Carson Daly, longtime host of “The Voice,” talks about Season 18 — and rookie coach Nick Jonas


By John Russell

He’s watched a lot of blind auditions during his tenure as host of NBC’s Emmy-winning singing competition The Voice. But until this year — Season 18 — Carson Daly had never seen Nick Jonas in the signature red chair. “He’s taking notes!” Daly says of the new coach’s preparedness to woo the best artists to his team (and, from his seat between John Legend and Kelly Clarkson, gang up on fellow coach Blake Shelton, if needed). “He’s a really nice guy and musically, he’s incredibly impressive, but he came to win.” Season 18 begins on NBC Feb. 24-25.

Have you gotten a sense of what Nick is looking for in team members? He’s very empathetic toward young male artists. I don’t know if it influences his decisions, but it’s something to watch for, how he reacts seeing essentially younger versions of himself.

You say Nick fits right into the Voice family. So we’ll see him clash with the other coaches over contestants? Oh, yeah. It took about two hours of everyone being nice before the gloves came off. Nick sees right through Blake’s BS, and it’s very entertaining and refreshing. Blake’s won six times, but he hasn’t won in a while, and he’s still like, “This is my show! I’m the big winner here!”

Kelly won last season, for the third time. Does that set her up for success this go-round? One hundred percent! I think it’s hers to lose — with all due respect to John and Nick and Blake. When you win, during the blind auditions the next season, you’re quick to remind everybody that you are the reigning champion. It’s a good tool to use, and she does. Kelly does not lack confidence. She’s all in. She really is a diligent coach. She checks the rules of the show to make sure she’s not doing too much, to make sure it’s fair.

Do you already have a favorite contes-tant of Season 18? We always have interesting people. A girl sang an entire song in Spanish this year. She didn’t do the first verse in Spanish and feel the need to do the second verse in English — I remember just loving her for that. But I’m pulling for all of them.

What’s it really like being backstage with the families during the blind auditions? If their loved one gets a chair to turn, it’s obviously easy and they’re excited. One mother went running across the room and jumped into my arms, like out of Dirty Dancing. But it’s equally as difficult to console them if they’ve been on this journey and they don’t get a chair to turn. We’ve had some really upset people who just didn’t want a camera in their face. It’s a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but in a weird way, I feel like I’m cut out for that job because I genuinely care.