I've been meaning to check out NBC's "The Voice." So while I still have cable for a few more days, I might as well take advantage of it and do a quick liveblog.
10:00 PM - Ooh, recap. The TV Listings say this is "Battle Part 2," so there's obviously a "Part 1" that I've missed. Hey, it's Frenchie from that season of "American Idol" I think I watched.
:02 - At this point it's just a blur of coach and assistant names that I don't recognize.
:03 - Hi Cee Lo. On his team, we have Guillermo del Toro (Nakia) vs. a gigantamous walking Afro (Tje Austin), who will both be singing "Closer." A lovely lady named Monica assists - another recording star I don't know.
:07 - Battle Round time! Good grief, they're pacing around a pseudo wrestling ring. Calling the sing-off a "battle" is kind of silly, but having them in a ring together makes for a good visual.
:10 - The thing to remember about these singing shows is that you can't trust the audio because the recording conditions aren't great. Nakia sounded better in practice and Tje sounded better in the ring.
:11 - And they abruptly cut to commercial right before Cee Lo picks the winner. Naturally. So far I think the show is a lot less polished than "Idol," but that's no surprise considering how new "Voice" still is.
:14 - I think I've got the gist of the rules. You have the judges responsible for picking and mentoring contestants to do battle with each other in upcoming live performances. Right now it's the judges who are making elimination decisions, whittling down their teams.
:15 - Nakia wins. Bye Tje. I will miss your humorous hairdo.
:16 - Now it's Ellen v. Jared, who will be singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Their mentor is Blake Shelton, a country star I don't have any familiarity with either. Reba McEntire shows up as his celeb assistant. Too bad all we get to hear of the coaching is a quick pep talk.
:23 - Oh lord. Two days after the upfront, they're already rolling out the "Playboy Club" promos.
:24 - Hang on, the contestant isn't Ellen. it's a duo called Elenowen, made up of a Josh and a Nicole. Gee, that's not intuitive. And they're terrible. Jared wins!
:29 - It took me this long to realize that the host is Carson Daly. I honestly have no personal beef with this man, but how many showbiz lives does he have? After "TRL" and "Last Call With Carson Daly" - waitaminute - "Last Call With Carson Daly" is still on the air? He survived the NBC late night wars and Conan didn't?!
:33 - Okay, now it's on to the Maroon 5 guy's team. Angela v. Javier, singing "Stand By Me." I can already tell Angela's going down. Was there an assistant there? Wikipedia says he's producer Adam Blackstone, but I think I missed him.
:38 - Yeah, Angela's one of those singers who has a lot of bad habits she's going to have to train herself out of. Use your diaphragm, woman! Breathe! Javier's a nice surprise though. Nice, smooth voice.
:40 - The other judges give opinions, but only the team leader makes the decision. So, for all intents and purposes their proffered opinions really just serve to remind us that they're there. Of course Javier wins.
:42 - Thank you for identifying yourself, Alison Haislip, backstage correspondent. Now please go away.
:43 - That "Kung Fu Panda 2" promo seems so sinister. Please don't suck. You're probably the only movie my mother will agree to see in a theater this summer.
:45 - Hi Christina Aguilera! You're awesome. She's getting a bald lady named Beverly and slightly portly fellow named Justin to sing "Baba O'Reilly." The assistant is one Sia Furler. Nope, don't know her either.
:50 - These coaching scenes are already getting repetitive, especially since we're only getting really awkward clips from each one.
:53 - Something about the back-from-commercial musical sting makes me think "Star Search." Or possibly "Magnum P.I." Hmmm.
:55 - I love this song. I wish they'd let them sing the whole thing. Beverly the bald lady looks so happy. And she wins!
:59 - The current format is fun, but I think it's a good thing that it changes for every stage of the competition. What I thought was most promising about "The Voice" from the outset was that the coaches had to choose contestants based on voice alone, literally without being able to see them.
These second round "battles" where they contestants share a performance also emphasize vocal talent and performance ability over image. What worries me is what will happen in the final rounds, the live shows, when the audience will get involved.
But so far, "The Voice" isn't bad. The contestants are better singers than "Idol" features, and the rougher spots will probably get smoothed out with time. I might tune back in for one of the live shows later, to see how things progress.