As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m fascinated by pop music trends around the world and I love investigating TV talent shows from other countries. Swedish Idol and Danish X Factor are two of my particular favourites, but every country’s versions of these shows give an interesting insight into their individual music industries.
In Holland the company who invented Big Brother and Fame Academy have come up with a new twist on the talent show format, a show called The Voice of Holland. The twist is that the judges can’t see the auditionees, so as the title suggests, it’s all about the voice. There are already plans to remake it around the globe after it’s been a massive success. It was recently announced that The Voice of America is set to launch in May this year.
You can see how the concept works in this video of the first audition by eventual winner (crowned yesterday), Ben Saunders. The judges press a button to turn their chairs around if they think the voice is good enough. The contestants who reach the next round are put into categories mentored by the different judges, like X Factor, and competition between the judges is heightened by the fact that if more than one judge chooses to take an act through to the next round, that singer can choose between those judges which will be their mentor. This is also a good idea as it means no judge is lumbered with a singer they never liked and all the contestants get the support of a mentor who genuinely believes in them.
The main advantage of the format is that it will weed out the contestants who can’t cut it vocally (especially the irritating novelty acts that X Factor seem to love these days), but the ‘all about the music’ attitude concerns me as artists who succeed in talent shows because they are considered to be more ‘authentic’ than the typical entrant do not generally do well after the show. Does anyone believe that Matt Cardle is going to have a longer career than One Direction?
Despite my reservations, I had to give the series a fair chance as it’s been so successful, so I had a listen to some of the contestants. As expected, they are generally quite old but not all of them are ugly and there are some serious talents here. If they make a UK version of the show, I’ll be more than happy if they discover anyone who can sing like Sarina Voorn. The winner, Ben, also has an undeniably excellent voice, even if the chances of him ever making a song that doesn’t send you instantly to sleep are very slim. Here are a few of the best performances from the series…
The aforementioned Sarina Voorn makes one of my least favourite P!nk songs sound quite amazing.
Raffaëla Paton was a previous Dutch Idol winner, so it was an especially big shock when the judges turned around to see her! However, she only got halfway through the live shows in The Voice of Holland.
Sometimes the good singers did turn out to be pretty enough to be pop stars, such as Kate Bosworth lookalike Jennifer Ewbank.
These are just a few of the great singers discovered on the show, including many who I was surprised to see didn’t make it through the first round despite showing real potential. Only the absolute flawless best reached the second round. So, regardless of whether I agree with its ideology, I would definitely like to see The Voice of Britain put into production if it can provide us with such high quality performances as the Dutch equivalent.