Shakira, Usher Join 'The Voice' for Spring, Replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green

 Shakira and Usher have closed deals to join the spring edition of NBC’s The Voice.

The network announced the news Monday afternoon, shortly after The Hollywood Reporter reported that the duo were close to finalizing deals with the show. 

Shakira and Usher will replace Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will return for the fourth cycle. Aguilera, who is working on a new album to be released in November, has made no secret of her desire to make more time for her music.

During an interview with Ryan Seacrest on his radio program, she characterized The Voice as a "side project."

Both Shakira and Usher fit into the Voice mold of recruiting recording artists who are still topping the sales charts. Paul Telegdy, NBC's president of alternative and late night programming, recently told THR that “a chair on the panel is not a job for life, nor should it be.”

And he added that the coach's “authenticity, relevance and credibility are all wrapped up in what they do and how they define themselves, which is as active, relevant touring musicians. That may mean a seat on the panel becomes available.”

Representatives for Usher and Shakira declined comment.

As the competition between singing shows has heated up, it has become increasingly important to lure big-name talent. American Idol last week announced its new judging panel with widely rumored additions of Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban joining Mariah Carey, who finalized her $18 million-deal during the summer. One source says Minaj will bank about $12 million, though another source says the number is about $7 million plus allowances for hair and makeup teams. Urban is said to be taking home about half of what Minaj will make. Randy Jackson, who has been behind the judges table since the show’s inception and is Carey’s manager, also returns as a judge for season 12.

The new Idol panelists replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

Adding fresh faces to the Voice coaching panel is in keeping with a growing trend of musical chairs at singing competition shows -- an imperative to stand out from the pack.

The X Factor this season signed up Britney Spears (for about $15 million) and Demi Lovato (at $1 million) to replace fired first-season judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. 

Aguilera is also heading back out on tour in support of her new album, Lotus. Meanwhile, Green has a scripted comedy based on his life in development at NBC.

“We are thrilled to welcome Usher and Shakira to The Voice," Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said in press release announcing the move. “The addition of these popular iconic artists continues the tradition established by Christina, CeeLo, Adam and Blake. Doing two back-to-back cycles of this show requires a tremendous amount of time, and we are happy to accommodate the commitments made by Christina and CeeLo. The participants on our show benefit from our coaches’ expertise and their continued success in the music business allows for significant new contributions to the contestants when they return.”   

Both Aguilera and Green are expected to return for the show’s fifth cycle next fall.   

“Being a coach on The Voice is a wonderful experience and the relationship amongst us all is like an extended family,” added Aguilera. “I am so proud of being part of the show from the beginning, all the work we've done, and proud of what the show stands for as a whole. As I have expressed since day one of the show, that I am a singer and performer first and I am so excited to get back to that love. Since this year NBC and The Voice have decided to tape back-to-back seasons, requiring a full-year commitment, it is important for me to take season four off, allowing me to support my music that my fans have been waiting for.”

Added Green: “It’s great to also give a host of other talent the chance to experience what a joy it is to be part of what is truly THE BEST SHOW of them all, THE VOICE! I will return for season five and will be watching season four. NBC is home and as far as Usher and Shakira are concerned – ‘mi casa su casa.’”

Peter Oberth
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