The Voice is going to two times a year, which is great news for NBC, who appear to have no other shows that people like watching. It’s a mixed blessing for those most intimately involved with the show, however, since they have things like lives and musical careers that they do in addition to the show, and which unfortunately may have to take precedence at some point if the show becomes a near-year-round venture. Otherwise, you start to forget who these people are outside from the show, and then it’s all “Why do I care what this guy has to say about music? Was he in a band once or something?”—like how after just a few years on Idol, you totally forgot that Randy Jackson once played bass on some random late-’80s Journey album. It’s a problem.
Who to get to replace them, then? Well, the answer (in princple, at least) is obvious: Four people who are exactly like them, except one worse. It’s like Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said when explaining the team’s strategy for dealing with their surfeit of post-season injuries: Next Man Up. Just reach one down the line and grab the next warm body available—it’ll be good for the show’s continuity, and it’ll also keep the Original Four in line on their A Games when and if they come back, because they see what acceptable alternatives the show has in reserve should they ever go completely off the reservation.
So, move Adam, Christina, Blake and Cee Lo out of the way and see who’s hiding behind them:
REPLACING ADAM LEVINE: ROB THOMAS
Simple choice here. Both are smart, (mostly) likeable frontmen of enormously popular bands that aren’t particularly beloved by anyone in particular, and both have strains of music geekiness that make them good fits for a show like this. You could even argue that Adam Levine is actually the poor man’s Rob Thomas, since Matchbox 20 sold way more records than Maroon 5, but they also haven’t released an album in ten years (while Thomas’ solo career never super-took-off), and Levine is obviously way better looking. (We don’t anticipate Thomas having to pause his analyses to wait for the “WE LOVE YOU, ROB!!” shouts to subside, exactly.)
REPLACING CHRISTINA AGUILERA: JESSICA SIMPSON
Another super-easy one. Christina was the second-biggest female pop star of the original TRL era, so go one down to the third-most-famous and you land on Jessica Simpson, who also shares the blondeness and fluctuating weight of her predecessor. (They also both have children named Max, though of different genders, weirdly.) She might be a tad bit less of a diva than Christina, and whether she shares Aguilera’s nasty streak has yet to be seen—maybe get John Mayer as a guest coach one week to find out—but the potential for malapropisms and temporary lunacy is certainly there. Landing a full-time gig as a Reality Show judge of some sort seems like Jessica’s eventual destiny, one way or the other.
REPLACING BLAKE SHELTON: BILLY CURRINGTON
We imagine there’s no shortage of tall, dark and handsome country folk out there who would be honored to grab the Poor Man’s Blake distinction, but given our druthers, we would go with Billy Currington, since he seems the most likely to be able to replicate Blake’s charming (occasionally bordering on smug) sense of humor. Plus, “Love Done Gone” demonstrated that the guy has decent pop chops as well—important on a show like The Voice where he might have to go months at a time without acknowledging that country music exists. (Side question: Why has Toby Keith never been on a coaching panel? Won’t nominate him here because he’s Poor Man’s Nobody, but damn, this guy would be a dynamo.)
REPLACING CEE-LO GREEN: THE-DREAM
Probably the toughest one, since Cee Lo is easily the most incomparable of the judges, and his most obvious replacement (Andre 3000) has to be disqualified by virtue of the fact that he doesn’t really sing. So instead, we have to go with another big guy from the ATL, another soul singer also known for his behind-the-scenes work with other artists who fancies himself a Ladies’ Man. That would be Terius “The-Dream” Nash, who might not quite have Cee Lo’s larger-than-life personality or skill at hamming it up—we can’t exactly imagine Nash headlining a Vegas show—but certainly has shown similar potential for eccentricity (and falsetto). His simmering sexual chemistry with Jessica Simpson would be a fantastic season-long subplot, at the very least.