I watched the first episode of NBC’s “The Voice” online because I missed its original airing on Tuesday, thanks to “Dancing with the Stars” race to the mirror ball trophy live special. I gotta say, I really like the format of this newest singing competition. Now, we need another singing competition like we need a hole in the head, but it’s quirky and different enough to standout and I think be successful.
The Voice features Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine as the coaches on the show. One of the best selling points of the show is the first round or ‘blind auditions’ where each contestant sings with the judges back turned to the stage. This format guarantees that the singer will be judged solely on his/her talent, and not on their physical appearance or how sellable their look is. While the contestant is performing, each judge can press a button which signals they want the contestant on their team. If all the judges press their buttons, obviously the power goes to the contestant because they can decide who they want as a coach/mentor. At the end of the blind auditions, each judge will have eight contestants which they'll have to coach/mentor on their team (after Episode 1, each coach has three). In the next phase of the competition, the judges cut down their teams from eight to four. Those four contestants have to compete in ‘battle rounds’ where they perform the same song before an audience, until the finalists are narrowed down and chosen to perform solo. At this point, home viewers vote to eliminate the contestants left standing until one singer is crowned the winner. As in all of these singing competitions, the winner wins a recording contract.
As I said, I love the blind audition part of the show, and equally love the fact that each contestant will receive guidance and mentoring from their coach and not just a critique of what they've done wrong. I don’t know yet if, as in Idol, contestants will have weekly themes determining their song choice during the battle rounds, hopefully not. Lastly, I must say that the competitiveness between the judges is quite refreshing, especially when compared to the kumbaya-vibe of the Idol judges. Christina and Adam seemed the two guiltiest culprits in Episode 1, butting heads more than once over a contestant they both wanted. I think that competitiveness and drive to win can only benefit the contestants, as each coach has a stake in whether they win or lose, even if it's only a matter of pride.
Having watched Episode 1, I would've wanted Rebecca Loebe (Adam’s team), Elenowen and Xenia (both from Blake’s team) on my team (click on each name to go to the YouTube video of each performance). I like Kelsey Rey and Javier Colon too, and I can see Javier becoming an early favorite. Great show (so far)! You should check out Episode 2 next Tuesday at 9:00 pm.