Well, they're back. While many fans are probably sad to see Shakira and Usher give up their spinning chairs on "The Voice," Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green (joined by host/producer Carson Daly and fellow judge Adam Levine) didn't skip a beat promoting their return to the show at a press tour panel for the NBC show, whether we like it or not.
"I understand I'm coming back to the Blake Shelton show," Aguilera joked. "He said 'I do understand you re-signed your contract with me.'" Still, she said she doesn't mind facing Shelton's three-time winning status after her self-imposed hiatus. "We pull for our teams, but I think we can agree at the end of the day it's the contestants that win, not us. But Blake keeps it funny."
Levine added, "It's great to work with these guys to get them win, but it's great to help them get to wherever they're going to get. So winning's great, and I hate the fact Blake won three in a row, but winning isn't always the point… Honestly, we win. We've been very lucky in our careers. There's nothing else we can ask for. It's about preparing the people on our teams… to have a great experience."
Aguilera, who seemed to be in high spirits, happily answered questions at length. In discussing why she joined "The Voice," she said, "I went in holding hands with these guys, not sure what to expect… I don't think a show like this was on our radar, and [producer] Mark [Burnett] just told us, we all as artists know what it feels like to be in that position [of climbing up the ladder]."
Everyone on the panel also took care to note that that, at heart, they're fans of the show. "I caught an episode of last season, I can see why people like this. Who's going to push a button? We get very caught up from season one, sitting in the chair, being in that hot seat… it's nice to see I'm part of a show that has stayed true to the talent. It's a huge platform for them to do what they want to do with it. It's like an amazing school. I had great training on 'The Mickey Mouse Club,' and years later so many successes have come out of that… ['The Voice' has] affected me more on a personal level. We don't necessarily need to win this thing. I've been able to remember the journey. It's important for me to step back and remember what my intention is now as a mom as a woman reentering the business."
Of course, this led to questions about what it feels like to come back to the show, and how it felt to be replaced, albeit temporarily. "Well, it's not our chair, we share it," Aguilera admitted. "For me, I was happy someone filled the spot for a second. I had to step away. In 2010, I joined the show because I needed to step into something outside of myself… [and this year] I needed a moment to step away. Thank God for Shakira; she had a sweet, lovely energy."
Green was perhaps more honest, saying, "I think it was awkward and intriguing at the same time. An out of body experience. I became a fan of the show, [and] we're all fans at the end of the day. It enriches the quality of life, I am enjoying it completely."
Levine's apology for words spoken in haste on the show also became a topic. "If your intentions are good, everyone makes mistakes… I think people can see through stupid media hype, no offense. As long as you allow yourself to be who you are, you can't defend every single thing you say… just stand behind it."
Daly added, "It's refreshing when people say something [real], they're real people. You're watching people living in that moment.
"And it's part of my personality to say things that are going to piss people off sometimes," Levine shrugged.
That "The Voice" has yet to launch a major star became a subject much battered around by the panel, ultimately sounding perhaps more defensive than intended. "I think it would be really nice to launch a huge star. The goal of the show is to do what we can do for these amazing singers while they're on the show. We all know the lighting in a bottle you have to capture to be successful is extremely difficult… the fact it hasn't happened yet doesn't seem like a shortcoming, it just hasn't happened yet. There's been a lot of success. They've all gone on to do amazing things and been really fulfilled… it depends on your definition of success," Levine said. "The immediacy of winning and becoming a huge star is a fairy tale we'd love to come true."
"It didn't happen that way for me, either," Aguilera said. "You have Britney [Spears], Justin [Timberlake], Ryan Gosling. Did we rocket to success right after? No. Every single opportunity, it's up to you to take that opportunity and take it to the next level.
Aguilera also addressed what brought her back, which seemed to be a combination of enjoying the company and paying the bills. "For me, what's great about the show… it actually is like a family. I don't want to be cliche or corny, but I was mostly looking forward to having a laugh with these guys. There's a second show behind the scenes that's for another network. It's so much fun, and to have a laugh with these guys, we just have a good time, and get to meet fresh new talent. It's a cool experience. Do I want to do it forever, I'm not sure, but right now it's the right fit for me."
Later, she said of her six-month break, "I cannot live in front of the camera twenty four hours a day. I have to take breaks. I think it's important so you can be your best on camera. I'm a mom' I go home and put on sweats and a t-shirt, I check out and I'm a mom. [My son] starts kindergarten this fall, but Mom's got to pay the bills. And I also wanted to have a moment for me. You need to take it back for a second and bring it back to yourself. Did a lot of traveling and learned a lot."
"And don't think I don't need a break," Levine said. "I do."
Green said, "Everything about this show is so positive and so progressive. It's such a genial family atmosphere, and I really missed the company a lot."
Green also said that he might bring another pet he owns on stage ["I brought my pet boa constrictor, but everyone was so apprehensive"].
Daly also fielded a question about whether he had designs on Jay Leno's late night spot, which he strongly denied. "These guys know me as a radio DJ. I got into this for music. I've made a lot of great friends along the way. My late night show really focuses on music."
As for how the judges feel about the final results, Levin tried to put a positive spin on falling short. "Of course we agree with whoever the winner is… It's out of our control. On a shallow level, we may be disappointed they're not on our team."
Green, who didn't pipe up often on the panel, was yet again brutally honest. "On two occasions, I wanted [my people] to win."