Whenever we need an answer about The Voice, we can always go to Carson Daly. The show's host - and one of its producers - has served as the link between the hit singing competition and its audience, explaining the various changes and listening to our questions and concerns. So when we found Carson at The Voice's red carpet Thursday, we welcomed the chance to ask him about the alterations in Season 6 and how the Emmy-winning series has evolved over the last three years.
First, about replacing the knockout rounds with a second set of battle rounds. "We loved it," Carson told us. "I think it was a little simpler, a little cleaner. People understand what the battles are. The competitive factor of bringing two people together to sing one song, but to share it also, that dynamic of competing but sharing works well. So to have people advance, and then it's like a playoff system. You get even better people in the second round of that. I think that was a smart thing to do."
For those of you disappointed in the change eliminating the one part of the show where the competing artists get to choose their own songs, don't lose hope. He told us that's still a part of the process. "You'll see that, yes," he said. "[In the] playoffs, they do that."
Making alterations has become a regular happening when it comes to The Voice; producers have shown that they are willing to introduce changes each season, and just as quickly discard those changes the following season. The result is a show that is ever-evolving, rather than its counterparts whose structures stay mostly the same. "I think we continue to just make small choices that reap benefits," Carson reflected.
"Usher and Shakira are back, and they're stronger in their chairs than they were [in] Season 4. We learn a little more about editing. More and more people who want to make good music finally have the courage to try out for the show. Every time we all get together to make a new season, it's just a little bit better."
What does he think has made this reality show rise to the top of a hugely competitive field? "We just felt like we had something different to offer," he said. "And we attracted great talent right off the bat. When it was going away [in Season 3], we created the Steal. That was something that we tweaked. We always tweak the format a little bit to try and make it better."
We also asked Carson about one of the biggest parts of his on-camera duties - working with the artists and their families, particularly during the blind auditions, where you can see him in the room with each contestant's loved ones while they perform for the superstar coaches. He really does care about these folks, and so it's not easy when someone doesn't get a chair to turn around. "My heart breaks," he told us, adding that "I want these people who come here to have a good experience. But equally, when someone gets a button, that's why you see me [so excited]."
Carson's not afraid to say that there have been instances where he disagrees with some of the biggest names in music. "I've said it on camera. They usually cut it out," he revealed. "As a producer of this show, I'm in like the executive rooms where I know who's been invited. And we try and put some of the best singers in front of our coaches. So I walk in knowing we've got a good group.
"And there are times in that two minutes [of their audition] where people clam up, get nervous and they don't get a chair to turn. I know they had an off day. And I'm just like 'Oh, man.' And I'll tell them, they come in the room and I'm like 'You know what, honestly, I think they got it wrong.' I don't think the coaches always get it right. That's part of the show.
"But," he added with a smile, "those people come back."
The Voice playoffs begin tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC, with the live playoffs starting on Monday, April 21. For more on Carson, be sure you're following him on Twitter (@CarsonDaly).