Going into the live playoffs (as it is apparently called now), I’ve been left to wonder how the different changes made to this season has impacted the show. Don’t get me wrong, change is good, keeps things interesting. Whether or not these changes work or well executed, that’s another story. All this pretty much stems from seeing who actually made the live rounds and who didn’t.
One of the first twists to this season was the inclusion of the “STEAL” in the battle rounds. After a winner has been declared by the coach, the 3 other coaches have the opportunity to steal the losing contestant for their own team, giving that singer a second chance to continue on in the competition. Each coach was allowed 2 steals. The “Steal” offered up an added excitement to the battle round proceedings: Is the losing singer worthy of continuing on? Are the other coaches going to save them? Are they seriously not going to save them? Did they really save that singer?! It’s those last 2 questions that kept bothering me as the battle rounds went on. As exciting as it was to see Adam steal Amanda Brown, when Cee-Lo foolishly put up Amanda with Trevin Hunte, it also became increasingly clear that the use of the steals was going to be a frustrating affair. With only 2 spots for steals, the coaches had to choose wisely who they wanted to save, risking the possibility that after those 2 steals got used, another (probably more deserving) singer would still get cut. The whole purpose of the inclusion of the “steal” was to give those singers who deserved to stay longer that opportunity (think what would’ve happened if the likes of Niki Dawson and Chris Cauley hadn’t been paired up with Vicci Martinez and Tony Lucca, respectively, and got to continue on in the competition). But if a handful of great singers STILL got cut (which obviously happened), then it kind of becomes a little pointless. Michael Slezak, who does the recaps over at TVLine, suggested that the coaches should somehow decide who they want to steal from the losing contestants, after all the battles are done. Great idea, but keyword is ‘somehow’ – that’s clearly something for the show’s producers to think about/come up with.
After the battle rounds, each coach has a team consisting of 10 members, so in order to cut the teams in half, the show introduced the “KNOCKOUT ROUND.” The ‘Knockouts’ are essentially the battle rounds, except that the contestants each get to pick their own songs to sing, and they don’t know who they are paired up against until moments before they perform. It’s another way to weed out the weaker singers, but at the same time, it’s very much dependent on who the coaches pair up and what the coaches decide. Because as we viewers saw, in another example of making the “Steal” twist look rather pointless after the fact, all the coaches except Adam ended up cutting the singers they stole. The most frustrating result was Blake pairing up Julio and Marissa Ann (whom he stole from Christina’s team) for the knockout round, and ending up choosing Julio simply because he had invested more time coaching him, despite the fact that Marissa Ann sang infinitely better than Julio did. I love the coaches, but they have made some VERY questionable choices this season.
This leads to the twists that we’ll see implemented for the live rounds, leading to the finale. Whereas the past two seasons, each coach was guaranteed a spot in the finals, that has gone out the window for this season. For this first week of the live rounds, the top 2 vote-getters from each team will automatically make it to the Top 12, and then each coach gets to save 1 additional singer from their team. Thereafter, adopting the typical reality competition voting standards, all bets are off and whoever gets the lowest number of votes, regardless of team, will get the boot. The good thing about this is that the coaches now don’t have much sway as to who stays and goes, something that as the live rounds progressed last season, got quite irritating to some viewers. Plus, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished that it was a Team Cee-Lo/Team Adam final, so the possibilities are endless as to what will come of the finals. That being said, the worst thing is that America can often get things wrong and there is a possibility that some of the best singers might not make it very far (I’d like to think higher of The Voice audience, but years of Idol/DWTS/SYTYCD has made me somewhat of a reality TV cynic).
Overall, I must say that at least The Voice is willing to make these constant changes/twists to keep things fresh on the show. I really wouldn’t expect anything less with Mark Burnett being the executive producer. So Voice fans, thoughts on this season’s twists? Anything they could improve on? And more importantly, who are your favourites on the show?