Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green are taking time off from the NBC singing contest series "The Voice" to pursue other projects and will not serve as coaches on the upcoming fourth season, while Latin pop star Shakira and R&B singer Usher will take their place.
The network announced the news in a statement on Monday, September 17, a week after the premiere of season 3. It said "The Voice" will now tape back-to-back seasons and season 4 will premiere in the spring of 2013. Remaining coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton are both set to return.
"Christina Aguilera, who is releasing a new album and going on tour, and Cee Lo Green, who is developing new music, plus a scripted comedy series for NBC based on his life, will take the next cycle off," NBC's statement said.
"Being a coach on 'The Voice' is a wonderful experience and the relationship amongst us all is like an extended family,' Aguilera said. "I am so proud of being part of the show from the beginning, all the work we've done, and proud of what the show stands for as a whole. As I have expressed since day one of the show, that I am a singer and performer first and I am so excited to get back to that love."
"Since this year NBC and 'The Voice' have decided to tape back-to-back seasons, requiring a full-year commitment, it is important for me to take season four off, allowing me to support my music that my fans have been waiting for - with the release of my new album 'Lotus' on November 13," she added. "By pursuing my first passion of music during the break, I am also able to come back and offer even more to my team on 'The Voice' in the future."
"'Lotus" is Aguilera's seventh studio album and the followup to her 2010 record "Bionic," which was not as well-received as her earlier releases, such as the 2002 album "Stripped." Aguilera released her new album's first single, "Your Body," on September 14.
Green thanked NBC for supporting his "decision to take this season four hiatus."
"It says that I'm seen and respected as a complete artist and not just a cast member," he said. "I'm highly enthusiastic about focusing my undivided attention on my additional endeavors and interests like my upcoming solo album, new Goodie Mob album, Las Vegas residency 'Loberace,' new memoir, and new NBC comedy."
Green's TV project loosely based on his real-life relationship with his ex-wife and children, according to Deadline, which said the singer will star in the new comedy and also serve as an executive producer.
"I will return for season 5 and will be watching season 4," Green added. "NBC is home and as far as Usher and Shakira are concerned - 'mi casa su casa.'"
Season 3 of "The Voice" premiered on September 10. The episode earned a 4.2 rating among viewers between ages 18 and 49 and was watched by 12.28 million viewers. Ratings for the remaining two episodes that aired that week fell. On Wednesday, the show received a 3.3 rating and was watched by 10.66 million people.
During the same hour, FOX's competiting show "The X Factor," premiered and won the time slot. The season 2 premiere marked the debut of new judges Demi Lovato and Britney Spears. Aguilera co-starred with her in "The New Mickey Mouse Club" when they were younger and the two were teen pop queens at the same time, starting in the late 1990s.
Shakira, a Colombian singer and songwriter, rose to fame in the United States in 2001 with the song ""Whenever, Wherever," which was accompanied by a sexy music video that showcased her signature hip-shaking dance skills. She is also known for her singles Underneath Your Clothes," which Katie Couric recently sang in a promo for her new talk show "Katie" (watch video) and the 2006 single "Hips Don't Lie," featuring Wyclef Jean.
Shakira is also Grammy winner and has three awards under her belt. The singer also performs and records music in Spanish and has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. She is currently in Barcelona recording her new album.
Shakira has appeared on reality shows such as "American Idol" and played herself on shows such as "Ugly Betty" and "MADtv."
Usher rose to fame in the 1990s with his album "My Way." He is one of the most popular R&B singers in the world and also serves as a mentor in real life to pop star Justin Bieber. Usher has sold more than 65 million records, including 23 million in the United States and has seven Grammys. His sixth studio album, "Raymond v. Raymond," was released in 2010.
With all the talented voices out there in the world," Usher said on his Twitter page. "Other raising stars could benefit from my mentoring. #Teamusher...who's with me? URIV."
This is Usher's most prominent reality television job. He was a guest judge on the talent show "Star Search" in 2003 and was a guest mentor on "American Idol" in 2010.
The singer has many acting credits - he played Jeremy Davis on the show "Moesha" and starred in movies such as "The Faculty," "She's All That" and "Killers" and is currently filming "Hands of Stone." He plays boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard in the movie, which stars Robert De Niro and Gael García Bernal.