Can ‘The Voice’ improve on its surprising first season?

Host Carson Daly, singers Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton

It’s a hit!
Those spinning chairs were more than a gimmick when “The Voice” premiered last April.  
Judge/mentor Adam Levine, frontman of Maroon 5, credits the series’ “blind” auditions — the mentors choose their teams on the strength of the contestants’ performance before laying eyes on any of them — for striking a chord with TV viewers who have plenty of viewing options when it comes to singing competitions. “It is a very tired format in a lot of ways,” he says, “but this is a completely fresh, new way of doing it.”

It’s still all about the voice
Giving incredibly talented singers who may not have “mainstream” pop star looks — like Season 1 standout Beverly McClellan — a chance at stardom “is actually the sole factor of why I signed up and said yes to doing the show in the first place,” says judge/mentor Christina Aguilera. “It really gives artists like Beverly, who isn’t so commercially approachable as far as being your ideal pop star, per se, [a chance]. We all like to see a visual package that all makes sense and is cute and wrapped up in a bow and things like that. [‘The Voice’] is not about that. It’s about taking it back to the real heart of music and being moved by it.”

They’ll offer criticism, but never be mean
“There’s a difference between being critical and kind of willfully just mean,” Levine says, abstrusely referring to other famous singing competition judges. “There’s a constructive way to tell someone that they weren’t as good as they could have been and what tools can you give them to help them become better at what they do. Using the tactic of, ‘Oh, you were terrible,’ doesn’t really get us anywhere. So that’s kind of our mission statement, I think.”

Thankfully, the competition starts out with such a high caliber of talent. Painful performances aren’t a common occurrence.

“Even if someone has an off night, you can be honest enough to say, ‘This wasn’t your best,’ rather than, ‘You suck,’” says Levine. “That’s just such a completely silly, unproductive thing to say.”


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