If one is good, two must be better, right? That must be the thinking of the team behind “The Voice,” which is preparing for its first fall season tonight.
As usual, coaches Christina Aguilera, 2012 MTV Video Music Awards Best Pop Video nominee Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton will be facing off against another reality singing competition. Only this time instead of staring down the fading-but-still-formidable “American Idol” they’ll be duking it out with the second season of ex-“Idol” baddie Simon Cowell’s “X Factor.”
But don’t think they’re coming back with the same old bag of tricks. Producers have thrown a bunch of curveballs into the mix this time around, including a new wrinkle that will allow coaches to steal players from their fellow stars’ teams.
As usual, each coach will again start with 16 players chosen during the blind audition rounds, with the battle rounds cutting their ranks in half. But this time their rivals will have a chance to add two new faces to their team from the other coaches’ cut list.
They’re not making it easy on Christina, Adam, Cee Lo and Blake, though. Because then they’ll have to trim their teams down to five during knock-out rounds in which each singer will pick a song and perform it while the next man or woman up sits on a stool in a boxing ring awaiting their turn.
Once those rounds are over, the live shows will start airing at the end of October. With Britney Spears and VMA pre-show performer Demi Lovato making their debuts on “Factor” — which will air on a Wednesday-Thursday night schedule while “Voice” takes the Monday-Tuesday slots — viewers are in for some serious star power on both shows.
In addition to the contemporary hitmakers in the signature red chairs, Mary J. Blige, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Buble and Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas will be mentoring “Voice” contestants as well.
Compared to the drooping-but-still-leading ratings from “Idol,” which gave up its mantle as the #1 show on TV this year, “Factor” and “The Voice” have room to improve. Cowell’s “Factor” managed an average of 12.59 million viewers in its debut last fall, while “Voice” averaged 11.93 million in the spring.
But hints from “Voice” producer Mark Burnett that this may be the final ride for the original judging foursome may kick up the ratings rivalry even more than the action on the stage. And while Aguilera and Levine have had their fair share of sniping on the show, one thing we haven’t seen yet is claws coming out between former chart competitors and “Mickey Mouse Club” alums Spears and Xtina.
“I came up with Britney … we were very close,” Aguilera told reporters earlier this month. “Our paths have always crossed. They’re going to continue to cross. I welcome her to this family of fun and entertainment and finding new talent. Britney’s a pro.”
With modest sales so far from season one winner Javier Colon and runner-up Dia Frampton and the jury still out on this spring’s winner, Jermaine Paul, in addition to standing up to the “Factor,” if “The Voice” aims to climb to the top of the reality singing heap it is going to need to find the one this year.