Can “The Voice” pose a threat to the “American Idol” dynasty?

This week will be very intriguing for music fans as American Idol and The Voice both get to the next stages of their respective competitions. And it will be interesting from a ratings standpoint to see if Idol will continue to be the standard bearer or if the up-and-coming Voice can present a challenge to the throne.

There was a time when Idol was the only kid on the block, but shows like The Voice, X-Factor and even The Sing-Off are now giving music fans some options. That doesn’t mean Idol still isn’t a ratings juggernaut, because it’s still the top show on all of TV. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. What will be fun to watch, though, is if its fans stay loyal or jump ship to the other programs.

My colleague Jennifer Holt of Chicago was a huge Idol fan and decided to give The Voice a chance when its second season premiered after the Super Bowl. She has since decided to make it the only music competition she now watches.

“I just got tired of Idol,” she said. “I think The Voice is a fresh and new way to see singers.”

I couldn’t agree more about the freshness of The Voice, which airs tonight on NBC at 8pm ET. I love that the premise of the competition is to initially judge the singers on their vocal ability instead of factoring in their looks. It also doesn’t hurt that the four judges — Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Blake Shelton — are all relevant in today’s music industry and boast colorful personalities.

“I just wasn’t clicking with the judges on Idol anymore,” Jennifer said. “I never felt connected to Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler. I just like the judges on The Voice a lot better, especially Adam Levine … he is really cute.”

Where I differ from Jennifer is I have chosen to be a fan of both shows, and this stage of both competitions is where I think Idol really sets itself apart. The auditions are over after what seems like several months, and beginning tomorrow night we finally get to see hear the top 13 contestants. And even though the back stories are nice and its where we become vested in many of these singers, it’s that long process where the show really struggles to keep your attention.

The Voice, on the other hand, loses its novelty for me now that the auditions are over. The fun part is watching the judges decide on whether they want to mentor a contestant based only on their voice. If they liked a performance, they turned their chair around for a chance to mentor that person. And now that all four judges have compiled their 12-member teams, it’s become more like X-Factor than the Idol challenger it aspires to be.

The Voice can pretend it’s about four teams compiled of a dozen singers, but the reality is we are down to 48 individuals vying for the one title. I seriously doubt everybody in Blake Shelton’s group is bonding as one entity when they know full well their so-called teammates pose just as big of a threat as the singers from the other three groups. I’m not sure what can be done to change that flawed premise in the future, but it still presents a major stumbling block to me.

Either way, I’ll be watching The Voice and American Idol this week with the hope that one or even both will be producing the next great star.


Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC