Do you ever get the feeling that the world has cocked a formerly deaf ear in your direction? I'm starting to suspect that those savvy telly types at The Voice are listening to tutting head shakers like me and chucking in a few tweaks, albeit too late.
Week three has been something of a turning point.
Sure, we had the usual back story nonsense that destroys all the credibility of the show. We learned, for no reason whatsoever, that Cassius Henry's kid brother had passed away and that Kate Read's mother was an internally beautiful inspiration to her. We also saw that young Bill Downs was going to have to postpone his wedding day if he got through- something his fiancé seemed more than happy about, presumably hoping that he's grow out of his addiction to leather wrist bands before the big day. Most annoying of all was the backstory they pre-climaxed the show with. Poor Tyler James, erstwhile BFF of the talented but troubled junkie Amy Winehouse, made it quite clear that this was for him now, for himself, for his confidence as a singer and songwriter in his own right. Of course we only heard this from Tyler because we couldn't see his wind-tunnel features thanks to the barrage of Amy pics they decided to thrust at us. You could almost hear the producers screaming, "Look! Amy friggin' Winehouse everyone!"
Tyler sang about as well as anyone nailed to a plank can be expected to and, once he'd finished waving his little arms about like a dreaming grasshopper, Billiam thanked him for hitting that last note in a falsetto voice because Tom had dropped the word 'falsetto' into an earlier comment and it has become the word of the day- it's all very technical I'm sure.
We also had plenty of clumsy prodding from the voices in the heads of these judges- sorry, 'coaches,' like when Cassius, a former TOTP performer, was instantly asked by Bill.y.boy. "What's been your big, music career... move... to date?" Funny he didn't ask that of Hanna the cheerleader or Jay the pizza guy isn't it?
This week, though, there was a lot more for me to enjoy. The coaches were on top form. Any one of them could easily replace the entire panel on BGT and it would constitute a personality upgrade. In the opening credits Tom said, "I wish I had eyes on the back of my head," and I couldn't help thinking, "one more nip and tuck session Boyo and you probably will!" Jessie was on fire and so was Will.E.Wonka. Even Danny made me laugh.
I should really temper all this adoration though by saying that being entertaining isn't really enough for a show of this calibre.
What I'd also like is some insight into the experience and knowledge of these 'international music gods' beyond shouting 'Pick Me!' and throwing spit bombs across the classroom at the others. This week I thought the elder statesman of the panel gave the most useful critiques which surprised me because I thought he was only there for the sex and only even noticed there was someone singing when they got loud enough to be picked up by his ear trumpet. He told Leanne Mitchel she had a lot of 'timber' in her voice which I'm almost certain isn't Welsh for 'your singing gives me wood'. He also told Hanna she didn't 'over do it' and advised Bill to work on going in and out of falsetto (take notes everyone). I know it's not much but at least it's singing-based commentary from someone who should know.
Elsewhere, Jessie Jay told poor Ruth that there are people who can sing and then there are those who, like her, can 'SENG!' Which I can only guess means 'miss every SENGle note!' Will.E.Warmer had to explain his laughter as not being at 'the girl' but at 'Jessie's state right now' and I, like him, have no idea what that means.
Other parts of this week's show were, to be fair, exactly what it claims to be about.
Joelle Moses was outstanding. Alison Brown wasn't picked in spite of being a MOBO award winner back in 98 and Cris Grixti was able to just come out and sing without his appearance clouding anyone's judgment. He wasn't picked but it wasn't because of his height or his passing resemblance to John Belushi and that, surely, is the point of 'The Voice'.
I do still, however, have my reservations about this format.
They have decided that each coach will pick ten people for their team and that they must do this at the time they hear them sing. I can see why they would want to do anything if it meant they were seen as different to other talent shows but it just seems to be making life difficult for no reason.
Judges are becoming increasingly hamstrung, forced to hold off picking someone today for fear they may have no room left tomorrow and, vice-versa, as the end of the auditions draws near they might be forced to recruit people much weaker then those let go in earlier rounds because they're running out of time and need to get to ten.
Imagine a scenario where Danny has seven people and there are only a handful of singers left to see. He'd have to pick everyone- regardless of talent or...what? "Sorry Danny but you only picked eight so you're not allowed to carry on." I can't see that happening.
Even now, in week three, we're seeing singers being ignored because a coach already has enough like them in their team. The whole thing has become a game of tactics and gambles with Will.I.Ever now trying to force singers onto other teams and, in the case of Alison Brown, everyone saying they were all waiting for Jessie to pick her.
"You're amazing but I can't pick you" is no good to a singer who deserves to go through but can't because the rules have been made up by people more concerned with doing things differently than staying true to the premise of the show. Additional jeopardy and decision-forcing rules work for a game show but that's meant to be precisely what this isn't.
The Voice is meant to be a quest for the best singers and, until you've heard everyone sing, how can you decide who they are?
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