The gender imbalance which finds Kylie Minogue outnumbered by three male stars on the coaching panel for the BBC talent show The Voice is simply representative of the music industry, the Australian singer has claimed.
Minogue, 45, has signed up for the show two years after she rejected the BBC’s overtures to sit in one of the series’ famous “revolving chairs”.
Minogue joins Sir Tom Jones, will.i.am and another new recruit, Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs, on the panel for the show, which has been criticised for failing to uncover a major-selling star during its first two seasons.
Minogue, who makes her debut when the show returns to BBC1 this Saturday, said she was happy to be the sole female on the panel.
“I think it works really well with one girl and three guys. It stops there being any stories about bitchiness and cattiness and any kind of competition (between women). It might be interesting to flip it up for another season though.”
Speaking at a BBC launch for the new series, she added: “I hope I’m giving a voice to women who look up to people like me in the business. Maybe the (3:1 male/female ratio) is proportionate to what it is in the industry.”
Will.i.am, who persuaded Minogue to replace Jessie J on the show, said the show had become “warmer” as a result. “The show needs a Kylie,” he said.
Sir Tom said Minogue brought the experience of 27 years at the top which the “very vocal” Jessie J lacked. Danny O’Donoghue of the Script has also departed. “We didn’t have someone who has the stripes and badges for ‘I know how to get to pop status and keep pop status’.”
Andrea Begley, last year’s winner, and Leanne Mitchell, her 2012 predecessor, struggled to convert the exposure they received into record sales. Sir Tom said: “Getting on the show is a door but there is no guarantee in showbusiness. At the end of the day it’s down to the public whether that person is going to be a star. You've got to try and get all the ingredients and hopefully it will sell.”
Will.i.am said: “We live in a disposable, forgetful mentality society” exacerbated by reality television shows. His own hip-hop band, Black Eyed Peas, worked for ten years before their commercial breakthrough, the musician said. Voice contestants needed a “champion at their record company” to guide them through the inner workings of the industry.
In an apparent dig at The X Factor, Wilson added: “If you want to see people making fools of themselves you can go to other stations.”
Acquired by the BBC for £22 million, The Voice has struggled in the ratings battle against rival shows such as Britain’s Got Talent. The BBC hopes that Minogue, introduced at the launch as the “pop princess”, will drive viewers to the third series.
“I have never done anything like this before – but it feels like the right time and now I am doing it,” said the singer, who has sold 70 million records and admitted that the process of persuading singers to join her team had brought out her competitive spirit. “I do care about it a lot and even when I go home, I find myself thinking about what is the best thing to do.”
The star of the opening episode, the 5 ft singer stands on a raised platform in order to perch on her red revolving chair.
She presents a hitherto unseen goofy persona, coquettishly hiding behind her chair from another male singer, who is the “complete package” and leaves her “dazzled”.
Gently mocking Sir Tom’s penchant for name-dropping his exploits with the likes of Elvis, Kylie reminds contestants that she has duetted with Robbie Williams and Nick Cave.
Wilson, 35, gleefully buries whatever “indie rock” credibility Kaiser Chiefs may retain by throwing himself into the show, telling one hopeful who performed a ballad version of Kylie’s signature hit "I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Head", “I have never heard anything like that before”.
The winner will once again receive a recording contract with Universal Music. However the BBC believes some viewers felt alienated by a show which insisted on calling contestants “artists” and appeared to consider itself superior to The X Factor.
The Voice has been repositioned as pure entertainment, with a greater emphasis on “fun” and the “warmth” which Minogue has been asked to bring to the series.
The new series features sees The Streets’ singer Leo Ihenacho and a vocalist who is also an impersonator of Ruth Jones' Gavin and Stacey character Nessa try their luck.