"...spin around in their thrones with all the decorum of The Emperor at a wet t-shirt contest..."
Television talent shows are nothing new and certainly nothing original. Whether the great British public is falling flat on their faces for fifteen minutes of fame. Or warbling out their favorite karaoke hits to a TV audience of millions, it hardly matters anymore.
With that in mind, the BBC has jumped on the bandwagon in a big way with The Voice. Following the successful formula of continental Europe, who says we’re not a part of the EU, The Voice has its roots in the Netherlands. The Beeb therefore has employed “major” stars in their effort to foil the vindictive machinations of Lord and Master of Earth, Simon Cowell.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, and quite frankly why wouldn’t you be, the show compromises four judges listening blindly to aspiring singers. If interested, they will spin around in their thrones with all the decorum of The Emperor at a wet t-shirt contest. Should more than one judge spin around, the contestant has to choose who will be their mentor. Simple really.
So to the judges. The four esteemed representatives of a multi-billion pound industry responsible for social trends, political awareness and the fashioning of infinite taste across the globe.
Up first, the alliterated Danny O'Donoghue, a man so anonymous that MI5 still have no clue who he is. As if to add insult to an already bleeding gash of an injury, he proudly promotes his own band, The Script, as Irish “soft rock.” Credits on Mr. O’Donoghue’s sparkling CV include a nomination at this year’s BRITs for best international act. That, in a nutshell, is it.
Second in the lineup is Jessie J. A vocally sound, enjoyable lyricist with the slightly left field style that is still safe for the masses. Her only problem is her relatively green respectability within the industry. Having enjoyed success as a songwriter to the stars before exploding onto the scene in 2010 with a string of catchy hits, her album sales were moderate at best as was her general billboard performance. The BBC, however, always leaps at the chance to capitalize on a popular star.
Then comes Tom “The Voice” Jones. The only member of this venerable cavalcade of follicle freaks who can spell longevity let alone boast it as an accolade. The man who attracts ladies’ underwear with his throbbing, muscular, pulsing… voice and charm is by far the standout star of the show. He is, of course, the visible difference between BBC programming and other broadcasters. Where The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent all attract recognizable names, Jones is a five star, silver bullet star and has been for nearly fifty years.
Over 100 million records sold across genres as diverse as R&B, techno, dance and country, he was great friends with Elvis and called Las Vegas his performing home up until as recently as 2011. It therefore begs the question, if offered the chance to be mentored by this legendary music industry figure of the past half century, why would a contestant choose anybody else?
It should also be noted there is a fourth judge. Will.I.Am takes a break from goading aging rock stars and faded prima donnas to boost his UK image as something more than a sideshow in Cheryl Cole’s circus.
The show is fronted by the usual nodding dog combination associated with prime time Saturday night TV. Reggie Yates draws himself up from obscurity while Holly Wiloughby, the woman offered the role of The Joker without the need of any makeup, glares dead eyed at the audience spouting gibberish.
All of this, of course, and nobody has sang a note. It is ironic, therefore that the public is the one constant throughout this latest masquerading of entertainment. They will always be relied upon to buckle and crack for the viewing public’s pleasure and dismissal.
The Voice therefore adds its name to the ever lengthening list of shows that continues to grow momentum year after year. The formula and unique approach to this format is, however, refreshing in its originality. A blind audition plays well to the highly publicized, moral dilemma of contestants failing to make the cut because they do not have “the look”. For every Susan Boyle there are ten Girls Aloud after all.
In that respect, The Voice seeks to level the playing field. But in a market so overly saturated with similar shows and time tested formulae, originality may not be enough to keep viewers interested. On star power alone, however, The Voice is about as premier league as anything currently on television. A quarter of it anyway.