'The Voice' renewed for season 15 with Jennifer Hudson returning

"The Voice" season 15 will air on NBC this fall, with a surprising twist: Jennifer Hudson is returning to the coaches' panel. The network announced the renewal news on Thursday evening via press release, keeping its singing competition on the air for another cycle.

Hudson will once again replace Alicia Keys, while Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and newcomer Kelly Clarkson will all return for another season.

The renewal of "The Voice" is not a shock; it's one of NBC's highest-rated shows and its biggest unscripted hit. Its most recent Monday episode was the most-watched show on broadcast television with 8.30 million people tuning in live, and was also the top program among adults 18-49 with a strong 1.4 share in that demographic. This week's Tuesday results show wasn't far behind in total viewers, with 7.19 million music fans watching live to find out who made it to the semifinals.

Related: 'The Voice' season 14, episode 22 recap and performances

But the decision to bring back Hudson might have some "Voice" fans scratching their heads. She was not received well when she was introduced as Keys' replacement in season 13 last year; Gold Derby polled viewers and 48 percent of voters - almost half of them - did not like her as a coach. Team Jennifer also did not perform well in the competition; she was the only coach not to have an artist in the finals. In contrast, Keys still has two of her three artists eligible to make it into the season 14 finale.

Hudson subsequently went back to "The Voice UK" for a second season, after having won her first attempt at the spin-off. Her return might have been already planned, though, given NBC's history of alternating coaches between seasons. It's possible that Keys was already planning to leave again after this season, and so Hudson's original agreement was to come back for "The Voice" season 15, similar to how past coaches have rotated in and out before. NBC's press release didn't give any official explanation for why she's returning.

"We are so excited to welcome back Kelly and Jennifer, two dynamic forces who bring undeniable soul, passion and inspiration as coaches," NBC executive Paul Telegdy said in Thursday's announcement. "They each have a unique understanding of what it's like to be in the artists' shoes. Bringing these two voices together with Blake and Adam for season 15 is sure to make this one of our best seasons yet!"

We'll find out if music fans agree when "The Voice" season 15 premieres this fall; a specific premiere date was not announced. Meanwhile, audiences can tune in Monday to watch the remaining "The Voice" season 14 artists perform for four spots in the May 21 season finale.

"The Voice" airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC. "Voice" fans can get tickets to see Adam Levine and Maroon 5 live through AXS by using the links below:

Sept. 9 - Denver, CO - Pepsi Center (Click here for tickets)
Sept. 11 - Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center (Click here for tickets)