Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine, the four “coaches” for the upcoming Mark Burnett-produced NBC reality singing competition The Voice, have been in L.A. this week getting to know one another and doing photo shoots in preparation for the start of taping next week. (The series debuts April 26.) “When you get down to it, sure, it’s another reality create-a-star-on-television America-votes type show, but the process of getting there is like nothing else I’ve ever seen,” says Shelton, a former Nashville Star judge and Clash of the Choirs choir director. “Every different level along the way just creates more entertainment. And what I love about it, and was talking to Adam about, is it’s not like you’ll see on American Idol where they build this story and there’s drama and it’s sad. This is all just so much fun.”
Shelton says his favorite part of the format is the first round of competition, the blind audition phase. NBC describes it thusly: “The coaches hear the contestants perform but they don’t get to see them thanks to rotating chairs. If a coach is impressed by the contestant’s voice, he/she pushes a button to select the contestant for his/her team. At this point, the coach’s chair will swivel so that he/she can face the contestant he/she has selected. If more than one coach selects the talent, the power shifts to the contestant, who may choose which coach he/she wants to work with throughout the competition.” Shelton is hoping that role reversal happens a lot. “A great singer, we’re all gonna have an ear for it and try to get him for our team, and I love the idea that it’s up to the contestant then to shut three of us down and tell us, ‘No, you didn’t make it,’” he says. What does Shelton, one of country music’s biggest and beloved smartasses, plan on saying to contestants considering choosing another coaches over him? “I would tell ‘em how the other artists are truly losers and that they didn’t really do anything to get themselves to the point they’re at in their career. They counted on other people. I, on the other hand, did it completely by myself and if they pick the other artist, there’s a good chance they’ll lose the entire competition,” he deadpans. “You know, just helpful tips like that.” Which judge does he expect to be his biggest competition? “I don’t know him that well, but sittin’ across that table looking at Cee Lo Green [Tuesday], I started feelin’ my chest puffin’ up because I was thinkin’, Man, I’m gonna wear a Superman or Batman costume one day just to try to outdo whatever he comes in there wearin’. I’m just gonna compete with him on how the guy dresses. That will be a handful for me.”
In round two of the competition, the battle phase, the coaches mentor their chosen singers and pit two of their own team members against each other to sing the same song together in front of a studio audience. The coach will then choose which of his/her singers will advance. The remaining contestants advance to the live shows. Per NBC, “In this final performance phase of the competition, the top contestants from each team will compete against each other during a live broadcast. The television audience will vote to save one talent on each team, leaving the coach to decide live who they want to save and who will not move on. At last, each coach will have their best contestant left standing to compete in the finale. From these four, one will be named ‘The Voice’ – and will receive the grand prize of a recording contract and $100,000. After two-hour episodes on April 26 and May 3, the show settles into its regular one-hour timeslot, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, on May 10. Country fans know Shelton and Miranda Lambert have set a May 14 wedding date. Will that need to change? “No, I don’t know how it all worked out, and I’m sure they didn’t cater to my situation, but luckily, it doesn’t interfere with our wedding or any of the time that we had off for it,” he confirms. Does he already have a song picked out for their first dance? ”No, I don’t. But I guarantee you, whatever song it is, it’s gonna be a slow song because I can’t dance, but I’m still good at the old middle-school put-your-arms-around-each-other’s-necks-and-rock-back-and-forth. I mastered that,” he says. “So it’ll probably be ‘You’re the Inspiration’ or something like that that we slow dance to.” Told you he was a smartass.
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