Shakira and Usher join “The Voice” for Season 4

Shakira and Usher join The Voice for Season 4 tonight, March 25, as short-term replacements for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, and we should learn right away if they can match the chemistry previously created with Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, who return as musical coaches. Carson Daly is also back as host.

The hit NBC singing competition returns March 25 at 8pm ET, airing Mondays and Tuesdays, and fans are anxious to see how the changes affect The Voice. There should also be plenty of new viewers who will tune in to see how Shakira and Usher fare as judges and mentors.

The Voice is coming off a very strong season with Cassadee Pope being named the winner. Not only is Pope a great singer, but her youthful and outgoing personality gave the show a very marketable performer who has the talent to make an impact in the music industry. With Blake Shelton as her mentor, Pope will be able to use his connections to ensure she doesn’t stumble like many other reality show winners.

Tonight isn’t about naming a winner, though. What makes The Voice unique is spelled out clearly in its title. Because the judges aren’t able to see a contestant when they are singing, they have to decide solely on what they hear to determine whether or not to add them to their team. The judges who hit their button have their respective chair swiveled around so they are now facing the competitor.

The suspense as to whether any of them will hit their button is great, but the real fun occurs if more than one judge chimes in. This is when the power switches over to the singer, because they now have anywhere from two to four Grammy-winning singers lobbying to be their coach. Both Levine and Shelton have been known to grovel for the right to mentor great performers, but the wild card comes with the addition of Shakira and Usher.

Will Shakira and Usher be able to check their egos at the door and fight for the singers they want? Will they clearly be able to state why they think they are the right coach? And, most importantly, will they partake in the spirited debates between the fellow judges that often lead to fun but pointed digs?

Levine and Shelton have never had a problem putting down one another, Green or Aguilera in order to curry favor with a gifted singer. It can get very personal, but it’s also what makes The Voice entertaining. The success of this season will hinge on the chemistry that the four judges can create, because the previous quartet all worked so well together.

With that said, I find it brilliant that the producers have afforded their judges the opportunity to take a hiatus to work on their careers. Instead of creating a revolving door of sorts like we have seen with American Idol and The X Factor, The Voice has made it clear that Shakira and Usher are merely fill-ins until Green and Aguilera return.

I’ll be tuning in tonight to see how the new judges fit in, but ultimately it comes down to the talent on the stage and not in the chairs. Either way, The Voice is the best singing competition on TV today.

The Voice Season 4 airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm ET on NBC starting March 25. Encore episodes will air Sundays, March 31 and April 7, at 7pm ET.

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Shakira and Usher: Trae Patton/NBC

The Voice Season 4 judges: Mark Seliger/NBC

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