TV

Blake Shelton says 'Voice' judging panel chemistry is 'as strong as it's ever been'

April 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM ET

"The Voice" judges, from left, Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton.
Adam Taylor / NBC
"The Voice" judges, from left, Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher, and Blake Shelton.

When NBC announced at the end of last season that popular judges Christina Aguilera and Ceelo Green were temporarily leaving "The Voice" in order to pursue their own musical endeavors, viewers were skeptical the show would be as good with Shakira and Usher sitting in their places.

On Monday, at a panel discussion for "The Voice" held during NBC Summer Press Day, mainstay judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton revealed that they, too, were worried the new judging panel wouldn't be as good as the original.

"I was a little nervous. [The show] was beating the odds," said Shelton. "It was a [successful] music talent show in a world where there's a lot of those. I never met [Usher or Shakira] before, and one thing you can't fake is chemistry. And damned if its not as strong as its ever been."

"We were certainly curious to see what the chemistry would be when the new guy and gal came," Levine told reporters after the panel discussion. "I think that we're beyond happy ... It's obvious, too, if you watch the show that there's a lot of chemistry."

Levine and Shelton weren't the only ones that didn't know what to expect in regards to the new format.

"I didn't get any preparation for this show," Shakira told the audience. "I was thrown to the lions with no rehearsal time. There really was no guidance whatsoever. [The producers told me] 'just be yourself.' There are no poses here. It's just all about being spontaneous."

Usher, too, remarked that he was worried about being able to find his place on a show that was already a big hit.

"They didn't need us in order for the show to work," he said. "I was very proud of what I saw before [and] I brought years of experience and opinion ... being able to mentor other artists."

Shelton had nothing but praise for his new co-stars, and the production team that chose them to replace Green and Aguilera after last season.

"[Whoever] picked these two knew they weren't dealing with artists with egos," Shelton said. "They [are] really good people."

From Usher's signature "one leg up" judging stance ("The network was originally against it," Usher told the audience. "[They said] we don't think that will read well. But it worked!") to the foursome's playful ribbing of one another, the new formula is certainly working, something executive producer Mark Burnett also attributed to the show's focus on keeping things fresh.

"'The Voice' has clearly been claimed by young America. It's fresh, the music is current. [These judges] are current super stars," he said, slightly jabbing at other singing shows that use judges whose careers may be past their prime. "This is not their day job -- their day job is touring and making music."

With all the talk about how great the new judging panel has been working out for the show, audience members were eager to find out if Green and Aguilera would even be invited to return next season, but even NBC doesn't seem sure on what to do. A rep announced during the panel discussion that no decision had been made yet in regards to who would be sitting in the judges' chairs for season five.

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