Rita Ora's decision to swap her coaching role on The Voice for a seat on the panel of this year's X Factor has forced show bosses at the Beeb to put their thinking caps on.
Insiders tell me that following Ora's departure there aren't any names on the list as yet, and there's no suggestion that any of the rest of the line-up – will.i.am, Sir Tom Jones and Ricky Wilson – will change.
History suggests Ora's chair – formerly home to Jessie J and then Kylie Minogue – will be filled by a well-known female chart star. Whether this is a chance to throw out the rule book or not remains to be seen, but here are the latest rumours, and some further musings, on who may well fancy the head-spinning gig...
Brit winner Paloma Faith appeared as a guest coach on The Voice back in 2012 and her name has quickly been linked to Rita’s empty seat. “Bosses think she would be great,” a source told the Sun. “They have been impressed by her forthright opinions and love her out-there style.” They may have a job convincing her to return, however. When Jessie J left a spot open on the show in 2013, Faith turned down the job. "I don't like the idea of eliminating people because I don't feel confident enough about my own abilities to judge anybody else," she told the Daily Star.
That's backed up by the fact that last year Faith said she turned down a full-time judging role on Rita's new home, The X Factor, because she wasn’t “emotionally equipped to deal with the scrutiny”. “Having people say things like ‘How can she tell that girl she can’t sing? She can’t f***ing sing.’ I couldn’t deal with that,” Faith told the Mirror. Third time lucky, maybe?
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Show bosses are rumoured to be considering singer, songwriter and producer FKA twigs – real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett – for this year’s coaching line-up. Twigs would add a “cool and credible vibe” to the series, a source told the Daily Star. She certainly knows a thing or two about making her mark on the music scene and, as well as self-releasing her music debut EP1, she’s tactically used YouTube to spread and promote her work. Her debut album LP1 was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize and last year, among others, she was up for a Grammy and a Brit Award.
Sterephonics frontman Kelly Jones turned down a coaching role on the debut series of the show in 2012. The Welsh singer and guitarist revealed he was invited back for a third chat before he decided to cut ties. “It took between January and June of your year away and I don’t think I’d be that comfortable judging other people so I didn’t bother with it,” he told the Metro. But having watching it progress to yet another series, perhaps he could be tempted back for more cosy chats? I hear the Beeb have an excellent biscuit selection...
Crooner Joss Stone was also tapped up by show bosses ahead of the first series, but turned them down. "I was approached by The Voice [...] I feel that those things are really good to get exposure but they kind of make it into a competition and that is just sad,” Stone told the Daily Express. “Other than that it is great because they get to be heard by millions and they never would have been before." However, Stone herself has reality show pedigree, having won BBC reality show Star for a Night when she was just 13. Could she now be tempted to spin around and help more singers with dreams of chart success?
Rapper and singer-songwriter Professor Green was supposedly shortlisted for a coaching spot on the third series of The Voice. The chair eventually bore Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson’s name, with Heat magazine reporting that show bosses felt they needed someone more “indie”. But hey, new year, new opening, perhaps there’ll be a full male line-up..?
OK, OK so it's only just been announced he won't be returning to the X Factor and he's already first choice to head up Ireland's Got Talent, but it would be quite something if Louis Walsh suddenly popped up on The Voice wouldn't it, literally swapping places with Rita Ora? We can save BBC bosses some time and do his audition for him: "This act reminds me of a young someone or other..."
Long-standing The Voice coach will.i.am is said to be “lobbying hard” for Scherzinger to become part of a revamped line up, the Sun reports. The duo have collaborated on music in the past and the former Pussycat Doll’s team are said to be confident she’s “distanced” herself enough from the X Factor after her appearance on the panel in both 2012 and 2013.
But could The Voice handle Ms Scherzinger? Sure, the show is used to having a sassy pop star alongside three male judges, with Jessie J and Kylie Minogue having also appeared as spinning coaches. But there’s a zing in Scherzinger’s name for a reason. That woman says the word balls more times than will.i.am tweets and comes with her own ‘schamazing’ judging vocabulary that’s bound to leave Sir Tom Jones scratching his head. BBC1 viewers might actually want an advert break added in just to cool off (although not if it was for Muller Corner).
You wait for a Spice Girl to become a reality show judge and then two come along at once... maybe. Yep, following Mel B’s residence on the X Factor judging panel last year, Sporty Spice herself Mel C has shared her interest in joining the line-up on BBC1’s The Voice. “Would I do it if they asked me? Yeah, I’d consider it,” she told the Daily Star, adding “X Factor’s over. It’s had its day.”
In keeping with the general feeling that Ricky Wilson, will.i.am and Sir Tom Jones will report for duty on the spinning chairs again, Mel added: “I’d love to do the The Voice because one, I love Ricky, and two Tom is a wonderful artist. I’ve never met will.i.am but hey, he’s been fun on the telly.” At least she's not afraid to tell us what she wants, what she really, really wants, eh?