As NBC’s successful series The Voice begins its live shows this week, the four judges, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and newcomers Usher and Shakira spoke with TV journalists about the fourth season, which has ratings that top American Idol every week.
The show’s innovative format, which spotlights the strongest vocalists across the country, features four stages of competition: the blind auditions, the battle rounds, the knockouts, and finally the live performance shows.
Adam and Blake, were you nervous coming back to the show with two new judges?
Adam: I don’t think we were nervous. We were certainly curious to see what the chemistry would be when the new guy and gal came, but I think [NBC] were beyond happy. There’s a lot of chemistry. You never know.
It could have not existed, but it does, and we are very thankful.
Blake: I was a little bit nervous just because I knew how well the show was doing, and it was beating the odds.
It was a music talent show in a world where there’s a lot of those, and we knew we had something that worked. And I had never met either one of these two before.
The one thing that you can’t fake is chemistry. And I’ll be damned if it’s not as strong as it’s ever been with the four of us. I love that. I’m proud of that.
Whoever picked them knew that they weren’t dealing with artists with egos. They were dealing with really good people, and that’s what makes it work.
Usher and Shakira, how did you prepare to do the show?
Shakira: Something that is very distinctive about this show is how real it is. There’s nothing fake about it. And, honestly, I didn’t get any kind of preparation.
I was like a Christian in Roman times. I was thrown to the lions with no rehearsal time. [NBC] told me, ‘Just be yourself. It’s all about being spontaneous.’ And that’s what I think is awesome about the show.
Usher: They didn’t need us in order for the show to work. It just speaks to the credibility that they really wanted the show to represent, by coming to us to be in it.
I was very proud of what I saw before, but what I brought was years of experience and just an opinion based off of not only my own career, but also being able to mentor other artists (including Justin Bieber).
Adam: To Usher’s credit, he really did do the real-life version of what we do on this show, which is that he mentored a career, someone who became extremely successful, and that’s worth its weight in gold coming into this process, because none of us have done that.
Usher: It’s shows like this that truly do make careers. And in addition to being a mentor, I was actually an artist who was on a show similar to it as a child. So I was 100 percent game.
Usher, can you talk about the now infamous one-leg-up tactic?
Blake: Oh, it’s deadly.
Usher: I think everybody has their own thing. I felt the first thing I should do was to be my best self. The network was originally against it, [they said], ‘You should take your foot down because we don’t think that that’s going to read well.’ Well, it worked
There is the freedom to be yourself and allow you to just let your hair down. It’s such a fun environment. It’s like we are having a friendly game at home.
Adam: Shakira said it’s like a game of Monopoly. I think that’s actually a really good analogy because it’s so much fun. Blake can be the thimble. That would be very appropriate.
Blake: What do you mean by that?
Adam: For reasons I cannot disclose!