Friday 19 January 2018

Chris Wasser's review of 'The Voice of Ireland'

Voice winners all but silent and if there is any sense the show will go quietly sing-song

Keith Hanley pictured with his mentor Jamelia and his sister Eileen and mother Alice on a memorable visit home.
28 Apr 2013 Kelly Mongan-McDonagh is commiserated with by winner Keith Hanley, Kathryn Thomas, and Jamelia. The Helix, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn *** Local Caption *** The Voice

Chris Wasser

“Don't miss a beat.” So says the tagline for the latest series of The Voice of Ireland. I'm beginning to miss the point.

Three years in, and the only significant achievement under its belt is that it put an end to The All Ireland Talent Show's reign. For that, we should be eternally grateful.

But the simple fact of the matter is that Ireland's only real televised talent contest doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Never has, never will.

Can you name any of the singers who have won in the past? Didn't think so. Wikipedia tells me that Carlow lad Pat Byrne was crowned champion in 2012. Oh, and a young fella from Cork named Keith Hanley was last year's winner.

But neither of these champs left much of a dent on the pop charts, especially Hanley, who has yet to release an album and whose debut single crashed in at number 37. Ouch.


What's wrong with The Voice of Ireland? A few things, actually.

Trickier than The X Factor, thanks to its ‘blind audition' phase and complicated ‘battle' process (which, incidentally, features added twists this year), the show, now a worldwide franchise that started life in Holland, was quickly commended for its unique take on the modern TV talent extravaganza. Pop star hopefuls show up, have a sing-song and wait to see what the celebrity coaches (who initially sit with their backs to the contestants) have to say. If they like what they hear, they'll spin their chairs around. Like Blind Date, then, only without the free holiday. Still, any singing competition that requires the use of an instructional manual is eventually going to come up against problems.

Surely the idea of a talent show, even one as intentionally awkward as The Voice, is to find some actual talent? As in, the kind that won't immediately fizzle out once the TV cameras stop rolling. And yet, here we are, three seasons later, and both The Voice of Ireland and its British counterpart have failed to produce even one smash-hit single. Perhaps that's why some of the coaches have walked.

In the UK, Kylie Minogue has been drafted in along with some bloke from the Kaiser Chiefs to replace Jessie J and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue. Here, the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan (don't get me started) has taken Sharon Corr's place.

Dolores joins Bressie (a once-promising artist who should probably focus more on his own career), newly-crowned King of the Jungle Kian Egan (well, at least he's good at something) and British singer Jamelia, who hasn't released an album in almost a decade. A trendy bunch of boys and girls, so.

You could throw Johnny Logan and Twink into the mix, and the end result would probably sound similar. See, the coaches are only partly to blame.

The real problem is that the people applying for The Voice of Ireland just aren't good enough. It was the same issue with The All Ireland Talent Show, and the deplorable You're a Star. Delusional buskers, karaoke lovers, Louis Walsh's leftovers – it is, mainly, a sad and sorry line-up, every single year.

One of them goes home with a major record deal, but anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to the music business in the last five years will know that that doesn't mean what it used to.


Sure, The X Factor took a long time to find its feet, but at least it offered up some genuine talent (Leona Lewis, for example).

 The Voice of Ireland is still a cut above its predecessors, and it remains popular among viewers (the ladies do love Bressie, you know). But the idea that it might ever stumble upon a potential worldwide star is ludicrous.

Enjoy season three – if Bressie and his fellow coaches have any sense, they'll leave it at that.

Irish Independent

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