Thursday, June 30, 2011

Way to go, "The Voice". Thanks to you, I can no longer feel superior.

I had never even watched an episode of American Idol all the way through. But there I was, hitting “repeat” on my phone over and over, eagerly placing my votes to help a Janis Joplin-sounding, bald, combat-boot-wearing, fist-pumping 42-year-old to realize her dream of $100,000 and a record contract.

Way to go, The Voice. Thanks to you, I can no longer feel superior.

Kevin and I started watching the show a couple of weeks into the season after my daughter, a music-education major who has been known to sing a note or two herself, told me it was head and shoulders above other such contests. The premise: Singers compete to be the last one standing – “The Voice” -- each assisted along the way by one of four celebrity “coaches.”

Right away, we were hooked, despite my best intentions – very uncharacteristic behavior for both Kevin and me, as neither of us tends to show much loyalty to any popular network show (except, of course, for my long-beloved-but-on-life-support Grey's). It drew the kids in, too; when Caroline was home, she’d actually sit down to watch it with us. And Logan, 14, turned out to be quite the fan as well, discussing the merits of Nakia’s song choice or the odd mimes sharing the stage with Lily, or the “hotness” of the 16-year-old who sang the Ke$ha song.

Strangely, The Voice also began to impact my life at work. I found myself seeking out lunchtime conversations that revolved around the show, or trading instant messages with my friend Kim, another fan, the mornings after the episodes aired. It was rather odd behavior for two 40-something women, indeed, but we found we didn’t really care.

What was it about The Voice, which ended its first season last night? Why am I really sad it’s over, and why will I be waiting in front of the DVR as soon as the show is back on NBC’s schedule next winter?

  • Unlike Idol, it wasn’t ridiculously long. The Voice lasted about eight weeks – not a huge time commitment.
  • I liked the premise. Although the audience always was able to see the contestants, the coaches were able only to listen to them during the audition rounds. So each coach ended up choosing the members of his or her team based on vocal quality alone, not on appearance. (If you think that was a gimmick – as I did until I later watched the audition rounds on Hulu – you’re mistaken; Christina Aguilera’s face, when she turned her chair around to see the bald, tattooed Beverly, whom she had chosen solely based on her powerful pipes, was a thing to behold.)
  • I don’t care for country music, and I although I sort of knew who Blake Shelton was, I had never heard him sing, and I had only a working knowledge of Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine. But these celebrities appealed to me; unlike Simon Cowell and his ilk, they seemed to genuinely like what they were doing. And I was always amused when they were able to take Christina down a notch, as was the case when Blake made fun of the stupid mimes Christina had selected to maul the obviously doomed Lily.
  • During the course of the show, Cee-Lo wore the following costumes, among others: Samurai; Sly Stone; Muppet; Transformer. Cee-Lo, with his big smile and oddly tiny arms and hands and verbal love letters to his team members, was worth the price of admission all on his own.
  • Once the contestants were whittled to eight, any one of them could have won. With the exception of an “off” song or two, they were all that good.
But when it comes right down to it, the primary reason I ended up hooked on the show was that, as syrupy as it sounds, everyone seemed to want everyone else to succeed. The whole set-up more closely resembled a musical summer camp than a cut-throat competition, and after a day filled with the typical aches and pains and stresses we all face, it felt good to watch people who weren’t sniping at one another.

My favorite singer didn't win the contest; I preferred the Melissa Etheridge-like Beverly, with her tartan plaids, leather jackets and stomping Doc Martens, to all the rest. But no one can fault the voting public for the selection of the talented Javier.

In fact, I hold no ill will toward any of them except for this: Thanks to the show, I can no longer call myself a network-TV snob. Even if for some reason I’m not able to forward through the commercials, I’ll be glued to the futon when The Voice starts up again next winter. Sigh.


  1. I have never watched American Idol and I've never watched the voice. But I had to watch the Stevie/some guy do "Landslide" because Stevie posted it on her Facebook page. And what I liked about it is was such a lovely, gentle arrangement. Any time I've seen any clip from "Idol" it's like "whoever can sing the loudest wins."

  2. And by the way, I do not not watch these shows because I don't believe the contestants aren't talented. For me, it's the song selection. I don't really care to hear other people sing songs I was sick of years ago.