‘The Voice’ Poaches Ex-Idols Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson as New Coaches

Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson
Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson onstage during VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul at Hammerstein Ballroom in December 2011 in New York.

News of an American Idol reboot on ABC is only a few days old, and already The Voice — the rival singing show at least partially responsible for Idol’s decline — is stealing Idol’s thunder.

First, it was announced yesterday that Oscar/Grammy/Golden Globe-winner Jennifer Hudson, one of American Idol’s biggest success stories, will be a Season 13 coach on The Voice this fall. And today, even more jaw-droppingly, comes the bombshell news that the all-time Idol queen, inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson, will be a coach on The Voice Season 14 in spring 2018 — right around the time that American Idol is set to return to the airwaves. As Clarkson and Hudson search for a new singing star on NBC’s The Voice, they may very well be directly competing for ratings with the television show that made them superstars in the first place.

Related: Blake Shelton and Adam Levine Nominate Their “Voice” Successors

As surprising as this development may seem, Clarkson and Hudson were already honorary members of the extended Voice family, in a way. Both Clarkson and longtime Voice coach Blake Shelton are managed by Starstruck Entertainment, Clarkson has performed on The Voice multiple times, and she was a Team Blake guest adviser in 2012; Hudson was a coach on The Voice U.K. this year, and she won the show.

“I’m so excited to join The Voice at NBC,” Clarkson said today in a press release. “We’ve gone back and forth about a role as a coach for years, but the timing hasn’t been right until now. I have always loved appearing on the show as an adviser or performer and established an amazing relationship with the network during my Christmas special. I can’t wait to turn my chair and see the faces of up-and-coming artists and provide them with the help and support they’ve needed to break into the industry. Watch out, Shelton, I’m comin’ to win!”

Clarkson was reported to be in talks to judge the new American Idol on ABC; she was the first and only Idol alum to guest-judge on a live competitive episode, during last year’s “farewell” season for Fox, and her appearance received rave reviews. According to Variety, Clarkson’s new deal with The Voice now dashes any possibilities of her judging Idol in the future. (Side note: Clarkson and Hudson’s Voice hiring may seem like the ultimate Idol burn, but in a weird way, it’s a compliment. After all, The Voice has not generated a single superstar worthy of being a panelist on any rival reality show.)

With speculation circulating that Idol alumni might sit behind the judges’ table for Idol’s relaunch, it is interesting to realize that two of the show’s top superstars are already off the table, so to speak. As for which former contestants might end up judging instead, Carrie Underwood is the top-selling Idol and has always demonstrated great loyalty to AI, so she would be a great get; fan favorite Adam Lambert, who ably filled in for judge Keith Urban during the American Idol Season 14 auditions and won last year as a coach on The X Factor Australia, seems like a good bet as well. However, it has not yet been revealed who will join Clarkson, Shelton, and Adam Levine on The Voice Season 14, so at this rate, don’t be surprised if Underwood or Lambert ends up in that mix instead.

No new American Idol judges have been officially announced yet, and it’s also still unclear whether original Idol host Ryan Seacrest, who just signed on as the permanent co-host of ABC’s morning show Live With Kelly and Ryan, will participate in the new Idol.

So who’s going through to Hollywood? Watch this space.

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