Back in 2004, just ahead of the NME-championed rise of the New Yorkshire indie ‘movement’, there was a band called Black Wire. Post-punk indebted with a penchant for monochrome and weighing about 20 stone between the four of them, they released one (great) album and then disbanded three years later. The band’s only mainstream flirtation inadvertently came mid-stage invasion during one fateful night at Leeds nightclub Pigs when then-Parva drummer Nick Hodgson cast his eye upon the scene and declared “I predict a riot”.
Parva became Kaiser Chiefs and “I Predict A Riot” would go on to soundtrack every hooligan moment on Match of the Day forevermore.
That night, it’s doubtful that anyone getting their rocks off in Pigs would guess that, a decade later, their impromptu youth revolt would be sung about by a pop star famous for her arse, a pensioner famous for his libido and a man who penned the line, “I’m so 3008/ You’re so 2000 and late”. It’s but one piece in the bizarre jigsaw of The Voice - Series Three where, presumably, the final picture is simply of logic and dignity being ushered quietly into their own graves.
For those of you with social lives that don’t involve watching teenagers’ dreams being repeatedly smashed in front of a baying mob of thousands on a Saturday night (apparently there are other options), The Voice – the singing competition that’s like, totally just about the talent even though the entire concept of the show is completely nullified after the first round “reveal” and even in the first round it’s basically just giving some fat or unattractive person the humanising opportunity to not be looked at for a few seconds – has a new set of judges this year. The old favourites are back: Tom “hahahaha he’s really old but he’s fucked a lot of women hahahaha” Jones and will.i.am, a man whose whole shtick can be recreated by entering the words “digital” “mind computers” “that new sound” and “Steve Jobs” into Mad Libs. But there are also the relatively fresh faces of Kylie Minogue and Ricky From The Kaiser Chiefs. It’s here that things start to get a bit weird.
Reality TV singing contests are an irrefutable part of the mainstream music industry now so there’s no point moaning about them. What’s notably terrifying about this new series of The Voice, however, is how it feels way too much like that episode of Black Mirror where everyone is forced to compete in a pseudo-reality show to avoid a long and painful punishment – judges included.
After being subjected to the quartet’s Kaisers/Kylie mash-up, a performance that we feel confident in saying probably won’t go down as a career high for any of them, Episode One began with Lee Glasson – an Olly Murs-esque salesman with period blood tattooed on his Nurishment-induced biceps. Lee does the established, boundary-pushing reality show trick of being a boy but singing a song by a girl, and the second boundary-pushing reality show trick of singing a song by one of the judges, in this case Kylie Minogue, and that song the judges performed not 15 seconds earlier.
So the judges first, you get Ricky – who once quotably declared that he would “wank off a tramp” for fame – parroting off talent show clichés (“We need you on this show”, “You’re what the show was made for”) like someone has replaced his chirpy gak-sweats persona with a SyCo microchip. Then, you get Kylie – an actual, bona fide Proper Pop Star – squealing with delight that some bloke from Essex just did an adequate cover of a song she’s sold over five million copies of and has deigned to validate her by choosing her as a mentor. Who believes this tripe?
With the absence of any comically shit people (The Voice is about Serious Talent who could one day go on to be liked by Jo Whiley), the program is left to find its jokes and sob stories in situations that are actually just a bit awkward. We get a girl called Christina Marie, whose VT first tricks us into thinking that the actual contestant is her overweight mum. Then we get Danielle Chevannes, who brings out her impossibly cute daughter to meet the judges who’ve just rejected her as she openly weeps. If that doesn’t emotionally scar you into Paraphilic infantilism then nothing will.
It’s in final contestant Leo Ihenacho that the whole odd scenario implodes in on itself. While Ricky From The Kaiser Chiefs has had his fair share of naysaying for signing up to a show that essentially goes against everything his former indie roots stand for, his band have basically always been primetime friendly pop group. Here he is, properly famous again, and the only people he had to wank off were a few BBC execs. It quickly transpires, however, that the reason Leo looks a bit familiar is because he used to be in The Streets. In an effort to gain some kudos as more than Mike Skinner’s mate, Leo has now gone on Saturday night telly to sing a song by Simply Red. Which is kind of like the modern day equivalent of Ringo going on Opportunity Knocks in between Julie the fire-eater and Dave the mildly racist comedian and doing a cover of George Formby’s ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’.
The Voice continues over the next couple of months, during which time presumably the bassist from Larrikin Love and one of The Pipettes will audition with a duet of "Especially For You" before the four remaining Kaisers individually have a stab at the frontman cake only to be systematically rejected in turn. Anything is possible.
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @LisaAnneWright
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