‘The Voice’ enters more of a sing-off with ‘American Idol’

NBC singing contest is back for its latest round

If there hadn’t been “American Idol” first, there might not be “The Voice” … and they’re up against each other more than usual now.

Usually, the spring season of NBC’s “The Voice” is well under way by the time “American Idol” – now on ABC after its originating years on Fox – returns for a new round, but not so this winter. The Sunday “Idol’s” third ABC season will have gotten a one-week jump on “The Voice” when the latter singing contest starts its 18th cycle Monday, Feb. 24, and even if they aren’t same-night rivals at the beginning, don’t rule that out: Each show is known to add special episodes on different nights, so the contests could end up with a direct competition of their own before long.

One factor that the Emmy-winning “The Voice” has this time is a new celebrity coach: Nick Jonas, who is joining returnees Kelly Clarkson (the original “American Idol,” let it not be forgotten), John Legend and Blake Shelton in assembling teams of vocal hopefuls … though only one of the entrants will end up as the new “Voice.” Carson Daly, also a producer of the show, is back as the host.

Kelly Clarkson

Though “The Voice” only will be seen on Mondays early in its latest run, it will add Tuesdays in its final weeks for the live airings that set up the semifinals and finals. That increases the chances of a direct collision with “Idol” – still hosted by Ryan Seacrest, with Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie continuing as the judges – since ABC is looking to “event-ize” its programming more with an increase of live telecasts, and “Idol” surely lends itself to that.

Look for “The Voice” to do what it needs to maintain the lead, though, and that’s likely to involve the presence of top guest stars along the way. Last time, the show brought Taylor Swift back as a “Mega Mentor,” a solid indication of the names it goes for. The battle of the singing shows is on, then, and may the best … er, voices win.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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