When Kylie Minogue appeared at yesterday’s launch of The Voice at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House, the excitement in the audience was palpable.
Fortunately, for the BBC who have struggled with this reality show format ever since buying it for bundles two years ago, the energy around Kylie’s signing as a coach for third series is the same on the screen as it was in the radio theatre auditorium, where a couple of hundred weary television writers took their seats to watch the first episode, coming to BBC1 this coming Saturday.
In signing the diminutive diva to sit in her spinning chair, with its specially modified step to accommodate her petite frame, the BBC have played a blinder. Here’s why…
For starters, there’s nobody in the room who can compete with Kylie for sheer star power. Will.i.am may have the world’s most downloaded single (I Gotta Feeling) under his belt, but, its 8.3 million clicks is still a fraction of Kylie’s 70 million record sales.
It’s a success to which even veteran Sir Tom must doff his cap. She’s weathered pop, grunge, disco, Olympic ceremony carnivals, and intimate acoustic performances. So when Kylie speaks about how to survive the tundra of the music business, she knows what she’s talking about.
The first episode kicks off with the coaches joining together for a montage of ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. Immediately, we’re reminded of Kylie’s great collaborative power, proved over 25 years with artists from Jason Donovan to Nick Cave, sister Dannii to Robbie Williams. Despite the petite glamour, she wreaks diversity and versatility.
Kylie has never actually been quoted being critical, lavish in her praise for everyone, including even her ex Olivier Martinez. This generosity of spirit shines through on The Voice, where she and the other coaches are warm, jokey and supportive of each other.
In a key moment during the first episode, Sir Tom sits in the chair next to her, hovering with his hand over the button, enthusiastic but undecided. Kylie sorts him out. “Go, Tom, go,” she whispers, and it’s all he needs. His chair spins obediently. It’s clear who the boss is here.
Kylie brings her unique brand of girl power to the operation. When she’s not refereeing between two other coaches – “I’ll just be the girl saying Round Two” – she’s telling one contestant she can offer her a girl’s perspective. Even when she opts not to spin for another, she lets her know, “If you need any girly advice, come to my dressing room.” The message is clear – it’s girls together!
As for that subset of girl-power, flirting, Kylie reigns supreme. She winks, she smiles, she fans herself. At one point during Episode 1, she’s so happy to see one of the contestants, she has to go and hide behind her chair “to compose myself for a while”.
But, because it’s her, the message is a very sophisticated one. This is no flirting, because “I need you to like me”. Because Kylie really, really doesn’t. This is star who dates A-list actors, Burberry models. And appears just as confidently and completely as a single lady. So ultimately, when Kylie chooses to flirt with you, it’s just one big compliment, as one of the Voice’s first singers discovered, to his delight.
“You can’t compare,” Will.i.am and Sir Tom kept saying at the launch, when mischievously asked who was better, Kylie or her predecessor Jessie J.
“I can’t get in the door as far as my actual voice is concerned,” said Kylie of Jessie’s talents. “I hope she enjoys the show.”
If she does, she won’t be the only one. With Kylie, it’s been given a fresh blast of pop power that should hopefully keep ratings spinning.
The Voice returns on Saturday 11 January at 7pm, BBC1Suggest a correction