Last fall I wrote about how I was supremely bored with reality television and had stopped watching many of my favorites, including my beloved The Amazing Race. That may be changing, as I am absolutely giddy about The Voice. It remains to be seen whether this love will blossom or fizzle, but I’m eager to see what happens tonight.
The singing competition is an import from Holland and has a few innovative features. Instead of judges, there are four coaches: Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton. In the first round, the coaches pick teams that will then compete in later rounds. The auditions in this phase are blind. The coaches, sitting on rotating chairs, hear the contestants perform and decide if they like them enough to press a button and turn around during the performance. If only one judge turns, the singer joins their team. If more than one judge turns, the singer gets to pick which coach they prefer to work with. If no one turns, the contestant does not move on.
Throughout the competition, the coaches will work with the singers to develop their talent, eventually sending only the best to compete against the other teams. In the (final) live performance phase, the television audience will vote to save one contestant on each team, leaving the coach to decide who they want to save and who will not move on. Finally, one contestant from each coach’s team will compete in the finale.
Really, they had me at blind auditions. I loved the concept from the first I heard of it. One of the biggest flaws in the judging of American Idol was both Simon’s and Paula’s tendency to be swayed by a contestant’s looks. I also love that the coaches can’t just give bland positive feedback; they have to actually commit to the singers. And, unlike American Idol, these contestants have actually been screened for talent, so there are no “bad” auditions.
What has been really interesting is watching the judges during the auditions and seeing the decision play across their face. Does this person really have a unique talent? Does it make sense for me to work with them? If I don’t turn, will I be sorry? If I do, will I be sorry?
And, of course, one gets to play along: What would make me turn? Why are they taking so long? Who is Blake Shelton and why have I never known about this man? Why is Christina Aguilera ending up with such a bad team? What the hell is Carson Daly doing on this show?
These and other questions may be answered tonight (Tuesday) at 9pm on NBC. John Marcher, I hope you are watching this.