Welcome to the new Voice - just as good as the old Voice.
The Voice is back for its fourth season, and it's come with much buzz over the arrival of Shakira and Usher, who are standing in for Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green this time around. Everyone wants to know if the new foursome in the big red chairs will click like the old one, and the answer is a resounding yes. The Voice of season four is reminiscent of the Voice of season one: all the banter but without the moments of tension that raised some eyebrows in later cycles. This is not to detract from Aguilera and Green, who were good coaches in their own right, but Shakira and Usher do achieve the intended effect of bringing a fresh energy to the proceedings. Their banter is just as entertaining, they mesh well with returning vets Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, and it's clear that they already love the game.
Yet the hit NBC singing competition is about far more than the coaches. It's about whether or not the talent they find is compelling enough to keep audiences tuning in. Though tonight's first segment of blind auditions offers only a small sampling of what will ultimately be four teams of twelve (down from the sixteen of last season, going back to the roster size from season two), there are already a few interesting choices. As has previously been revealed by the network earlier this week, Judith Hill is fantastic, and in with an early shot at winning the whole thing. If the other singers are as strong as she is, season four of The Voice will also keep the show firmly on top.
What's made The Voice one of TV's best shows, period, is that its focus has for the most part stayed on the music. While last season's later live shows got a little overwhelmed by guest performers, the coaches are legitimately invested in the talent, and the producers have done a fine job of not letting things get too flashy. That commitment to making not just a good television show, but great music, is something that continues in season four.
Whatever drives you to watch The Voice, season four has it. The coaches are as good as they've ever been, with the competition between them just as intense, perhaps moreso given that this new panel lacks the flirtatious comments toward contestants and eyebrow-raising outfits that sometimes drew attention away from the artist on stage. And when it comes to on stage, there's no question that the performers in the premiere episode definitely deserve the national spotlight. Even if you just watch the show because you love reality TV, you'll have a hard time not getting sucked into the suspense. Every single way you look at it, this is must-see television.
The Voice's two-night premiere begins tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on NBC and continues at the same time tomorrow.
For more on The Voice and its artists, you can visit BFTV's dedicated The Voice blog, Big Red Chairs.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Excerpts appear at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.