The spinning red chairs were the same when NBC's "The Voice" returned on Monday night, but the coaches panel had changed a bit.
Instead of Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, viewers watched Usher and Shakira weigh in on the new season four contenders during the two-hour season premiere. Love the switch or hate it, NBC is likely patting itself on the back after taking a look at the ratings.
According to Entertainment Weekly, "The Voice" returned with 13.4 million watching and 4.7 rating in the crucial 18-48 demographic. Those numbers are down from "The Voice's" prior spring premiere, but that also aired after the Super Bowl. In comparison with the fall 2012 season opener, the series' ratings in the adult demo grew by 12 percent.
As for how well Usher and Shakira gelled with returning judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, that's still up for debate.
MTV thought the R&B star and Latin songstress brought an energy that seemed to be a "natural fit." The network found Shakira to be "fun and feisty," while Usher "played it cool and smooth for the most part."
Rolling Stone, on the other hand,thought the new pair "didn't bring the same kooky unpredictability that their predecessors did," with Shakira having a tendency to be "overly wordy" and Usher "too laid-back."
But the good news for "The Voice," observed Salon, is that the reality singing competition appears to be less vulnerable when it comes to swapping out judges than other shows of its kind.
"Not because the judges don't matter, but because the format makes it harder for the judges to be boring," Salon's Willa Paskin said. "Even if they have nothing insightful or sharp to say about the singing, at least they have something insightful and sharp (or, fine, semi-insightful and semi-sharp) to say about each other. 'The Voice' remains a more polished piece of entertainment than its peers."