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Thoughts On The Voice: Premier

April 26, 2011

Image from Wikipedia

I never know what to do about audition episodes, so I’ll condense my thoughts on NBC’s new show into a quick list.

–        I loved the opening coaches’ performance of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Though I was kind of disappointed that Danger Mouse was nowhere to be found, the judges did a great job sharing mic time. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton both played instruments, while Cee-Lo Green and Christina Aguilera both ably moved to the forefront of the vocals. They just all looked so happy to be there.

–        There was a lot of auditioning using more current music, at least music from the past ten years. It felt like a breath of fresh air from Idol’s retro fetishism. A few older songs got in as well, but they still sounded good performed with the fairly solid house band.

–        There’s probably heavy producer coaching for the panel’s banter (which was still funny), but I felt like Adam Levine’s little air drumming motions were pretty genuine.

–        The Voice is clearly trying to distance itself from the Idol tradition of keeping contestants in the closet – nice step forward. No one should feel obligated to reveal their sexual orientation if he or she doesn’t want to, but it’s cool that there’s no unspoken, yet clearly present gag rule (or big deal reveal) that way. It’s presented as an aspect of the performer’s “getting to know you” personal life, just as it should be.

–        Standout audition: Frenchie Davis, who made the top 24 on Idol Season 2 but was kicked off because of nude pics from earlier on in her career, even though the same shit happened with Antonella Barba later on down the line and she (Antonella) was allowed to continue without incident. Meanwhile Frenchie has been working on Broadway and now she’s ready to give the reality competition thing another go.

–        There were interesting power dynamics at play during the auditions: the blind auditions forced the coaches to put themselves on the line. There’s accountability there, especially for coaches taking risks on contestants who seem to be outside their genre. It also seems to reduce the number of heartstring, tearjerker, clap-trap bullshit contestants that often seem to pass through other reality shows with ease. In a way, these judges/coaches actually have something to lose if they pick performers on “awww-factor” alone. We’ll see how this will play out in future competitions. I’m concerned if coaches will try to impose genre conventions on their teams. Nonetheless, it has to be a good feeling for contestants when multiple coaches who they love and respect are pleading their cases.

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