'The Voice': Can The Show Survive Without a Mama Latina?
This season of 'The Voice' promises more passion with newbie coaches Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani joining veteran coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton on the stage. With Pharrell standing in for R&B/hip-hop legends Usher and Ceelo Green, Gwen Stefani is replacing a seat formerly held only by Latina superstars Shakira and Christina Aguilera. How do this season's new 'Voice' coaches stand up against their predecessors and will the show suffer without the power of a Mama Latina?
One of the highlights of 'The Voice's' two night premiere was the incredible chemistry between Pharrell and Gwen Stefani who had previously collaborated on hit single "Hollaback Girl." These two genuinely respect and love each other, which was evident in the continued praise they showered upon each other throughout the night, including cheering for each other when they wooed a contestant.
Both Pharrell and Gwen bring a maturity to the stage and their positive attitude is infectious. Given their long and versatile careers, which span group success (No Doubt and The Neptunes), solo careers, song writing, producing and even fashion, I'm sure they'll bring an expertise to their coaching that may actually challenge reigning champs Blake and Adam.
Gwen Stefani was the most active of the four coaches, jumping to her feet on multiple occasions to convince prospective singers to join "Team Gwen" (when they did she gave them a L.A.M.B. t-shirt!). My favorite moment came when she rallied for Korean American contestant Clara Hong to join her team by engaging the audience in a call and response of her hit "I'm Just A Girl" (Hong went with Levine) or when she challenged Adam to a chair balancing contestant (Adam won again).
A native Californian whose career spans nearly twenty years, Gwen emphasized her expertise claiming "I think I have the longest career" (only matched by her predecessor Shakira). Given her genuine passion for the contestants and girl power persona, I'm confident Gwen has what it takes to fill both Christina and Shakira's shoes.
Pharrell comes to 'The Voice' fresh off of his Oscar nomination for the most positive song of 2013, "Happy." Pharrell, who as a producer has shown a true gift for developing new talent, seems to be perfectly suited for his new position as coach. Pharrell used passionate vocab like "anointed" to convince mama's boy Elyjuh Rene to join his team and brings a royal quality that surpasses that of both his predecessors. His positive pearls of wisdom (he hugged and kissed a contestant who didn't get a chair turn after dropping verbal gems about gratitude and her journey) brought intuition and spirituality to the blind auditions. It will be interesting to see how this quality will stand up as the competition gets stiffer.
While I surely miss Shakira's sweet infusion of Spanglish, Christina Aguilera's sassy diva qualities, Ceelo's offbeat goth costumes, and Usher's sweet dimples and dance moves, I think this year's team will bring a fresh wisdom, clarity and maturity that could take the competition to a whole new level. Maybe we'll finally see someone new coach this year's winner to victory (if it were up to me, it will be zen master Pharrell).
Photo courtesy of NBC.