Now two big network shows are in their music-from-home phase.
It’s “American Idol” on Sundays, “The Voice” on Mondays and Tuesdays. That’s five hours a week, to remind us that fun continues even when people stay home.
But as similar as they are, the shows are opposites in a key way: “Idol” seems to embrace its at-homeness; “Voice” (show here with Mandi Castillo) seems almost in denial.
“Idol” has done this twice now, from 8-10 p.m. Sundays. On this past one, 11 people sang and viewers voted; on May 10, that will be trimmed to seven people who will perform again.
“Voice” had its first try from 8-10 p.m. Monday, with 17 singers; it planned to trim that to nine with its results show the next day (8-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 5).
The difference was approach: “Idol” seemed to savor its home visits. It showed us varied situations – one woman is living alone in a small Los Angeles apartment; several singers are surrounded by parents, siblings, spouses, toddlers. It had a rich assortment of backdrops, from decks to bare walls.
“Voice” would have none of that. There was no time for talk and tours; it was shut up and sing, in indeterminate (and sometimes fuzzy) settings.
Granted, that fits the successful “Voice” vibe. The show starts each season with the judges not even seeing the singers; it is, when possible, about the voice alone.
“Idol,” by comparison, has always oozed with sentiment. It’s not always fair – some people have rich back stories, some don’t – but it’s interesting. And there’s a certain charm to seeing a young singer do a lovely rendition of the Beach Boys’ “In My Room” while she is, really, in her room.
For “Voice,” the charm comes strictly from the judges. There’s Blake Shelton in Oklahoma, saying he has “the world’s most expensive hair-and-makeup artist, Gwen Stefani.” And Kelly Clarkson in Montana, where she’s with her husband, two toddlers, a stepkid … and, for a time, had no toilets because the pipes froze.
In Los Angeles, there’s Nick Jonas, who has rigged up his own red chair, with “Nick” scrawled on the back. And John Legend who – when asked what he missed the most – said “restaurants.”
Wait a second: This guy is married to Chrissy Teigen, the supermodel who has written two successful cookbooks … and he misses restaurants? Maybe “Voice” confirms what “Idol” acknowledges: Life is never an even playing field.