THE VOICE coaching panel has a new dynamic this year, with Ricky Martin adding his Latino charm to the mix.
The hugely popular singing show is back and bigger than last year, with a 100% increase in auditions via the show's website.
"I think what's happened this year is people who were a little sceptical about auditioning for a reality show have seen the show play out," host Darren McMullen told The Guide.
"They've seen this show has integrity; it's not about how they look or how they dress; it's about the voice.
"We're seeing a lot of lifelong professional singers coming out now and as a result, the level of talent is phenomenal this year.
"The hardest part will be culling it in half during the battles and then again during the showdowns."
A massive 139 singers will perform in the blind auditions, with the four coaches choosing 14 singers, rather than 12, for their teams.
While sage Seal and cheeky Joel Madden continue their battle for the last word, McMullen says Martin has a more laid-back approach.
"He sits there and takes it all in but as soon as he sees something he wants, he pounces on it," he said.
"He's very hard to say no to,once he's got you in his sights. Some mistake him as being shy and quiet but he's just waiting for the right moment."
McMullen says he was initially worried about the large hole Keith Urban's departure had created in the coaching panel.
"I was as sceptical as anyone going into it. I thought 'is it going to be weird mixing things up' but Ricky's completely won me over," he said.
"Ricky is this down-to-earth, chilled, spiritual guy who knows a s***load about music."
Jessica Mauboy, who will be helping Martin mentor his singers in the battle rounds, agrees.
"He is very thoughtful man and his outlook on life is quite spiritual," she said.
"There were moments where he said 'what do you think, Jess?' and I was quite speechless because everything he said was pretty much perfect."
Helping out on the show has brought back memories for Mauboy, although she says her experience as a finalist on Australian Idol was "very different" from The Voice.
"The whole team is so nurturing and quite protective of these artists," she said.
"Ricky really loves them and wants them to grow. I've been hearing him speak of his life and getting really personal with these beautiful men and women."
The Guide got to see that nurturing atmosphere first-hand during a recent visit to the blind auditions.
The coaches all took the same amount of time to give feedback and encouragement to each singer.
And while Keith Urban will be missed, there is a special something about Martin that is sure to win over the hearts of many viewers.
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