The new season of The Voice finds Shakira and Usher stepping in for Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. Rolling Stone recently got a chance to see how they fit in when NBC screened the season premiere for a handful of journalists in L.A.
The two new coaches prove to be an excellent addition, as viewers can see for themselves in this clip from the premiere. While Judith Hill (fans may recognize her from her performance at the Michael Jackson memorial) gets all four coaches to turn around with her rendition of Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants,” the highlight of this teaser comes when a spot-on Shakira mocks her fellow coaches for their mannerisms – Blake Shelton’s finger-pointing, Adam Levine’s penchant for showing off his tattoos and Usher’s cocksure manner of sitting in his chair with his leg up.
Talking to Rolling Stone at a luncheon following the screening, the show’s creator, Mark Burnett, said he thinks viewers will gain new insight into the new judges. “I don’t think you really know Usher and Shakira,” he said. “Over the next three or four months, you get to know them as people.”
His kids learned something from the new season’s opening performance, which saw all four judges performing the Beatles’ “Come Together.” “My kids have been around this business their whole lives, and they’re like, ‘Dad, Usher plays guitar?’ Then Shakira with the harmonica . . . you can tell how good they really are.”
As Burnett points out, these judges are at the peak of their respective genres, unlike certain other stars. “Some other shows, possibly, people think they’re trying to salvage careers. Our people are already at the top. I think that’s a fair statement,” he says, adding of the four coaches, “They’re not needing anything – they want to do it.”
To Burnett, that the coaches are in it for the right reasons has been a big key to his show’s continued success. “They’re having fun, and I think what’s also important is they can put the need of these aspiring, genuinely heartfelt people ahead of themselves,” he says.