Interesting, the jockeying for position among singing competition shows before the kickoff of the 2012-2013 season. While Simon Cowell has been teasing his new “X Factor” judges by letting the world know Britney Spears has turned out to be Quite Mean, NBC’s “The Voice” team made a point of stressing that they have no desire to be mean — or negative at all.
“We’re not interested in being on a show where we rip people. That was a common theme,” said Adam Levine, who turned out to talk to press about the show at producer Mark Burnett’s posh Malibu home the other day, along with his fellow “The Voice” music superstar coaches — Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, as well as host Carson Daly.
“And it proved something. The blind auditions replaced the need to find terrible singers and rip them,” added Burnett, referring to the early audition rounds full of non-talents and scathing critiques so familiar to “American Idol” audiences.
“I really have been averse to it,” Levine went on. “I personally have never experienced a positive feeling — I don’t like to see that. It looks like someone getting bullied and it makes me sad, it really does. I don’t like to watch.”
His fellow coaches – remember, on “The Voice,” they’re more into coaching than judging –agreed.
Aguilera even had kind words for Britney, who, of course, she’s been getting sized up against since their “Mickey Mouse Club” days together.
“I know she’s a pro and she’s going to give, I think, great advice,” said the pop star, resplendent with blond and lavender hair for the panel. “I don’t know the format of the other shows. I just know the format of the show I’m on. But I welcome these very talented women. Especially in my genre of pop, the media gets in there to pit us against one another and women against women, this and that, and you know, I’m just not down for that at this point in my life. I have no patience for it, so I’m like, come on, the more the merrier. She’ll have fun with it.”
Considering the fact that this year, “X Factor” will be going toe to toe with “The Voice” – “The Voice” launches Sept. 10 and “X Factor” two days later — Aguilera is likely going to find comparisons impossible to avoid. (“American Idol” returns mid-season.)
The wide-ranging talk, accompanied by the sounds of surf and sea birds near the beachside grounds of Burnett’s home, also covered the topic of celebrity mentors.
Green talked about reaching out to artists with whom he has personal relationships and friendships, like Prince and Rob Thomas, to work with his up-and-comers. Levine has Mary J. Blige. Aguilera has Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.
Armstrong wasn’t a friend, she said, when she went after him to be a mentor for her team. But they did have mutual respect. With his “punk, badass” persona, “He brings a whole different energy and different advice than I would give from a female pop star perspective. He comes from a completely different world and kind of puts a whole new spin on everything,” she observed.
Blake Shelton’s bringing in Michael Buble. Their paths have converged a surprising number of times, considering they, too, are from different musical worlds. Shelton noted that he had a country hit with a Buble song, then they worked together on a David Foster special, and a Shelton Christmas album. “We’ve become friends – as close friends as you can be when he lives in Vancouver, and I live in Oklahoma,” Shelton said. When it came time to adding a new mentor for “The Voice,” “I thought, ‘This is a no-brainer.”
The joking, teasing, competitive camaraderie between the coaches that is one of “The Voice’s” greatest assets was also on display. Talking about their crammed schedules, Burnett noted that Shelton had been juggling tour dates, and in fact had just made a whirlwind trip back and forth to Washington.
“Is that what Blake told you? You guys are so gullible. Tour!” cracked Levine – who was, himself, leaving for South America tour dates the next morning. The show’s social media maven, Christina Milian, noted that the four singers can do dead-on imitations of one another.
Daly noted that we’ll see more of Green, Aguilera, Levine and Shelton performing this coming season, “because that’s what they do.”
But what about “The Voice” come spring? Burnett admits that the “matrix of tour dates of these artists is a producer’s nightmare” in terms of scheduling. “We’re all talking, all the time.”
“I want to do it,” said Green.
“We all want this to work,” said Levine.
But there is a chance that the current foursome might help bring in substitutes for themselves to fill in. “The good news is we’re all friends; we’re all openly talking about it all the time,” said Burnett, who stressed that he and his team knew what they were signing up for when they became involved with touring musical stars at the top of their game. “This is really like family.”