Now in its fourth season, “The Voice” is a reality singing competition that continues to excite audiences with its unconventional show format and notable coaches. Unlike “American Idol” and “X Factor,” where contestants are sometimes judged on their appearances, “The Voice” allows singers to walk onstage and sing to the coaches’ backs. If the coaches like what they hear, they’ll push a red button and turn around, a signal to the singer that he or she has passed the audition. On March 25, a total of 13.4 million viewers tuned in to the show’s season premiere on NBC.
It was only in December of last year that Cassadee Pope was crowned the third winner of “The Voice.” In the interim, however, the show has experienced significant changes – namely, that two of the four coaches left the show to focus on their individual careers. Still, the departure of record producer Cee Lo Green and pop superstar Christina Aguilera did little to dampen the ratings of the show, for Grammy-winning Shakira and performer Usher are arguably more entertaining and likeable than their predecessors.
It is difficult not to compare Shakira with Aguilera, for they have both taken turns as the show’s only female coach. While Aguilera acted like a diva and made overtly catty comments to some contestants on the show last season, Shakira seems to be adopting a much more encouraging tone. On top of that, it was Shakira who gave the audience the most laughs, with the friendly feud between “old” coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton coming in a close second. Usher, who sat through the show with one leg up on the chair, resembled Cee Lo for his lack of personality or wit.
It is in this season of “The Voice” that the show had its first pair of identical twins audition. Both blonde and dressed in red, the Morgan twins’ perfect harmony quickly wowed the coaches and two pressed the button before the second twin even sang her first note. It was predictable that they chose Blake as their coach, given that he has groomed two out of the three winners thus far. He might be a singer in a genre that is less publicized than pop music or R&B, but this has had little bearing on his authority.
Still, the most memorable performance of the night would have to go to Christian Porter, a charming guitarist who put his own spin to the much overplayed song “Sexy and I Know It,” originally sung by LMFAO. His performance was perhaps reminiscent of third runner-up Melanie Martinez in season three, who gave a unique rendition of Britney Spear’s “Toxic” and landed a spot on Team Adam. Porter, however, picked Blake as his coach.
While Blake had the most singers on his team by the end of the show, both Shakira and Adam picked up very impressive singers to make up for the lack in quantity. Kris Thomas got a spot on Shakira’s team and left the other coaches surprised once they learned that this intriguingly feminine voice belonged to a man. Judith Hill, who sang with Michael Jackson and performed at his memorial service, impressed all four coaches with a song by Aguilera. Interestingly, this turn of events was strongly reminiscent of Cassadee Pope’s audition.
It will be disappointing if Hill does eventually win the title – which he theoretically deserves to, given his high level of experience. Nevertheless, the show has just begun and the level of talent has proved to be as high as – if not even higher than – in preceding seasons. This season looks extremely promising and we can only wait patiently for the next few episodes to air before the coaches complete their teams and the competition begins in earnest.