After the success of ITV entertainment show The Masked Singer, it seems as though broadcasters are now pumping out as many guessing game(shows) as possible, with the likes of The Masked Dancer (ITV), This is My House (BBC) and Game of Talents (ITV) arriving on the entertainment TV scene.
However, the first of this increasingly popular genre to arrive on our screens is I Can See Your Voice – the latest gameshow import from South Korea. Hosted by Paddy McGuinness, this Saturday night series sees contestants try to sort the vile vocalists from the skilful singers with the help of a celebrity panel, all without hearing a single note from any of performers. If the contestants manage to eliminate all the crummy crooners from the competition and are left with a magnificent melodist, then they take home £10,000 – but if it’s a seriously terrible serenader left standing, then they win the prize pot instead.
I Can See Your Voice’s opening round is named First Impressions – where the contestants eliminate one of the performers solely based on their appearance – and I have to say my own first impressions of this shiny floor series weren’t great.
While the name is rather naff and reminiscent of a cheesy Netflix romantic drama, I thought judging someone’s singing abilities on the way they look alone was a concept we’d left in the pre-Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent era of television and one I’m sure is bound to lead to a number of uncomfortable moments, especially with Jimmy Carr on the celebrity panel.
“Did that voice look like it came from that?” is a line exclaimed by the straight-talking comedian in just the first episode and while he’s referring to a burly-looking rugby player with a seemingly golden voice, it does feel like there’s potential for the show’s literal judging to careen into cringeworthy territory.
That being said, I powered ahead and found myself enjoying host Paddy McGuinness, who is back on Take Me Out form, constantly firing witty quips, bantering with the panel and generally keeping the show on a roll. His chemistry with the eclectic famous panel – Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, This Morning’s Alison Hammond and 8 Out of 10 Cats’s Jimmy Carr – is electric, while their comments and interactions with one another as well as the guest panellist, who in episode one is McFly’s Danny Jones, are the most entertaining parts of the show.
When it comes to the actual format, however, I Can See Your Voice isn’t quite as exciting as its competitors within the guessing gameshow genre.
While there’s loads of reveals throughout each episode to keep the show fast-paced, with an eliminated performer then proving whether they can or can’t actually sing every 10 minutes or so, finding out their real melodic abilities isn’t as satisfying considering we aren’t given that many clues to go on.
At least with The Masked Singer, the VT packages drop hints to celebrity’s various career credits; with I Can See Your Voice, you’re trying to work out if a complete stranger can sing based on their profession, the way they’re dressed, their lip-syncing abilities (which aren’t as revealing as you’d think) and if they make it far enough, their answers in a minute-long interview.
Of course, you don’t want a Saturday night game show to be ridiculously easy, but you also don’t want it to be almost impossible.
Criticism aside, if you find yourself at a loose end on a Saturday night, I Can See Your Voice does make for an entertaining watch thanks to its stellar celebrity line-up and Paddy McGuinness’s comic stylings, but as a gameshow alone, why the format has proved so successful overseas is anybody’s guess.