American Idol singer Frenchie Davis. Mickey Mouse Club member Tony Lucca. The Voice has always been about giving talented singers a second chance at fame. Now, the show is giving its singers another second chance with a twist that could shake the game up in a big way: the Steal.
In the battle rounds, which kick off Monday at 8/7c on NBC, the coaches will have the opportunity to press their buttons once again — this time to steal a singer from another coach after that singer has lost their battle. "I have to say as a naturalized American, what the country is all about is second chances. And this is a second chance for people," executive producer Mark Burnett tells TVGuide.com. "When they hit those buttons and the lights come on, it's like, 'Wow!' I've been doing this long enough that I know when I see something magical happen."
The Steal comes after the early eliminations of front-runners — most memorably, Niki Dawson in the Season 1 battles. "As Niki Dawson walked out of the room, I think we all went, 'She has such a great talent. Wouldn't it be interesting if there would be a way to keep her?'" host Carson Daly says. "Cut to Season 3, and the Steal enables us to offer a second shot if another coach is so inclined."
Each coach will be allowed two steals throughout the battle rounds and — much like the blind auditions — the coaches will be forced to duke it out if more than one coach tries to steal a singer. "Like fantasy football, the Steal enables all of the coaches to be incentivized, to keep their eye on all of the teams, all the contestants," Daly says. "I think you'll see the Steals added a level of intensity. ... When we shot it, it was like Gladiator."
Burnett says that extra level of competition will give new weight to how each coach thinks about the battle rounds altogether. "Those battle choices become all the more important for the coach because they realize as they send someone home, that person may end up winning on someone else's team," he says.
The Steal not only allows fallen singers to redeem themselves, but also serves as redemption of sorts for the coaches if they are able to claim a singer they couldn't get on their team during the blind auditions. "That's when some of that friendly competition does kick in," coach Cee Lo Green says. "Because it's like, 'Great, now I get a chance to work with someone I thought, initially, that I could do a better job with them anyway."
The Steal will expand each coach's team to as many as 10 singers at the end of the battle rounds, which also means the introduction of an entirely new Knockout Round before the live shows begin. Although contestants will again have to battle another singer to make it through to the live shows, this time, each will get to perform their own song. "They're literally sitting there on the set watching the other person sing and then they switch places," Burnett says. "It's so tense because we're watching their face on that stage as they are watching the other person perform."
But is Burnett worried about changing the format too much and confusing the show's fans? "I think the viewers are very smart," he says. "Because of social media, we understand how extremely smart The Voice viewers are and how they get it." Burnett also highlights the importance of adding changes to his other reality hit, Survivor, which is now in its 25th season. "It's about evolving and having little shifts, but never losing the care value of a show," he says. "I'm sure this Steal format shift will become permanent. It's great."
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC. What do you think of the Steal? Are you excited to see the new Knockout Round?