To quote the dearly departed folk singer-songwriter Pete Seeger: “There is a season, turn, turn, turn.”
In the case of NBC’s singing contest The Voice (which also airs on CTV), it’s the sixth season and those famous spinning red chairs, which bow Monday and Tuesday nights (Feb. 24 and 25), are turning quite quickly.
So what should we expect from this year’s coaches as Season 4’s Colombian hip-shaker Shakira and R&B star Usher rejoin Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and country music’s Blake Shelton? Pop diva Christina Aguilera injected some flash into the reality show, but she’s taking the season off. Crazy singer Cee-Lo Green also won’t be back, announcing Thursday on Ellen DeGeneres that he has quit the show. “I’m not coming back guys... I’m not coming back at all... I don’t want to wear out my welcome there.”
But neither of them are disappearing entirely. Aguilera, a divorced mother, just got engaged on Valentine’s Day to production assistant Matthew Rutler, whom she met on the set of 2010’s Burlesque, while Green (who is in the midst of finishing up a new album) will open for Lionel Richie on a summer tour. He’s also working on another TV project with NBC.
And while we’ll miss them, here’s my take on what to expect from the coaching staff this season on The Voice:
His unlikely bromance with Shelton — he does a mean impression of the vertically superior country star — will continue while he seeks out a singer with branding possibilities. Levine, 2013’s sexiest man alive according to People, is the master at this having recently branched out from music and his own label (signing The Voice’s second season runner-up Tony Lucca) to acting (American Horror Story, Can A Song Save Your Life?), his own fragrance and a menswear collection. He told host Carson Daly, he’ll do what he can to promote The Voice’s chosen winner: “Whenever we get a chance we bring everybody out on tour (with Maroon 5), the opening slot on a big show is extremely important to anyone trying to break.”
Let’s hope the guy who helped discover Justin Bieber finds a replacement soon given the Canadian singer’s woes of late. “This time losing is not an option,” said Usher on The Voice’s website and apparently he’s not beyond using seduction techniques — claiming there were 11 four-chair turns — when all four coaches turn around after the blind audition by contestants — on the new season. Promo spots show him dancing or using lines like “look at my eyes, my lips,” to get the much sought-after singers have him as their coach.
Lots of promotion about her upcoming new self-titled album due March 25, given she already got tongues wagging with the steamy video for her first saucy and upbeat hit single, Can’t Remember To Forget You, rolling around on a bed with Rihanna and smoking cigars. People say it’s promoting lesbianism but maybe they meant Lebanese-ism? (Shak’s father’s roots). Also featured on her new disc, a duet with Shelton, so expect a live performance from them. She told host Carson Daly she will be looking for the next Lorde, the 17-year-old New Zealander who just won two Grammys for her breakout hit, Royals: “I was specifically looking for young females this time around because I feel that’s my biggest area of expertise.”
To quote Loretta Lynn, the fun-loving Shelton will continue to be “cooking it country,” talent-wise. He arguably has the best track record of the coaches (winning three out of five seasons) and has launched the biggest star yet with Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope, whose solo debut, 2013’s Frame By Frame, debuted at No. 1 and 2, respectively on the country music charts in the U.S. and Canada. Pope told QMI Agency in an interview that Shelton has remained involved: “He’s been very encouraging. He’s proud about the album and he’s tweeted about it and he’ll text me and I’ll text him and just check in, so he’s very much still a friend.”
WHY IDOL ISN'T AFRAID OF THE VOICE
American Idol isn’t looking over its shoulder at The Voice. Yet.
But anything’s possible.
While Idol’s ratings continue to plummet, The Voice’s seem to keep increasing.
However, the biggest difference between the two shows: The Voice hasn’t produced one single big music star like American Idol has.
“I genuinely don’t care (about The Voice),” insisted Idol executive producer Ken Warwick to The Hollywood Reporter last year.
“I would possibly care if they come up with a star at the end of (their season) that’s bigger than the star I produce. But so far there’s been nobody, so I’m quite happy.”
However, The Voice did help squash that third reality singing show. Simon Cowell’s The X-Factor in the process which has been cancelled, and has also morphed into a desirable promotional platform for musicians like newbie New York duo A Great Big World.
They sang their re-recorded song, Say Something with sometime Voice judge Christina Aguilera, on the show and it vaulted to No. 1 on the digital charts. “It continues to be a launching pad and a shot of steroids for certain songs,” Joe Levy, editor of trade magazine Billboard, told Reuters.
A LOOK AT PAST WINNERS OF THE VOICE
The Voice has named five winners so far.
But, really, we use that term loosely. None of them have enjoyed the same high profile or album sales as American Idol winners like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, or Phillip Phillips post-The Voice. Here’s the rundown:
Season 1’s Javier Colon (coached by Adam Levine):
The inaugural Voice winner released a full-length album in 2011 (Come Through You), but this acoustic soul artist has since has been dropped from Universal’s Republic label.
Season 2’s Jermaine Paul (coached by Blake Shelton):
We are still waiting for this R&B-soul singer’s 2014 debut album tentatively titled somewhat appropriately, Finally.
Season 3’s Cassadee Pope (coached by Shelton):
The biggest success yet of The Voice with a No. 1 country album (Frame by Frame) debut in the U.S. and a No. 2 country album in Canada. “I definitely thought (The Voice) was my last big shot,” Pope told QMI, after subsequently being signed to an imprint of Big Machine Records — home to Taylor Swift — in Nashville.
Season 4’s Danielle Bradbery (coached by Shelton):
Her self-titled country debut album, also on Big Machine, came out Nov. 25, 2013, featuring the single, The Heart of Dixie, and she’s just been added to Hunter Hayes’ 2014 tour as an opening act.
Season 5’s Tessanne Chin (coached by Levine):
This Jamaican-born singer is poised to release her major label debut on Republic Records in 2014 and one track is confirmed to be a collaboration with Damian Marley. During the show, she was also the only contestant to hit No. 1 on the iTunes’ song chart twice, with her semifinals cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and her finale performance of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing.