The Voice UK, BBC1, TV review: 'Ludicrously ineffective as a talent search, but it’s still great TV'
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Sunday 26 January 2014
There’s a good and fairly obvious reason why, after three series, BBC singing contest The Voice UK has failed to uncover a major star: it isn’t really just about “the voice”.
Successful pop artists also need the look, the dance moves, the musical taste, the tenacity and, yes, “the X factor”. There’s no way even a man of Sir Tom Jones’s experience could assess all that with his back to the stage.
The Voice may be ludicrously ineffective as a talent search, but it’s still great TV. Especially now Jessie J and that random bloke no one’s heard of have been replaced by Kylie Minogue and Ricky from Kaiser Chiefs. Unusually for reality TV mentors, these guys actually have some useful advice to impart.
Despite being the show’s token indie bloke, Ricky also manfully resisted the pressure from fellow judges on Saturday night to put through every twerp with an acoustic guitar. The contestant he did eventually choose, trainee solicitor Myles, was well worth the wait.
Luckily, there were some singers so good that even the handicapping effect of The Voice’s format can’t disguise their talent. Iesher, a 19-year-old cinema usher from Walthamstow, east London, had a feisty soul voice reminiscent of Sixties singer Little Eva; though, to her mum, she was “my little Beyoncé”. Single mum-of-four Leverne had a pure tone and an honest expressiveness, which immediately won the hearts of all four judges.
The Voice doesn’t shy away from emotive back stories, but unlike The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, there are no care-in-the-community cases, paraded in front of us purely for ridicule. It’s a much more genial show, in which every auditioner has talent, and everyone gets a post-audition hug from Kylie, whether they make it through or not. The judges may never find a viable recording artist if they carry on like this, but it hardly seems to matter. On The Voice, everyone’s a star.
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