Friday, April 29, 2011

Pop Culture Winners of the Week (April 25-29)...


- The Voice, NBC, every advertiser, coach, and contestant associated with it, and every TV viewer who tuned in.

I am only picking one winner of the week this week. It's not because I'm lazy and not because I'm burnt out. No, not even a little bit. It's also not because my snarky little brain can think of more losers than winners lately. Ahem. But I also think that this one truly took the cake.

Sure, you could say that toward the end of the advertising campaign, it was a little bit of overkill. The countdown clock next to the peacock bug during The Biggest Loser set it over the top. The promos, while emotional, were in every break. Literally. But somehow, surprisingly, it lived up to the hype. And more importantly, they were effective. People tuned in in-- what's that expression-- droves? This was much more than droves! 11.8 million viewers for the premiere, beating everything else, including a super-sized glee and Dancing with the Stars.

The show's producers did a great job of weaning through talent so that by the time they hit that stage every one of them actually had some talent (therefore not embarrassing anyone, which I admit is the only interesting part of Idol for me), something I thought might be schmaltzy and dull. But it wasn't. Because when talent shines, it really shines. It really wasn't a surprise to see so many of the coaches want the same contestant, and it really wasn't a surprise that America wanted them, too. Twitter blew up (I even live-Tweeted simply because I found I couldn't hold my commentary in!), and iTunes exploded with searches for some of the soon-to-be-stars. That is the definition of overnight sensation. Even if they don't make it past the duet round, managing to shoot up to number 30 on iTunes is a B.F.D. for an unsigned, previously unknown artist.

It was emotional at times, but the focus was on the voices, just like the title would suggest, and the back stories of the contestants fell to the side. Character development is so important to today's television viewer, but it is always best when it comes out over time, naturally, rather than threaded through exposition (or in the case of a reality show, in an interview) in the first episode.

But that doesn't mean the tears didn't come! A beautiful voice can crack you like no sad story can! And then to watch the nerves fade away when a coach spins around in their chair, signifying that the person is as good as he or she hopes...the excitement is palpable, and that's when the performance really comes alive.

And yes, the suspense of will they or won't they hit the button wasn't entirely necessary. I much preferred to watch the contestant sing his or her heart out on stage than cut to an insert shot of a hand hovering. Apparently hitting a button is not that easy, Staples! But I imagine it mimics what many of the viewers at home are feeling, deciding on whether or not they would buy a single or EP from the particular person on stage.

I also must admit I have a newfound respect for Adam Levine after watching his style on this show. He really puts a lot of thought into the process of building a team, but he is very sincere about who he wants and who he just thinks isn't right for him. When he's jamming in the chair, back to the stage, he gets into the sound, and when he spins around he never lets a person's look take him aback or make him think twice about that passion. That's not something I can say for everyone at this point in time.

I don't know a lot about music. I know what I like, but I don't listen to enough of an eclectic variety to be nearly as knowledgeable about it as I am about television. I didn't know Blake Shelton before this show, but now that I do, I like him, too. He may not turn me into a country fan, but he's part of what has just made me a reality TV fan. Well, at least a The Voice fan!


I'm clearly sold. Are you?

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