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“The Voice” keeps rolling right along

“The Voice” returned for its fourth cycle last night with two new, one-named judges replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo: Shakira and Usher. In the two years since “The Voice” premiered, judge shuffling has become common across all singing competition shows, with unpredictable effects. “Idol” survived the loss of Simon Cowell, Britney Spears didn’t make “X Factor” a smash, Nicki Minaj may be the best judge in that singing show’s history, but that hasn’t had much bearing on the current iteration of “Idol’s” ratings. Even more than the other singing franchises, however, “The Voice” seems judge-proof— not because the judges don’t matter, but because the format makes it harder for the judges to be boring. Even if they have nothing insightful or sharp to say about the singing, at least they have something sharp and insightful (or fine, semi-sharp and semi-insightful) to say about each other. "The Voice" remains a more polished piece of entertainment than its peers.

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