NBC is issuing the next battle cry against American Idol – The Voice.  The show brings together a coaching panel of the surgingly popular Cee Lo Green, diva Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, and country star Blake Shelton.  What sets the show apart is this: each coach – not judge – picks an 8 man or woman team to coach.  They pick their team by voice alone – no looks at all.  If two coaches desire the same voice on their team, they must sell their services to the singer.  Throughout the season the coaches will slim the teams down, and in the end they will compete against each other for America’s vote.

Whew – that’s a lot to take in.  It’s a novel twist on a stale formula, but one that depends a lot on the popularity of the judges, I mean coaches.  Is the cast in the public’s mind enough to sell the show?  We’ll see how the ratings come out, but I am interested to see a show that is initially based on vocal talent on not on looks.

The show opened with the coaches jamming out together on Cee-Lo’s Gnarls Barkley hit “Crazy.”  Cee-Lo and Christina sang lead, while Blake and Adam rocked electric guitar and drums, respectively.  It was a very fun beginning to the show, and illustrated the talent of this judging panel.  Then, I realized that Carson Daly was hosting the show.  Momentum killed.  Oh well, I can deal with Carson as long as the rest of the show is good.  Let’s hope so, it would be fun to have a new show to blog!

The contestant introductions happen much like Idol.  Appropriately, the first artist was one who was excited to take advantage of the “looks optional” hook of the show.  That is a great hook, and it was a good decision to get the obvious draw of the show out there on the table.  It is one advantage that this show has over Idol, and another is that each “audition” shown has a unique excitement to it.  There is something intensely joyful in the coaches spinning around in their chairs when they decide that they want to pursue a singer.  Also, you get to see the contestants family and friends reactions to the performances and the coaches decisions.  It is an exciting first round, and it really helps the fun level that the cast seems to like each other.  They campaign for the contestants, and the banter is often as entertaining as the voices themselves.

The Voice, for this season at least, skips the drama and hilarity of the larger audition process.  The result is that the people who show up to sing on TV are all great singers.  Even those who did not get picked up by a coach tonight had great voices.  Many of the performances were better than what you will hear on the top 6 of Idol tomorrow.  Maybe the potential “Voices” aren’t as polished yet, but the base talent was much stronger overall.  I heard a country voice or two better than Scotty Mcreery’s, at least four female vocals better than Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhardt, and even a Jacob Lusk competitor!  Bring it on Idol.

Tonight’s premiere episode of the Voice was a whole lot of fun.  The singers are genuine, the coaches are entertaining, and the show moves at a fast enough clip to keep things interesting.  While Idol will take the ratings share during the last block tomorrow, I will have a hard time finishing out my recap post for the FOX show.  Consider me sold, NBC, I’m on board for this wild, vocal driven ride!

Related – The American Idol Top 7

Follow the Prophet of Pop on Twitter and on Facebook!

More from Beliefnet and our partners