The Voice will be singing a familiar tune when it returns for Season 5 on Monday, as original coaches Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green reclaim their spinning red chairs alongside bromancers Blake Shelton and Adam Levine.
And it seems Shelton — who has coached the last three winners of NBC's hit singing competition, including 17-year-old reigning champ Danielle Bradbery — wasted no time pushing the returnees' buttons. "He reminded us on many occasions that he is welcoming us back to his show," says Aguilera with a laugh. "It felt as if we never left."
And yet she's happy she did. The platinum-tressed singer returned from her hiatus, which she spent focusing on 5-year-old son Max and doing charity work in Rwanda with the United Nations, with a renewed focus.
"The time off made me see more than ever that [the competition] isn't about us," she says. "It's about the contestants."
So viewers can expect to see more attention paid to the new crop of hopefuls on the stage than to any sparring between Aguilera and Levine, who often locked horns during early seasons.
"We're both very passionate, but it isn't personal with Adam. It never has been," she says. "We're just very strong personalities." Ones that will no doubt fight hard for their respective teams. (Aguilera has recruited British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran to help advise hers for the battle rounds.)
While The Voice has yet to produce a winner who's gone on to become a chart-topping star the way American Idol has, Aguilera thinks this could "absolutely" be the year — though, truth be told, she's not completely convinced that's even the point of the competition.
"To me," she says, "being on the show [and] gaining advice from all of us who have lived this business, that is success."
The Voice season premiere airs Monday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c on NBC.