“We’re only dealing with good singers, so those negative conversations never take place. We don’t have people up there for the wrong reasons.”
(My suspicion is that any one of the show’s four celebrity “coaches” would have said the same thing. But I like Adam the most so he gets the quote). So that’s precisely why it’s going to be totally watchable; in fact the “blind” pre-screening element is one of several things that distinguish The Voice from Idol and all those other Ordinary Person Breaks Out As A Sensation shows that I find so wholly disturbing. (You know, where some poor sod leverages their entire home and farms his or her children out to cruel, unknown relatives all for a shot at greatness only to encounter that barrage of blistering brutality people like Simon Cowell call “criticism.”)
This one will be different, and I think the premise is genuinely intriguing. Here’s what happens. Hopefuls sing and they are heard – but not seen by — the four celebrity coaches. So zero visuals. They’re judged on their voice alone. Then, each coach selects eight singers and form a team, which they then mentor to compete against the other teams (they’re visible now). I’m told the coaches do have to cull their teams down to four competitors, but here’s hoping they do it in a civilized way (plus, it kind of doesn’t matter because we know they’re all good so they’ll be able to handle it by that point). Winners are chosen by us, the viewers. Now I’ve never been moved to text anything to a TV screen, but maybe this time I will. The four coaches are each performers themselves who have collectively sold about seven zillion records between them. They are Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green. Obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of competition among these guys too, since everyone wants to put their best foot – and singers – forward. Something about the team element makes this whole project seem considerably more appealing to a wimp like me who hates to cringe while watching TV.
The idea of a blind selection brings up another point, too. Because back when movies were black and white and silent, there were movie stars. Yet, once the movies made the leap from “silent” to “talkies”, lots of silent movie stars were plum out of work because they had terrible-sounding voices, trouble speaking, or a very unconvincing manner when in front of a microphone. Thus a new crop of talking movie stars appeared. Similarly, when music sales had only radio, you had to like a singer or a band based on their music alone; if you bought their record you usually saw a picture of them but really, you didn’t get the whole deal until you went and saw them in concert. The advent of MTV and videos changed all that big time (just like the talkies) because suddenly the way a singer looked in a video had a massive impact. It could make all the difference. If you weren’t easy on the eyes you were at a distinct disadvantage, and more significantly, if you were easy on the eyes and you had a sharp video you could sell millions of records just on your presentation alone. Even if your music was sub-par. So this Voice contest will be interesting because it’s designed to create that kind of situation right out of the gate – and thus it may be fascinating and not a little telling to see who gets selected. I’ll tune in…will you?
1) Christina Aguilera
2) Cee Lo Green
3) Blake Shelton
4) Adam Levine