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The Voice: Week One

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Right! Before we start- before we even think about starting and are still in bed scrambling for the snooze button, let's get something very clear indeed.

The Voice ISN'T about finding a voice.

Let's just knock that idea on the head and put it in a dark corner to come round in its own time and wander off unnoticed shall we?

The notion that this is all about pure singing ability and nothing else is so absurd that it's forced me to use the words, 'notion' and 'absurd' and I'm not even in a period drama. The number of indicators that disprove the title are far too numerous to list here but the opening couple of contestants pretty much said it all.

We open with a 17-year-old who's first sentence is about how important songwriting is to her and how she's always getting picked on.

BOOM!

That's pretty much all you need to hear. Instantly we know that this, just like X Factor is about milking some undiscovered talent for phone votes. If you haven't got a back story that will have us all wiping tears from the screens of our mobiles then forget it.

Jessica played a Jessie J song- what were the odds? Sang about as well as your average teenager who can sing. Mascara flowed backstage and mindless teenies screamed out front.
What should have happened was the judges eventually turn around, once the singing has stopped, and tell her they didn't pick her because even though she could probably get by as a performer, this show is all about The Voice and there are more chops in Paul McCartney's fridge.

Instead, all four judges wanted to work with her like she'd just invented singing from scratch, and Will.i.am... Will.I.Am.. Will- sod it, Bill, offered her global success and record deals in every country he could think of before anyone else had even spoken. When they did, it wasn't really worth it.

Hmmm. That was kind of easy. Well done Jessica - or 'The New Whitney' as we should probably call her. Bullseye! Lets send the crew home- job done! Lights off Tom, last one down the Grammies pays for the Cristal!

Jessica, now, a middle-of-the-road, unheard-of teenager with a single, bog-standard performance to her name, has the unenviable task of telling someone who has produced Michael Jackson why she's not picking him. It was like 'Blind Date goes to Hollywood' and little Billy was snubbed in favour of Miss J because 'number one hits don't matter' to our little Irish superstar. She's 'a songwriter' and it's all about 'making music and sharing my message.'

WOAH!! No it's not - not to us anyway! Not here on The Voice! Anywhere but here surely? Come on!

It's all about THE VOICE isn't it? I'm no vocal coach but I know she's vocally about as unique as a pair of Crocs.

I had to take a moment. I had to slap myself in the face and grow up a little.

My hopes that this would carry the integrity the BBC usually floats above all other channels on, was misguided. How silly of me for thinking it might do what it says on the tin (what it 'reads' on the tin actually because tins can't speak- but I digress) and be just about finding the best voice in the country. How naïve can I be?

If they wanted to find the best voice in the country they would have done it differently and would almost certainly be choosing mostly professionals- why? Well because life's like that. They're professionals for a reason.

Don't get me wrong, there are examples of undiscovered gems that only a talent show can unearth- over on the other side in the 'shallow lands' of ITV we had a teenage fat lad on BGT that had me crying so hard I got snot on the dogs.

HE should have been on The Voice - it was made precisely for people like him.
Even a half-deaf nobody like me could hear that his voice was up there - WAY up there. Better (in my view of course) than Russell Watson... now what's his nickname again? And Paul Potts - not to be confused with Pol Pot under any circumstances, and even the Susan 'Bovine' Boyle. This kid has a truly amazing voice. But instead of having Tom Jones on his feet shouting the Louis Walsh anthem - "You're what this show is all about!" He was having his chins stared up at by Carmen Electra who's about as appropriate a judge of anything but nipple bronzer and smiling through 'pout cramp' as Jessie J is on making it in spite of being fat and ugly.
Breathe.... Find a happy place... it's only TV.

So, with my new awareness of The Voice fully updated I watched on while, somewhere in my subconscious, there was yet another memorial service for a little bit of my soul.

Next up we had Sean - formerly of boy band FIVE... 5IVE... FIV5?- sod it V. He suffered the ignominy of four chair backs and smiled through the tumbleweed. The judges turned and told him what an amazing voice he had and that they just 'couldn't see what they could do' for him? Well picking him would have been a start. Jessie said she would love to listen to his voice all day, at home. Well, unless he comes round to fit her new kitchen, she's not gonna get the chance now is she? His voice wasn't great so, in this instance, they were right but the cracks in the premise of this show were already so clear it was like skydiving over the Grand Canyon and we were only two songs in. Sean could have had the voice of an angel but his story and his lack of anonymity had sealed his fate before he drew breath.

And so it went on. We had a lady with a good voice and a bald head who I, and I suspect the entire audience, felt a little robbed of their emotion by when she announced it was alopecia. Don't get me wrong, it's a horrible thing to happen to anyone, especially a woman trying to make it as a singer. But in the world of unintentionally bald women it's something of a best-case-scenario.

We had an overweight, slightly effeminate Adele impersonator and Tom Jones fan. Surprisingly only one judge turned around - it was Tom... what did you say those odds were again? He was a good singer with a great personality. They all said they thought it was a woman singing and then Tom, clearly not on message, said he thought he sounded like him and, as the laws of inevitability crashed into his lap, then had to turn and ask the other judges if they thought he sounded like a woman too?

When Tom Jones has to ask people who have been chosen to judge singing talent if he sounds like a woman it's time to throw your glitter wig into a bucket and ride out of town.
This is my biggest problem with The Voice - the judging process.

I like, and respect, all the judges and when I heard that TJ was one of them I instantly expected him to do what everyone wants from this show. I like Jessie and Bill and Danny from The Script. All quality judges- and not a Carmen Electra amongst them. This is what the BBC does but it usually makes its own programs and doesn't buy them in. When it does we get this.

This was the first episode and by the end we already had Tom and Bill dropping names like they were playing Top Trumps and it had turned into a judge fight just like all the others that follow the laws as dictated by the much-thumbed 'how to make talent shows' by S. Cowell.
They'd run out of pleas, were bereft of ways to sell themselves to their prospective protégés and had to resort to flirting, begging and bragging by the end credits.

We've got an entire series to go yet!

Instead of the show allowing them to say, "Sorry mate but I can't see how I'm going to discover you if you've already been discovered." Which would be fair enough on the X Factor. They have to keep it all about the singing, even though it's clearly not, or they'll get plebs like me complaining in our dozens. So someone with a voice like a toddler murmuring from the far end of a storm gets offered world domination and someone with a great voice but no back story will be told they're 'pitchy' or not 'leading' enough instead by a woman who owes a large part of her success to skin-tight Lycra.

I know I need to relax and just enjoy it. I will, I promise. But for now I can't help but despair at what seemed like something new being the same old crap as everything else but with a new gimmick. Shame really... still, can't wait till next week!

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