By Zachary Swickey
Many people thought NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” – which features songstress Christina Aguilera, country crooner Blake Shelton, Cee-Lo “Eff You” Green and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine as judges/mentors – would get swept under the rug considering “American Idol” has long had a stranglehold on the competitive singing market. Turns out, folks loved it, and the new season is gearing up to be a much bigger production with more singers, more blind rounds and a massive premiere.
Season two is set to kickoff in one of the most coveted television spots around – the slot immediately following the Super Bowl – and production is already well underway. This year the four teams will expand to twelve singers per coach, a significant increase from last year’s eight. Billboard spoke to the judges about the forthcoming season and Aguilera was quick to note the variety of singers the show will spotlight, saying, “I have everything from an opera singer to a powerhouse MC to soul singers.”
“We’re gonna make the Super Bowl look small,” Shelton confidently claimed.
Though season one is already in the rearview mirror, the judges haven’t left their old contestants high and dry – Levine reportedly appears on several tracks for last year’s winner Javier Colon’s debut album, which will be released through Universal on Nov. 22 and features production duties from Pharrell Williams.
Shelton has branched out from his country roots by taking two of his finalists, Dia Frampton and Xenia, out on the road and helping them work on their albums even though they aren’t the most country-tastic musicians. As last year’s runner-up, Frampton plans on releasing her new single, “The Broken Ones,” in a few weeks with an album to follow in December, while Xenia has a duet with Jon McLaughlin (“Maybe It’s Over”) and an album reportedly in the works.
Shelton couldn’t praise his girls enough. “It’s easy to forget what it’s like to not have (success). Xenia and Dia rejuvenated me – maybe that’s why I got so attracted to those two. They made me feel alive again,” he told Billboard.
There was no mention of Aguilera’s finalist, Beverly McClellan, however, she has reportedly entered the studio. Green’s singer, Vicci Martinez is writing and recording with the Grammy-nominated Matrix production team (who’ve worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Korn).
Show producer Mark Burnett is confident that Colon will return for a performance on the show, but was mum on any possible new material from the judges. The show’s popularity proved a boon to the panel. “Moves Like Jagger” by Levine’s Maroon 5 featuring Aguilera went to numero uno on the Billboard Hot 100 – Aguilera’s first appearance in the top spot in a decade (she last had a No. 1 in 2001 with “Lady Marmalade”) while Shelton’s “Honey Bee” held strong on the country charts and his cover of “Footloose” is beginning to gain some momentum.