Well, the first season of NBC’s The Voice has come to an end and I’m left feeling a little bit conflicted about the whole thing. It’s hard not to compare The Voice to American Idol seeing as they’re both singing competitions played out on national television but that’s more or less where the comparisons end.
The judges are replaced by coaches on The Voice and the difference this makes is evident each time a contestant takes the stage for their team. Instead of the harsh criticism that is often doled out on American Idol (less so in season 10, but still there), the criticism on The Voice is always more positive. The coaches work with their contestants themselves and are clearly more emotionally invested in how they do; especially Coach Blake.
I am not a huge fan of country music, but there are some country artists that I like. Blake Shelton was not on that list, but boy he sure is now. He definitely made a fan out of me. Seeing the way he connected to his artists was actually pretty heartwarming. You get the feeling that Blake’s girls (shy but talented artists Dia Frampton and Xenia) have nothing to worry about as proud papa Blake is going to do everything he can to make sure they have careers.
As for the show itself, The Voice could be a bit confusing with its rules, but I’m sure things will be a little less complicated next time around. The fact that iTunes downloads counted as votes was sort of a double edged sword. I think it’s a great idea in theory as it gives some sort of indication how the artist will perform sales wise once the show is over. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to tell who is going to be safe every week. Just look at the iTunes charts. The only time the highest charting contestant from each team was not the contestant to go through to the next round was in the finals when Javier (#2 on iTunes) beat Dia (#1 on iTunes). That takes away a bit of the drama from the eliminations, but it’s still a fantastic idea.
The actual format of the show is fine, but it definitely needs a little tweaking. The blind auditions were a lot of fun, especially watching the coach reactions, and the battle rounds were a good concept in theory but they went on far too long. By the conclusion of the final battle round I was cheering – not because it was a tremendous battle but because those rounds were finally over. I also don’t think the battle rounds were necessarily fair. Those battle rounds saw the elimination of some great talent I think would’ve gone far on the show had they had a chance. Some obvious examples:
- Casey Desmond (Team Adam)
- Cherie Oakley (Team Christina)
- Emily Valentine (Team Cee Lo)
- Nikki Dawson (Team Cee Lo)
- Rebecca Loebe (Team Adam)
- Tim Mahoney (Team Adam)
- Tje Austin (Team Cee Lo)
- Tyler Robinson (Team Blake)
Perhaps next season, it would be a better idea to either get rid of the battle rounds and allow America to start voting right away or to cram them all into one episode. I think I would enjoy one long night of battle rounds more than several shorter rounds. The battle rounds take away part of your chance to really get to know the contestants your voting for. It’s hard to really care about the contestants and really connect with them when you don’t know much about them. I think that’s something The Voice needs to remedy if they want to maintain its popularity.
The talent on The Voice is really what separates it from American Idol. Removing the age ceiling and the stipulation that only artists who have never had a recording contract are able to compete brought us talent like winner Javier Colon, runner up Dia Frampton, Jared Blake, Nakia and Beverly McClellan. The talent on The Voice feels less ‘produced’ allowing a little bit of roughness to shine through. Two of my favorite contestants, Dia Frampton and Xenia don’t have typical superstar voices and likely wouldn’t have made it through the American Idol auditions but on The Voice they shone bright. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top ten performances we saw on the very first season of The Voice.
10: Casey Weston – I Will Always Love You
Casey Weston had a strike against her from the beginning for me as the battle rounds saw her take down someone I thought was far more talented but let me tell you, this performance changed my mind. The raw honesty in her voice was lovely and her range blew me away. I’m not too big to admit when I’m wrong and with Casey, I was definitely wrong. Great performance.
09: Dia Frampton and Miranda Lambert – The House that Built Me
I wanted to put this higher on the list but there was so much talent to cover. This duet from the finale was absolutely beautiful. It was moving and emotional and the girls sounded lovely together. I loved everything about this even before Blake got all emotional talking to Dia about it afterwards.
08: Tori and Taylor Thompson – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
I know Tori and Taylor Thompson weren’t thrilled with coach Cee Lo Green’s song choice for this one, but I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a great song to show the girls’ personality and their talent. It was a tremendous amount of fun and I won’t lie. I bought the single and listen to it all the freaking time. It’s a tough song but the girls handled it like pros.
07: Javier Colon – Angel
I hate to admit it, but there’s something about Javier Colon that didn’t sit right with me. That hardly matters, though. This man’s definitely talented and he certainly deserved his win. Angel blew me away. His passion when he sang it was beautiful and it outshone anything else he did on that stage.
06: Vicci Martinez and Niki Dawson – F***in’ Perfect
Vicci and Nikki’s performance in the battle rounds was absolutely incredible – by far the highlight of the battle rounds for me. I didn’t envy Cee Lo when it came time to choose between these two power house women. I think he made the right choice, but it must have been a tough call. An honorable mention from the battle rounds goes to Devon Barley and Rebecca Loebe’s wonderful rendition of Creep by Radiohead.
05: Nakia – Whataya Want From Me
Oh Nakia. I tried really hard to only put one solo performance per artist on this list, but it was hard to choose with Nakia. Nakia was my favorite male contestant in this competition since his blind audition – perhaps my favorite contestant overall. The choice was between his take on Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire and Adam Lambert’s Whataya Want From Me and it was a hard call, but in the end, this one was just so surprising and Nakia owned the stage. Absolutely wonderful performance. I adore Nakia and can’t wait to buy the album I know he’ll be releasing.
04: Beverly McClellan – The Thrill is Gone
What can even be said about Beverly McClellan. I loved her from the moment she took the stage for her blind audition and I just kept loving her more and more each time she sang. Choosing one song wasn’t that difficult though. Her soulful rendition of BB King’s The Thrill Is Gone was stunning. I loved seeing her softer side and loved the fact that she didn’t hold back at the end. I cannot wait to see more of Beverly in the future.
03: Dia Frampton – Heartless
Dia freaking Frampton. Holy cow. There aren’t even words to describe how in love I fell with this girl. She’s beautiful, shy and wildly talented. I cannot wait to see what she releases next. I already know I’ll be buying it. What I love about Dia is that she’s so incredibly unique. There aren’t many other Dia’s out there in the entertainment industry right now. While I also adored her Team Blake teammate Xenia, I think Dia is a little more ready for everything that show business will throw at her. I chose Heartless because it was the first time she really showed us all who she is as an artist. It’s worth mentioning, though, her version wasn’t entirely original. The Fray did a very similar version, but both were awesome. It’s also worth noting Dia’s original song, Inventing Shadows, is the only original song I purchased on iTunes.
02: Vicci Martinez and Cee Lo Green – Love is a Battlefield
Vicci was one of my favorites from the blind auditions and she was one half of my favorite battle, but for me, she got overshadowed in the competition by some of her fellow contestants. All the same, her duet with Cee Lo was just frigging awesome from top to bottom. It was so much fun to watch. It sounded great and it proved Vicci knows how to really work a stage. It takes a strong performer to hold his or her own on stage with a showman like Cee Lo and Vicci did it. Very nicely done.
01: Vicci Martinez – Jolene
Vicci may not have been my favorite contestant when all was said and done but when I think back over the best performances from season 1 of The Voice her rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It was powerful, it was dynamic and it was emotional. This was, for me, Vicci’s real shinning moment on the show.