Confession: I am an American Idol dropout. A huge fan of the show for the first several years, I eventually had to throw in the towel because of the ambitious show schedule -- up to four or five hours per week, especially in the early audition phase. But there is a new reality singing competition in town, creatively called The Voice. The Voice is hosted by Carson Daly and airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC. The episodes are a very doable two hours long.
The premise: Four coaches hold blind auditions with their backs turned to the singer onstage. The four coaches are Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. While each singer performs, the coaches listen, unable to see the performer; if a coach likes what he hears, he may push a button, and his chair swivels around to face the stage. If more than one coach pushes the "I want you" button, each pleads his case for why that singer should join his "team," and the performers must then choose who they want to work with. Each coach must select eight performers for his team.
It looks a bit convoluted written out like that, but trust me, it's awesome ... until someone performs and no one pushes their button, which is kind of sad. What I like about The Voice is the positivity: The judges are always nice, give constructive criticism, and never mock the performers like they do on American Idol. Clearly, I'm getting soft in my old age. I also like that we skip a big long audition process, most of which occurred before the show aired. The singers competing in these opening rounds have already been through an audition and have been invited back for the televised "final" audition process.
As for the contestants, there is a lot of talent so far, including Jones Creek, Texas native Jeff Jenkins, who recently lost his mother to cancer. His rendition of Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road" prompted all four judges to hit their buttons, and in spite of his roots in country, he chose Team Adam Levine over Team Blake Shelton. Idol aficionados might also recognize Frenchie Davis, a contestant from several years ago who was famously booted from the competition when some racy photos of her popped up on the Interwebs. She's got a powerful voice, has already appeared on Broadway (Rent) and is recognizable enough that Cee-Lo knew her name, though he couldn't put his finger on where he knew her from. The rest of the field is comprised of unknowns, though, so plenty of surprises are in store.
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More contestants be chosen next Tuesday, May 3, and I'll be back with a recap on May 4. You can catch up and watch The Voice Episode 1 on NBC.com.