The Voice Season 7: It just keeps getting better

After new coach Usher took The Voice crown last year with soul artist Josh Kaufman, I was really excited to see what Season 7 had in store. Unfortunately, Usher is on tour this year and Shakira is pregnant with another baby boy. So two new superstars had to step in to take the vacant seats left behind by original coaches Christina Aguilera and Ceelo Green.

When I heard that Gwen Stefani and Pharell took the gig, I was psyched. I was really interested to see how these two would gel with coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, who have dominated the competition with a total of five wins in the show’s six seasons. Pharell intrigued me because he seemed reserved, unlike Usher who wore his swagger like a cape. And Gwen, well, I grew up with No Doubt music so I know what she brings to the table. I was really surprised how the first two episodes turned out because the two new coaches had no problem blending in. And the banter, oh the banter was super fun to watch. It was hilarious, and leaves no doubt that everybody brought their A game. Everybody wants to win.

Adam has grown really competitive this season and viewers can see the passion that he has for finding artists whom he can groom to be the next big thing. Its funny to see him beg contestants to pick him while Blake pokes fun at his pleas. Blake, in turn, has a goldmine of quips and the newbies were not spared from his quick wit and jokes. Of course, his favorite target is still Adam and I love to see these two go at each other’s throats. Gwen is such a big surprise. She is super badass on stage but I never would have guessed that she was so frickin nice as a person. She’s really down to earth, very earnest, and I love to see her guilt Blake into giving her a hug when he gets mean or laughs at her. Plus, she gives away t-shirts to her team members, which is very cool. Pharell, on the other hand, is cool as cucumber but very sincere. People can see his passion for his music and his genuine artistry with his words, and whether or not he gets the contestant, his speech strikes home. Oh, and did I mention how awesome this year’s pool of auditioners are?

So far, I’ve only seen two episodes but I couldn’t wait for more. I can’t wait to see whom the coaches will enlist as celebrity mentors. And just like that, I’m addicted to this show again. It happens every year.

While waiting for the next episode, here’s a spoof of The Voice done by Sesame Street to tide you over. Puppet Blake is totally spot on. :D

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.