After months of speculation and second guessing, we now know who all four celebrity coaches will be when The Voice arrives on BBC1 next spring.
It may not come as a surprise to avid tabloid readers that 71-year-old singer/songwriter Tom Jones has today been confirmed for the talent show. However, the final name, The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, has remained a remarkably well-kept secret.
The Voice UK is based on a Dutch format from the creator of Big Brother and has become a great success across the world, most notably in the US with coaches Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera.
It’s no secret that the BBC has taken a gamble by buying into this expensive format at a time when budgets are being slashed elsewhere. But if the show is to justify its price tag and replicate the mammoth viewing figures of ITV’s big talent shows, the panel of coaches has to be great.
So are they good enough? On balance, it looks like the Beeb may just have pulled this one off.
Although perhaps not the most famous singer on the planet, O’Donoghue, 31, has serious music credentials through his work with indie rockers The Script. The band has released two critically acclaimed studio albums, The Script (2008) and Science and Faith (2010), and enjoyed success across the world, including top 20 hits in America’s notoriously difficult to crack Billboard 100 chart.
O’Donoghue will bring an indie-pop edge to proceedings, which should appeal to budding rockers – including the key demographic of young men – the same way that Adam Levine of Maroon 5 does in the US version of the show. With many tabloids having predicted former Pop Idol contestant Will Young would take the fourth coaching spot, this looks like a much more interesting and bold signing for the BBC – and one that should reap rewards.
And so to Tom Jones. In a competition called The Voice, how could the Welsh superstar not have been near the top of the Beeb’s wishlist? With over 100 million records sold in a career that’s spanned six decades, Jones is without question an international superstar of soul and an artist whose hits are familiar to both young and old alike.
As the grand patriarch of the panel, Tom will not only lend authority and experience to an otherwise relatively young group of coaches – he will offer a touchstone to older viewers who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be interested in a mainly youth-oriented singing competition. This universal appeal of The Voice could make the difference between it being a success or failure for the BBC, so Jones will be key in this mix.
Jessie J is young (just 23), successful and current in the musical world. Having appeared for a brief stint on The X Factor as Tulisa’s on-screen friend at the judges’ houses stage this year, she’s already effectively passed her screen test for talent show mentoring. She ticks all the boxes for ensuring chart pop fans will be tuning in, and will guarantee a youthful female audience for the show – an incredibly important demographic in any television talent contest, most of which deliver a female dominated audience to broadcasters.
And finally to 36-year-old will.i.am. Here is a man not only responsible for shifting tens of millions of units with world famous dance hip-hop chartbusters The Black Eyed Peas, but he is also a producer of note. Having worked on records with artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, U2, Justin Timberlake and Earth Wind and Fire, there’s no question that this man is qualified to give advice to contestants on whether their performance sounds good.
Additionally, will.i.am’s friendship and professional relationship with Cheryl Cole will certainly not do The Voice any harm when the tabloids are looking for stories to write on a slow day during the series. And that may sound frivolous, but whether or not the press get behind this show could be an essential factor in whether or not it works.
Although I’m sure The Voice team would say The X Factor is a completely different show, the fact of the matter is that it’s a big-budget singing contest and the comparison will be made. And love it or hate it, the reason that Simon Cowell’s show is still running after eight series and numerous judging changes is that it feeds the hungry press, and in return, they feed the public consciousness with relentless reminders that Gary, Tulisa, Kelly and Louis are going to be on your telly this weekend.
With The Voice slated for a spring run on BBC1, there’s plenty of time for the hype to start building around the show and its personnel – and with the coaching line-up that the BBC’s delivered, there’s every chance this talent show could be the next big thing on British television.