‘Voice’ premier tries hard to be nice

NBC’s new talent show “The Voice” premiered last night.It’s the latest in a long string of talent shows that are riding the American Idol wave to easy ratings. The initial premise is great, but that will be past soon, and we’ll be left with a typical elimination based show.

The first round consists of the judges choosing eight singers for their team based solely on each singer’s voice. The judges are Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Each performer sings while the judges’ chairs are turned away. If a judge likes what he/she hears, they hit a button and turn to see who’s singing.

It’s a nice hook, but I can already see problems with the set up. For one thing, though the judges can’t see the singer they can see each other. Since the judges come from different genres, that means they’re less likely to take a chance on a singer out of their style. For example, for the big-voiced singers, Shelton was much less likely to hit his button if Aguilera had already hit hers.

Am I the only one who thinks Shelton could be Gary Sinise’s long lost brother?

It would have been better had the judges been separated by partitions. Of course that might cut down on the banter which mainly consisted of Aguilera chiding Levine for being a good salesman.

There’s also the problem that arises when multiple judges want the same singer. The judges are from pretty distinct genres, which means you can easily tell which singer will choose which judge. The singer with the cowboy hat, yeah he chose Shelton, the country music singer.

It would have been more interesting had the contestants not known which judges wanted them and simply had to choose blindly as well. Once the choice was made, then the judges could banter and give feedback.

There’s also the problem with the audience. The selections are supposed to be solely on the voice, but the audience reacts to the performance.

There’s also the problem of the duet. A duo was allowed to compete which simply doesn’t seem fair to solo singers. A duo can do more performance wise and appeal to a wider segment of the audience. Voting will come in to play later, and I think that throws off the entire competition.

But truthfully, is it really a competition?

Yes, the contestants are selected by their voice, but almost all of those selected were either good-looking or charismatic. Jeff Jenkins was the only one who looked like a normal, off-the-street guy. And we can’t forget the tragically hot Kelsey Ray burdened with curse of looking awesome. You can try to throw Beverly into the mix if you want to argue the point, but she has plenty of charisma.

Let’s not forget, these singers were pre-screened.

Still, I find the show’s niceness and sanity refreshing at the moment. If someone isn’t picked, the judges send them away with words of encouragement and constructive criticism.

It’s also fun to watch the judges get turned down by contestants. It’s a great way of flipping things around briefly. Of course, in future rounds the judges will have a great deal more control.

For now, it was a solid opening for the show, but the blind audition gimmick is just there to get you hooked for a few episodes. The Voice will have to be pretty impressive if it wants to rise above the throng of talent shows currently in the mix.

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