The Voice: Real singing or just another TV competition for the fame hungry?
It’s taken me a while to bring myself to tune into The Voice for reasons I’m sure you can imagine. I’m always unsure what to say when my young students eagerly ask who I like best from the X Factor and I was expecting much of the same – sob stories, overacting, crazy outfits and melodrama, coupled with the snide comments we’re used to from Mr Cowell.
The judges provide a balanced mix of expertise of successful vocalists and producers within their own field. During the first show Jessie J and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, Sir Tom Jones and will.i.am listen to each contestant with their back turned to the performer, enabling them to concentrate purely on what they came there to do – sing. If the judge likes what they hear, they press a button and turn around, then bid against other judges to “win” the singer for their group. Instead of the usual bitching and “banter” between the judges, we see them listening and focusing on the singer, giving positive feedback and constructive criticism regardless of whether the singer is through to the next round or not. Of course there’s still some one-up-manship but then it wouldn’t be TV otherwise, would it?
Satisfied that I could take the show half seriously, I tuned in again this week for the “battle round” where two singers are paired together to perform duets, with only one singer to make it through to next week’s live show. What a disaster. If ever there was a nodule-inducing encouragement to over sing, this was it. Every pair who entered the battle ring was almost preset (or had perhaps been coached) to out sing their opponent at the top of their lungs, “give their best” and show the judges what they could offer. Unfortunately, all I heard was a lot of embellished screeching, wailing and straining more likened to child birth than a good vocal performance. The fierce desperation I witnessed was just plain awkward.
What do I think of the Voice? An improvement on previous formats for sure, but in my opinion not a show with the long term interests of the singers it lures in.