Although it’s hard to believe that The Voice is currently in its fourteenth season, with four big names occupying the famous swiveling chairs, the show is at the top of its game. Unlike its predecessor American Idol, which unfortunately is back after a two-year hiatus, The Voice consistently features powerhouse judges/coaches givomg the show both credibility and star power. Alicia Keys and newbie Kelly Clarkson (who has seamlessly made the move from her Idol alma mater) are breaths of fresh air as they are genuinely excited to witness new talent. As always, the two middle chairs are flanked by the biggest bromance on television – Adam Levine and Blake Shelton – whose antics haven’t gotten old yet because they are as funny as they are talented. In short – the chemistry is undeniable.
Comparing Keys and Clarkson to other “middle chair judges” is interesting because this show has always attracted award-winning artists: Christina Aguilera (her tenure seems like a million years ago), CeeLo Green (I miss his words of wisdom), Shakira, Usher, Gwen Stefani (who can forget the way she and Shelton spent season twelve batting their eyes at one other), Pharrell Williams (another voice of reason), Miley Cyrus, and, of course, the shoe-throwing Jennifer Hudson. That list is unbelievable! Every single one of those artists has been nominated for and/or won at least one Grammy, among many other awards. Also, the different musical genres covered is extremely impressive.
With this season’s blind auditions coming to a close, I have just one criticism. While the coach banter is part of the fun, and definitely contributes to the show’s spontaneity and excitement, there have been a few instances where their chatter takes the spotlight off the (usually overwhelmed) contestant. I can’t imagine the nerves that come up with being on “live” (all these years later I’m still not sure when and where this show airs in real time) television – especially in front of some of music’s biggest names – so I wonder if Shelton making fun of Levine’s “Jimmy Buffet” shirt takes away from Carson Daly’s attempt to function as the friends and family advocate and the contestants’ ability to make the best coach choice. In the same vein, the new “blocked” rule seems to benefit the coaches more than the contenders whose dream might have been to work with the coach they can’t choose.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the battle rounds and the advisors that help the coaches. This year that list includes: Julia Michaels for Team Adam, Shawn Mendes for Team Alicia, Hailee Steinfeld for Team Kelly, and Trace Adkins for Team Blake. According to the previews, the coaches will also spend more time with their teams which will allow them to be a more significant part of the rehearsal process.
At this point, Clarkson’s over-the-top enthusiasm is the center of the show. She is fantastic and, similar to Hudson, can actually understand what it’s like to be in the competitors’ shoes. While Clarkson, Hudson, and of course Carrie Underwood are and will always be the type of stars The Voice is looking for, the show continues to provide America with new talent from all over the country and across music genres. There really is something to be said for ensuring that dazzling voices are heard.