I used to be a huge American Idol fan, ever since season 2 when I got drunk the night Clay Aiken lost to Ruben Studdard. (Don’t you dare call me a Claymate, though. Those bitches are CRAY-CRAY! I never drew angel wings on him either.) I was such a devoted fan of the show that I stood outside CBS studios for eight hours just to see a RESULTS show. Now that is fandom, friends. That was the night Josh got kicked off the show, and I hated him so much. It was very gratifying to be there in person and witness his failure. After the results show taped, Oprah was in the studio to interview the contestants. I never watch Oprah and almost left until I found out who here guests were. So yes, I have attended an Oprah show in person. (Yay?)
I think I got off on a tangent. What I was trying to say is that despite my years of obsession and attention, I have not been watching Idol this year. Once Simon left, I was just not interested. It was bad enough that they fired Paula last year. (HOW EXCITED AM I THAT PAULA IS A JUDGE ON SIMON’S NEW SHOW? SO EXCITED.)
I felt like a rudderless ship on an endless sea, without any reality singing competition in my life. Then The Voice came on the scene. I totally wasn’t going to watch it at all until I noticed a local talent was in the contest. Nakia from Austin is an amazing soul singer, who I became aware of during a Sharon Jones concert last fall. Here is a clip of his duet with Sharon Jones that night:
As soon as I found out he was going to be on The Voice, I had to start watching. Once I have someone to root for I am a sucker for these shows. There are several Austin artists in the contest, and they are all on Cee Lo’s team. Cee Lo happens to be my favorite judge, so that is just perfect for me.
The way the show works is that the four judges (Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo and Blake Shelton) choose eight contestants each to be on their team. They choose the team by listening to the people sing in a blind audition. This means the judges can’t see them. If the judge turns his chair around to see the singer then he has chosen that person for the team. If more than one judge turns around, the singer can choose the team they want to be on.
Over the weeks, the judges will coach their teams and hopefully be the judge that finds the winner, aka The Voice.
I found the auditions to be a very refreshing change of pace, and here are five reasons why I think The Voice will be a better show than American Idol:
1. The contestants have real talent. You won’t see anyone in a hot dog costume or someone who can’t really sing but thinks they can. Every one of the contestants was a good singer. Maybe a few of them were somewhat funny looking, but all of them have talent. Most of them are working musicians who play gigs as their full time job. Real struggling artists! Real struggling artists who deserve a break!
2. There are no sore losers. There were some contestants who sang their heart out, but none of the judges turned their chairs while they were singing. This was pretty heartbreaking to watch. You know what was great, though? None of those people flipped double birds to the camera while shouting obscenities. They all just said, “That’s show biz,” and tried to keep a brave face.
3. The judges are artists and performers themselves. Each of these judges has written and performed a Number One hit. Each of them has toured and played shows for thousands of people. Each of them is a contemporary artist and they are familiar with the ins and outs of the industry. They know what it takes to be a success.
4. Sob stories are kept to a minimum. I have to admit that when I saw the bald lady coming up on my screen, I figured it was going to be a cancer sob story. Nope – she is just a ballsy punk type who shaves her head. You really have no idea what a relief that was. I saw five minutes of James Durbin’s Idol audition where he cried because his baby didn’t have food or diapers, and I was fucking out of there. James Durbin, I have only seen you on TV for ten minutes and your name fills me with loathing and bile beyond which I have never known. But I digress. What I am trying to say is that you aren’t going to hear this type of sob story that often on The Voice.
5. Differences are celebrated, not hidden. There are several gay contestants on The Voice, and it’s treated as a fact, same as hair color or height and weight. Poor Clay Aiken had to hide in the closet for years after Idol because his midwest American fans would have been scandalized. Granted, this might just be a sign of the times, but I do think it has something to do with the attitude of the producers and judges. I love me some Simon Cowell, but he is a homophobic bastard.
The Voice airs on Tuesdays on NBC at 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central. If you live in Austin, then keep a look out for Nakia because he’s been DJing and playing shows with his band The Grifters! I’m hoping to catch him before he becomes a superstar. I really think he’s got potential to be in the finals. Good luck, Nakia!