Sunday, June 19, 2011

"The Voice" goes international

With Simon Cowell's TV talent show formats taking over the world, it's nice to see a talent show format, born on the European continent, going international which doesn't have Mr Cowell's fingerprints on it.

No, in this case it's the other king of international TV formats - John De Mol - who is responsible for "The Voice", which started off life as "The Voice Of Holland" and is now spreading across the globe. The first Dutch series was won by British-born soul singer Ben Saunders.

The unique selling point of this show is that auditionees are judged purely on their voices alone, which is a nice change from the image-conscious Idol/Talent/X Factor franchises. The show is currently running in the USA and has been successful enough to return next year for a second season. What particularly impresses me about the show is the involvement of the coaches, which is bringing back nice memories of Star Academy/Fame Academy - and they also have a bit of singing to do every week. The other notable thing is that the coaches are all pretty credible/talented performers - the USA show has Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine, for example - and the forthcoming Australian version also has the mouthwatering prospect of Tina Arena, Darren Hayes, Delta Goodrem and Shannon Noll. So, basically, talented singers are "in" - please bear that in mind BBC, rather than going for the easy option of, say, a pretty girl who is better known for her miming rather than singing!

Yes, the format has been purchased by the BBC who will screen a British version of the show in 2012. (I'm just speculating here, but if it was shown in the spring, could this be linked to Eurovision, with the winner going on to represent the UK in Baku? No? Just wondered). 2012 will also bring versions of the show in France (TF1) and Sweden (TV4).

Another country taking up the show is Flemish-speaking Belgium. "The Voice van Vlaanderen" will feature four coaches, who are all established stars in their own country - Alex Callier (of Hooverphonic), Jasper Steverlinck, Natalia Druyts and last but not least, Clouseau lead vocalist Koen Wauters. VTM will screen the series from this autumn and their website is already up and running with news, info and audition videos.

I'm hoping that the various versions of the show will produce something different from the norm, although can we please please please have a break from Adele songs, if those audition videos are anything to go by?

Although over recent years I've grown very tired of TV talent shows - with the exception of Swedish Idol of course - but I will be following the Flemish, French and Swedish versions of the show and writing about them on this blog.

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