Season 3 of "The Voice" began last week to series-low premiere numbers, but NBC is prepared to spice things up in the spring's fourth season.
 
The network announced on Monday (September 17) that one-name-only superstars Usher and Shakira are set to join "The Voice" as coaches for the show's fourth season, starting this spring.
 
Usher and Shakira will take the place of Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green, who will "take the next cycle off" in order to "fulfill other commitments." But Aguilera and Green are expected to return for a hypothetical fifth cycle next fall.
 
Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will remain as coaches.
 
"We are thrilled to welcome Usher and Shakira to 'The Voice.' The addition of these popular iconic artists continues the tradition established by Christina, CeeLo, Adam and Blake," blurbs NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. "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."
 
The NBC "Voice" announcement comes only one day after FOX announced a new judging panel for the 12th season of "American Idol" featuring Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj. This has pretty much become the reality TV equivalent of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union, only with pop stars as weapons.
 
"'The Voice' has always been known for pairing incredible up-and-coming talent with superstar coaches who are top-level current artists," states executive producer Mark Burnett. "Having award-winning artists as coaches means they need to be able to tour. Whether in the red chair or on tour, our coaches have their chairs for life. This is exactly why, after three seasons, we needed to allow them to rotate out so they can get on the road amongst their fans. Meanwhile, we're incredibly excited to have singular artists like Usher and Shakira joining the fold."
 
In NBC's statement, the network was also kind enough to let both Green and Aguilera go into details on their "other commitments" and plug upcoming properties.
 
"Being a coach on 'The Voice' is a wonderful experience and the relationship amongst us all is like an extended family," explains 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 -- with the release of my new album 'Lotus' on November 13. By pursuing my first passion of music during the break, I am also able to come back and offer even more to my team on 'The Voice' in the future."
 
And Green explains, "First ...thank you NBC for supporting my decision to take this season four hiatus! It says that I'm seen and respected as a complete artist and not just a cast member. I'm highly enthusiastic about focusing my undivided attention on my additional endeavors and interests like my upcoming solo album, new Goodie Mob album, Las Vegas residency 'Loberace,' new memoir, and new NBC comedy,” said 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.'"
 
Usher has sold over 23 million albums in the United States and over 65 million worldwide, led by "My Way" and the 10-times-platinum "Confessions." He has also won seven Grammys. Yeah!
 
Shakira has sold nearly 60 million albums worldwide and won a pair of Grammys. And, as you may have heard, her hips don't lie.