Can The Voice Compete with American Idol’s Decade-Long Run?

Creators of NBC’s newest venture “The Voice” are attempting to blaze a new trail in the world of singing competitions while hopefully gaining fans from “American Idol” and other similar programs. Even with its ratings slump over the last few years “Idol” still remains one of the most watched TV shows of all time. So can “The Voice” compete with “Idol’s” decade-long run and loyal audience?

Unique Aspects of “The Voice”

“The Voice” boasts a celebrity panel of coaches who each have one major thing in common – they are all singers! This gives them the ability to mentor contestants from a position of vast vocal experience and an understanding of what these aspiring performers are going through. This panel includes vocal powerhouse Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine, country crooner Blake Shelton and Gnarls Barkley singer Cee Lo Green. Each coach needs eight singers on their team to kick off the competition process and in the end, the finalists will vie for America ‘s vote.

Blind Audition Process

To keep the focus on the artist’s voice, the coaches have their backs turned to the stage, allowing them to only be influenced by what they hear. If a coach wants that singer, they hit a button to turn their chair around. When more than one coach hits their button, these music pros compete against each other, pitching themselves to a talented contestant in order to build a winning team.

Having no idea what the performers look like, the celebrity coaches are sometimes in for a shock once they turn around. At one point during the blind auditions a guy with a sweet, high tenor voice impressed Adam enough to turn him around, but then caught him by surprise. Adam laughed and said, “This is where it’s going to get a little weird – I thought you were a chick.”

No Terrible Singers or Joke Performances

Another major difference between the two singing shows is that, unlike its primary competition, “The Voice” audition rounds don’t feature any terrible singers. Reviews are often mixed as to whether or not the frequent placement of ridiculously awful singers helps or hurts “American Idol.” Some find these bits entertaining while others are simply irritated by the obnoxious screeching and attention-grabbing stunts. All the singers placed in “The Voice” auditions were at least decent, even if not skilled enough to land a spot on a team. “Voice” host Carson Daly told The Hollywood Reporter there is “no William Hung novelty in this format.”

The competition quickly turns brutal when the battle round arrives. Coming off the palpable excitement of the auditions, this is where it gets tough. The coaches choose two of their team members to go head to head and sing one song together in a competitive duet style. Then, following their performance the coach must pick a winner and eliminate the other. Those who survive the battle round will perform on the live shows beginning on June 7.

“American Idol” or “The Voice”?

Even with all the ups and downs over the last 10 years, “American Idol” still remains the reigning king of TV music shows in the US. Many shows have come and gone in an attempt to capture even a slice of the ratings “Idol” continues to garner. So how does “The Voice” stack up against the grandfather of TV talent shows? Media Decoder writer Bill Carter explains the new show “cemented its position as the breakout hit of the season by becoming the first new show on any network this season to post ratings growth in its second edition.”

From the beginning “Idol” has focused far more on ‘the whole package’ as opposed to vocal talent alone. Often mediocre voices are sent through because they have star quality, a great story or another factor having nothing to do with good pipes. But “Idol” also starts with over 100 contestants during Hollywood week, while “The Voice” focuses more on a select few.

Is It Really All About the Voice?

Once the blind auditions ended in the first two episodes of “The Voice,” it was no longer all about the voice. Stage presence and performance ability played a big role in deciding whether an artist advanced to the next round. And the final episodes center on viewers voting to eliminate contestants and crown a winner. Sound familiar? It remains to be seen whether those last rounds will feel like an “Idol” copycat or if “The Voice” can continue to differentiate itself. If not, this exciting new show runs the risk of going the way of all those other TV talent shows whose names we no longer remember.

Battle rounds for “The Voice” continue on Tuesdays at 9 pm (CT) on NBC through May 31, followed by live shows through June 28.