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'I am so nervous, I keep saying to the guys, what if no one picks me?' - catching up with Voice UK coaches ahead of new season:

Meghan Trainor is eyeing up the competition as she prepares her debut on The Voice UK. Gemma Dunn catches up with the coaches

(From left) will.i.am, Meghan Trainor, Sir Tom Jones and Olly Murs
(From left) will.i.am, Meghan Trainor, Sir Tom Jones and Olly Murs

By Gemma Dunn

Spinning red chairs? Tick. Coaches? Tick. Brand new singers? Tick. Yes, The Voice UK is back for yet another series - its ninth to date - and if rumours are to be believed, 2020 could well be the best year yet for the blind singing competition.

While much of the format remains the same (more tense buzzer moments, more epic singing battles), there's been a major switch-up in the superstar panel.

For while Sir Tom Jones, will.i.am and Olly Murs are set to return, Jennifer Hudson's worthy seat will be taken over by none other than American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor (25).

And it's fair to say the All About That Bass hitmaker is delighted to join the ITV show.

"It's been a dream, it's everything I ever thought it would be and more," says the Grammy Award winner, as she joins her fellow coaches during a break from a busy day of filming.

"I knew it would be crazy doing the blind auditions, but every time I've had my back to them and tried to imagine what they would look like, I've been completely wrong."

As for stepping into Hudson's shoes: "It's definitely intimidating, but everyone has been so nice about it. I've messaged her and said, 'Everyone loves you; we talk about you every five minutes. They miss you, I miss you, I hope I make you proud'."

Will.i.am (44) adds: "If I didn't know Meghan, if I didn't already have a recollection in my mind on Meghan's personality and her talent, I would have been uncomfortable.

"But because I know how talented Meghan is and what her gift is as far as like, 'Yo, I am a composer', what she brings to the contestants is priceless, because there's not that many awesome singers, composers, females in our industry."

"Jennifer had that great American bubbly diva queen personality and Meghan's got that as well," Murs (35) adds. "She's got this great energy about her and she's fun."

Last year, Cornish singer Molly Hocking took the crown, having been mentored by Murs. Is the former X Factor star feeling the pressure to continue his reign?

"Not really," he says simply. "It's a trump card that you can use in that there's an element of, 'I hope the contestants can see that I won last year', but that really comes from the contestant and Molly was fantastic. I was fortunate enough to turn for her last year and she picked me.

"I think Ricky Wilson is the only one in the history of The Voice UK that's won it back-to-back. I'd love to win it again, sure, but I'm not the newbie - I'm giving that to Meghan, as I was her two years ago, like, 'I gotta win, I gotta win'. She's really up for it."

"Yesterday, she won out of four turns, which is a big thing," adds Sir Tom (79).

"You mean my shining moment?" Trainor teases, admitting she's fiercely competitive. "I was so nervous that I kept telling the guys, 'What if nobody picks me?' That was my biggest fear. And then to win the first time four chairs are turned!

"I'm the new girl in town, I'm the youngest, I haven't accomplished as much as everyone else and I was worried that they wouldn't know what I've done in my career, or even who I am, so it was a nice confidence boost."

If the acts want to stand a chance of making it onto the mentors' teams, let alone through the battles, the knockouts, the live semi-final and eventual final, they must impress - firstly - with their song choice.

"If a song has been done that many times, they've got to come with something different. Because how can you just do it the same way?" warns Jones.

"When I think back to The X Factor, when I did Superstition by Stevie Wonder, the reason I picked that song was because it was unique and I hadn't really heard many people sing it on talent shows," Murs recalls.

"I've heard so many people sing Bridge Over Troubled Water that you're always going to compare it, so why don't you find a song that's unique? One of the girls yesterday sung a Lewis Capaldi song, Bruises, but she did her own version of it, it wasn't his big hit, do you know what I mean?"

"If you don't think of the original, that's a good thing. As long as they do it well," Jones echoes.

"Emotional choice is more important. Locking in the emotion," counsels will.i.am, who has been with the show since day one. "A person could sing the most perfect song and not have the emotion and then we're going to sit there and say the issue is song choice?

"It's about going deeper. If you don't bring out your emotion, the coaches are always going to say it's song choice. It's the easiest thing to say if you don't like something."

So, they've filmed the blind auditions - what can the coaches tell us about each of their teams so far?

"I got some really, really, really good singers," will.i.am offers first. "There's one singer I'm gutted over that I didn't get. I filled up my team really fast and how could I know that something really amazing was around the corner?"

"We've got a lot of females, but I'm loving the girl power," Trainor chimes in. "I've got dudes too and they're adorable. I've got twins. I have vocalists who not only are very talented, but have the whole artist package and could be real superstars one day - that makes me feel really confident."

"I don't have any that I think, 'Oh, maybe they'll go in a battle'," Jones shares. "We've got to pair them up correctly, because you know you're going to lose some. There is that steal, of course, but you can't think of that. And strengths will come to light as we get to work around the piano."

"This year, I'm going into it slightly different than I did in the past," Murs adds, cryptically. "In the past, I've not had favourites, but I kind of knew the ones that were the strongest. This year, I think it's quite spread across the whole team - they're all equally really, really good.

"I don't think Molly was the favourite at this point last year, but she was my favourite. She was someone that I truly believed in and what she did really well is that she delivered on every performance. That's what I need to see from the new class of 2020."

The Voice UK, ITV, Saturday, 8.30pm

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