Why are The Voice judges playing it so safe?

Tom, Kylie, Ricky and will.i.am need to stop playing chicken and take more risks, says Susanna Lazarus

You never hear Simon Cowell utter the words “I should have put you through,” do you? So why are The Voice judges so flipping indecisive? It’s been three weeks now and I’ve lost count of the number of acts subjected to this pathetic post-performance apology – it feels like a half-hearted equivalent to that sticker you used to get for coming fourth on school sports day.


Of course, it’s not wholly the fault of Tom, Ricky, Kylie and “dope” will.i.am. By its very nature, The Voice often shoots itself in the foot. Whereas Simon & co have the benefit of actually seeing their performers, they’re also far more willing to send acts through, safe in the knowledge that there’s only a one in four chance of being landed with the dodgier ones.

With only 12 spots up for grabs on each team, The Voice panel are, understandably, far more reticent to hit their buzzers. They want to make sure they land artists they can (hopefully) guide to victory and their varying skill sets naturally dictate the acts that get each chair a-spinning. Of course Tom’s going to find himself drawn to the warblers and yes, Kylie’s got plenty of coquettish giggles reserved for the cheesy pop acts. But it’s all starting to get a bit repetitive, isn’t it?

It took a frustrated Ricky to hit the nail on the head last week as a steady stream of guitar-strumming stubbly chaps took to the stage. While their chairs remained motionless, each judge took it in turns to raise their eyebrows and goad Ricky into turning around. He didn’t. And why should he? “It would be boring if my team was a load of guys singing rock songs.” Yes, it would. “And if it wasn’t right for me, it could be right for one of the other three.” Yes. It could.

But while Ricky’s taking risks, Tom, Kylie and will.i.am are playing it too safe. They’re each waiting for the obvious match to turn around and when they don’t, acts who probably should have gone through… don’t. “I wish someone else had gone for you,” the Kaiser Chiefs frontman apologised to the final, downcast strummer. You know how I feel about those half-hearted apologies…

So, come on, judges. Man up. Hit those buzzers. Step out of your comfort zones. You never know – it could actually make for a viable winner this time around. And if it doesn’t, well, at least we’ll get some good television out of it.