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What Makes 'The Voice' So Successful? And Can It Beat 'American Idol'?

by Maggie Furlong, posted May 10th 2011 9:00AM
'The Voice' is in an amazing position: After premiering to solid ratings, it got a huge boost for episode two last week, coming incredibly close to beating Fox juggernaut 'American Idol' in the coveted 18-49 demo.

What does that mean? Well, we're not entirely sure yet. The show is still very new, and tonight's episode (Tues., May 10, 10PM ET on NBC) already marks another chapter in this first season, with the start of coaches mentoring and head-to-head competition.

The Voice coaches
This week will be the true test of whether or not the show's appeal lies only in the gimmick -- coaches not being able to see who they choose until they're chosen -- which has already come and gone, or if it's thanks to something else.

That "something else" is also a vague category: It could be the A-list coaches, the superior talent, overall 'Idol' fatigue, anything.

I asked critics and 'Idol' fans -- who are all enjoying 'The Voice' as well -- to help examine the secret of the new hit show's success. Kate Aurthur, West Coast Editor of The Daily Beast; Executive Editor of HitFix.com Dan Fienberg; and TVGuide.com's West Coast News Editor Denise Martin all chime in about 'The Voice''s appeal, if it could ever beat 'Idol' in the ratings and the wild card in this singing competition show equation: Simon Cowell's fall Fox series 'X Factor.'

They were all pretty unanimous that the lack of terrible auditions is a huge plus in 'The Voice''s corner. Do you agree? Keep reading for more ...

The Secret to 'The Voice''s Success
Kate Aurthur: "The fact that we're not seeing bad singers at all ... I don't know whether we would care about the absence of bad singers if it weren't after 10 seasons of 'Idol' audition rounds. We can't take it anymore. Also, the judges actually have 'American Idol' auditionschemistry -- which is rare."

Denise Martin: "I think part of it is 'Idol' fatigue. I'm serious ... 'Idol' just doesn't have any interesting contestants this season. But I think everyone is really curious about 'The Voice' because of the judges lineup, more than the concept. I just think they chose interesting people who are all in the news: Cee-Lo's always in the news, Christina's a mess ... they just chose a really good lineup. [Plus] we don't have to go through six weeks of crappy singers for crappy's sake."

Dan Fienberg: "They eliminated the freaks. That was simply a choice they made, was to say we're not going to subject our four coaches -- who all, frankly, have better things to do with their time -- to the litany of embarrassments who 'American Idol' feels no shame whatsoever about putting in front of their judges. And it worked in terms of people tuning in and going, 'OK, this is better than an 'Idol' audition episode.'"

What's Next for the Show?
Dan Fienberg: "What do you think is happening this week? I don't know. They've shown footage of this arena that looks to me like it might be sort of a Rock 'Em Sock-'Em Robot competition with singers going head-to-head. Two enter, only one leaves! I'm fine with that ... if it's capitalizing on the popularity of MMA, only in the singers forum, by all means, let me see some blood."

'The Voice' mentoring round

Kate Aurthur: "How is it all going to unfold? It seems a little improvisational. I do like the mentoring thing -- I think that'll be fun on 'X Factor,' and it'll be fun on this. I don't even care about the auditions part. But the auditions themselves seemed more viable commercially -- these are songs that are on the radio -- which is something that I have felt is missing in 'Idol' in recent years."

Denise Martin: "The good thing is it's going to change it up immediately, because we only had two episodes of auditions, and now we go straight into the mentoring. Now, what the mentoring will look like and how that'll all play out, who knows. That's another weak part of 'Idol' -- Jimmy [Iovine], for me, has added nothing to the show. If anything I'm like, 'Why are they still picking dumb songs?'"

Can It Beat 'Idol' in the Ratings?
Denise Martin: "Not anytime soon, and not in total viewers. I mean, maybe three seasons from now."

Dan Fienberg: "It came perilously close last week. I think if 'The Voice' goes up the same amount it went this week, and 'Idol' goes down the same amount it went, next week 'The Voice' could be roughly equal. But I don't think that's necessarily going to happen. Even if it does come close 18-49, it won't be close overall."

