With the first season of The Voice in the books, and all four coaches set to return for another go round, let’s analyze what producers did right, and what they may want to fix…
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
• All the talking. Particularly painful was watching Christina Aguilera try to find the balance of not sounding like she was rooting for other coaches’ contestants and not sounding like she was avoiding praising them. I always found that she failed with Dia.
• The backstage reporter. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but I didn’t even bother to learn her name because I always fast-forwarded through those segments. And as my colleague Dalton Ross once tweeted, “Social media has never looked less cool than in the ‘V Room.'” Cut that out and make the shows shorter.
• The group numbers. Sometimes, people from different genres just aren’t meant to sing together, and when you force them to, you remind us of painful American Idol group sings, and no one wants that. It makes otherwise polished performers look amateur, even if it’s the four judges alone. If you must do them, work harder to find more inclusive songs.
• The coverage of the mentoring process. In addition to giving no concept of how long the mentor spent with each of their contestants (which makes you think it wasn’t impressive, even if it was), it so often lacked footage of the backstory we’d hear on stage about a contestant having stuck to his or her guns about a song choice or vision. And that’s something that would be interesting to see, in terms of what it says about both the contestant’s artistry and the mentor’s flexibility.
• The dancers. Did they work for anyone on the show? The two featured tumblers not being in unison ruined Cee Lo and Vicci’s “Love is a Battlefield” for me.
WHAT DID WORK:
• The blind audition round. Don’t change anything. Keep the crazy swiveling chairs and the contestants’ loved ones watching nervously backstage with Carson praying for one of the judges to hit their buttons. Also, don’t milk this round even though it’s the best one. It only works when the contestants are good; if the talent pool thins, you lose the drama of contestants having to choose their mentor because no one will want them.
• No theme nights. It made the song choices a surprise and allowed the contestants to always put their best foot forward (aside from the group numbers).
• The judges’ personalities. Cee Lo loves the ladies and anyone who wants to put on a show; Blake is your best friend’s older brother who will tease you but won’t let anyone else do it; Adam is the hot guy in high school you thought would be full of himself but isn’t (which makes you like him way more than you thought you would); and Christina is the one we can’t figure out. It’s like you want to change her image to be as flawless as her voice, but she just won’t let you, which keeps her frustrating and interesting. I know some people took issue with her choosing her own song for her number with Beverly, but I thought “Beautiful” was the best of the coach duets.
• The battle round, but… I loved how it kept the pressure on the coaches and made them choose between their babies. That said, I’d do away with the groups, which made this round awkward (and wouldn’t be as fun a surprise for judges in the auditions anyway now that they know groups are an option). I’d also consider picking one song and letting the two contestants each do it their way as opposed to a duet. It’s fun to see the coaches work outside the genre, and I fear they’ll stick to one sound for their team with all the dueting and group numbers on the show. It’s fun to judge contestants side-by-side and see who rises to the challenge and who doesn’t, but it also comes off as a little Disney World.
• The length of the series. In and out in two months. That’s the kind of commitment I’m looking for.