As one of four mentors on The CW’s new reality singing competition series The Next, Cuban-American singing sensation Gloria Estefan helps up-and-coming artists in different cities make the leap from opening act to headliner.
Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with the Queen of Latin Pop to get her take on what sets the show apart from reality singing competition juggernauts American Idol, The Voice, and The X Factor — and why she loves watching those shows, too.
The Next airs every Thursday at 9/8c on The CW.
Wetpaint Entertainment: What was it about The Next that made you want to join?
Gloria Estefan: I loved several things about it. Number one, I don't have to judge anybody. We just mentor. And I love the fact that I actually get to spend time with these people. It's the only show where by the time the person sings the audience is invested emotionally in them, because they get to see who they are, who their family is, what they do, what their history has been. I only choose things in my life at this moment that I really care about doing and that are interesting to me. And we have great chemistry, the four mentors! You can't make that up. You can't pretend or fake it. And we all decided we're going to have fun with it. Yes, we get some serious mentoring in, but we also can be silly, which I love.
Does it bring you back to a time where as an artist you’re so hopeful, but there's really no tangible success to speak of?
But of course. Believe me, that is very clear in my memory. You never forget that. A lot of them talk about controlling their nerves getting on stage, and I’m like, “You never lose that.” You're not human if you don't feel a little nerves before you get on a stage and tens of thousands of people are going to be staring at you the entire time. And there's people in the front row with binoculars. [Laughs] That doesn't go away. But we have learned all kinds of things that we can share with them to get them ready for this one night where there's a lot of pressure.
Is it more nerve-wracking for you to watch them perform after you've gotten to know them as opposed to an X Factor or Idol where they're just people walking in the door?
Oh my God, yes. You're emotionally invested. You've spent 72 hours with these people. You've met their family. You see their struggle. You see how much this means to them, how they've trudged along trying to push their careers on their own in different ways. So, yeah, definitely. By the time they're up there, they're friends. And they are people you care about. And that's what I think also carries the audience. I think they also will care much more. By the time they hear that person sing, they will have seen the package and that's different from anything I've seen on any other show.
And as a TV viewer, what do you love about watching shows like X Factor and Idol?
I love what everybody else loves about it. First of all, when Idol started, what did I love? Simon. His snarky remarks. His abuse of the people. It was almost like watching a train wreck.
You won't see artists being like that. That’s why you don't see J. Lo or Steven Tyler or Adam Levine, Christina, Cee-Lo — they're never going to be mean, because we're artists. We know what it feels like. We know the nakedness of being up on that stage. And even worse, we’ve had to deal with critics after we put out an album, but we don't have to deal with someone attacking you right there on the stage. So, we love to see those tense situations. We also love to see competitions.
You kind of analyze how it is that people get voted. I think on Idol, there's a pattern where you see the cute guy win because girls are the ones that are going to spend hours on the phone voting. It almost makes me wish that you could only vote once from your phone because it would be a lot more fair. But that's just the way it is.
I love The Voice because there's a different dynamic that goes on there, the team situation. However, I went to see a taping the other day, and I think I would die if I had to pick between two fantastic singers. I mean to be the one to put someone on the chopping block, that would not be fun for me. And I just want to have fun with what I do. So that's why I love what we're doing here on the show.