will.i.am on The Voice Kids’ Battles: ‘There’s some hard decisions to make!’

Superstar coach will.i.am on the joys of mentoring little ones as The Voice Kids' Battles commence...

Having already impressed the coaches at the Blind Auditions on this series of ITV’s The Voice Kids, our talented pint-sized performers now have to up their game… because it’s time for the Battles.

In the first of two Battle shows, coaches will.i.am, Paloma Faith, Danny Jones and Pixie Lott will be challenging their teams to sing-off in groups of three – and there can only be one winner per group. By the end of next Saturday’s second Battle show, each coach will have just three acts left to take through to the semi-final.

Voice Kids coaches chairs

Let Battle commence… (L-R) Coaches Danny Jones, Pixie Lott, Paloma Faith and will.i.am…

And seven-time Grammy Award-winner will.i.am, who’s also a coach on the grown-up version of the show, The Voice UK, knows he has some tough decisions ahead.

Here, Los Angeles-born will.i.am, 45, tells us why he enjoys helping the next generation of music stars take their first steps to success in The Voice Kids…

I love the kids’ show…

“There’s something that the kids bring that the adults forget and that’s a zest for life, no extra agendas and fun. When was the last time as adults we were like: ‘Yo, let’s go outside and play!?'”

Pixie is competitive…

“There are some people in life that are so determined to win that they are a threat. But Pixie’s a non-threat in that you want her to win; she has that energy about her where everyone just wants to see her succeed. So we’re competing but Pixie’s just too adorable for me to think: ‘I’m gonna keep my eye on you’.”

The Voice Kids Pixie Lott

Don’t let the sweet smile fool you… Pixie Lott is the most competitive of all the coaches, says will.i.am

My team is looking really good…

“I’ve had the most variety I’ve ever had from nine years of doing the show, in any of the adult competitions or the kids. From a grime rapper to a soul singer and everything in between – it’s the most diverse it’s been. There’s going to be some hard decisions to make at the Battles. They’re all so good.”

Rappers are really standing out…

“Because of Lil Shan Shan last year, this series I have the most rappers that have ever been on The Voice. It took her to say that rappers have a place on this show and can really make an impact. We can really see the effect of Lil Shan Shan this series with acts like Ray-Tee and Thaila.”

The Voice Kids Lil Shan Shan

A star is born… will.i.am claims The Voice Kids is witnessing the Lil Shan Shan (pictured) effect…

The competition is wide open…

“There’s so much talent. Of course, we all want to say our own contestants will win but there’s too many to pick one. The level is up on last year – there’s some really young ones and they’re REALLY good!”

The advice I would give my younger self is…

“Don’t do drugs! Growing up, I was a square guy. My pals wondered why I didn’t do drugs and, with my ex-girlfriends, I was always the guy that said: ‘Maybe we shouldn’t rush!’ Yeah, I was THAT guy! The girls would think I was weird but then I’d go home and tell my mum and she’d say: ‘Yeah, that’s how I raised you, boy!'”

Music is at the root of everything I do…

“I have a school in my neighbourhood of Boyle Heights, which teaches science, computer science and robotics but I can’t ignore the singing. I have to keep a path open for kids who want to pursue music, so I can share my perspective and understanding of the terrain to aspirational singers. That’s why I’ll keep returning to The Voice Kids.”

will.i.am on The Voice Kids

Guiding light… will.i.am says he loves mentoring the next generation of singing superstars…

My older self is coaching me…

“Recently, I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, sitting in a board meeting, talking about Artificial Intelligence. Coming from where I come from, I walked out of that meeting thinking: ‘How did I get here!? Why am I at the World Economic Forum talking about Artificial Intelligence?’ I know now that philanthropy and technology is what I’ll be focusing on when I’m 65. So it has to be my older self guiding me and keeping me on this path so that I end up where 65-year-old me needs to be.”

I don’t really have down time…

“I don’t go on vacation because I don’t really like the feeling of being idle or paying to do nothing. What I really like are spa days – at a spa you’re still working on something, either relaxing your muscles or getting a pedicure or manicure. For me, letting my hair down means taking a hat off!”

The Voice Kids continues Saturdays at 7.25pm on ITV

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