Two important things became clear during the two-night season 18 premiere of The Voice: new coach Nick Jonas is surprisingly funny, and his fellow judges are underestimating just how committed he is to winning this season. In the night one episode, Nick played up his naivety with "Nick's Notes," his vague, but hilarious written commentary on the singers which included insightful thoughts like "wow." He also dropped a random Camp Rock 2 reference, and at one point, joked that he takes notes because he was homeschooled. By night two, the show was leaning into the JoBro's nice guy persona with an opener devoted to how he's instantly won over the crew while the more cutting Blake Shelton doesn't even know their names. It's a fun gag, but it's not an accurate depiction of Nick as a coach.
Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Blake have all piled on the new guy, as is tradition. They skewered his "Nick's Notes," and John took great joy in using his block to ensure Nick didn't have a shot of nabbing Anaheim, California blues singer Nelson Cade III. But unlike past newbies, Nick isn't letting the teasing get to him, and when it comes to his chair turns, he's taking a thoughtful approach that suggests he knows exactly what he's looking for sound-wise, despite being a first year judge.
During night two, he showed his hand a bit by dropping his nice guy persona in order to snag 28-year-old Arei Moon, who sang Kelly's "Miss Independent," away from the queen herself. It was a bold move, considering Moon's song choice suggested she wanted to be on Kelly's team. But Nick is curating his team with singers who not only have strong vocals, but who have a pop energy that he's uniquely qualified to help them mold into greatness.
Whether he's fending off blocks or dealing with Blake trying to woo a singer away by threatening to send an adorable puppy back to the animal shelter, Nick is proving to be unflappable. And if the other judges aren't worried yet, they should be. After all, Nick showed off his coaching skills on night one when he hopped on stage to patiently give 16-year-old Tate Brusa vocal advice that made the young singer instantly better (video above).
After just two episodes, Nick has established himself as the coach to watch this season by playing the game with just the right mix of cunning and sincerity. While Kelly, Blake, and John crack jokes about his age and methods, the Jo Bro is staying focused on curating singers with the potential to go all the way in the competition with his unique guidance. Nick is happily playing along with the idea that he's the underdog, but just watch the intensity on his face each time an artist steps on the stage to sing. He isn't here to play.
Nick's secret is that he's as much of a shark as Blake is — but he happens to be a nice shark, who has a good chance of walking away from his first season of The Voice with a win if his fellow judges keep underestimating him.