Between the 90-minute episode of Glee and the series premiere of The Voice, it seems like everyone will be singing on prime time television tonight. Except, presumably the cast of The Good Wife. But, again, just a presumption.
Of course, people singing on TV is nothing new. Since the days of Star Search (the original, not that one hosted by Arsenio Hall. That one goes in the vault of things that never happened. Saved By The Bell: The College Years lives there too), we’ve tuned in to watch regular folk sing their hearts out on national television. Will they be mercilessly criticized? Or become the next big thing, right before our eyes? Now, there’s The Voice, the new NBC series in which a panel of celebrity judges — or coaches, as they’ll be known — simply listen to contestants (their backs are turned to the talent while they perform, in case you haven’t seen NBC’s bazillion promos) to ensure it’s all about, well, the voice. But, even with The Voice‘s line-up of relatively relevant music stars — including Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green — as well as a refreshing concept, the series still really has a lot of singing reality shows to live up to. And, in case you missed the past decade, there have been scads of ’em.
Here now are the biggest obstacles The Voice must tackle, and which ones they could very well triumph over. Even though these shows will not (yet) overlap with — and thus threaten the ratings of — The Voice, how do they match up to the new NBC series? In the scheme of reality singing competitions, how will The Voice fare critically, and with TV viewers?
American Idol: The obvious threat, considering it’s the one reality competition that all of the others are compared to, singing or otherwise. While American Idol has a super star track record on its side (Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Brian Dunkleman), it’s also in the midst of a risky revamp, which still could prove to be only a middling success, depending on who picks up the win. (The victor will have to have at least a semi-successful album for Idol‘s gamble — introducing an almost brand-new slate of judges — to be considered a smart one.) Still, some AI loyalists jumped ship after Simon Cowell’s departure, so unless they’re planning to just wait for The X Factor, The Voice could be the singing competition they’ve been looking for. Advantage: Split
America’s Got Talent: Like The Voice, the criteria for America’s Got Talent is on talent alone, not looks. AGT has a wider range of talents (particularly if you count juggling your dogs while riding a unicycle as a talent, which it most certainly is) and you can actually watch the judge’s reactions while the contestants perform. Then again, AGT has Howie Mandel sans money suitcases. Advantage: The Voice
CMT’s Nashville Star: Sure, The Voice has Blake Shelton, but CMT’s Nashville Star might actually find the next Blake Shelton. Still, unless you’re a major country fan, The Voice should provide a little bit more for varied tastes. Advantage: The Voice.
The Sing-Off: Trying to capitalize off of the massive success of Glee, The Sing-Off was launched in 2009. Hosted by the one and only Nick Lachey (and judge Ben Folds!), the series actually showcased some legitimately entertaining and talented a cappella groups. And since it’s a winter show, there shouldn’t be too many comparisons to The Voice. Advantage: Split
Making the Band: P. Diddy might send you out to get sugar cookies. Advantage: The Voice
Any show that tries to replace a deceased singer: Rock Star attempted to do the impossible by finding someone to step in for the late Michael Hutchence of INXS. Sorry guys, but not only was the iconic frontman irreplaceable, but capitalizing on his absence is never a way to gain back old fans — or really new ones — for that matter. Advantage: The Voice
By our calculations, The Voice already has the upper hand over the competition (then again there’s still the Pussycat Dolls’ Girlicious…), but will it hold your attention PopWatchers? Or are you already too invested in other singing shows? Let us know in the comments section below!