The Voice is NBC’s highest rated program outside of Sunday Night Football and while the network won’t confirm it, the show, which premiered with season three on Monday, will be back for a new season in the spring, according to Billboard. But whether or not the show’s coaches – Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera – will be in the now-famous red chairs is another matter.
Executive produce Mark Burnett says he’s ready to extend the show’s run, even if it means having to lose some of the coaches who have other obligations such as touring and recording new music. One insider told Billboard they expect at least two of the coaches to take a break after season three wraps. Their chairs will always be open should they want to return, however.
“Here’s the fact we decided: When you’ve been on this show, that’s your chair for life,” Mark Burnett said. “So if they have to tour and someone comes in for a season and then goes out for a season, comes back for a season, there will never be anyone getting replaced, ever. It’s going to be moving pieces all the time. And luckily maybe a couple of them go on tour, a couple of them don’t go on tour. They have an obligation to their fans. And so that’s how we’re going to do it.”
Blake Shelton doesn’t quite agree with the concept of seasonal replacements while the original coaches are out pursing other areas of their careers. “Obviously that’s a hard pill for me to swallow,” he said. “I feel like I was part of the building of this process–we all worked our asses off on it. It would be hard for me to get up out of that chair and let someone else be there. It’s also hard for me to be in that chair and know that I could be out there touring too. I need to be able to do both and maybe with back-to-back seasons I can. But something’s got to give.
“As much as it’s about music, we’re doing television,” he continued. “We all have to search within ourselves [and ask], ‘How long can we do this before we become a TV person instead of a music person? And are you OK with that?’ Right now this is still what I want to do because I see myself touring and getting back out there.”
Blake isn’t the only coach that has sacrificed a full touring schedule for the sake of The Voice. Season 3 meant CeeLo Green had to delay the opening of his Las Vegas residency to 2013. The other two judges will attempt to juggle double duty while filming. Christina will be promoting a new single and album during this season while Adam Levine will coach his team and then join his band, Maroon 5, for tour dates in South America, Asia and Australia between tapings and live shows. Blake too has tour dates on his schedule as well as the release of his Christmas album, Cheers, It’s Christmas.
For now though, it’s business as usual as coaches fight amongst themselves for the best talent to join their teams. New this season is the ‘knockout round’ following the blind auditions and battle rounds. During the knockout round, contestants will pick their own songs to give an idea of the type of artist they view themselves as. Also new this year is the coaches’ ability to steal contestants who have been eliminated after the battle rounds.
Mary J. Blige, Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Bublé and Rob Thomas will serve as team mentors this season.