Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green
To hear Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine tell it, NBC's upcoming singing competition The Voice will be nothing like American Idol.
For one thing, there will be no mean-spirited judges. For another, there will be no "judges."
"I think it's less about being judgmental and more about helping the singers out," he said Tuesday during a press conference. "That's kind of a dirty word, here on The Voice... Judge. Judging."
Blake Shelton rounds out coaching staff on The Voice
Indeed, The Voice works like this: Four coaches — Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton — will train contestants before they're voted on by the general public and a winner is crowned. But before that — and here's the big twist — the coaches themselves will select the talent through a series of blind auditions — blind as in they won't be able to see the auditioner and will base their decisions only on what they hear.
To aid in this, the coaches will be seated in big red chairs facing away from the contestants during their performances. Should they like what they hear, they'll hit a button that will swing their chair forward. If more than one coach digs a contestant, it will be up to the contestant to decide which coach they want to train with.
NBC, Mark Burnett starting reality series to rival Idol
Auditions have been taking places across the country for months and series executive producer Mark Burnett says he believes every contestant they've picked to be on the show will get "three or four" chairs to turn.
"They'll be judging solely on what they hear," Burnett said, adding that the question becomes, "Does that voice move them?"
For Aguilera, that doesn't necessarily mean contestants should throw in a bunch of fancy runs. "I'm not looking for vocal acrobatics or who has the biggest range," she said. "I really sincerely just want to be moved by raw talent. ... Hopefully, I can have a hand in bringing up that talent."
To do that, each coach will use whatever they have in their disposal — from producers and songwriters they've worked with and even other artists — to help the contestants. (It's a concept similar to the use of mentors in Simon Cowell's The X Factor, launching in the U.S. on Fox this fall.)
"I'm looking forward to helping them find out what makes them unique and working with that, rather than trying to mold them," Aguilera said. "We're not just making commentary and going home and that's the end. ... We're getting completely involved."
Fortunately for the coaches, host Carson Daly, who has seen some of the goods, says he's impressed. "The level of talent that has already been found for this show, I can attest... is above and beyond, leaps and bounds beyond, the level of competition that I've ever seen on any other competition show," he said. "And that includes the winners of those shows."
The Voice is based on a Dutch format that launched with considerable success in the Netherlands last year. Check out a clip demonstrating how it works below. The performance starts at 1:17:
The Voice premieres on Tuesday, April 26 at 9/8c on NBC. Will you watch?