Season One of The Voice was a huge hit for NBC, which is partly because of its mentors, recording artists Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Cee-lo Green. The other part: The contestants are initially chosen based on their voice alone — not by the “complete package” as other reality singing competitions seem to look for.
At a panel for Season Two of the show, the judges took the stage to answer critics’ questions, and sole female judge Christina Aguilera had some great things to say about being a woman in the music industry, and how she’s constantly judged based on her body vs. her body of work. Someone asked about the marketability of someone like out lesbian finalist Beverly McClellan, Christina’s mentee.
“What you brought up is actually the sole factor of why I signed up and said yes to doing the show in the first place,” Aguilera said. “It really gives artists like Beverly, like you had said, who, you know, isn’t so mainstream or commercially, you know, approachable as far as being your ideal, you know, what, pop star, rather, per se. It’s not about that. It’s about taking it back to the real heart of music and being moved by it.
“And do I think labels label heads and suits and all are drawn into packaging?” she continued. “Absolutely. I think we all are. We all like to see a visual package that all makes sense and is cute and wrapped up in a bow and things like that. But then again, there’s those raw talents that just get in there and go right to your heart. And it doesn’t matter what they look like, what they walk like. It matters how they sound, and it’s just, as a music lover, I’m proud to be a part of this show for that sole reason.”
Christina acknowledged her own struggles and the amount of scrutiny she receives as a pop artist.
“I’ve been on all spectrums. I’ve been in this for a long time. I came out on the scene when I was 17 years old. You can never be too much of anything. You can never be too perfect, too thin, too curvy, voluptuous, this, that. I’ve been on all sides of the spectrum as far as any female in this business at one time or another has had criticism due to a flaw in a hairstyle or and I’m always a risk taker too. I’m very confident in my body. I think my video works over the years have spoken to that. As you know, ‘Dirty,’ and so on, and ‘Lady Marmalade.’ I’ve been no stranger to being very comfortable in my own skin to take risks, to take those chances, whether it be crazy cotton-candy hair or interesting theatrical makeup, you know, adding those theatrics to my stage and things like that. Yes. Women. I always say to these guys, ‘You don’t have to walk on stage in heels. You can just throw on some Adidas.'”
Which is why Christina makes an incredible mentor, but possibly not so much a business person. Although The Voice is hoping to change some of the industry standards by championing a performer’s talent overall, the winners are still entering the same business after the show. Nonetheless, Christina also wants her mentees to be themselves.
“Women, it’s so we’re definitely under a microscope and under massive scrutiny. And I think we need no matter as long as I’m happy in my own skin, that’s all I need that’s all the confirmation I need. I’m happy with where I’m at. I have a boyfriend that loves my body. I love my body. My son is healthy and happy. That’s all that matters,” she said. “And being a female in this business you basically know what you’re in for, you know? You know that you’re going to be under the microscope, and that’s what you sign up to do, and you know you’ve got to be a strong, powerful, very confident woman. So in coaching and being in a position to coach these young girls coming up too, it is really a great thing for me to be able to share that with them, and also share, you know, my highs and lows along the way. I’m very open on the show about all of that. So it’s a really good outlet for me.”
All of the judges say they keep in touch with their contestants, including Aguilera, who said of being a mentor, “You can’t help but get really engaged in being a part of these people’s lives as their coach and their mentor and spending so much time with them. I mean, I think there’s something to be said about the fact that their whole lives — it’s a pretty magical thing to be a part of someone’s whole journey. You know, these are real artists. These are real people with real dreams, and it’s you’re cradling it in your hands, and so I think we all sort of pulled a level of responsibility for that and take it very seriously.”
Beverly McClellan self-released her post-Voice album, Fear Nothing, and hasn’t secured a record deal thusfar. The show’s two other female finalists, however, seem to have fared a little better. Out lesbian Vicci Martinez signed a deal with Universal Republic and is releasing her new album in February, featuring her mentor, Cee-lo Green, on a track. First runner-up Dia Frampton is also duetting with her mentor, Blake Shelton, on her forthcoming album and is joining him on tour.
Interestingly enough, The Voice winner, Javier Colon, released an album that didn’t break the top 100 on the Billboard charts, despite help from tracks with his mentor Adam Levine and another with Natasha Bedingfield.
The Voice‘s host, Carson Daly, says the they all still believe in the artists, though, no matter their chart success post-show.
“The quality that was put out, I think if season one of a television show on a major network put out more quality music than arguably a lot of labels and a lot of artists that are in front of them on the charts …. So as far as, you know, success, it’s in the eyes of the beholder, and if numbers one to 25 is how you rate that, that’s fine, but the music that Javier, that Beverly’s put out, that Vicci Martinez put out, that Xenia and Dia Frampton I mean, there’s five right there of season one, I would take that to a music street fight any day,” he said. “They are excellent records.”
As for what we can expect on Season Two, the judges say the talent surpasses Season 1 and we might see some performers who straddle the line of singer/MC Also, the show will open with a Prince medley from all four judges — and it’s good, as expected. Just another reason to watch The Voice
The Voice Season Two premieres after the Super Bowl, February 5 on NBC.