NBC’s The Voice isn’t pulling any punches when it debuts April 26 at 9 p.m. And neither is musician coach Cee Lo Green.
Green, who had been offered a high-profile gig on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor but signed on to the Mark Burnett-produced rival instead, told reporters that he turned it down because he was simply “unfamiliar with the concept of The X Factor.”
He added of Cowell’s upcoming singing competition, “I knew the name and I knew the parties involved, but as an enterprise, I didn’t know what made it distinctive enough. Quite honestly, I felt like American Idol and these other entities had run their course.” (He admits the series has since improved with new hosts Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.)
With The Voice launching just as Fox juggernaut American Idol is ending its 10th season and Cowell’s U.S. version of X Factor preparing for its fall debut, Green and the rest of the panelists are ready for a showdown.
“Not only do we have a competitive spirit amongst ourselves, but also we’ll compete with these other shows as well,” said Green at NBCU’s summer press day. “And I like this one better.”
An exclusive clip from The Voice was shown during the session, featuring a spine-tingling performance from the four musician coaches, Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera, singing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” (Reporters also got a first look at how a contestant gets chosen by the musician coaches and a brief taste of their warm rapport.)
“There will be some more [performances by the coaches],” Burnett said, with host Carson Daly joking to Green and Shelton that they could do a Hall & Oates cover. “Its a matter of getting [rehearsal time].”
“When we shot that opening sequence, it was fun to be a fly on the wall ... with the four musicians [trying to figure it out],” Daly said of the “Crazy” performance. “We probably only did three passes on that song.”
Daly, who spent years hosting MTV’s Total Request Live, has high hopes for the future of music on television. “Television is still the most powerful medium, especially in music. You see that with Idol’s numbers,” he said. “Behind the success of that show ... is people’s passion for music and The Voice is a brand new, fresh take on that.”
In response to a question about whether there would be any contestants who are there for their entertainment value rather than their talent, Burnett said, “It was only about the voice, 100 percent. You will not see people [performing] for a joke.”