March 22, 2013 7:00am PT by Ashley Lee
'The Voice': 10 Season 4 Survival Tips from Past Contestants
NBC's The Voice opens many doors for its singers, including working with music industry heavyweights, performing on national television and building a large fan base. With the season four premiere coming up March 25, The Hollywood Reporter touched base with season three favorites for their advice on conquering the NBC show’s biggest obstacles.
1. When THR asked the contestants for their number one tip for competing on The Voice, they unanimously echoed the words of last season's winner. "All they have to remember is to be themselves," says Cassadee Pope, whose win also gave Blake Shelton a second championship. "Authenticity draws people in, and it's what the audience relates to the most." Pope is set to tour this summer with Rascal Flatts and star in an upcoming CMT reality show.
2. Runner-up Terry McDermott notes that even contestants trained by touring should beware the demanding production schedule. “When we were getting into the deep, dark live rounds, we were getting to the point where you really didn’t have any time,” says the Scottish rocker. "They’d actually have the seats down in the van so that whoever was getting transported could catch 20 minutes of sleep. I actually ended up buying a big parka so that I could basically sleep in hallways and couches."
3. Cee Lo Green’s top crooner Nicholas David advises family men to invest in a tablet ASAP. “That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my gal and both kids since they were born,” says David of leaving his family for close to half a year in total. “[Except for the finale,] the show didn’t fly anybody out there, we had to do that out of our own pockets. … Target had a sale on iPads, and I bought the cheapest one so I could do the Skype thing.”
4. Amanda Brown suggests singers of Team Adam Levine to bring opinions and jokes to rehearsals. “The best thing to do is speak up and say what it is that you have in mind for yourself in the future, musically and on the show, and he does his very best to try and nurture that,” says Brown. “[We’re] both goofballs, so when we got together, there was a lot of laughing and goofing off.” Of Levine, Bryan Keith also warns, "His coaching is very fast; he’s like, 'I know you can do this, I already can hear that you can do this, so let’s just do it.' It helped because it put me under pressure."
5. As for future Team Blake contestants, Michaela Paige suggests prepping to meet the family, including Shelton’s mother and his wife Miranda Lambert. “Blake introduces you into his life; he wants to know more about you not just as an artist but as a person,” says Paige, who opened for Shelton at the Florida Strawberry Festival this month. “He doesn’t give up on us after the show; it’s not the end.”
6. Since social media updates are mandatory while competing, Melanie Martinez suggests strategizing for the long term. “It’s about making it fun for [fans], to keep yourself relevant so they don’t forget about you,” says Martinez. “With these singing shows, you forget about the people because they’re not on TV anymore. Have a name for the fans once the blind auditions come out, because that’s when everything starts. Post funny things, post a lot of pictures regarding the show, just post a lot!" She calls her fans "Little Bows" per her dad’s suggestion.
7. Despite being active on social media platforms, Cody Belew advises staying away from The Voice’s YouTube channel. “After about week two of it being on TV, I stopped looking at YouTube comments completely, because it seemed like YouTube was the place where it was the most nasty and vicious. It really did affect me in a way I wasn’t prepared for,” says Belew, who just penned a new original song for Heifer International.
8. Trevin Hunte hopes contestants use the early rounds to get used to singing for such large audiences, like he did. “I came to California for the first time and I was just focused on one thing: that was to make it far,” says Hunte, who will record a song for the soundtrack of From the Rough, starring Taraji P. Henson and the late Michael Clarke Duncan. “Performing, giving it my all and just hearing back all the good comments from the judges gave me the confidence that I needed to push on, push through the competition into the lives.”
9. Because every episode brings multiple eliminations, Adriana Louise of Team Christina Aguilera stresses the importance of song choice. “I probably would’ve gone a different round for some of the songs,” says Louise, who fought hard for a Kelly Clarkson song that helped surpass the knockout round. "Unfortunately, for some of the rounds, I didn’t get to choose them -- and looking back, maybe I should’ve fought harder, asked them to change it up."
10. But songs aren't the only thing worth speaking up for. “Make sure you feel comfortable, because the second you feel you’re being put in an outfit that you normally wouldn’t want, your performance isn’t going to seem genuine,” says Aguilera's Sylvia Yacoub, who admits the “really diva-tastic sparkly dresses” and hairdos stylists gave her weren’t her fit. “I would never actually step foot in a dress like that. … Sometimes you just gotta be like: ‘No, I’m sorry. This isn’t me.’ ”