Why I’m switching to The Voice

I’ve been a fan of American Idol ever since it started airing on local TV on its third season. I have yet to pick a winner since I rooted for Fantasia but I have religiously supported the show because of its great dynamics and mix of honesty and drama. With Simon, I know that I would get a truthful critique with his superior British flair, even if it meant people hating him. Randy was also great back then. He wasn’t too mean but he wasn’t a pansy either. Paula kept the balance by being the one that contestants could count on with a kind thing to say.

However, the show has been on a decline ever since the trio broke up. When Paula was replaced, even if her comments were really not that substantial, it was if an integral part of the show was gone and dynamics simply gave out. There was open hostility between Simon and Kara and the tension was palpalable and not even Ellen Degeneres could diffuse it. So when Simon finally left, it was totally expected. Powerhouse Jennifer Lopez and rock legend Steven Tyler agreed to fill the vacant seats and for the 10th season, they did well enough. Randy was a meanie throughout this season and put it upon himself to be the bad guy henceforth.

But this season, things seemed to take a turn for the worse. The judges, perhaps in feeling as if they did such a great job last season, began to pluck repeat contestants from the auditions and heaped the roster of golden ticket holders with praise. Even when they were horrible, the judges tried to keep up their spirits with words of comfort. Peggi Blu, the vocal coach from hell, was actually more of a help to the contestants than the judges. This year’s Idol is filled with drama alright, and it seemed as if the contenders did not have a backstory, they would get left in the dust.

I feel that despite the pool of talented kids that the show has right now, it is still a singing competition and the judges should call it as it is. I love Jen and Steven but I’m getting tired of hearing “That’s beautiful,” after each performance when it clearly was not. This is the reason I am beginning to appreciate The Voice more and more in its second season.

I love how many of the contestants were invited into the blind auditions so we don’t really get nuisance performers. When viewers want entertainment, they get it with good music and raw talent.

The Blind Auditions are a nice touch to gauge talent as the judges are not able to see the complete package and pick their team with only their instinct and the voice that they hear. It’s awesome to see nerdy looking guys, bakers, sandwich makers, sorority girls and regular people just coast through the auditions with the more seasoned veterans not getting picked at all after their 90 second performance.

The interaction among the judges, especially between Blake Shelton and Adam Levine totally rocks. These dudes are so witty and so competitive that they try to psych each other out even during the selection process. It is also very cool how they lob snarky comments at each other and no one gets offended. Blake was the one coach I was most unfamiliar with at the beginning of the show but he’s turning out to be my favorite, especially with the maverick way he picks people. Cee Lo is the cool kingpin type who is the most relaxed of the group and Christina Aguilera is the most technical in choosing vocalists for her team given her experience. I like how they justify their picks and give advice to their team members in order to develop their potentials. Each mentor is a relevant artist and truly knows how to make stars out of their amateurs. An additional strength of the show is Carson Daly, who is a pro at hosting entertainment and reality shows like this one and would give Ryan Seacrest a run for his money. This is probably what the X-Factor US is lacking, a compelling host that could charm viewers into switching. But that’s another story for another day.

The Voice is a balanced show that does not veer from its main objective of developing stars through the guidance of the mentors so aside from the contestants, the competition among the mentors is also something to watch out for. Their styles are so different in grooming their team and its really great that they have brought in advisers to help them mold these young artists into stars. Another thing of note, even when battlers are not picked by the coaches, contestants from The Voice have shown a tremendous amount of breeding and sportsmanship unlike sore losers from Idol who swear at the judges like there’s no tomorrow. This stark contrast truly makes for good television that could even serve as a good example for younger viewers. The show doesn’t have to be a circus to be great.

I don’t think I’ll be dropping Idol yet because there is some life left in the show, and because I’m still rooting for some (Colton, Philip, Jessica) but as for The Voice, I’m all in. I am certifiably addicted to this show. I love it. Quality wise, in my honest opinion, The Voice is a superior show and has the potential to grab the number one spot in the ratings. It’s already on its way. Even Meatloaf says so.

Missing Simon, Loving Steven

I’ve been an avid viewer of American Idol since Season 3, when local cable operators decided to pick up the franchise in the Philippines. However, I mainly watch the show because of acerbic British judge Simon Cowell, who despite being repeatedly booed in every show, is unfazed by the crowd and delivers no hold barred critique of contestants’ performances… thus earning him the reputation as the mean judge.

Last season (Season 9), Simon decided to leave the show to concentrate on developing X-Factor USA which will be airing later this year. And now that the judges’ table is filled with new faces, I couldn’t help but miss him and his brutal comments (The most classic being his reference to lounge singers and karaoke singers). He calls it like he sees it, he knows what he’s looking for, and he knows what he’s talking about. This season, JLo and legendary Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler filled the seats vacated by Simon and Paula (who left the show after season 8), and joined the remaining original judge Randy Jackson on the table. I liked Randy from Seasons 1-9, but boy, I am getting annoyed more and more with him this season for trying to be the “mean one.” First of all, Randy goes over the top in being mean, unlike Simon who does it naturally. Second, Randy now lords it over everyone that he is the senior judge (making references to past seasons every chance he gets) and tries to talk to contestants using technical terms to show the audience that he is a big music producer, perhaps to make a statement that he is deserving of his spot on the table among big superstars Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. It’s kind of pathetic that Steven Tyler was the one to admonish him for being too mean during the earlier rounds.He should have known better.

JLo, on the other hand, has the makings of a good judge but only if she would let go and not be too much of a softie. I guess her innate niceness keeps her from giving good solid critiques that would help contestants grow more as artists. She also has the bad habit of interrupting other judges while they give their critiques if she thinks that it will hurt the feelings of the performers. But in recent episodes, she has been coming out of her shell so there’s hope for her yet.

Now, Steven — here’s someone to watch. He caught on with the nuances of judging early into the auditions and is quite a smart judge of star potential. He doesn’t say much (mostly — that was beautiful, you sing beautiful, you are a star, you did it for me again) but that is probably him paying respect to the contestants as artists, no matter how young they are. Real class act. I find myself sticking to Idol more and more these days (I sort of got bored with Season 9 because Simon was mellowing out) because of Steven’s witty critiques (“You continue to sing like that and you will be able to afford the rest of that dress” — in reference to Lauren Alaina’s party at the front, business at the back outfit). He has a way with words that only he can get away with and pokes fun at himself most of the time. He swears occasionally but that’s just who he is. He brings all of his rock star swagger into the table but leaves his ego aside every time to help develop these kids as the next generation of superstars in America. It is clear that he is not threatened. Why would he be? He’s already made his mark in rock history. And this rings true in his sincerity in judging.

It just goes to show that the judges need only to be true to themselves (Simon and Paula were very consistent in their judging styles throughout their runs in AI) and be honest about what they think about the performances. Steven is a great judge because of his experience in the business. JLo as well. Randy is an excellent producer and that is why he is mentoring these kids — not because he wants to compete with fellow judges. American Idol is a singing competition, not a judging contest. Bear that in mind, Randy.