Hey, guys. Before we get on with the annual blog-tastic take on the season premiere of “The Voice,” I’d like to take a moment to share a little bit of something I wrote after the recent death of my dear friend Mike. You can find that here, and if you’ve never clicked on anything ever in your life, I hope you might be kind enough to spare a few minutes to have a look at that, if only to remember how good of a guy Mike was. I know it’s a bit cliche and all, but he meant quite a bit to me, and I’d love for you all to get to meet him, even if it is just a little too late …
So … who’s ready for round three of “The Voice?” NBC’s little show that could still can, it appears, as the singing competition actually beat Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” in the ratings war during the FOX show’s season premiere Wednesday night (contrary to what Blake Shelton’s career may want you to think, nearly 11 million people still care about his show. Simon Cowell’s? Not so much — “The X Factor” drew 7.5 million).
This means something, why? Well, while we can agree that everyone in life deserves a second chance, it doesn’t always come with the promise that such will result in success. This being Simon Cowell’s proverbial second chance with his “X Factor,” one must wonder how long his venture away from RSS American Idol will continue before he realizes the ship’s anchor doesn’t work and the floor needs patched. And considering how “The Voice” beat his baby by nearly 20 percent in the only age group that matters Wednesday night, it might be a good idea to check the deck for water.
But I digress. Back to “The Voice.” Rather than offer up a few musings on the show’s first episode (thanks NBC.com, for not allowing any of the program’s episodes to stream in full), I have patched together a few things from the show’s first week, which coincidentally happened to last longer than Chanukah.
The biggest development? Well, that falls to a lack of … developments. Yes, Rob Thomas, Michael Buble, Billy Joe Armstrong and Mary J. Blige will all be around this year — seemingly to make the whole production even more crowded and egocentric — but as for the first set of episodes … there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. The presentation is too edited. The stars bicker enough to make us think it’s not sincere. And the performances are just a little more polished than a performance at a county fair (though not by much).
This year, we got a strangely disenchanted rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up,” complete with Adam Levine masquerading as a real musician by holding an electric guitar, to kick the new season into gear. X-tina sat on Blake’s lap, illustrating exactly how uncomfortable the country singer can feel when confronted with, well, that. And Cee-Lo’s voice was predictably buried so far in the mix that all he really added was the vision of what Cee-Lo might look like if he decided to dress up as Ric Flair.
As for the contestants … it would be hard to think Nelly Echo isn’t the odds-on-favorite only because he is tailor-made for the nickname “Javier Paul.” Coming out of the box with Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” didn’t do him any favors in my book, though this is the point that I remind you how I am currently writing a blog post that will be read by approximately three-and-a-half people (two of which I will probably be related to), thus my take is slightly less relevant than that of a lizard. Interestingly enough, he’s a local kid (someone claimed he’s been living in Baltimore for a little longer than a decade now), though his choice to go with Not-Ms.-Shelton’s team seemed detrimental.
The most impressive spot of the night went to Samuel Mouton, who looks like he spends his weekends working a Pacific Sun in Denver (and who knew — he’s actually from Colorado!) Anyways, his “Redemption Song” wasn’t only not-mall-worthy-awful, but it was also strikingly authentic. How such a roots reggae voice sits within that made-for-MTV2VJ-face is a greater mystery than how Carson Daly remains in show business (best Carson moment: “Pop music seems to be really popular”). The problem? How do you translate that into anything other than “Redemption Song?”
“‘I don’t know how much longer I’m even going to do it,'” Blake Shelton told the newly NBC-minted Michelle Beadle, according to O’Sullivan (got that?) this week. “The ‘Honeybee’ singer said he and his fellow judges — Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green — are being forced to choose between touring and making music, and staying on the show as ‘The Voice’ execs have decided to go forward with back-to-back seasons.”
And so the inevitable seems imminent. Ms. A is readying a new album (with a brand new single on sale today, to boot). Maroon 5 never really had a chance to properly tour their latest, “Overexposed,” which also even produced a few hit singles. Blake says the above snippet between shifts at Denny’s. And Cee-Lo … well, the party never stops for Cee-Lo, so he’s fine either way. But as I keep preaching every single time I take to this blog to babble about such things … “The Voice” will become interesting again only when the people behind it decide to recast the judges. If this is their way of forcing that hand, then this pseudo contract dispute may actually turn into more of a blessing than anything.
Because I don’t know about you, but continuously hearing about how X-Tina wants to “get to know” these guys is beginning to sound a bit creepy (Side: The one time I ever laughed during an episode of “The Voice” came from Shelton this time around when he responded “That’s the fifth time she said that today” after X-Tina yet again said she “belonged with” whatever singer was on stage. And he meant it. Boy, he meant it). Between that and her obligatory hand fan she keeps waving to make her look like a tinier and rounder version of Cruella Deville, I don’t know which judge is harder to watch — Ms. Genie or Mr. Lambert.
Either way, you can’t argue with these guys if they decide to focus more on their own music than a karaoke contest that can’t produce a single relevant winner. Though now that we’ve seen that the act of landing some splashy names (cough, Britney Spears, cough) doesn’t always translate into ratings success, we must now spin this all the way forward: Could this season of “The Voice” not only be the last for the show’s judges, but could it also mean the beginning of the end for the show itself?