Many successful singers have mentored and supported up-and-coming talent, but it’s a rare occasion when a certifiable music star begs a complete unknown for the privilege.
Tonight, Monday, Sept. 23, NBC’s “The Voice” returns for a new season, with pop singer Christina Aguilera and singer/rapper Cee Lo Green returning after a hiatus from the show last season. They join Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and country artist Blake Shelton in the effort to recruit voice talent — sight unseen — to their teams in hopes that one of them will win it all (Shelton’s a three-time winner).
Sitting with executive producer Mark Burnett at an intimate dinner with journalists at West Hollywood’s Soho Club — with a sweeping view of Los Angeles lit by a full moon out the windows — a black-clad Aguilera (fresh from a visit to “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”) talks about having to compete with the other panelists.
“I definitely realized a sales pitch is everything at first,” she tells Zap2it. “It goes through stages of what’s important. At first, it’s like, OK, I’ve got to sharpen my speech. You know, Blake’s witty. He’s got these three ‘Voice’ trophies made up. He’s got his props.
“In the sales pitch, he’s got a good one this year. And it’s like” — she switches to a drawling imitation of Shelton’s voice — “‘You know, let me give you three reasons why you should pick me as your coach. One, two, three.’ They crack me up. It’s great, right?
“Adam’s deliciously competitive. You can just see his blood boiling, because he’s the best sales pitch. I mean, he’s a genius sales-pitch guy.”
Says Burnett, “Adam can sell you back your own briefcase.”
“I said that first season,” Aguilera continues. “I was like, ‘He’ll sell a used car to your grandma.’ I meant it because it was honest. He’s very much like that. But, it’s fun; it’s a game. So you’re constantly checking how your delivery with [the competitors] is, and, coming from an appreciative standpoint, that you’re dealing with talent, and you’re dealing with artists who are sensitive.”
As it often does, helping others helps the helper as much as the person being helped.
“It’s so about living in the moment,” says Aguilera. “We get our packets and our info and our one-on-one with the talent, but yeah, they just come. And we, as artists, get to be re-inspired and hear things differently, with a different perspective than our world — it being so narcissistic — and about our music and ourselves.
“It’s a moment to pause and listen to something else.”