‘The Voice’s’ Mission Is to Entertain, Not Launch a Superstar

"The Voice": Carson Daly, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

The original cast might be back together for Season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice,” but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more changes in store when the show premieres Sept. 23. “A Carson Daly striptease” could be coming your way, “Voice” coach Adam Levine teased when discussing the series at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles on Saturday.

But the big question reporters had for the reunited coaches was how they plan to stop Blake Shelton (who was not present on the panel), who’s won three seasons of “The Voice” in a row.

“Well, I understand that I am coming back to ‘The Blake Shelton Show’ at this point,” returning coach Christina Aguilera joked. “He was like, ‘I’m so glad that you re-signed your contract with me.'”

“Trust me, I hate the fact that Blake won three in a row,” Adam Levine admitted. “But winning isn’t always the point. I think that as long as we do our jobs and teach them [our teams] what we know and help them along, honestly, we win, you know.”

Aguilera added, “I think we can all agree it’s the contestants that do win at the end of the day, and not us. But, you know, if anybody were to win three in a row, I mean, Blake keeps it funny.”

But Carson Daly says they’re always looking for ways to improve the show. “If we do see a drop-off [in ratings], we reserve the right to introduce a new feature to the format that breathes new life into it,” he says. “The Steal,” for example, was conceived as a way to keep some of the show’s most talented singers from leaving the competition too early.

Besides, it’s almost harder for a show so stacked with talent to impress and engage the viewers. When everyone’s great, it almost becomes less exciting. “To have a show like this that goes from s****y singers to great singers is easy,” Daly says. “But to have a show where we come at you day one, episode one … [with] really good singers — the journey for this show, going from really good to just effing great, is where ‘The Voice’ lives. And that’s a great, great television show.”

Aguilera says her time as a viewer and not as a coach helped renew her interest in the show. “I caught an episode of last season and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, I can see why people like this.’ I was like, ‘Who’s gonna push a button? Who’s gonna save that person?'”

Despite any sort of catfight fantasies you might have, Aguilera has nothing but good things to say about Shakira, her Season 4 replacement. “It’s not [my] chair; we’ll share it,” she says. “Thank God for Shakira. She did a beautiful job — such a sweet, lovely energy. Lovely for the show. And Usher apparently stepped up with a lot of creative stuff.”

Fellow returning coach Cee Lo Green, on the other hand, says it was more like an “out-of-body experience” to watch Usher filling his seat. “It was awkward and intriguing at the same time,” Green says.

Compared to “American Idol,” which has launched superstars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and more recently, Phillip Phillips, “The Voice” winners have shockingly few Billboard hits. “I think it would be nice if we were to launch a huge star,” Levine says, but, “a lot of things have to happen in order for that to take place. I think the goal of the show is to do what we can do for these amazing singers while they’re on the show.”

He continued: “I think that we all know that the lightning in a bottle you have to capture in order to be successful in this business is extraordinarily difficult. I’m not sure that that is the overall mission statement of the show.”

Aguilera was on “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “Star Search” as a child, but she didn’t see success right away. Says Levine, “The immediacy of winning and becoming a huge star is a fairy tale that we would love to see take place, but it’s still a fairy tale. … If you’re not in the negative in this business, then you’re succeeding.”

The fifth season of “The Voice” premieres Sept. 23 and airs Mondays at 8/9c and Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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