How Christina Aguilera almost single-handedly reshaped music-competition reality programming

From The New York Times:

Years from now, Christina Aguilera will be remembered for her glamour, her scandalous take on femme-pop and her Brobdingnagian voice. But she should also be remembered as the person who almost single-handedly reshaped music-competition reality programming. Her legacy as a judge on “The Voice,” on NBC, may well turn out to be deeper and more profound than the one she’s forged in her music career.

Securing Ms. Aguilera in 2011 was a coup for a show that needed to differentiate itself from Fox’s “American Idol,” which had just signed Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges.

But for all their fame, Mr. Tyler and Ms. Lopez were past their fertile period as hitmakers. Ms. Aguilera, though not quite in her prime, had been in the Billboard Top 10 as recently as 2008. Of the four mentor-judges of “The Voice,” she was the one most obviously slumming it on this television gig, even though she was coming off a bumpy professional period: a flop album, “Bionic”; an awkward and sloppy rendition of the national anthem at the 2011 Super Bowl; and an arrest on a charge of public intoxication.

But Ms. Aguilera was an undeniable contemporary pop star, and her presence elevated those around her: Blake Shelton, a country star largely unknown outside that world; Adam Levine, the frontman of a popular but ineffectual band, Maroon 5; and Cee Lo Green, accidentally, and briefly, a pop star as part of Gnarls Barkley.

Broadly speaking, it’s because of Ms. Aguilera that on Sunday, after weeks of speculation, it was announced that Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban, contemporary hitmakers both, would become part of the “Idol” judge panel. (They effectively replace Mr. Tyler and Ms. Lopez.) They join Mariah Carey, who signed on in July and is now the panel’s unlikely éminence grise, and Randy Jackson, the lone holdover from “Idol” 1.0.

Ms. Aguilera’s shadow also extends over “The X Factor,” the Fox competition that last week gave its new judge-mentor panel its debut: the two older male executives, L. A. Reid and Simon Cowell, remain from Season 1, but the two women, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger, have been replaced by more current names: the former Disney star Demi Lovato and the former Aguilera nemesis Britney Spears. Ms. Spears had a No. 1 album last year, and Ms. Lovato has had two Top 20 singles in the last 14 months.

It is no longer a choice between music star and television star. In fact, to be modern, it’s best to be a little of both.

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