Can BBC's The Voice beat The X Factor when it launches next year?

The Voice

It's become a storm in the states, even out-rating reality juggernaut American Idol, but can The Voice be a success in the UK? As So You Think You Can Dance recently proved on BBC One, a hit in the US doesn't always translate to a hit here, but we reckon The Voice may just have what it takes.

On the face of it the two shows sound as though have very similar formats: People audition, the judges are assigned a group of successful auditionees, the auditionees are then whittled down by the judges and then finally those that remain compete for the public vote in live shows.

The Voice however has a number of differences along the way, some may call them gimmicks while others could suggest that they're there to ensure only the most talented contestants make it through.

First up are the auditions, which take place with the auditionee singing to the judges backs (hence the name The Voice). Judges who are interested in a singer press their buzzer which turns their chair around. If no judges are interested than that singer goes no further. Of course whilst we are told that the singers are being judged only on their voice, just like The X Factor and any other reality show the contestants that make it this far have already been through numerous producer auditions to be selected.

The next interesting difference between The Voice and The X Factor is in the allocation of the contestants to judges. Unlike The X Factor, where contestants are split into seemingly arbitrary groups ("Over 28s"), in The Voice any contestant can join each judges' "team". Furthermore, the contestants get to decide and the decision takes place during their audition! Successful contestants can pick which of the judges that buzzed to pair up with.

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This leads only to more fighting and competition between the panel, with the judges having to sell themselves as the best choice for the hopefuls.

Next comes the "battle rounds" where the judges whittle the acts in their teams down to four to take through to the live shows. In a rather cheesy set comprising of a giant wrestling ring, which wouldn’t look too out of place on Sing If You Can, the contestants have sing-offs with others in their category as the judges choose who to take through to the live finals.

Once each judge has their finalists it's onto the live shows, where the format continues to differ slightly from The X Factor. Instead of any act being able to leave, one from each team is eliminated at a time, leaving a grand finale with four contestants and each judge represented.

So is this any better than The X Factor? One of the key limitations of the format is the lack of groups, although with those notoriously unsuccessful on The X Factor it's perhaps not too much of a loss. That said there doesn't appear to be too much wrong with allowing groups to enter, and indeed with one act from each category making it to the final it may give them more hope than on the rival ITV1 show.

The biggest problem for the show really is that as much as it puts emphasis on all being about the voice, with the final result being decided by the viewers it's ultimately going to be many other factors - including looks - that decide the winner of the show.

The Voice panel

Whether or not it will be a success, let alone be able to take on The X Factor, will almost certainly come down to the selection of judges. In the states the panel is made up of worldwide famous artists - including Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. The UK panel will need to match up, but unfortunately our selection of worldwide talent is somewhat limited. If we see Cheryl Cole on the show then the whole pretence of being about The Voice goes out of the window.

Unfortunately for the BBC the new series comes as The X Factor launches its new panel, not only a fresh change but also one full of actual talent for once. There's Take That front man Gary Barlow who has singing and song writing credits longer than ex-judge Cheryl's hair. Kelly Rowland, a brilliant dance singer who was part of a girl group that saw success Girls Aloud could only dream of. Then there's Tulisa, a controversial choice but definitely a young talented girl, who hopefully should be able to bring a different kind of music to the show, coming from Hip Hop group N-Dubz.

With rumoured judges for The Voice including Robbie Williams, Dannii Minogue and hosts such as Dermot O'Leary, the Beeb is going to need to make sure to stop the programme from feeling like a X Factor rip off. The series will need young, fresh and ultimately talented panellists. The thought of Adele excites us, with names like Jessie J and Plan B also sounding like better ideas than washed up stars of the 90s.

More than 20 million viewers tuned into The X Factor over the past two years so there's no doubt that our telly watching nation has a thirst for this time of show, the question is whether The Voice can launch itself with a unique enough line up not to come across as a second rate Simon Cowell wannabe production.

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