A year ago, no one, not even the powers that be at NBC, expected The Voice to pose a real threat to American Idol. Simon Cowell had taken his talents to The X Factor and between the two shows, Fox would out-yell and outspend any and all other music competitions.
But then The Voice and its big red swivel chairs and its panel of feisty, funny judges surprised everyone. Rather than repurposing the Idol formula, The Voice gave America a much-needed break from painful auditions, "dawgs," "songs that inspire" week, and judges critiques that ranged from "you really made it your own" to "that was beautiful, perfect." The show also beat X Factor to the punch in having judges act as mentors to the contestants, and in lining up a group of contestants of all ages and races and — most importantly — singing styles.
And so, The Voice not only became NBC's 2011 sleeper hit, it also reinvigorated a format that Idol in 10 seasons had made tired. So what now? Executive producer Mark Burnett has already announced slight tweaks for Season 2: each coach will have a team of 12 (up from last year's 8), and both the initial blind audition rounds and the head-to-head battle rounds will be extended. The show has also hired new social media correspondent Christina Milian, who replaces Alison Haislip.
Auditions were filmed last summer, and the battle rounds have been taped, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to consider some constructive feedback! Our hopes and wishes for Season 2:
We've seen the dancers — and we don't need them. At first, they were shiny and new. Now, after also watching legions of them stomp around contestants on both The Voice and The X Factor, they're just distracting and remind us too much of a Vegas night club (not a compliment). Besides, no one sounds good trying to sing and booty shake at the same time.
Really? More than four weeks of battle rounds? Love the neon boxing ring. Love the duets. The problem with the battle rounds is that the contestants who appear in that first week go MIA for the next several weeks — and then it's good luck to viewers who can remember them after all that time. We are, after all, talking about starting with 48 acts this season. Footage has been filmed, but maybe we do more than four battles per hour-long episode?
Can we hear less about the tweeting? Stop taking away valuable minutes from showing us how the coaches mold their singers just to prove that the show is interactive. What show isn't these days? And because The X Factor allowed people to tweet their votes, Twitter-capable shows are a lot less impressive now. Do viewers really care that @SheltonFan98 thinks one of his contestants did a rockin' job? If you're going to keep the social media lounge around, and we assume you will, make it a real part of the show. Maybe let viewers vote on song choice, or pick better fan questions for the contestants and coaches to answer?
Adam and Carson should no longer share a wardrobe. Or, at the very least, they can't share the same stylist. Our suggestion? Carson, go ahead and keep doing the T-shirt-black leather jacket combo you like so well. Adam, you don't need to wear a jacket ever.
No more second chances. Last season, producers were forced to let several rejected hopefuls sing again when the show ran out of potential contestants during the blind auditions. This strikes us as unfair. If a singer can't push the coaches' buttons the first time — see what we did there? — then do they really have a shot at winning? Adam should have taken Casey her first time. We realize that the blind auditions have been shot, but we're optimistic that the show's popularity last season made this a non-issue the second time around.
Cool it with the come-ons, Christina. Unlike those other overly supportive female judges, Christina has never been afraid to speak her mind, even if it means cutting off the other coaches. And that's A-OK with us, but could you please stop trying to pick up every young thing that hits the stage? X-Tina, we know you like to flaunt what you've got, but let's let grandpa Steven over at Idol enjoy the title of TV's sleaziest singing judge.
What are your hopes and dreams for the new season of The Voice? Tell us in the comments below and check out a preview from the premiere, which airs Sunday after the Super Bowl on NBC: