This Saturday, we’ll see Will.I.Am, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones and Danny O’Donoghue back on our screens for The Voice series two opener. Yay! We’re big fans, partly because it’s a genuinely entertaining show and partly because we get to spin around on our own chairs at home like fidgety toddlers. If you haven’t tried playing along yet then do give it a go. We caught up with the four coaches to find out what’s in store this year…
1. This show is different from The X Factor
Differing not only from its main rival but also the swathe of talent-based reality show formats we’re used to seeing, The Voice gives singers the chance to audition blind. This means the coaches potentially commit to mentoring an act before they’ve even seen what they look like and this is something they all feel very passionately about. ‘I think there’s no other show that can guarantee you go in as the same person as you came out. They’re not going to edit you out to seem any better or worse, they just tell it like it is,’ The Script’s Danny tells us. ‘It really brings a good, credible sense back to what we know had been taken out of shows in the past - the music side. If you take what kids watch on tv, they take that to the playground and then have a local talent show. If a kid gets up and sings bad and everyone in the audience is going ‘off, off, off’ you’re going to destroy that kid. We would like to instil the same manners and the same way we appreciate music through the show, by giving people bad news in a good way. That’s the real music industry to me and I don’t think we’re giving anyone false hopes and expectations. We turn around because we only hear them and that’s the best deal you’re ever going to get on an entertainment show. In my opinion anyway.’
2. Danny and Will.I.Am would not fancy their chances if they had entered as contestants
‘Would I fancy my chances on it? No,’ says Danny. ‘Would I like to go in for it? Absolutely.’ Sir Tom would ‘definitely’ have liked to go on it when he was starting out but Will.I.Am however, would have gone for a slightly more unusual approach. ‘I think groups like the [Black Eyed] Peas or artists like myself or Outkast, these shows aren’t for artists like us,’ he told us. ‘Lauryn Hill lost on the Apollo. We’re the kind of artists that you tell no to a trillion times and we’ll figure out a way in and design a whole new entry point. There’s doors. There’s windows then there’s the batter ram. We’re the batter rams.’ Glad he’s cleared that up!
3. Jessie J was the last of the coaches to sign up for series 2
‘I’m blessed that I’ve been so busy for the past two years but the diva in me wouldn’t have been happy turning on the tv and seeing someone different,’ said Jessie. While Sir Tom wanted to ensure the coaching line-up was exactly the same, Will and Danny had no doubts whatsoever about coming back. ‘The last show, Danny and I were like ‘you coming back next year?’ and he’s like ‘yep’ and I’m like ‘me too’. It was like an hour after the show ended,’ said Will. ‘It was very presumptuous of us,’ chimes in Danny.
4. There’s a new twist in this year’s format
Will.I.Am thinks the steals are ‘amazing’. ‘They add a whole new level of competition and things that you have to be mindful of when you have to select who you want to keep and who you want to send home. Before when you sent someone home, I didn’t have to worry about Danny snatching them up. What you get rid of can also hurt you now. You have to think about that.’ Danny agrees. ‘There were a few artists last year who left the show at an earlier stage than we would have liked. This gives you an opportunity to get straight in on that. You say, ‘I think you chose the wrong person. I’m going to take them and shove it in your face.’’
5. Danny and Will have already written the winner's song
‘Can I be honest?’ says Will. ‘It’s going to get me in trouble. I think what we experienced was a hole in the system. So you have a television show, a singer who wins. Then directly after they win, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the label engaged and surrounded it and made sure they had the right material. You know what you’re going to sell when you have the whole package and you rush it. I don’t think the rushing happened and if it did, it happened too slow. Especially in this day and age where everything changes every 20 seconds on Twitter. I hope we learnt from that. I hope we already have songs ready to go or some type of understanding of what the market is yearning and thirsty for to fill that void. You get something ready to go three days after the show is over. I think everyone was relaxed ‘Oh, she was so great, let’s take our time, let’s go on vacation’. I’m like, really? So, that’s what happened there.’ Jessie agrees that winning a show like The Voice doesn’t guarantee success.
6. Unlike Will and Danny with their contestants, Sir Tom hasn’t kept in touch with last year's winner Leanne Mitchell
‘The thing is when you win, you’re signed to Universal records. It’s just the start. You’ve got to then do an album and hopefully have enough say in it yourself rather than be told what to do. The problem we have then as coaches is that we can’t do anything about it. They’re locked up then. [‘Not literally’, Jessie adds] We’ve helped them to get them to where they’re going to get on the show. But you can’t go on any further after that because they’re with other people.’
7. The coaches do have to consider more than just the contestant’s voices
‘You have to naturally take into consideration their age, how they’re dealing with the press. If you’re not experienced, it’s scary,’ says Jessie. ‘Everyone that goes through can sing… beyond that you have to take into consideration how people handle themselves, how much they work, their work ethic, how much they look after their instrument – that’s definitely something I look for.’ For Tom, it’s really important that his team can handle themselves under pressure. ‘With the battles, you think someone is going to win then, one will be better than the other. One will be stronger on stage in front of all those people. So you’ve got to wait until the last minute really. Things happen on the night.’
8. Presenter Holly Willoughby let us in on her on-air style secrets
‘My dressing room is full of Elnett hairspray and bits of hair lying around waiting to be stuck on at some point. And a pair of Spanx.’
The Voice starts Saturday, 30th March at 7pm on BBC One