The untold truth of The Voice

If you have at least two brain cells to rub together, you've probably learned by now that reality TV is often scripted, or at the very least sketchy, and The Voice is no exception. The long-running singing competition puts hopefuls in front of a panel of four judges (Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and a rotating cast of others) who, if they like you, will vie for you to join their respective teams and compete to win it all — a lucrative recording contract. To land that coveted deal, competitors will not only need help from the judges, but also votes from the audience. That's the glossy formula sold to audiences, but the untold truth of The Voice is much darker and deceptive. 

Feuding judges, romance bonuses, sketchy scripting, even sketchier results, and about that record deal — if the rumors are true, this show is loaded with dirt (and a few positive secrets.) Here are the shenanigans that producers would love to silence.

Kelly Clarkson is a diva, but she's killing it

She became a star on American Idol, but Kelly Clarkson apparently became a diva on The Voice. "She is not the person that everyone thought she was going to be," a source told Radar Online in February 2018. "She is bossy and argumentative, and the other judges, especially Blake, already had an issue with her because of the amount of money they reportedly paid her to join the cast … She seems to think that it is all one big game. At the same time, she is overly certain that she will win this season."

Take all that with a grain of salt because Clarkson and Shelton have long been close pals, and she almost had him officiate her wedding!

Regardless, you can expect to see Clarkson on upcoming seasons. Radar Online reported that since she joined the coaching staff, The Voice has had absolutely stellar ratings, so producers are keen to keep her around. "Kelly is absolutely going to return [at some point]," a source said. 

Adam Levine paid for a murdered Voice alum's funeral

Christina Grimmie was a breakout star for Team Adam on The Voice in 2013. She was tragically murdered in June 2016. Levine had remained close with Grimmie after her time on the show concluded, and he was crushed by her death, tweeting, "Behati and I are absolutely devastated and heartbroken by Christina Grimmie's death. Our hearts go out to her family."

Grimmie's manager was Selena Gomez's stepfather, Brian Teefey. Teefey and Levine teamed up to help Grimmie's family after the tragedy.

"I first heard from my sister's manager, Brian Teefey, that he will be making a GoFundMe to help our family move out of our current house and to take care of the funeral, and I figured why not, and I'm not about sharing that kind of stuff and I'm not a fan of handouts at all," Grimmie's brother wrote on Facebook. "I found out this morning that Adam Levine personally called my mother and said he will pay for the funeral and her plane flight, and I was blown away. Now a friend just told me to look at the GoFundMe page and I see it is at 100K. Words cannot express … literally I have no words."

A rep for Levine confirmed his generosity to Page Six, though Levine has never spoken publicly about his incredible act of kindness.

A former contestant was accused of sexual assault

In December 2017, Melanie Martinez, a Team Adam contestant from Season 3, was accused of sexually assaulting her close friend, fellow female singer Timothy Heller.

In a series of harrowing tweets, Heller alleged that Martinez sexually assaulted her over a period of two nights, writing, "I never said yes. I said no, repeatedly. But she used her power over me, and broke me down. Just so there is no confusion, I was molested by my best friend … The bottom line that I need to always remind myself is that: I said no. For TWO NIGHTS STRAIGHT. It doesn't matter that I didn't resist during the action. I had been broken down. She knew I didn't want to, I made that clear."

Martinez denied the allegations, saying in a statement, "I am horrified and saddened by the statements and story told tonight by Timothy Heller. What she and I shared was a close friendship for a period of time. We came into each other's lives as we were both starting our careers as artists, and we tried to help each other. We both had pain in dealing with our individual demons and the new paths we were forging, but I truly felt we were trying to lift each other up. She never said no to what we chose to do together. And although we parted ways, I am sending her love and light always."

Producers pushed for PDA between Gwen and Blake

After Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani went public with their relationship, producers reportedly jumped at the chance to capitalize on it. 

A source told Radar Online that ahead of Season 12, Stefani and Shelton got "paid an exceptional bonus that is significantly higher than the other judges to keep the spark alive on-camera." The source added, "There is a stipulation in their contract, which is more of a break-up clause. If, for some reason, they call it quits, they are both required to finish out the remainder of their existing contracts … Bosses are really, really pushing for this. They want nothing more than for Blake to propose to Gwen during a taping of the show."

