When NBC’s The Voice started out, “People thought we were pretty crazy to try and put another singing competition on network television,” host Carson Daly says. “X-Factor was starting and American Idol was still the biggest show on television.”
But The Voice offered a brand new format within the genre of competition singing: mentors rather than judges; blind auditions and encouragement over criticism. “It was just a different approach,” Daly says. “The blind auditions are still some of the best primetime family viewing. It’s a simple concept, but it’s very pure and very fair.”
While Idol eventually quit after 15 seasons amid falling ratings, The Voice picked up three Critics’ Choice awards and two Emmys. Its hook lies mainly in the revolving door of top-notch coaches. “Having the coaches change out for shows like Idol was always a sign of trouble,” Daly says. “We’ve had the exact opposite approach, because our coaches are all musicians first. Everybody knows Christina Aguilera’s going to go tour, or Usher or Shakira, so I think that’s been a part of what’s helped preserve the excitement of The Voice. And we’ve had advisors. We had Chris Martin and Taylor Swift; we just had Pink. At this point, we’ve had almost everybody be a part of the show one way or the other.”
Going forward, Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys will join the coaches’ panel. “It will be the first time we’ve had two women,” Daly says. “Miley’s a very outgoing personality. It’s well documented. Alicia is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and obviously, one of the most prolific in music with 15 Grammys and 60 million records sold. Now that we do have gender balance, and it’s happening during an election year, I think it’s really, really great. I think it’s important.”
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