What You Need To Know About ‘The Voice’

Posted April 27, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

The Voice is screaming at its competition. We have the insider, along with the show’s pros and cons

On Tuesday night, NBC debuted its latest invention to rip into FOX’s cash cow. The Voice, a new reality-TV talent competition which puts celebrity coaches with already-established recording careers (see video) in the fighting ring to assemble superteams of talented singers, is already getting the thumbs up with viewers and pulled off a major landslide of victory in ratings. Although it aired against an elimination round of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and with FOX’s Glee, The Voice proved to be the mightier of the two. It was the No. 1 show of the night in the all-important 18-49 demographic.

The two-hour premiere episode of The Voice also pulled a 5.1 rating/13 share in the demo and 11.8 million viewers, according to early estimates. NBC says that it was the top-rated series premiere on a major network since Undercover Boss debuted following the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2010.

Here’s additional stats on how The Voice compared with its competition:

The Voice beat Glee (4.6 versus 3.4 from 9-9:30) and Dancing with the Stars (4.9 versus 3.5 from 9-10). It improved the time period versus NBC’s season average in the demo by 89% (5.1 versus 2.7) and in viewers by 60 percent (11.7 million versus 7.3 million).

The big question now rises if The Voice will maintain his momentum. An even bigger question is also circulating amongst critics if viewers only tuned in to see if the show really stood a chance against FOX’s juggernaut.

Social networking websites including Twitter and Facebook were on overload last night as viewers scrambled their opinions and high praises of The Voice. Overwhelmingly, the responses were positive.

“#thevoice is MY NEW FAVE COMPETITION SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they are all AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Mel Jogia wrote. Some have even said that it will overshadow ““. “#TheVoice is definitely going to be bigger than American Idol…new favorite show!” tweeted Stephanie Conroy. Another Twitter user, Melissa Zimmerman, commented, “Watchin #TheVoice … Good showww I like it so far. Better than #AmericanIdol”.

So let’s break down what The Voice has to offer, why its better than Idol and what it needs to tweak on.

The pros:

1) The coaches are smart and simply entertaining. Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton have one thing in common. They are contemporary artists with hit records, singles and chart power. They know a thing or two about singing and making music. That advantage alone give them a fair advantage over Idol. Sure, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are veterans in the recording industry, but that’s Idol’s problem. Instead of looking for a wise-crack guy like Simon, they decided to go for the old pros who have recently decided to get back in the recording biz to cash in on Idol’s power. The celebrity coaches on Idol are probably there to get a few more slot increases on the charts (and they will get that), but they aren’t as desperate as J-Lo and Tyler. The Grammy-award winning Cee Lo Green has a big hit record on his hands, Maroon 5’s frontman Adam Levine continues to bring us funky pop singles, Xtina – even with her Star-Spangled flubs, guarantees a space in the spotlight and Blake Shelton is one of country music’s rewarding superstars. They are fresher, cooler and wittier. They don’t have to act like their talent show judges who attended Harvard alums. This kind of show allows them to use their their insatiable humor and industry wit without any regret.

2) The talent is already groomed. Most of the show’s contestants already know their voice. From the early moments of the first episode, we run across contestants who are far from being coined a rookie. They actually have some backbone in music. Some of them were actually familiar to viewers including Javier and Tarralyn Ramsey, who have both released albums prior to the show and now have career issues. Frenchie Davis, a former Idol contestant who was eliminated from the show after producers discovered her dark secret, also landed in the audition round. Sure, the recycled talent is a big problem on the show and will aggravate followers of the show, but this kind of platform leaves no room for the Sanjayas to advance into the finals.

3) Carson Daly > Ryan Seacrest.  Show host Carson Daly has a little advantage over Ryan Seacrest. Over the years, the on-air personality has emerged from being Idol’s moderator to a spotlight-stealing, ego maniac self-proclaimed pro in the musicbiz. With a popular syndicated radio show now in his grasps, Secarest has almost the same power and creative control  of Lorne Michaels. Although he doesn’t have to worry anymore about bullying Simon Cowell, Seacrest suffers from his own list of credentials when concerning the music biz. Clearly he’s the Dick Clark of our generation, but he isn’t really a “music guy.” He’s simply playing the role. Well, you don’t have to worry about Carson Daly facing those kind of criticisms. Daly, a former veejay on MTV’s Total Request Live and current late-night talk show host, knows his music and he knows his pop. With TRL in his hands from 1998 to 2002, Daly introduced the world to Britney Spears, N*SYNC, Aaliyah, Eminem and the Backstreet Boys. It also helps knowing that Daly isn’t trying to be the show’s biggest comic or the attention-grabber. He’s doing his job gracefully. To continue Daly’s validation: He would have never preimered a single as dreadful as Kim Kardashian’s on his show. Never.

4) Game show factor. With Idol’s voting system now a big problem (especially with the unlimited voting used on computers), The Voice succeeds in taking some of the burden away from viewers. Sure, an interactive reality-TV show is better than one that isn’t. But lately, America hasn’t been the brightest at picking reality-TV champions (remember Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, remember Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, e’nuff said). With the spinning chairs and the judges vying to build up talented teams of contestants, The Voice has an edge over Idol. The burden to choose the best of the best is easier on viewers, knowing that Levine, Green, Shelton and Aguilera are also competing against one another.

So far we have only witnessed the first few hours of The Voice. We are still unaware of the show’s errors and what train-wrecks that lies ahead. But there are a few kinks or concerns the producers need to iron out.

The cons:

1) iTunes downloads of early auditions. I know this is another way to capitalize on the dollar, but who would really download Javier’s stripped-down version of “Time After Time,” when there’s countless remakes of the song that supersedes his pre-recorded audition. Then there’s the originals you have to worry about. With singles now priced at $1.29 at most online digital stores, the public will probably scratch out their intention to download a MP3 of a show contestant. Especially if they own DVRs and TEVOs.

2) More airtime for celeb panel. Oh, c’mon. You knew this was coming. The jolly conversations amongst the stars are just as interesting than the talent hoping to get a record deal. Share some more of the spotlight on the ones that already look good in it.

3) Recycled talent has to stop. I like Frenchie. I like Tarralyn. I like Javier. But the recycled talent has got to stop. Ramsey has been on a talent show (and won). She’s recorded several gospel albums and released an album on Casablanca (although the self-titled LP went nowhere). Javier has R&B hit singles in his pocket, he’s just older and now a decade away from his glory days. He’s still got the pipes, but his unfair advantage of being a former employee of Capitol Records gives The Voice a nasty aftertaste. If they don’t stop this, expect to see former Idol contestants running through the gates of The Voice to get a second chance at fame.

So what do you think of the show?
Hit or miss?
Too much hype?
Better than Idol?
Share your thoughts.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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