The swivel chairs have been junked, the boxing metaphors have gone the way of Mickey Rourke, the previews have been pinched off, and to my infinite relief, The Voice is a gimmick-free, no-nonsense singing competition!
Oh, of course there was filler. Start with that opening medley where Cee-Lo Green the Soul Machine got short-circuited by Queen, Blake Shelton outsang him on probably the only song where that’s possible, Christina Aguilera spontaneously developed an alto register and Adam Levine wasn’t Freddie Mercury. Fast-forward through the Alison Haislip Twitter-shill sessions that’d turn Clay Shirky into Nicholas Carr. Then get through the group performances, one decent (“Lady Marmalade,” probably because the Xtina remake was already a four-person showcase) and one not (“This Love,” probably because it wasn’t. But I saw what you did there on that “keep her coming” line, Jared Blake!) Watch the producers try to bake drama into the sushi and barbecue pep rallies. Disagree with eight rounds’ worth of nu-Idol non-judging and uncomfortable moments like Blake practically bro-fisting Adam after the snarkier dude told Christina to shut up. Go ahead, do it all. Because it’s really not so much filler after all, and underneath is a surprisingly solid core of a singing competition.
Here’s how elimination will work for now (all the rules of The Voice are only for now). Two teams face off per night, in your standard singoff followed by America’s votes. A 10-vote limit per artist and/or method is in place to thwart those stan-and-deliver frenzies of speed dialing you got on Idol. There’s also online voting, and conveniently for the crew’s salaries, buying the performances online also counts as a “vote.” All this multiplatform voting benefits one singer, the top vote-getter who’ll advance. Then one coach pick per team will advance, and the other two teammates will exit TV until they find their way onto the next major singing competition.
Tonight we saw Team Xtina’s divas duke it out against Team Blake’s surprisingly un-country grab-bag. Click NEXT to see our take on Team Xtina.