@adamlevine: Pushing two buttons might be totally illegal. I’m sure the NBC lawyers aren’t happy…oh well sue me. (Please do not sue me.) #TheVoice
It’s that time of year again, friends! Miranda Lambert’s new favorite singing contest is back! Yes! This means four exclamation points in one paragraph!
“The Voice.” “Oh, “The Voice.” If you remember, back in the deep, dark and distant year of 2011, I took to this very blog to wax poetic on what was a brand new television show aimed at being one of the thousands of irrelevant competitors to “American Idol.” The program advertised itself as an entity that would rely heavily on new media (thus justifying it as a talking point on this particular blog) all the while trying to resurrect the careers of four people — Carson Daly, Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine.
Blake Shelton had no career to resurrect. Yuckity, yuck, yuck, yuck.
To the surprise of absolutely everyone, the show became a hit. No, like honestly, guys. It became an over-night, network-saving, death-defying hit. After taking to the blogosphere to initially ramble about the “oh my God, this thing doesn’t have three weeks before it gets the ax” singing contest when it debuted, I felt it only proper to return to the program once it wrapped up in June. We laughed. We cried. We didn’t buy a single Javier Colon record. And we sighed when we saw that the Voicettes landed on the cover of Rolling Stone‘s latest issue.
That said, what do you say we turn this whole “Voice” thing into a tradition, then, eh? That was rhetorical.
The show kicked off its second season in the so-gushy-you-could-fall-asleep-in-it time slot called “The One After The Super Bowl” on Sunday, and because I love you — yes, you — I spent Tuesday morning scouring over NBC’s website to go back and see how great this season will turn out.
And by great, I mean …
Anyways, what I found was, in a word, disappointing. And why is that, the well-dressed disembodied voice asks, to which I say the following: Nothing is different. I had read that more celebrities were on their way. I had heard about how the suits were hoping to expand on the show’s format (and I’m sorry, but merely making the teams larger doesn’t quite qualify as “expanding,” Mr. NBC). And while I hadn’t heard or read anything about it, I’ll be honest — I was kind of expecting to find subtle changes to the set, maybe making the chairs more future-looking-y, or the seemingly too small stage a couple feet wider and/or longer.
But all I found was more awkward Carson Daly conversations (goodness, find another host already, Mr. NBC) and some fat dude in a bow-tie crying before Blake Shelton (wait, who?!) told him he sounded “too pitchy.” Honestly — can we please find one single other adjective to use on these singing competition shows, people? How about “Bad” or “StevenTyler.”
“These are four of the biggest stars on the planet,” a taped Carson Daly voice said no more than five minutes into the thing, eventually adding that Aguilera has a voice that is “widely regarded as one of the greatest voices of all time.” Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. That’s sort of like saying “Last Call with Carson Daly” is “widely regarded as the next Tonight Show with Johnny Carson without the time slot, budget or talent.” Come on, now, man. I know your job is to build this thing up, but isn’t there a level of hyperbole that shouldn’t be approached when discussing someone who once sang a song called “Genie In A Bottle?”
The biggest takeaway? Xtina’s excruciatingly hostile (i.e. odd) exchange with the Maroon 5 crooner after Florida’s Juliet Sims offered up a way-too-gutty take on “Oh, Darling.” “If Adam’s not the center of attention, he’s not for it,” Aguilera proclaimed in a manner that veered from diva into 15-year-old brat who couldn’t find a date to the Spring Fling. “He’s just trying to be Justin Timberlake, but whatever.”
Of course Mr. NBC did everything to remind us all that it’s in the name of fun, editing in an exchange between the two before a commercial. “That’s not nice, and that wasn’t funny,” Levine said to Xtina, sounding sheepish and oddly sincere. “I was just kidding,” Aguilera countered, laughing in an attempt to ease the tension.
Oh, but if we only knew such a comment could tell us so much. The mini dust-up is utterly indicative of what is going to make “The Voice” fade this year: It’s too contrived. What makes these kind of shows successful is their consistent ability to make the American Dream seem obtainable. Now, yeah, Jesse Campbell’s from-being-homeless-to-being-a-contestant story is nice and heartwarming (and it holds even more weight because he seems to actually have a shot at winning the whole thing). And sure, seeing a real, honest-to-goodness opera singer land a spot on somebody’s roster was both fun and admittedly unique (though the dude wasn’t nearly as good as he seems to think he was).
But for every cozy, fun or inspiring moment, four more uneasy instances appear. Some 17-year-old brashly attempting to take on a song from Shelton’s wife as Carson warns her the same approach didn’t turn out well for someone during last season? Naturally, she’s on Mr. Lambert’s team because he was the first to turn around and offer her a spot. A former Mouseketeer — whom Aguilera clearly couldn’t recollect until someone must have whispered something in her ear at one point — reminiscing about being on The Disney Channel’s landmark show together (suuuuuuuuuure, Tony Lucca, there’s no way Xtina was lying when she told you Britney had the BIGGEST crush on you 20 years ago)? Yuck. And more yuck. Do the people behind this show honestly think viewers found that moment organic? Yes. That was rhetoric, too.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. In fact, it might even be more intriguing than watching the somewhat inevitable demise “American Idol” is going through this season, if only because “The Voice” is almost brand-spankin’-new and watching a show rise like it did last year, only to falter almost immediately would be somewhat unprecedented. How sad it would be if Cee-Lo had to reunite Gnarls Barkley. Or if Carson Daly had to return to radio full-time. Or, well, if Blake Shelton had to go back to being a greeter at Wal-Mart. It could happen, though. If the show keeps traveling down this road of palpably forced gimmicks and awkwardly hostile dialogue, there isn’t anyone — or anything, for that matter — that will be able to save it.
Still, no matter how this all ultimately turns out, two things are for sure: One, we’ll all meet back here in a few months to look back on the season that was. And two, no matter the popularity of this song last summer …