'The Voice' Season 4: Carson Daly talks new coaches Usher and Shakira
"It just took a minute," Daly says during lunch on the NBC Universal lot. "Blake didn't understand a thing Shakira said for the first two hours. He called Usher, Crusher. [But] they all just get along it's fun to watch. Within two hours, [the producers] just looked at each other like, 'Awesome, everybody's doing what "The Voice" does.'"
This season's format will stay close to Season 3, which Daly describes as "perfection" and will include the return of the coaches' steal. "All the coach were more incentivized to look at each others teams because if someone slipped through the cracks they could steal them," he notes. So Usher and Shakira -- new additions to what the producers call a rotating "Voice" line-up that also includes Cee-Lo and Christina Aguilera -- better keep their eyes peeled if they want to compete with vets Levine and Shelton.
Daly predicts audiences will react to the new coaches similar to the way the returning coaches were viewed in Season 1. He thinks Shakira will be the surprise breakout à la Shelton, explaining "Along the lines of this girl crush [trend] -- Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lawrence -- I think Shakira will be that girl crush once she's on TV for a couple episodes and people start to feel out her vibe. I think they're gonna get it. She does do a lot more than just shake her hips."
And Usher will be the coach who counters preconceived notions, à la Levine. "I think he'd been offered a gig somewhere else, I'm sure L.A. Reid or somebody spoke to him about 'X Factor,'" Daly says about landing the longtime R&B star. "He's got deep roots in the business."
"The first thing we do in the vetting of any potential new coach is usually I go to them, because I have a little bit of a dual citizenship being on camera and I also have a relationship with a lot of the artists. I like to give my spiel of why we're different and why I think they'd be a good fit. I had that talk with Usher and he had some things he needed to work out. Then it just snowballs from there once he's in and the deal's made."
Daly points to the way Usher discovered and developed Justin Bieber's career as a real-world example of what "The Voice" aims to achieve with the coaches' mentoring. And he reports that the new coaches understand "The Voice's" brand of positive reinforcement mixed with a constructive criticism that helps the competitors grow.
"There's a constructive criticism Christina gave that I always liked," Daly says about the former coach (who may return in a future season depending on scheduling). "In talking to the contestants backstage, a lot of them are so earnest in their attempts to get something out of this that they appreciated that [feedback]. I think all of our coaches this season, we remind them of that. We don't want to hurt anybody's feelings but constructive criticism is important. These guys deserve it."
Season 4 of "The Voice" premieres March 25 on NBC.