“The Voice”: Nice Shows Finish First

The Voice
Posted on 05/04/2011 at 10:50 AM

Related To: News

The Popdust Files: adam levine, blake shelton, cee lo green, christina aguilera, maroon 5, recaps, the voice, the voice

Nakia > Adam Levine > Niki Dawson’s handful of notes > (Meg &) Dia Frampton > Cee Lo Green > Tori and Taylor Thompson > Cherie Oakley’s earrings > Cherie Oakley’s voice > Emily Wynne Hughes Valentine > Tyler Robinson > Julia Eason > Angela Wolff > Miranda Lambert’s night > Casey Weston > Jared Blake > Raquel Castro > Raquel Castro’s hair > Tim Mahoney > Train’s night > Lily Elise > Serabee, Casey Desmond, Justin Grennan and Sara Oromchi combined, for a total of 60 seconds > Curtis Grimes > “If I Ain’t Got You” > Devon Barley > Lady Gaga’s night > Dramatic tension >>> Carson Daly >>>>>>>>>> that “This is The Voice!” intro

It’s only been two episodes, but The Voice is confident enough to announce at the show’s start that it “redefined the singing competition.” This is likely an overstatement, given that contestants are still singing for coach-judges in hopes of not being kicked off. But by this point, it’s at least differentiated itself enough that people can stop talking about American Idol within the same breath. (Oops.)

Last night, each coach picked up five singers to fill out their team of eight; if you’re wondering how the producers crammed eight extra contestants into the same time slot, the answer’s a whole lot of speed rounds, with a few unlucky candidates (and a slew of also-rans) getting about five seconds each. At least we got to see them, though; Idol has a habit of introducing people in Hollywood Week right before kicking them out.

Next week (airing at 10 P.M), teammates will compete against each other, encouraged by the words of their mentors and guest advisers Monica, Reba, Maroon 5 producer Adam Blackstone and Sia. This is definitely a turning point in the competition, but it’s still early on, so we’ve got a few unsolicited pointers on what’s working and what isn’t.

The show’s tone: Idol’s ugliest facet is the icky mock-alongs that make up half the audition episodes, with looks, quirks and personalities all fair game. The Voice doesn’t play mean; when a bearded gay man in his late thirties saunters in, you don’t cringe in anticipation of how the segment will play out.

The voices: “The people we’re not turning our chairs around could win American Idol,” Adam Levine wisecracks, and while that’s just wrong (Hollywood week, maybe), there’s nobody outwardly bad among the coaches’ picks. Idol has never been able to say the same.

Carson Daly: Dude’s a charisma vortex, sucking the life out of anything nearby, and on The Voice he’s consistently either leaden or cringingly awkward. Egging on the alliterative Tori and Taylor Thompson with “Two for the price of one, Cee Lo!”—one of the girls is 17, and the other’s not much older—was last night’s nadir.

The coyness about contestants’ pasts: Hasn’t The Voice learned anything from Idol? Somebody sings suspiciously well, an enterprising Googler reveals a record contract (gasp!) and the producers either become ludicrously secretive or quietly get rid of the offending veteran. We have nothing against semi-pros. But expecting viewers to forget that, say, Dia Frampton is part of Meg & Dia, or the Thompsons had an American Juniors stint, is just condescending.

The non-tension: Daly promises “shootouts” and intense inter-team rivalries, but the coaches are more like bantering teammates who give each other group hugs after scrimmages. We’re instructed to gasp and shudder over every fluctuation in team rosters, but come on. No one was surprised by Adam making his team quota—conveniently in the last ten minutes—or a few singers getting a second shot after Carson told us multiple times that they would.

It’s a shame, because there’s plenty of actual tension. Did that coach really like your voice, or was he just panicked about filling his team slots? What was Blake Shelton getting at when he said his final spots were “wildcards”? Who do they really, really like?

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