In February 2018, Season 14 of The Voice introduced a new competitive “block” button that allowed each coach to prevent another from bringing an artist onto their team. The feature never seemed to sit right with some of the singing series’ viewers. Now, in Season 16, fans are especially annoyed with the block button, as newcomer coach John Legend was blocked not once, but three times within the first two episodes.
When the block feature was introduced, it was decided that each coach would get one block in the entire first round–called the Blind Auditions–of the season, according to Variety. While artists take the stage in the hopes of getting a chair turn from at least one coach, the coaches can help their chances of being selected by hitting the block button.
However, it is important to note that the block feature only works if the blocked coach turns their chair. If they do not turn, the block is returned to the coach that pressed the button.
For the first time, the blocks have all been used in the first two episodes of the season. Moreover, the blocking began in the very first audition. Contestant Gyth Rigdon, 24, sang “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray, earning chair turns from coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, and Legend. As it turned out, Shelton had blocked Legend, and Rigdon ended up on the country star’s team.
That same evening, Clarkson blocked Legend to gain singer Rizzi Myers. On the second night, coach Adam Levine used up his block against Legend to grab artist Domenic Haynes.
Legend did get his revenge, though, as he blocked Levine in a very close race to gain singer Julian King.
Legend is now and will remain the most-blocked coach in The Voice history, according to Parade.
Some fans of the singing competition take issue with the fact that it can cause unnecessary drama between coaches.
“John Legend needs to get angry. 2nd block, d*** Kelly Clarkson that was wrong,” one Twitter user wrote after the second block.
Others think the feature is a cowardly move, according to Country Living.
“They need to stop blocking [Legend], them [SIC] big chickens,” someone said.
“I think the block is ridiculous and unfair! Please take it away,” another wrote.
Washington Post writer Emily Yahr pointed out the block feature can be unfair to not only the coaches but also the contestants. They may be missing out on the coach that they were truly meant to work with, and this could hurt their chances of winning.
There is, however, one counter-measure for the block that may help an artist later. In addition to the block button, The Voice producers also added a steal feature for the second round of the competition, called the Battles. Artists from each team are eliminated in this round, but the other coaches have a chance to scoop these artists up.
“You’re not necessarily locked on a team. You can get stolen, you can shift, so that wasn’t enough for us not to go for it and try the element,” executive producer Audrey Morrissey said of the features in Season 15. “As you’ll see as it plays out, things work out for the best. Somehow, it all really works well. We really love it.”