Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'The Voice' charms in hyped debut

After hours of promotion and no doubt millions spent on marketing, NBC's new singing competition show "The Voice" premiered last night and the results were surprisingly nice.

I have to admit I was looking forward to the show if for no other reason than to see America discover the hilariously charming Blake Shelton. As a long time country music fan I am well versed on Shelton's razor sharp wit and self deprecating humor.

By now the concept is clear, singers take part in a blind audition and the coaches don't competitors until they push a button which swings their chair around and choose them for their team. The other coaches include Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera.

The show started with a fantastic rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" featuring the four superstars. I'm wondering if this will be an ongoing theme, because I'd love to see Shelton singing "Genie in a Bottle" or Cee Lo taking a crack at "Hillbilly Bone."

What was refreshing about the show was that it wasn't mean spirited and the coaches seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of their various choices. I also really enjoyed the chemistry among the four stars. Though they come from different backgrounds, I could see Shelton and Cee Lo hanging out and it won't be long before rumors pop up about Levine and Aguilera.

Apparently I'm not the only one who enjoyed it, because the ratings were phenomenal. The program garnered 11.8 million viewers and improved throughout the night. It beat "Glee" head to head from 9-9:30 p.m. and was the top show in the 18-49 demographic.

With "American Idol" feeling more stale and over produced every week and "The X Factor" not starting until fall, "The Voice" could become a dark horse contender to the reality competition crown.

Contestant highlights:

  • Patrick Thomas showed some nice control on a difficult country song, Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" and obviously chose Shelton as his coach.

  • Frenchie Davis returned to the spotlight with a blazing version of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" and ended up on Aguilera's team.

  • Married couple Josh and Nicole, who are called Elenowen, chose Shelton after a sweet rendition of "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once."

  • Rebecca Loebe put a new twist on Nirvana's "Come as You Are" making jazzy and haunting. She decided to go with Levine over Aguilera.

  • Sixteen year old Xenia sang a beautiful version of "Breakeven" and chose Shelton over Cee Lo.

  • Beverley McClellen closed the show with a blistering "Piece of My Heart" and ended up on Aguilera's team.
Next week is part two of the blind auditions, with the judges filling out their final five spots.

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