Mark Burnett and NBC pulled it off: Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine have signed to join the singing competition series The Voice.
The pop star duo will give NBC a chance to steal some thunder from Fox’s American Idol when the new series debuts this April. “I am so happy that Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green have joined the coach panel for The Voice,” executive producer Mark Burnett tells EW. “Aside from being incredible voices, they bring years of experience in the music industry and a really cool vibe that has never been seen before on a music competition series.”
“We want The Voice to be a search by relevant artists for relevant artists,” added NBC’s Executive VP of Alternative Programming Paul Telegdy. “Every person who sits on our panel can do what it is that they’re judging.”
NBC has also set a premiere date for the show: Tuesday, April 26 at 9 p.m., in a two-hour debut. The show will shift to its regular time period on May 10 at 8 p.m.
EW first reported that the singers were in negotiations for the gig last week. There’s still two seats left to fill, and that judge/coach may be the most intriguing of all: Christina Aguilera remains in talks to join the show.
Telegdy says he was impressed with Levine after seeing the Maroon 5 singer visit Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
“His voice and versatility was incredible, and he had a great sense of humor and interplay with Jimmy,” Telegdy says.
“I was absolutely thrilled to be invited by Mark Burnett to join The Voice as a coach,” said Adam Levine in a statement. “I look forward to working with these singers and helping them push forward throughout the competition to make their musical dreams become a reality.”
Cee Lo has been an impressive media presence in recent months, with Telegdy citing the artist’s “willingness and braveness to do so many things, and his DNA at moment includes all sorts of people who are relevant to the music industry.”
“It’s an honor for me to be able to help mold a malleable and new talent in such a fashion as The Voice,” said Cee Lo Green in a statement. “Being a coach on The Voice is a substantial responsibility, and I take it with sincerity and distinction.”
NBC’s overall goal with The Voice is to sign big-name performers who are also popular music fans and a bit more youthful than, say, Steven Tyler. “Not to diminish other people on other shows, but it’s a different job to break through the clutter now than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago,” Telegdy says.
While taking a break from his work on Gnarls Barkley, Cee Lo has been on a star-making run with his hit single “F**k You” and his Grammy performance with Gwyneth Paltrow (during which he was dressed, appropriately enough for a man judging a show on NBC, as a peacock). Meanwhile, the L.A.-based band Maroon 5 released their most recent album last fall and played Fox’s Super Bowl pre-game earlier this month.
The Voice is based on a Dutch hit in which contestants audition while judges face the other direction, unable to see the contestants. The judges make their verdicts based on the singer’s vocal talent alone rather than being influenced by the contestant’s physical appearance. After the audition rounds, the judges will coach the contestants. The Voice will debut sometime this spring.