Team hug: Delta Goodrem, right, encourages a contestant on The Voice Kids.Our verdict: The Voice KidsRatings winner
Benji and Joel Madden are facing tough questions as coaches on the newest talent show to hit screens, The Voice Kids.
‘‘We had a little girl ask us if we believed in Santa Claus,’’ says Benji. ‘‘That was her big question before she chose us as a coach. We had another kid ask us if he could get a tattoo if he was on our team.’’
His answers? ‘‘’Yes’ and ‘no’,’’ he says, laughing.
Comedy isn’t the only benefit of working on the show. Benji also has dibs on the custom-made double-seater red chair for Team Madden. ‘‘I’ve made a special place in my home for it, so we’ll see if they ship it over to me,’’ he says.
Benji joins twin brother Joel – who is already on Aussie screens in his third season of the adult The Voice – for the first English-language children’s version of the talent show. It has already screened in more than 20 countries worldwide, from Albania to Vietnam, and now comes to Australia as the first dedicated talent forum for youngsters since Young Talent Time.
Featuring contestants aged eight to 14, it will feature the same Voice format of blind auditions, battle rounds and sing-offs, and Team Madden is up against fellow coaches Delta Goodrem and former Spice Girl Mel B.
And, far from dealing with pushy parents and screaming brats, Benji, 35, says it has been an experience far exceeding his expectations.
‘‘I wondered if there was going to be these kind of typical bratty stage kids, and I haven’t encountered one of those,’’ he says.
‘‘Kids just make everything such a good time. They have the best attitude. It’s all positive. They don’t have egos yet. They’re really honest, and because they’re so honest, a lot of the things they say make you laugh.’’
The winner – who will be one of three already pre-recorded in a grand finale at Fox Studios earlier this month – will get a $50,000 music scholarship.
Benji says the level of talent would challenge most of the adults featured on the grown-up version. But although the talent might compare, how does the treatment? How do you tell a child they’re out of the show?
‘‘That’s the toughest part; the fact that not everyone is going to get through,’’ he admits. But when it was crunch point, the kids proved they were pretty resilient, more so than adults, perhaps.
‘‘They were almost consoling us. They were like ‘it’s OK, I’m young!’ They had really great attitudes and the whole thing was positive.’’
Fellow coach Goodrem, 29, who bowed out of season three of the main Voice due to recording commitments, began a career in commercials at the age of seven before moving into music and signing a record deal with Sony at 15.
Is there advice she wishes she had received that she could pass on?
‘‘You’re going to learn yourself anyway; your path is going to be your path,’’ she says.
On her own experiences starting out, she says taking the rough with the smooth is key.
‘‘I loved it: I loved my mentors, I loved the people that embraced me and I loved the people that rejected me, too, because then I found my way into having my successes that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to learn and navigate and not always get it right, but get it right sometimes, too.
‘‘And these kids will do that.’’
Madden rejoins his brother, having worked as a mentor to Joel’s team on The Voice in 2012.
Together, he says, he hopes they pass a few nuggets to their young charges.
‘‘The music industry is tough and there is a lot of hard work involved. Joel and I have always taken pride in our work ethic and we learnt at a young age to work hard, but we also just try to have a really great time.
‘‘I just think, you know, sometimes when you turn on the TV, you just need an escape from whatever the challenges in your life are, and this is definitely a light-hearted, really fun, really encouraging show.
‘‘I wasn’t sure how it was going to go when I signed up for it, and I can tell you I would do it in a heartbeat now. It’s been one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had in music. It’s made me remember why I got into music.
‘‘They’ve got so much talent and they have great attitudes and I think everybody in Australia is just going to be proud to say, ‘those are our kids’.’’
The Voice Kids, Sunday, Nine, 6.30pm