It’s taken me a long while to get my thoughts together about the Beeb’s bizarre and puzzling new Saturday night show, The Voice.
I mean, I get that it’s about people’s voices- not about their looks but about the VOICE, not about who they know or the clothes they wear but the VOICE. Yes the BBC drove that one home with about 500 references in the first five minutes, but so much else was left unclear.
What do they win, how were these people selected to compete, how are the judges actually going to help them and who the heck is the annoying bloke in seat number 4? After a bit of googling (and then re-googling as I promptly forgot) the answer to that last conundrum was revealed to be Danny O’Donoghue from the Script. We’re still not entirely sure what they win- a recording contract I think.
The basic concept with the blind auditions is nice, if rather naive, as in the end all these acts are going to end up in the same image obsessed industry as the X Factor contestants and other pop star wannabes. Also, it was slightly flawed by the fact that these people had been ‘invited’ to perform by producers who would have known what they looked like. It was nice to have purely decent singers but for the concept to work the auditions should have been open.
Consequently we had a few token chubbies (nothing drastic), a couple of slightly geeky guys and a gorgeous lady with alopecia, alongside a string of attractive contestants, including an ex-member of boy band Five and a willowy, pretty 17 year old. None of these were Susan Boyle moments that bashed prejudiced ideas or allowed someone really different a chance in the spotlight. And let’s face it, like it or not, once we get into the live shows, looks are going to come into play, same as ever.
The show itself is an odd affair. One noticeable thing is that despite Holly Willoughby’s much publicised move from Dancing on Ice to the Beeb, she only conducts interviews backstage, there is no presenter as such to stop the judges bickering, shut up contestants who blabber on, or generally move the show along. It’s all left, rather awkwardly to the judges to manage things between them and results in a slow pace.
The judges themselves sit facing away from the stage in giant red thrones, designed to act like waltzers, which spin round and light up with ‘I want you’ if they press their button to like an act. It’s all painfully gimmicky and usually ends up with the judges copying eachother whether the verdict’s yes or no anyway.
If the contestants have a choice of mentors (though quite what Will.i.am, Jessie J, Tom Jones and Danny Thing are actually going to do for them remains a mystery) they get the hard-sell, with Tom and Will.i.am name dropping left right and centre, Danny waving his arms and openly begging and Jessie J going on about ‘the music’. The contestant then picks Jessie J because she’s their total favourite and they’d already decided when they made the choice to cover Price Tag, that she’s the one for them.
Indeed, the stand-out moment of the whole show was not an inspirational performance, but when one poor fool in a daft hat chose Danny as his mentor.
In short, I found The Voice was entertaining but alas, for all the wrong reasons. To figure out what you think of the show catch it every Saturday on BBC One at 7pm or watch it online on iPlayer.