WASHINGTON • All celebrity coaches on NBC's The Voice brag about the potential of their contestants and Blake Shelton was no different after his team member, 23-year-old Nashville rocker Chloe Kohanski, was crowned the winner of Season 13 last week.
But backstage with reporters after the show last Tuesday night, he made a big claim: "I truly think Chloe can go on from here and become really the first superstar."
Then he quickly walked back his pronouncement a bit, saying she could be "the first star that we've had come out of this show that can have some hit songs".
"I do think you can be a superstar," he added, according to a transcript from Hollywood Life. "But I'm trying not to hex this thing."
Shelton's hesitation makes sense. The Voice winners have notably had some issues becoming real-life music stars once the show ends and their recording contracts kick in.
Some winners, such as Cassadee Pope, Jordan Smith and Danielle Bradbery, launched successful singles and albums. Others, such as Alisan Porter and Craig Wayne Boyd, parted ways with the label without releasing a record.
In the past, celebrity coach Adam Levine has blamed the record labels.
After a contestant wins, he is assigned to a label within Universal Music Group and executives take it from there. Levine complained in an expletive-filled interview with radio personality Howard Stern that "no one knows what they're doing" on the label side, which is frustrating when the show and coaches boost them so much on national television.
Kohanski is leaving The Voice with as much momentum as one could hope for, with a string of Top 10 iTunes singles from the show and a loyal fan base that connected to her psychedelic rock-inspired sound.
She also has Nashville superstar Shelton as a mentor and a fan.
"It would change music if she could get on the radio," he said.
Although Shelton's country colleagues might not necessarily help with her psych-rock dreams, he is still well-connected in the city where Kohanski lives - and, until her appearance on The Voice, worked in a coffee shop as a struggling musician.
Will she break The Voice's nosuperstar curse? Either way, the show's ratings are stellar as it still averages about 10 million viewers an episode.
But with American Idol returning to ABC in March and threatening to steal some of the reality singing competition spotlight, it would not hurt the show to earn some credibility and break a huge artist.
"The record company just needs to give her the platform. If it can really do that, it's going to be easy," Shelton said after the finale, according to USA Today. "If we can't follow through with this thing, then WTF?"