Tomorrow night a new reality show starts on BBC One at 7pm. It’s called The Voice. Normally I despise reality shows but this one caught my attention. The premise is that four judges listen to an artist and then hit a button if they like them. That’s like every other reality competition out there but The Voice is slightly different – the judges can’t see the acts before they vote.
Increasingly in recent years phrases like “complete package” and “marketable” have been creeping into debates on The X Factor and its ilk. Why bother even having an Over 25s, or 28s as it has been in the past, category on X Factor? The acts never go anywhere, survive a few weeks and then get voted off after a token effort.
Usually they are also the comedy act – Chico, Wagner, Johnny Robinson for example, sorry guys but the hungry public need fresh meat for Saturday night entertainment. If you don’t sound, but more importantly look like a pop star, the judges on X Factor seem to be saying, then there’s simply no place for you in today’s music industry. Therefore a show that has the judges doing blind auditions comes as a bit of a refreshing concept. Image doesn’t enter into it, it’s based entirely on the talent present in the individual.
Additionally these brackets don’t seem to have a place in The Voice, in the sense that each judge who hits the button then becomes that artist’s mentor, taking a maximum of ten through to the next stage. Their age doesn’t matter, either, which is quite nice. It indicates that the goal of the show is to actually, genuinely find the next great talent rather than burn someone out making a few quid for Simon Cowell.
Plus the fact that the show actually seems to have some weight behind it – the legendary Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue look more like a line up of industry experts than they do desperate, over-the-hill artists looking to scratch a living now they can’t sell singles.
Additionally subtler elements indicate this to be a more respectable affair. In Britain’s Got Talent, for example, part of the spectacle is getting some hapless member of the public on a bloody huge stage and if they’re crap – well, I can’t think how to represent that buzzer in text, so here’s a link to it. Part of this rejection is surely the spectacle of it – watching someone stand in front of all those people to be embarrassed by that awful, abrasive noise isn’t very pleasant for the person on the stage, surely? Yet everyone else seems to enjoy it based on the ratings.
Alternatively, in The Voice, judges opt in to acts, rather than voting them off. It’s a small thing but makes the whole affair seem a more positive. And then of course the main contributing factor to this feeling – if more than one judge wants an artist, then the performer gets their choice of who they work with, putting the power back in their hands instead of making them look a fool.
Of course, there are the opposite arguments to all of these points. How are the artists chosen who appear during the auditions? Presumably the nutters, old and ugly people have been weeded out by producers off screen before the attractive talented people give it a pop. Etc.
So, will I be watching The Voice tomorrow night? Well let’s not go mad here, it is still a reality show after all, a genre (if such shows can be accurately termed?) I typically despise. But if nothing else at least it’s a step in the right direction. For those baying for the blood of hapless members of the working class, Britain’s Got Talent is on ITV1 an hour later.