Kate Aurthur: "It was pretty close [last week]. It's getting a big young audience, almost ... not challenging 'Idol,' but almost in its league. The total viewers inched up [from premiere], but it is in no way a mass hit yet."

The 'X Factor' of This Equation
Simon Cowell, 'The X Factor'Kate Aurthur: "I think it's going to be interesting -- I'm assuming 'X Factor' is going to be a hit, but 'The Voice' is doing a smart thing making its season short. That's appealing to me -- it's not happening for months and months and then you get stuck with all this filler. I'm actually just curious, as an American: How many talented singers are there on this Earth? [Laughs] How sustainable is this?"

Denise Martin: "I do think 'The Voice' will end up hurting 'X Factor' a little bit. But I think people will tune in just because of Simon, at least initially. It really depends on what that show is like ... I think, if anything, it'll just be an indication of how important Simon was to people who were still tuning in to 'Idol.'"

Dan Fienberg: "I'm curious [about 'X Factor'] ... and you know that people in the Fox executive suites are more than curious. They're nervous-slash-possibly terrified. They have a lot of their fall riding on that show, and suddenly NBC jumped in, scooped the premise, had a better assortment of judges/coaches and got a hit out of it. So does that mean that America wants this, needs this and will be happy to have the Fox version come September? Or does it mean that America's going to get to 'X Factor' and go, 'Well, we've seen this show already -- it was called 'The Voice'?"

What do you think of 'The Voice'? Are you excited to see what's next?

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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I absolutely love reality shows, especially those where just ordinary, everyday citizens gets their chance of "making it" in the entertainment industry. There is something for everyone. Whether they sing, dance, play an instrument or even playing with puppets. So I say, bring it on. Make peoples dreams come true.

May 12 2011 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terrie Lynn McDonald

THE VOICE is a million times better than AI...........AI just plain sucks anymore.........the only thing good about AI now is Steven Tyler...........I love the concept of THE VOICE .........

May 11 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh I am completely in love with the "Voice"...I love the judges, especially Cee-Lo, what a kind man!!!!! I love love loved the blind auditions, and this week, I hate the pairings..ahhhh....I thought Nikki and Vicki were going to be an exception...they were brilliant together....but I felt that Cee-lo was right...the Martinez girl does have something deep inside that when she sings it seems to move the ground....great great great show!!!! And...P.S. AI...I havent watched in years...

May 11 2011 at 9:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like The Voice. AI has just become a last resort to try to help boost the waning careers of the judges. Steven Tyler? Now he's qualified to judge. The dude can sing...JLo, ehh not so much.

May 11 2011 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched it last night for the 1st time , and I loved it.. I will be watching it every week.. LOVE this show..

May 11 2011 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

idol sucks voice is good. the one thing though i just can't get out of my head is the feeling that blake shelton is going to rape one of the contestants. that was going through my mind the whole time i was wtching the first and second episodes.

May 11 2011 at 6:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If there was no Blake Sheldon I would love the voice. He shows his pettiness when a singer sings his or his fiance's songs. Everytime he opens his mouth he sounds ignorant...certainly tehy could have a better country music
musician than him...

May 10 2011 at 11:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Ok I watched AI for 10 yrs and sick of them embarrassing poor singers for ratings, thats just not cool. Then the Voice took an intelligent decision to give great singers a chance to succeed and put good judges with intelligent thoughts to critique them. Unlike Simon and Paula bantering about nothing. Also the show doesn't have them singing stupid theme songs of the 80's then Michale Jackson or Carole King etc over and over when some of those songs were boring which killed my interest. The secret of success is simple: Good modern songs, good singers, and good judges and stop the dialogue with Ryan Seacrest and the audience. I like him but the stupid dialoque is boring! Keep up the good work.

May 10 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I like The Voice, but I still like Idol better.

May 10 2011 at 11:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "The Voice. The talent is far superior to "american Idol and the judges are ALL standouts in their respective genres. Cee Lo is warm and encouraging while Blake brings much bumor and comic relief to the show. Christina has been much less "haughty" than I expected and Adam has been very likable as well. What's NOT to love about this show? It's made Tuesday a night to anticipate!

May 10 2011 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to deecee955's comment

I def agree!

May 11 2011 at 7:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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