'The Voice UK': the judges speak

Will.i.am, Tom Jones, Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue speak about series two of the BBC talent show

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The first series of TV singing contest ‘The Voice UK’ divided critics and has so far failed to launch a new musical star. This year will be different, as the returning coaches explain.

Will.i.am

On what’s happened to last year’s winner, Leanne Mitchell…

‘Can I be honest? I’m gonna get into trouble here. We experienced a hole in the system. You have a singer on television. One won, then directly after they won, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the label [Universal] engaged and made sure they had the right material.

‘You know what you’re going to sell when you have the whole package and you rush it. They went too slow: it’s not television five years ago. I don’t think people were minding how we digest content and how we absorb and share it. Everyone was like, oh my God, she’s so great, let’s take our time, oo-de-do, la-de-dah, let’s go on vacation. Really? I hope we learn from that, so we already have songs to go for the winner, three days after they win the show.’

On higher standards for the second series…

‘The talent is superb. This year, there’s more bad singers, but the ones that were good were crazy amazing. Out of this world.’

On what he looks for in an artist…

‘Nothing specific. It’s like Christopher Columbus. I knew I was going to India, so as long as I found some land, I would go there.’

On this year’s format changes…

‘The freaking steals [when one coach can steal a singer rejected by another coach]! One could think: Oh there’s the four coaches, they’re used to what it is, ooh-woop-de-woo-hoo-hah. No. It’s, uh oh, more drama. Now Jessie [J] could send somebody home and I’d be like, Nah, I’m taking that dope singer that she didn’t think was dope, so now my team’s extra dope and she got a nope. It’s fresh. Now you have to worry – what you get rid of can hurt you. And they stole some of mine – the thieves came to my crib too.’

On staying in touch with contestants…

‘I talk to Tyler [James] all the time, I go into the studio again with him in two weeks. I talk to Kate Read, Jaz [Ellington] - he conducted the kids orchestra when I sang the song to Mars. People like Jaz don’t need mentoring.’

On why he wouldn’t compete in ‘The Voice’…

‘Groups like the Peas, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest… Lauryn Hill lost on [US talent show] “Showtime at the Apollo”! These shows aren’t for artists like myself. We’re the kind of artists who you can say no to a trillion times and we’ll design a whole new entry point. There’s doors and windows, and battering rams. We’re battering rams.’

‘The Voice UK’ starts Saturday March 30, 7pm, BBC1.



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