However, that hasn't worked out as planned. A spy told Radar Online, "Pressure is really mounting right now for Gwen and Blake to get engaged … Gwen is just not jiving well and it seems like she is just over it at this point. The ratings speak for themselves and others on staff are blaming Gwen and Blake for their lack of cooperation when it comes to giving the fans what they want…"

Do the other judges despise Jennifer Hudson?

Jennifer Hudson may not return to The Voice because rumor has it she just doesn't get along with anyone else on the set. In May 2017, when it was announced that both Hudson and Kelly Clarkson would be joining The Voice, both ladies announced that they wouldn't be on the show together — and a source told Radar Online it's because they can't stand one another.

Clarkson apparently wasn't alone. By July 2017, rumors surfaced that Hudson was already feuding with Miley Cyrus. An insider told Radar Online, "There is already some serious shade between Jennifer and Miley. Jennifer is a total loudmouth … Miley already cannot tolerate Jennifer and thinks that she does not deserve to be on the panel to begin with … but Jennifer is not backing down to anyone."

Sources also claim Blake Shelton didn't take to Hudson. "Blake straight up told Jennifer that she is an entitled b***h and that he's never worked with someone so difficult to be around. He thinks that she is trying to steal the spotlight, which she is. But it is creating a lot of tension on and off-camera," an insider said.

The crew and contestants can't stand J-Hud either

It wasn't just J-Hud's alleged coaching feuds making life on the show difficult. It was her demands. A source told Radar Online, "Jennifer takes diva to a whole new level. No one can tolerate her and she literally starts screaming whenever she doesn't get her way … She's been extremely disruptive to production, causing unnecessary delays. She thinks that everything should revolve around her and has come into this season with such a sense of entitlement."

"It is no longer a secret that there is mad drama behind the scenes. Jennifer is just a horrific person and the other coaches learned that best way to deal with her is just to avoid her," a source dished to Radar Online. Apparently, not even contestants and production staff are safe from Hudson's alleged diva attitude, with an insider dishing, "She is racking up enemies like no other judge before. She had several contestants crying backstage after blind auditions because of her commentary." 

A source also told Radar Online that Hudson may have also created conflicts of interest because she promoted her own brand on the show against the wishes of NBC higher-ups.

Producers are desperate to keep Blake and Adam around

While producers seemed eager to get J-Hud the heck outta there, they're reportedly desperate to hold onto Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, but Levine, in particular, may be itching to leave.

In January 2018, a source told Radar Online that the Maroon 5 frontman wants to settle down and be a family man with wife Behati Prinsloo and their two daughters. "Behati is really putting a lot of pressure on him to quit and be more present in their kids' lives. He wants to take a couple of years to be a stay-at-home dad and work on new music. If Adam leaves, Blake is going to follow because he has been over it for a while. Ever since Gwen left, Blake has been ready to go."

"After word got back to the higher-ups that Blake and Adam want out, they decided to offer them each a $5 million bonus to stay on the show until 2020," an insider dished to Radar Online a month later. "They are literally begging them to stay because they fear that losing them would cause ratings to plummet! … Blake and Adam have neither accepted the offer, nor have they signed any deal. They are still weighing their options."

Contestants' contracts are terrifying

NBC's contract with contestants can really hinder their success, reported the New York Daily News. Clauses in the 32-page contract can reportedly allow producers to change the rules at any time, eliminate contestants (even those who have the most votes,) ignore the voting system, force contestants to undergo psychological or medical exams, and even release the results of those exams on TV. If that's not bad enough, contestants who reveal any of the inner workings of that contract can be sued for anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million.

That's not even the worst part: The contract also stipulates that the network is allowed to depict contestants "in a way that may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing [and] may expose [contestant] to public ridicule and condemnation"—or even "in a false light." That means that producers can literally concoct a story about you being a villain, and you have to be cool with it.

These iron-clad, if scary, contracts are apparently pretty common. "These kinds of shows have been around for a while and … have been sued or threatened with lawsuits quite a bit," a legal expert told the Daily News. "Tough language is standard now in the industry."

