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"The Voice" amps up the star power for Season 2

Aguilera answers a question as Shelton and Levine watch during the panel for the NBC television series "The Voice" in Pasadena.
Aguilera answers a question as Shelton and Levine watch during the panel for the NBC television series "The Voice" in Pasadena.

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The stars of television singing contest "The Voice" on Friday promised more celebrity and top talent in their upcoming season as they compete fiercely with rival "American Idol," the most-viewed program on TV.

"It is a very tired format," Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, one of the program's star mentors, said about singing contests, "but in a way, this is a very fresh way of doing it."

The show grew into a surprise hit for television network NBC in 2011 with a format in which the panel of stars -- Levine, Christina Aguilera, country singer Blake Shelton and hip-hop star Cee Lo Green -- also take on contestants as their proteges and help them as the compete against others.

For season two, which premieres on February 5 and will compete for viewers with "American Idol," the show's producers added new celebrities who will work as advisors with the star mentors.

Levine will be joined by Alanis Morissette and Robin Thicke, Green will have Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and Ne-Yo, Aguilera will get assists from Jewel and Lionel Richie while Shelton recruited wife Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson for his team.

"I chose Miranda and Kelly because they both survived reality television shows," Shelton told reporters at an annual gathering of TV critics. "I just wanted somebody who could talk to them (the contestants) about what they were going through."

While "The Voice" became a surprise hit for NBC, executive producer Mark Burnett admitted it may not have lived up to some of its early forecasts.

Last year's winner Javier Colon released an album, "Come Through For You," which peaked at No. 134 on the Billboard 200 album chart, not reaching the success of early "Idol" winners such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

"We can't control the record industry, it's impossible," said Levine, "People are going to go through what they go through, some of it's going to be positive, some negative. You can't be there every single step of the way."

Despite Colon's inability to reach the top of pop music charts, the judges said they were confident they could find the next big talent on the new season of "The Voice."

"I trust the show more than I trust the record industry at this point," said Levine.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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