The Voice returns Monday (March 25), and we’re not going to lie: even though part of us is going to miss the ongoing wardrobe weirdness from Cee Lo and Christina Aguilera, we cannot wait to see how Shakira and Usher fill their coaching shoes (you know, the few times Cee Lo actually wore shoes on the show). The new judges joining veterans Blake Shelton and Adam Levine are just slated for this season at the moment, with the idea that if successful, all six will be in rotation on the bi-annual show.
Season 3 brought with it new rules, including the game-changing judge’s steal, and these rules will stay status quo in Season 4. What won’t stay business as usual is the dynamic coming from the red chairs. While there’s no reported Nicki Minaj vs. Mariah Carey drama, the new additions will mean revved up competition between the four teams.
There’s A She Wolf In The Judges
“Never underestimate at 5’3” Columbian girl,” Shakira warns the fellow members of her panel, and the boys sitting next to her in their red chairs should take note. The claws on the “She Wolf” come out…in good fun, natch. Early clips from The Voice auditions features Shakira — still super pregnant during the auditions — holding her own in the boys club. It didn’t take her long to nail the idiosyncratic behavior of her fellow judges and put Blake and Adam’s teasing bromance to shame. She’s already mastered Blake’s still-happening-three-seasons-later finger-pointing, Usher’s swagger-sitting and Adam’s propensity for tiny tees. Shakira is quick with a dig as well, standing up for her rookie status by telling contestants, “These two guys have three seasons already. They’re almost deaf!”
Usher Is Taking Himself Very Seriously
ICYMI: Usher discovered Justin Bieber, and he wants to make damn sure everyone knows it. “Everybody knows that I’m associated with Justin Bieber and being a mentor; now here’s my opportunity to do it in front of the world with 12 contestants,” the Voice newcomer says (and will likely say over and over again for the next few months). The “Climax” singer, it seems, takes his role as a mentor very seriously. “I think I’m super serious,” he says. “I think my style is just like more military than anything because I’m all about the preparation.”
That “military” style, incidentally, does not include any of the bedazzled showmanship that his soul-singing predecessor, Cee Lo, embraced. That means, for better or worse, Season 4 will be without Lady Bird, Purrfect and every WTF outfit Mr. Green managed to get past wardrobe.
Blake And Adam Will Show No Mercy
Will veteran coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton take the newbies gently under their wings? Not so much. If you want something that heartwarming, there’s always Intervention. Blake puts it in Oklahoman terms, saying, “Last thing you want to do is hand somebody a bullet for their gun in this competition.” Did this just become The Hunger Games?
The returning coaches are as competitive as ever. Blake continues to tout his two team victories while wooing prospects, and Adam is more driven than ever for another win. The two both use their experience to cut down Usher and Shakira. During the auditions, Blake says, “I hate to see someone as talented and beautiful as her end up as an experiment on two different coaches who have never even been on this show before.” Adam, in turn, dismisses the newbies, asking contestants, “You really trust these rookies?” Burn.
As an added bonus, promos show Blake and Adam plotting some serious hazing for the new coaches, which we can only hope includes replacing the spin button with an ejector button on the famous red chairs.
Top Notch Mentors
In addition to new coaches, The Voice has new mentors guiding the contestants along. Lady Antebellum‘s Hillary Scott, who collaborated with Maroon 5 on Hands All Over, will show the way for Team Adam. Sheryl Crow joins team Blake (she has a country album coming later this year). Former The Voice Australia coach Joel Madden joins Team Shakira and rapper-producer Pharrell Williams joins Team Usher.
Shakira Will Play The Harmonica
You read that right. All four judges kick off the season premiere with a performance of The Beatles‘ “Come Together,” featuring Blake and Usher on guitar, Adam on the drums and Shakira shaking her hips behind the harmonica. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
The performances won’t stop there. Season 3, otherwise known as “The Longest Lotus Commercial Ever,” certainly benefitted coaches with projects to promote. While there is no album of Lotus proportions coming out, expect plenty of self-promotional performances this season. From the mentors, Hillary Scott’s Lady Antebellum has a new LP dropping in May, and Sheryl Crow has a 2013 release of her own. Blake Shelton’s Based On A True Story ever so coincidentally releases the day after The Voice premiere, so perhaps he is the Xtina of Season 4. Usher has also been making some compelling noise lately, including an Afghan Whigs collaboration at SXSW and a studio session with Jermaine Dupri just last week.
Of course, Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope and close runners-up Nicholas David, Terry McDermott and Trevin Hunt will make a grand return, because, honestly, what else are they doing?
What remains to be seen, however, is if executive producer Mark Burnett’s dream of all six coaches on stage together comes true this season. We can always dream…but we will likely wait until (at least) Season 5.