Where have all the harsh judges gone? Following Simon Cowell's 9-year mean streak on American Idol, it's become increasingly difficult to find a tough-talking judge on singing competition shows like The X Factor and Idol.
However, The Voice's four coaches insist they're getting tougher this time around.
"This year, we are diving more into critiquing. ... You see us more in depth in the coaching process," Christina Aguilera told reporters at NBC's Winter TV preview Friday. "I think this year you're going to see it more. Last year we were all finding our own comfort zone."
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Just don't expect things to get too ugly. "There's a different between critical and willfully just mean. There's a constructive way to tell someone they weren't as good as they could have been," Adam Levine said. "Telling someone they were terrible doesn't get us anywhere."
Even so, the coaches said the amount of talent this season will make it harder for the claws to come out often. "The talent level is so high there aren't too many God-awful performances even if someone has an off night," Levine said. "It made our jobs really difficult because everybody was really, really good."
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Much like last year, the harshest words will be the ones the coaches throw at each other in their season-long quest to mentor the winning contestant."You get the excitement factor of the family bantering and bickering, but it's with each other," Aguilera said.
Also getting in on the bickering? Each coach will bring on two advisers to work with their contestants during the battle rounds. Lionel Richie and Jewel will be on Team Christina, Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson will help out Team Blake, Alanis Morissette and Robin Thicke will work with Team Adam and Ne-Yo and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds will advise Team Cee Lo. "I just thought that it was important to bring on people who would know how to give advice," Aguilera said. "It does take a certain level of skill and approachability to know how to go into a situation and coach up-and-coming artists."
Added Blake Shelton: "[Lambert and Clarkson] both survived reality television shows. I just wanted somebody who could talk to them about what they're going through. ... And also they're both really hot."
The new season of The Voice premieres Sunday, Feb. 5 on NBC right after the Super Bowl.