There’s a much larger chorus behind "The Voice,” as the hit singing competition enters its second season.
Not only did the success of the debut season lure a strong batch of aspiring singers to try out for the show, it also helped the four celebrity mentors recruit some powerhouse music industry hit-makers to assist them in molding and shaping the hopefuls into radio-ready pop stars.
Christina Aguilera will be backed by Jewel and Lionel Richie. Adam Levine recruited Alanis Morrisette and Robin Thicke. Cee-Lo Green brought on Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and Nee-Yo; Blake Shelton drafted Kelly Clarkson and Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert.
Each celebrity mentor had some specific logic behind their picks for the show, which premieres after the Super Bowl Feb. 5 on NBC.
“I just thought it was important to bring on people who would know how to give advice,” said Aguilera of the additions. “A lot of artists in the business are true artists in the sense that that's all that they do, and they're great at being that. But it does take a certain level of skill and approachability to be able to know how to go into a situation and coach an up‑and‑coming artist. And so I really wanted to choose people who I knew were going to be good at giving the advice, who have had the experience.”
Shelton says while it certainly seemed easy to persuade his wife to join the team, he actually had a strategy behind it.
“I chose Miranda and Kelly Clarkson because they both survived reality talent television shows,” he admits. “A lot of people don't realize Miranda was on a show called ‘Nashville Star’ and placed third and managed to come out of that and get a record deal and build on her fan base that she got through that show.
"And of course, we all know what Kelly did. To me, I just wanted somebody that could talk to them about what they're going through a little bit about maybe being on television the first time and how to handle that and how to appropriate it. That's how I picked my advisors... And also they're both really hot.
The lack of mean-spiritedness and snarky digs in the mentors’ critiques – a staple on most other competition series – and a genuinely gifted talent pool that’s hard to knock may be another reason the show struck a different chord, says Levine.
“The talent level, especially this year, is so high that there aren't too many God-awful performances,” the singer explains. “And even if someone has an off night, you can be honest enough to say ‘This wasn't your best,’ rather than ‘You suck.’ That's just such a completely silly, unproductive thing to say.”
Singer/actress Christina Milian is also joining the team this season, serving as “The Voice’s” social media correspondent and overseeing the Internet for viewer reaction to the new competitors.
“Last season it was top in social media engagement, compared to a lot of shows,” says Milian. “As you could see, everybody is just very, very engaged with them. They speak their minds, and people just want to be involved. They want to have the exclusive content. They want to know more, and I feel very fortunate: as a recording artist, I understand what's going on with the show, being a singer. People just want to be engaged more.”
The voice debuts after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.