10 Things You Need to Know About NBC's 'The Voice'

9:52 AM PST 04/26/2011 by Lesley Goldberg
Courtesy of NBC Universal

From the chairs to the winnings, THR breaks down NBC’s new singing competition series.

As another ratings-plagued television season comes to a close, NBC brass is banking on The Voice to cut through.

Network executives were hopeful that its highly publicized singing competition series would fill a void created by viewers’ waning interest in a post-Simon Cowell American Idol. But the Fox juggernaut hasn’t stumbled, instead finding new life with judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. Now NBC is optimistic that The Voice -- and its “coaches” Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Maroon 5 signer-guitarist Adam Levine, along with emcee Carson Daly -- can find its footing among an increasingly growing singing competition field. Produced by reality powerhouse Mark Burnett (Survivor) and adapted from The Voice of Holland, NBC’s entry into the field is as different from Idol as it is similar.

After getting an early look at the series, The Hollywood Reporter breaks down 10 things you need to know about The Voice.

1. Focus on quality: Instead of weeding through open auditions a la American Idol, The Voice’s A&R team went out looking for performers, upping the overall performance. While some of the auditions are challenging, there aren’t any colossal train wrecks like we’ve seen on Idol. 

2. Traces of Survivor: Once contestants have joined a team, the Battle Round begins, where coaches select two of their own teammates to go head-to-head in a performance of the same song. Coaches then consult one another on each performer’s merit, offering feedback that could potentially sabotage each other. During the premiere, a rivalry between Levine and Aguilera is born as they go head-to-head for many of the same contestants. Blake, meanwhile, seems to stick to the country music genre for which he’s known, while Green is more of the risk-taker -- and flirt -- of the bunch.

3. More Paula Abdul, less Simon Cowell: While Idol has been known to be brutally honest, the format for The Voice celebrates the performers and is more Paula Abdul, less Simon Cowell. Aguilera cemented that, saying: “At the end of the day, that's what The Voice is really about -- emotion and touching people.” Banter between coaches is lively and funny, with Levine standing out as the class clown as he vies to land contestants in ties with his fellow coaches. And the coaches know their stuff: The four have 32 Grammy nominations and 11 wins between them. 

4. Emcee Daly, meanwhile, told THR  that his style is more in line with Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay than Ryan Seacrest and will cut right to the chase. “I watch a lot of Hell’s Kitchen and what I like about him is his honesty and the way he carries himself on camera,” he said. “Music is my cooking -- it’s what I’m passionate about -- and the artists are like my chefs. I thought a about what I enjoy when I watch him on TV, and I realized that it’s his no B.S. approach.

5. It tweets: Twitter is worked into the show with #TheVoice hash tag prominently displayed, as rivalry tweets between coaches and messages of support to both contestants and those who fail to make it regularly appearing on screen. Sibling network Comedy Central found success with the hash tag strategy last month with its Donald Trump roast.

6. Come one, come all: Duos, semi-professionals and former reality series contestants are all welcome. Season 2 American Idol contestant Frenchie Davis  -- who was disqualified in 2003 after racy photos surfaced -- is among those featured in the premiere.

7. It takes advantage the Glee effect: All songs performed on the show are immediately available for purchase on Apple’s iTunes. Idol didn’t begin offering iTunes availability until Season 7, when only live performances and studio recordings were offered. Idol has since expanded its offerings and now includes weekly studio recordings and compilation albums after performance night.

8. Green turned down Cowell’s X Factor. The coach recently told reporters that he was “unfamiliar with the concept of The X Factor. 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.”

9. Hot seats: The much-hyped Star Trek-like chairs only stick around for the first two episodes -- the time in which it takes the coaches to pick their team members. The large buttons attached to the desks signal when a coach wants to select the performer for his/her team and prompts the chair to turn and face the stage. “I love that I get to sit with my back turned away and use one sense alone: to hear these voices,” Aguilera said.

10. Less may be more: The winner will receive a $100,000 recording contract with Universal Republic. Cowell’s X Factor, meanwhile, will reward its winner with a $5 million deal. 

The Voice’s two-hour premiere airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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