If you’re in the USA, perhaps you have watched The Voice. It is a show similar to Nashville Star and American Idol. I like it much better than Idol, though, particularly because it does not have a key goal of broadcasting terrible performances, making fun of people, and having judges critique how terrible the performance was. This show is pretty positive. This is the third season of The Voice, though I just found out about it this year. There are four judges who each create a team of contestants. The judges are Blake Shelton (country singer), Christina Aguilera – or is it now Xtina (?), Cee-lo Green, and Adam Levine (Maroon 5). The season began with each of the hopefuls performing to the judges who were listening blindly. Each judge had to assemble a team of singers, so they had to be careful about who they chose. And only once they “chose” the singer did their chair turn around so the singer could actually be seen as well as heard. If more than one judge picked the singer, that singer could choose whose team to be on. And if a singer finished his song without being chosen – bye bye.
Ultimately, each team was assembled and the next round involved knockouts, where a judge/coach had two of his team compete against each other and a nationwide audience vote determined which stayed and which was eliminated. Once each team was down to three, the live competitions began and that’s where we are now. Performances Monday (8pm) and eliminations Tuesday. If you are still confused, the style is basically like American Idol.
There are now only eight contestants left, and after tonight, only six. I proudly state that the three I picked way back at the beginning (when there were dozens and dozens of hopefuls) are still alive. Go Melanie, Cassadee, and Nicholas!
The Live Taping
I requested tickets through 1iota.com, the company which distributed various audience tickets. I received tickets for general admission and a few days ago, they were changed to priority. There are only 500-ish seats, but it seemed that anyone who arrived on time was going to be admitted. The show goes live on the east coast at 5pm Pacific – we were instructed to arrive by 2:00, and a full half hour earlier than that for priority admission. We arrived at Universal Studios, entered the parking lot with our free parking pass and followed the directions to the basement floor where we saw a line forming. We got there 10 minutes before the priority line closed and I estimated a couple hundred people in line. We were through by 2:00, ID checked, ticket checked, and into the holding area with a couple food trucks, bathrooms, and lots of seating. While we were waiting for all of the spaces to fill up, the 1iota staff entertained us with a little singing competition. The time went quickly and it was time to head to the studio.
A tram – the same ones used on the backlot studio tour, picked up us. I was in the first group to go (we were given various colored wristbands) and we had a short drive down into the studio area. We parked near Studio 12 – the same one used for the lab in Frankenstein (1931) and other famous movies. By the way, I have no photos – there were no cameras allowed, although I saw some people got security with them. We waited outside the studio for about a half hour as the tram brought the remaining groups to the studio. At that point we entered.
Inside stage 12, there was a makeshift Starbucks that seemed very real. Real supplies, real products, and what looked like a real employee. We walked along the wall, basically under the seating – past amps and backup generators, past ladders heading up to the ceiling, and past a makeup station or two. We headed up a stairway and then the “The Voice” stage was visible. The actual stage is a lot smaller than it looks on TV – I think that’s generally the case. There were probably eight to ten rows of seating in our section, and we were on the left. As you look at the stage, we were on the left. There was an area for performers’ families (right of stage), staff members and bigwigs (next to that), the area of seats behind the judges, and then our area. There was standing room alongside the stage, and it seemed that I could have gone down there if I wanted to. We sat around with the music blaring, and started a comversation with the people next to us. With 45 minutes before showtime, the judges came out. Christina Aguilera didn’t come out when she was announced by the Emcee – she didn’t come out for another 20 or 30 minutes. And this emcee was charged with giving us instructions on when to clap, how loud to clap, when to stand, and gave us signals from his offstage position in the dark.
Fun fact: The guest performances are filmed before the show. At 30 minutes before, they announced that the performance with Adam and 50 Cent was going to begin. We were instructed to stand for all performances, clap along, and we were told quite specifically to “follow the herd.” If you see your neighbor clap, clap. If you see him stand, stand. They recorded one version of the song and then someone in charge announced they were going to do a second take with different clothing – I think they removed their jackets. The second version is what ended up on TV. It was neat to participate in something live, and just minutes later see the playback on the screen, fully edited and ready for TV.
Fun fact: Carson Daly is reading on a scrolling teleprompter which is right behind and above the judges. I noticed that he was free to ad-lib if he wanted. I was extremely excited that we could hear Carson and all the judges. Sometimes they just speak into the microphones which feed to the broadcast, so there isn’t an echo in the studio. But not during this taping. My hearing gradually became a bit impaired because of how loud the stage was, but everyone was audible and clear.
Fun fact: The audience stands and claps throughout each performance and when the show comes back on after a commercial. That means probably 20 or 30 cycles of up/down/up/down.
Fun fact: During each commercial break, a staff of twenty-ish people rushes to the stage, disassembles the set and puts up the next set. Ropes drop from the ceiling, panels slide over from the side, drum kits are moved, lights are set up, and staff come up to the people in the standing area and give them instructions (like when they were making heart symbols during Trevin’s performance).
and saving the best for last…
Fun fact: It was truly fascinating to watch these stars’ behavior. Here is a full writeup:
Adam Levine – paid attention the entire time, sat in his chair with good posture, friendly, and very low maintanence! He seemed to be the only one without an entourage. And I didn’t see him use his cellphone.
Blake Shelton – Used his cellphone frequently, especially during commercials (though my mother says he was using twitter during the show to promote his team). He was interactive with the audience, waving, talking to people, smiling. During breaks, someone came over to “touch-up” his hair.
Ceelo Green – He was also on his phone basically the entire time when off-camera. At every single break, his people came over and wiped his head quite extensively (sweat?), or maybe touched it up with makeup. I imagine he was hot – not exactly in shape and wearing an enormous, heavy metallic suit. And he was using a bejeweled mirror. I guess he is wealthy enough to pay someone to wipe his head. He was slouched back in the chair and scooted up every time is was his turn to speak.
Christina Aguilera – I guess she is truly a diva. She was wearing enormous heels and apparently needed a staff to help her down three steps to her seat. She sat in a closed, reclining posture, fanning herself most of the time. She was on her phone literally most of the time, including during performances. During one performance she was looking down picking at her nails. And during one break she went off stage and wasn’t back in her seat when the show resumed. Are you ready for this? During the breaks, she also has staff who rub her arms and massage her feet. Tough work sitting in a chair for a couple hours! On the positive side, she was receptive to people in the audience asking for her autograph. She also was the only one I noticed who was taking notes during the performances.
So during commercial breaks, the emcee is walking around keeping the audience entertained while each judge has their staff standing around them talking about who knows what. Except for Adam, who sat quietly and alertly during the breaks. I appreciated seeing a star acting like a normal person.
What you heard and saw on TV is what we heard and saw. It is live – no editing. In my personal opinion, Trevin, Amanda, and Terry all sounded much better live that they do on TV. It must be the quality of the speakers, or the limitations that speakers have versus hearing something in surround sound with your own ears.
I think Cody is far below the quality of everyone else in the competition. I can’t decide who is my second-least-favorite, though. I think I liked Cassadee’s voice better on TV, though she has great stage presence. And if Melanie or Nicholas produced some CDs, I would buy them immediately. I think I could listen to Melanie everyday.
If you haven’t seen the show please watch. Performances are at 8pm on NBC, Monday. The eliminations occur on Tuesday, based on who had the least votes by phone, text messages, Facebook, and itunes downloads.
and if you’d like to see some incredible performances from last week,