Last year, I really enjoyed the debut of The Voice on NBC.  I thought it was a fresh approach to music and we needed that respite from the drudgery of American Idol.

It’s that time of the year again and both Idol and The Voice are back and competing for eyes and ears and I am disappointed to report that, so far, The Voice has lost its magic in its insipid ordinariness and predictability.  What used to be unique and fun has now become a bit of a bore fest.

We’re ending the road of the pre-recorded “Battle Rounds” on The Voice, and the talent this year is just awful.  Contestants can’t hang onto a note and they can’t create a proper vibrato that doesn’t sound like a Gospel run or an idling diesel engine.

The most annoying part of the process is the dirge-like tempo that ruins any emotional arc of a song.  Amateur singers prefer to sing fast songs slower because it gives them a chance to “catch up” and hit all the pretty notes just right, but in taking that lame performance route, the whole energy of the song dissipates before it begins. On The Voice, even the slow songs are slowed down!

I can’t blame the contestants for slowing down the songs in performance, but I can, and do, blame their coaches the the musical director of the show.  Tempo should be as strictly enforced as properly honoring the melodies.

The way to fix The Voice — and fix it fast! — is for the coaches to be more involved in the performance preparation process.  They need to require the proper tempo.  They need to tell a contestant they are awful when they are awful.  They need to buck up and stop picking on each other and start mentoring their singers so a new and necessary talent is anointed on the show.

What worked last year — newness and exception — cannot work for a second year in a row for The Voice. The show needs to expand its thirst and hunger with every episode and the thrill of that process of entertainment satiety arrives in strict performances that honor every aspect of the originating song.

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