On Tuesday, in its second week of live broadcast, “The Voice” pulled off an astounding feat; combining a results show and a performance show.
In two hours, they managed to air eight solo performances, two group performances and voted off four people! Host Carson Daly is certainly working for his paycheck, albeit without the same finesse (or pay day) as American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.
Comparing “The Voice” to “American Idol,” is unavoidable. And it is likely that “The Voice” producers not only welcome, but hunger for the comparison.
NBC is attempting to improve upon a ten-season-old formula that has proved wildly successful for FOX. While the results/performance show was deeply appreciated by all who covet efficiency, “The Voice” is like the board game “Risk”: It has such complex directions that it is rarely played and when it is, it is with spontaneously created rules. Fortunately, the show has Carson Daly who repeatedly walks viewers through the more difficult concepts to grasp, like anonymous results: “I don’t know what the results are and neither does [insert coach name].”
Within each team (of which there are four, one for each coach), four singers vie for America’s Vote. The singer with the highest number of votes stays and then the coach decides which one of the remaining three will stay. Within Christina Aguilera’s all-girl team, America opted to save rocker Beverly McClellan, while Christina chose to save former American Idol contestant Frenchie Davis. Lily Elsie and 16-year old Raquel Castro were sent home.
In country singer Blake Shelton’s group, America selected Dia Frampton as their favorite (no surprise here since she is the most talented of the competition) and Blake chose to keep Xenia Martinez, the 16-year-old contestant who makes up for her lack of confidence with her unique tone. Rocker Jared Blake and country-boy Patrick Thomas were the odd men out.
In the performances, Coach Cee Lo Green and Coach Adam Levine’s teams went head to head. It was clear early on that the coaches have very different styles. Cee Lo’s performers had back-up dancers, including fire dancers, while Adams’ performers were more raw and organic.
Adam Levine’s Team:
Devon Barley: The Pre-Med Student chose “Stop and Stare” by One Republic. Maybe medicine is really this kid’s calling because despite the judges’ – sorry coaches’ – positive feedback, it was a dreadful performance. Only Adam pointed out the obvious pitch issues while Blake described Devon as “a guy who can sing his [bleep] off.”
Jeff Jenkins: The young country-man who recently lost his mother, selected Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus Take the Wheel.” While the sentiment was certainly there, unfortunately the voice was not. The coaches were all emulating American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, perhaps in hopes of earning the title of “Most Beautiful Person,” by offering very little constructive criticism, heaps of undeserved praise, and taking advantage of the show’s platform to promote themselves.
Casey Weston: Casey was not happy when Adam urged her to "rock out" her “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” performance. She clearly pushed herself outside of her comfort zone and achieved more than anyone expected, except maybe Adam. The coaches were again pleased, although this time it was moderately deserved.
Javier Colon: There’s been a buzz about Javier from the start of the show but his over singing has been his Achilles Heel. Despite Adam’s advice, “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan had more runs than melody. The cadence was rushed and it lost its poignancy along the way. The coaches, however, loved it.
Cee Lo Green’s Team
Curtis Grimes: This country-singer was no doubt cursing the fates that brought him to Cee Lo’s team as opposed to Blake Shelton’s when Cee Lo chose Robert Palmer’s, “Addicted to Love,” for Curtis to sing. His voice was fine but the repetitions in the song likely lulled many viewers to sleep.
Tori and Taylor Thomson: These sisters may not have related very well to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters, but they looked great and pulled off the complex double-timing, abundant lyrics, and great melody. Carson pointed out that it was perfect performance for Flag Day. See that? This guy is irreplaceable, really.
Vicci Martinez: Vicci was the Dia Frampton of this week’s performances. With her version of “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, she gave an INCREDIBLE vocal and an engaging performance. While the vulnerability of that song always hits home, Vicci imbued the performance with such emotion that she enhanced the song’s ability to touch people.
Nakia: Nakia chose“Sex on Fire,” by Kings of Leon. Cee Lo provided the contestant with scantily clad female fire dancers, who may have been interesting to watch had their movements not been synched to the tremendously boring vocal performance. Sure, Nakia tried. Throwing himself onto the stage floor in one verse, but ultimately he failed to connect to the viewers.
Next Tuesday, “The Voice” will return again to let a whole lot of people sing and send a whole lot of people home. Let’s hope other reality shows are taking note.
What do you readers think? How does it compare to American Idol? Does NBC have a hit on its hands or will this fizzle? Discuss.