And the award for most creative social distancing measures goes to...The Voice.
This week, NBC's hit signing competition series kicked off its season 19 live shows, gifting us fresh performances for coaches John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and newly-engaged couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani to react to despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That's fun and all, but we were particularly impressed with how the team came together for a promotional appearance off camera.
Legend, Clarkson, Shelton and Stefani joined host Carson Daly on the backlot of their sound studio for a drive thru-themed red carpet experience that surely kept them six feet apart thanks to individual retro-style cars. In addition to poking fun at each other, they also discussed the impact of COVID-19—and what it's like to work as doctors and researchers race to secure a vaccine.
"Everybody's been struggling with the limitations of the pandemic," Legend told E! News. "It's really hit the music industry hard. We haven't been able to tour. There's been so much that we have not been able to do, but I'm so grateful for a show like The Voice that we can still make. We can still highlight these wonderful artists. We can still through the internet and all the other connections we have, we can still connect with our audience and spread this music and joy and love to the whole world."
Legend and Shelton agreed that social media has been key to staying in touch with viewers despite not being able to connect in person. "I don't feel like I've lost touch with my fan base at all and that's a good feeling because I know there's a lot of artists out there that don't have that opportunity," Shelton told E! after describing the "crazy" year of 2020. "They don't have a platform like The Voice. It's a really cool opportunity for these artists that are on this season also to build that fan base and not feel like they're losing touch with it. They're gonna walk away with a whole new social media platform they can keep forever."
To ensure the safety of its coaches and team members, The Voice has instituted safety glass between them in addition to totally separate areas to perform on stage. Speaking to a group of journalists, Stefani opened up about getting the freedom to shoot in person.
"I can't believe we are back in the studio for the lives this season," she said. "It feels more incredible than ever that we're here, weirder and crazy, but also the gratitude level is skyrocketing."
As for who will lead the season? "I think it's gonna be really hard for America to choose the winner in the next three weeks, between all the people on Team Gwen, I'm saying" she said. "Because my team is ridiculous, so talented, so unique and I'm pretty sure we're gonna win. I'm not being cocky, I'm just saying I'm sure Team Gwen is gonna win."
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)