Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Voice: Season 3

By DionysusPsyche

Kick off this year for Season 3 was intense. I don't mean that the stakes felt higher. I mean, I felt like there were more episodes this time than there were last year. Maybe that's because last year was my virgin/honeymoon period with the show. Second season aired right after the Superbowl, which was good because my place, like tons of homes across the U.S., we left our tv on in a post-food/football exhausted stupor. This year, there were 3 episodes, Monday through Wednesday where Round 1 consists of the judges choosing and fighting over singers to have them on their teams.

Reality TV
There's nothing particularly real about any show, except the illusion that its actually happening. There are a set of people that will never watch The Voice because they avoid reality tv. That's all right. Audiences watch the same shows for different reasons or for varying levels of the same reasons. I primarily watch this for the judges and their amusing relationships with each other and their team. Someone else I know mostly views it for the singing, and another loves the drama the best. It's impossible to watch reality television without some shaudenfreude, and appreciation in one form or another for pettiness on the show is what drives this type of programming. It's less about the activity and more about how the action and emotions in it are mixed like a blender.

The Coaches
You probably know, but I'll tell you anyway.

Stats: Used to be on The Mickey Mouse Club with Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake and was part of the late 90's pop scene. She still makes albums and cameos in movies.
Preferences for up-and-comers: People who can belt it out, and tends to look for ultimate star power potential.
Dislikes: When talent rivals her own in a different venue. People who can't hit high notes. Tries to be the Paula but doesn't quite pull it off as she's considerably patronizing.
Last year's defining moment: Fighting with Adam. Trying to break Chris Mann out of his classic training to become mainstream.
Known for: Of all the judges, Christina tries the hardest to get team members and because of her notoriety has the easiest time getting picked by them. Extremely competitive. Almost wardrobe malfunctions of the mammory variety. Has weird hats that rival Cee Lo's.

Cee Lo
Stats: Half of the Gnarles Barkley/Danger Mouse group, has his own solo album, and produces other music he views as worthy.
Preferences for up-and-comers: Unique voices that he can help mold and grow (Cee lo picks those who are interesting and require the most guidance).
Dislikes: The status quo and drama
Last year's defining moment: Transforming Juliet Simms, and almost winning the Voice last year.
Known for:
More than any of his peers, Cee lo really tries to find a musical blending of what he can offer and his talent's particular voice. Is probably the most eclectic of the group. Outfits, toupees, and onstage pets that tweet and get the audience amused

Stats: A Texas born country singer, his first big hit was in 2001 with the song “Austin.” Married to Miranda Lambert.
Preferences for up-and-comers: Spunk. If they sing country or really interesting rock, he tries to nab them. Also hot chicks.
Dislikes: When possible singers pick Adam over him.
Last year's defining moment: When his team member, Jermaine Paul won the title of The Voice for season 2.
Known for: Drinking on stage, awesome one-liners (sometimes a back and forth dual with Adam), and his husky accent. Definitely one of the funnier coaches. Plays off Christina and especially Adam.

Stats: Part of Maroon 5, and after regrouping and renaming, released their debut album in 2002. Probably the second most famous of the group.
Preferences for up-and-comers: Talented—someone who he could tour with (one of the members from his team last year was on tour with him this past summer)
Dislikes: Singers' inability to optimize their voice and pick songs that work for them.
Last year's defining moment: Picking former Mickey Mouse Club star, Tony Luca, for his team (which angered Christina). Upon her criticism of Luca, Adam talked Luca into singing “Baby One More Time” by Christina's rival Brittney Spears' to show off his talent and to make her even more annoyed.
Known for: Sense of humor and using it to push buttons of the other judges. His ability to articulate what did and didn't work for someone in the song of their choice. His friendship with Blake.

Going once, Going twice...
There are multiple rounds. In the first, the above mentioned pick their teams then coach them. The next involves the chosen ones battling against each other within their teams where their coach decides the winner, and the last one resides on individual performances. The last round involves home viewership voting—even though the futility of the maxed out website gets the best of us.

The first round is by far my favorite, because to me, the judges fighting over contestants like the last piece of meat at the market is almost more competitive than the people who are actually singing. Less so now that they added an element, one that I'll address in a minute.

Everyone has his/her own sob story where they try to gain audience appeal by sympathy. You get “my parent has/has died from cancer,” “I lost (insert family member here) when I was ___,” and “I was ostracized when I was little.” The stories always end with “music got me through,” which is a backwards, lamer version of VH1's “Behind the Music.” While the potential's background story is fun to guess, the stories themselves are boring/repetitive. Then Carson Daly comes in, pretends to act interested, and then they sing with their family backstage.

What's Happening on The Voice: Week 1 In Review
This year, the coaches can steal talent from other teams. I'm not sure if this is going to be done outright or if coaches are going to have to switch them out NFL style. To be honest, I don't really care, I'll enjoy the surprise.

Cee Lo seems a bit low key this year and doesn't appear to be trying as hard to pick up new artists. Perhaps he's under contract and just wants out? Or is bummed out for not having won the first two years? It's also possible he's staying under the radar for now in order to come out on top later (as in steal the talent he lost out on). He's also changed out his Persian cat, Purrfect, for a pink cockatiel. Or else the cat is taking a rest from fame, possibly holing up in Kitty Rehab.

Christina and Adam seem less competitive this season in the first three episodes than they were this time last year when it got down right uncomfortable. While Christina is staying quiet, her breasts are doing all the talking. Who's job is it to shove them back in her super tight tank top?

There are more country music singers in the first few episodes, and Blake has picked up basically all of them. Which seems weirdly suspicious. While Blake does enjoy a good Southern sound, it's almost like there was a commercial slogan with the words “collect them all” (he did pass on one country singer). He can do the most for them though, and they all know this (Miranda Lambert and Jewel were two of his guest coaches last year).

Carson is upbeat, which was my biggest surprise. Last year you could hear the “this is hell, I couldn't care less” in his voice and lack of facial expressions. Occasionally, he jumped in early with “okay, judges, it's time to make a decision.” They have him backstage with the participants family, and on one occasion, he seemed more jazzed about the performances than the family. He either cut a deal or someone gave him some depression medication, because he's just peppier this time around.

Highlights so far
Adam impersonating Blake.
Adam running around the stage to punch Blake in the arm and then go back to his chair.
Blake moonwalking.
Carson with personality.
Blake tries to convince a contestant to be on his team, because they "both wear vests." No good.

Drinking Game
For you at home who watch, this is the part when I reveal an addition to your normal viewing (or maybe just different rules if you already do this). For those who don't watch but would like to, you can do this too. For those who weren't going to watch (and if so, thanks for continuing to read!) but now are intrigued, here are the rules.

Drink Every Time...

Cee Lo's pet of choice appears with him
Christina almost falls out of her clothes
A coach impersonates another coach
One of the contestants cries
This is The Voice!” is announced
A judge chooses Carson (spoiler alert: Carson doesn't sing. If for some reason he does, drink twice)
Blake points to himself
The judges perform together (note: NOT with their team)
Our reporter uses the word “trending”
A coach says they weren't “feeling it”
Adam makes a joke or he and Blake reference their love for each other
Someone says that Blake has been drinking (drink twice if this person is Blake)
Anyone sings an Adele song

Warning! If you're going to play this drinking game, do so at your own risk. No blame should be exacted on the writers of this blog for any alcohol poisoning or repurcussions for an absence at work due to a hangover.

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