Winners often don't amount to much

Javier Colon, winner of the first season of The Voice, issued a statement to Buddy TV explaining that the record deal he landed after his victory didn't actually help him very much. "I have parted ways with my record label, Universal Republic Records … The unfortunate part of the situation … was the unforeseen bad marriage between the label and I. I went into it with high hopes, as I believe everyone did. But when you pour your heart and soul into a new album that you think is really great, and your label who is supposed to support, market and promote your music does neither, it's really hard not to be upset," Colon said.

He isn't alone. The label also received criticism after Season 5 winner Tessanne Chin's album was underpromoted. Season 6 winner Josh Kaufman only released one album, and Season 7 winner Craig Wayne Boyd has not release a full-length album to date. Season 8 champ Sawyer Fredericks released two albums that didn't chart.

There's never really been a Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, or even a Ruben Studdard from The Voice, and that problem is so glaring that even the coaches are sick of talking about it. Adam Levine told Billboard, "Eventually, The Voice is going to have to launch somebody into the stratosphere to continue to be taken seriously." Pharrell Williams was a bit more defensive, telling TV Guide, "The show is not about someone signing a record deal and getting signed. The show is about a bunch of people who really care about people that they encounter, and make sure that they're changed when they walk off." Right.

The coaches are the real winners

While most winners on The Voice have failed to make it big, the judges' careers have enjoyed huge boosts. 

According to Billboard, Adam Levine admitted Maroon 5 was "slumping" before The Voice premiered. Now the band is back on top and Levine has his own fragrance and clothing lines. Blake Shelton was a niche country artist before The Voice but now enjoys mainstream success. Christina Aguilera, who hadn't had a hit in nearly a decade, saw sales of her duet with A Great Big World, "Say Something," skyrocket a whopping 1,761 percent within one week after performing the song on The Voice. Pharrell Williams had a massive hit with "Happy" after his tenure on the series, and Gwen Stefani felt a lot of love after performing her heartbreak single, "Used to Love You," on the show. All of that probably isn't a coincidence.

Your votes might not matter

In May 2013, host Carson Daly revealed on air that online and text message votes for The Voice went awry. "We noticed some inconsistencies on this week's texting and online voting," he said, "but … the monitoring system we have in place worked. For complete fairness, votes cast via text and online were not counted in the voting results," he said. "Here's the good news: Telescope certifies that removing those votes did not affect the outcome for any team."

A source told the New York Daily News that the aforementioned scenario isn't uncommon. "There have been issues before with these shows," the insider said. "Sometimes when there are too many people voting at once, these systems become overtaxed and a lot of votes are lost."

An NBC source defended the network. "We have never manipulated the outcome on this show — NBC and The Voice producers take the fairness and integrity of this competition far too seriously." A rep for NBC also said, "The integrity of our competition shows, including The Voice, is of the utmost importance to NBC. All audience votes on The Voice are administered and certified by Telescope."

Some competitors already had record deals

While American Idol opts for pure newbies to the music biz, The Voice allows contestants who may already have prior professional experience audition for the show.

Prior to appearing on Season 2, Angel Taylor was signed to Aware/Columbia Records, and her single "Like You Do" appeared in episodes of One Tree Hill and VH1's Tough Love; Taylor was also one of VH1's heavily promoted "You Oughta Know: Artists on the Rise" in 2010. She even toured with Adele!

Before hopping onto Team CeeLo and winning first runner-up in Season 2, Juliet Simms was the frontwoman of rock band Automatic Loveletter from 2005 to 2011; the band was signed to Sony BMG Records.

Jessie Poland (Charlotte Sometimes) was signed to Geffen Records and had a minor hit with "How I Could Just Kill a Man" in 2008 before appearing on Season 2 of The Voice.

Dia Frampton was runner-up on the first season of The Voice, but was already an indie scene darling in Meg & Dia, which was signed to Warner Music.

The most notable example of seasoned talent appearing on the show is Cassadee Pope, who achieved moderate success with pop-punk outfit Hey Monday before pandering to the country crowd to win Season 3 for Team Blake.