The Voice is back!
I wanted to write this blog in letters so small they'd fit on an electron so they would convey not only the scale of my enthusiasm for this show after the first episode but also my total negativity.
Now, I realize that opening with particle physics isn't your standard entrée for a stagey blog but what the hell. It's for a good cause. I have an issue, and it's as gnarly as a twiglet with varicose veins.
I'm assuming you all saw Episode 1 of The Voice? I hope so because reading this in the hope of getting a basic description- 'TV listings' style, of the show and what was in it is like reading 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' in the hope of finding The Plough.
Before I continue I should, in the interests of fairness, let you all know that I like musical theatre. Many of you will be aware that I've even written some of it my very self (thanks for going to see 'LIFT' if you went, by the way, we were sold out most nights.) But I also like football, boobs, pre-Raphaelite paintings and dogs so I'm entitled to an opinion without everyone getting all up in my grill and calling me biased, stagey, out of touch or just plain weird.
Before I continue about THE VOICE, I should also ask if any of you saw the tribute to ALW that included a stunning performance of 'D-C-F-M-Argentina' by Nicole Sherzinger. You did? Good! She was incredible and I can't remember the last time I was a fan of one person for so many different reasons.
So. What's my point? Moreover, what's my 'issue' and why have I chosen such a convoluted set of references for the start of a blog about this TV show?
Let me start by saying that it's NOT the fact that it's a big old fix- I knew that from last year even before TJ admitted, just prior to the start of this season, that the producers played a hand in what they said. He was shocked to find just how much influence the producers of reality TV shows have on judges but they assured him it's not unusual. This year, he assures us, "it feels more natural" - well that's practice for you Tom. Now the producers can leave you to say their words on your own and get back to making sure the format and presentation of the show is still as eggy as an advocaat omelet.
It's also NOT the fact that the judges have already resorted to making thinly veiled promises of stardom to everyone they speak to. "I'll show you how to become a global superstar in two years." Offered Jessie, otherwise known as "Who?" to most of the developed world. While last years 'Team Jessie' members shake their heads... and salt over another batch of fries.
It's not EVEN the fact that they all turned around to a lad with the stage presence of a remote control and the voice of a cartoon turtle because they think a savagely affected pretend singing voice is an actual singing voice. I'm used to them calling karaoke impersonators 'gifted' and I even suggest they do away with the revolving mechanism on their chairs and just get John Culshaw to do all the singing from behind a curtain from now on.
My Problem? My veiny twiglet of a problem that's had me huffing and puffing like a conservative back-bencher during the gay marriage debate?
It's Jessie Jay and her attitude to musical theatre.
There! I said it (wrote it).
If Nicole Sherzinger showed us anything it's that not only is a theatrical music worthy of a (genuine) global star but that you don't have to be an idiot in an Abba wig to enjoy it. No offence to the 3M fans out there (Mad Mamma Mia) but you know who you are.
She also showed that singing show tunes takes real singing- and performing talent in the actual key required by the composer and without a vocal 'twiddle' at the start of each note that was stolen from genuine soul singers who earned the right to use them wisely, and that's usually only there to disguise the fact that you can't hit the right note with the first breath.
I wrote in my interview with STAGE STATUS that musical theatre can be intelligent and deep and progressive and new when it wants to because the fans are all that and more (even the 3M fans). Just look at this blog- we've had particle physics, politics, literature, astronomy and even an omelet! (told you!)
Moreover, performing in MT is incredibly hard and requires way more talent than being put in a boy band because you look good in skinny jeans or pushing your face into a camera on a pop video between shots of your arse in lycra.
I like Jessie J, I really do. She's got a genuinely good singing voice and I'm sure she's had vocal training so she can probably talk, with some degree of authority, about the physics of singing- but so can most professional singers.
Besides that she's JUST a pop star. She may have been in 'the business' for 7 years and written lyrics for such vocal powerhouses as Chris Brown and Miley Cirus and, yes, she's sold quite a few records from her one album released two years ago, but when she was 11 she was in ALW's West End production of Whistle down the Wind. She knows how hard it is to succeed in that industry and yet she talks about MT like it's humming in the shower and tells people who have very little talent that, while they may not be good enough for the almost guaranteed anonymity that being on The Voice will get them, they could "go and get a leading role in any west end musical you like."
Of course Jessie, because it's THAT easy!
What she clearly fails to appreciate is that there are only two ways you get a lead role these days. Genuine talent or, unfortunately, celebrity status (talent optional). And failing to get past the first round, or even winning THE VOICE is probably all the evidence anyone needs that you'll have neither.