'The Voice' premieres, judges defend show's track record

'The Voice' judge Pharrell: "It's a gift to be able to pay forward everything that you've learned."

The spinning red chairs of "The Voice" are back. Monday night's season-eight premiere of the NBC reality singing competition drew more than 13 million viewers, easily winning the night.

But the show’s strong ratings haven’t helped produce any singing stars in the same way that competitor "American Idol" has. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood became stars because of the Fox series, which itself has failed to make any new singing stars on that scale in recent years.

“We want to have that happen,” said "Voice" judge Adam Levine to reporters at a press conference two weeks ago. “That would be great. [But] … I think that people kind of judge success like it's this kind of all-or-nothing thing, and that's not the case. Being successful is really, really difficult. And a lot of things have to come together at the right moment for that to happen… So it's going to happen. I genuinely believe that.”

Another "Voice" judge Pharrell Williams discounted comparisons to "Idol" too, adding that the NBC series is about mentorship and training — not signing a record deal.

“It's an academy,” the “Happy” singer said, “and you only advance forward when you have what it takes to move forward. And there's nothing wrong with working for something. There's nothing wrong with having your eye on the prize and not winning. But they go home different people, because they've had tutors that they would never ever in a million years probably have met.”

In fact, Williams said, focusing on whether the show produces massive stars ignores the humanitarian efforts underlying the show’s format.

“It's a gift to be able to pay forward everything that you've learned,” he continued. “So every time you ask us the same question every interview, ‘How come you never produce stars?,’ well, [who] was the last star you produced? And while we're at it, when's the last time you gave someone mentoring or took the time out of your schedule to tutor and to actually really deal with people's real emotions… The show is about a bunch of people who really care about people that they encounter and make sure that they're changed when they walk off.”

“The Voice” airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC. It will go head-to-head with “American Idol” as it launches into its live shows on Wednesdays and Thursdays. 

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.

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