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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Premiering right after the Super Bowl, the second season of NBC's "The Voice" showcased the talent and fun it had to offer, which reminded viewers why it's a show worthy to compete against the likes of "American Idol" and "X Factor."

"The Voice" first premiered last summer and was thought to be an underdog singing-show competition unlikely to compete against the already established singing shows backed by the snarky Simon Cowell.

Inspired by the "The Voice of Holland," executive producer Mark Burnett worked with the original creator, John de Mol, to create what would become the antithesis to "Idol."

The show judges competitors solely on their voices, a phenomenon in vocal competitions since most thrive on finding the "the whole package." In addition to the different concept, instead of "judges" criticizing the acts, there are coaches, who happen to be heavy-hitters in the music industry, to guide and inspire the contestants.

The coaches, dubbed "four of the biggest stars on the planet," are as follows: Maroon 5's frontman Adam "Moves Like Jagger" Levine, sultry "Dirrty"-girl Christina Aguilera, singer/songwriter/producer Cee Lo Green and country star Blake Shelton. The don't have much in common, but it sure works.

The chemistry, jokes and sexual tension (at least between Levine and Augilera) all induced by the foursome of anti-Idol advocates are surprisingly entertaining. So entertaining that the show was this year's Super Bowl lead-out program.

But how has the second season fared against "Idol"?

According to The Huffington Post, on Feb. 8 "Idol" brought in 7.7 million views for the 18-49 age range, while on Feb. 6 "The Voice" brought in 8.5 million in the same range — that's almost a million more people who tuned in to watch Levine and Aguilera bicker.

In addition to the coaches, the competition works in three stages: blind auditions, battle stage and live shows.

Along with the foolproof formula, the prize is pretty nice too. First-season winner Javier Colon, who had viewers at the beginning with his rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," won $100,000 and a record deal from Universal Republic.

The show is in the first stage beyond the blind audition, which is the most interesting phase as the four coaches have their backs turned to the contestants singing their hearts out in hopes of landing a spot on one of the coaches' teams of 12.

If the coaches like what they hear, they simply press the button and the singer has a spot on the team. If more than one coach pushes, the tables turn and the power is with the contestant, as now he or she can pick a team. This also happens to be a competition between the coaches because they want to create a team of diverse singers to compete against each other for the live shows.

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The new season is just as entertaining as the first, and it continues to be full of humor as the coaches badger one another and fight over the singers they want. Each endearing trait rolled over from last season is now a trademark: Levine's car-salesman-type persuading, Aguilera almost pressing the button but then not, Green flirting and reeling in the pretty ladies and Blake's comments that would be creepy if said by anyone else.

The first performer shown was country singer RaeLynn, who took a risk singing a Miranda Lambert (Shelton's wife) song, but her rough, raspy voice had Adam and Blake wanting her very badly and going to great lengths to persuade her they could make her into a star.

Levine and Aguilera bickered over tattooed, high-heeled rocker-chick Juliet Simms, who crooned The Beatles' "Oh! Darling," while Green just chilled out and coyly said, "You turn me on." That seemed to be the tiebreaker since she ultimately chose him. Doesn't anyone remember that the season one winner was on Levine's team? Just saying.

Jermaine Paul, a back-up singer for Alicia Keys who happened to send a good-luck video to him (you wonder why she didn't help the guy), did an R&B take on Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" and quickly got the attentions of Shelton and Green. He went with Shelton.

Of course, there are the ones who don't get picked but who did have what it takes to turn those chairs around, such as the 20-year-old in the bowtie whose pitch threw off the coaches and the rocker dad who's motivated every day by his wife and baby son.

What would the show be without the performances of the "biggest stars on the planet?" In the midst of all the auditions, the judges paid a tribute to Prince — with Aguilera dominating the vocals.

In only two episodes, "The Voice" had a lot going on that kept viewers on the edge and never bored. It's easy to understand why it beat out the monotonous same-old we've been getting from "Idol" for years.

With a coaches from a wide variety of genres, it seems that the singers never have to compromise their style. Pop, rock, indie, R&B — it's all appreciated. This is the biggest difference from other singing competitions: The artists can simply be themselves.

And that genuine quality is what seems to have viewers more interested in it than in "Idol."

"The Voice" is on NBC on Mondays at 8 p.m.

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