer (he gets up, looks straight ahead and has a signature grin on his face) that just makes us happy.
1. Miley Cyrus
Cyrus first joined the show as an advisor to the coaches. She did such an outstanding job that she was offered her own red chair last season. Although not back this time around, she has vowed to return to the show after a short break. And we must say: there's just something about Miley, man. What makes her stand out the most? The elation and thrill that seem to ooze out of her body whenever dealing with fell artists, a characteristic that only those who are fans of the show before being a part of it can boast. She knows exactly what songs to pick for each one of her team members and knows exactly how to pull out the best performance out of all of them. Oh, and she's hilarious.