I have never been a big follower of the string of talent search-themed reality shows.
I remember watching the first season of “American Idol,” but since that year, I haven’t paid any attention. Despite this, I have found myself intrigued by NBC’s answer to the singing competition titled “The Voice.” It is the concept of the show that I find fascinating.
“The Voice” features four major singing stars as coaches for teams of aspiring singers. In the opening round of the show the talent of the singers are judged solely on their singing talent. Appearance is somewhat taken out of the equation, because the celebrity coaches have their backs turned to the stage while they perform their opening numbers. Slowly, but surely, each celebrity coach’s team takes form as they make their selections.
This is a really interesting concept for drafting potential talent. In a perfect world, one would like to think looks don’t matter, but especially in the music business, image is an essential aspect of making a mark. There have been some surprises throughout the show’s first season and already now in its second year. What has proved to ultimately overpower the high concept, is the almost creepy nature of the coaches. Each episode seems to become increasingly filled with awkward moments.
The first coach is Maroon 5′s lead-singer Adam Levine. He checks in on the awkward list due to the fact that he can’t seem to let go of the fact that one of his singers was the winner of season one. An occasional mention here in there would be fine, but it seems that is his defense for any argument between himself and his fellow judges. I think this shows the true nature of “The Voice.” The actual contestants are only background players, because the show is much more about promoting the personalities and projects of the judges.
Pop star Christina Aguilera serves as the lone female judge. She may have important, witty advice for the contestants, but who would ever know. It becomes impossible to listen to her, because she seems to be trying to revive the “Xtina” moniker she sported during her “Dirrty” stage of her career with her gestures. Promoting herself in that fashion just seems unnatural and forced now from her occasionally referring to herself by the nickname and showing it on the rings on her fingers that spell it out.
The king of awkward on the show is eccentric crooner Cee Lo Green. Judging by the first two episodes of this season, it seems like he is less concerned with putting together a talented team and more occupied with hitting on the contestants. Then Cee Lo kicks the weirdness into high gear during interview segments. For some reason he finds it necessary to discuss the show while stroking a large, fluffy white cat. It’s almost like he is doing his best to channel a James Bond villain of some sort. Why producers allow Cee Lo to bring his feline to the studio has me bewildered.
The final celebrity coach is country star Blake Shelton. Before the show’s premiere he was probably more famous for being married to spitfire Miranda Lambert. It seems there are moments when Blake himself is confused by what he is doing on the show. He has yet to establish a consistent attitude or direction on the show. It seems one week he is trying to snatch up one type of artist, then the next he has completely changed his tune as to what he wants. Also, because he is a physically imposing force as well over six and half feet tall, I think he scares some contestants. Then there is the fact that he spends more time bickering with his fellow coaches than actually judging the talent.
Whatever my impressions of the coaches may be, “The Voice” is proving to be a solid success for NBC. In the end, it does not matter if the eventual winner goes onto big things or not, because the viewership for the show itself is there. So as I continue to scratch my head at the odd tension between Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera or the repeated shots of Cee Lo Green ominously stroking a kitty, I cannot argue that this singing competition has most certainly found it’s voice and should not be regarded as an “American Idol” ripoff.