After Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper showed the world how it’s done with their intimate Oscars duet, a lot of us are craving more epic live vocal performance on TV. (And by the way, Gaga pooped on all those “they’re really in love” rumors on Jimmy Kimmel Live this week, so let’s all move on, okaaay?) Anyway, reality talent TV season is in full swing and even if you love to hate these shows, they can be fun to watch. Just put them on as what we like to call “background buzz” — half-watching fare while you do the dishes, clean up your email inbox, etc. This week we survey the ones to watch — half-assed and full-head/whole body.
The Voice (airing Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC) debuted last week and we gotta say, we are loving John Legend as a judge. For season 15 (can you believe it’s been 15 already?), the panel includes Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and tattooed love boy Adam Levine (who would have taken a break from the limelight after the Super Bowl if he was smart). Levine’s competitive ’tude and Shelton’s good ol’ Southern boy “charm” are wearing thin, and we always wonder why the guys don’t take breaks as the female judges do for this one. Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani (as well as Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keyes and Jennifer Hudson, who’ve spent less time in the judge’s seat) all give us a chance to miss them, but the two fellas not so much. In any case, John Legend is a breath of fresh air and we will (probably) watch The Voice longer than we usually do because of him, which means even after the blind audition phase, which lasts only a few weeks.
World of Dance (airing Sundays on NBC) is worth watching for some pretty over-the-top dancing and spectacle, even if the melodramatic judge reactions can be eye-roll–inducing. Ne-Yo and Derek Hough (who’s as dynamic as Wonder Bread) support the star and producer here — Miss Jennifer Lopez — on the judges' panel, and anyone with eyeballs knows this show is all about J-Lo and her fierce looks, which so far she is delivering as big as the tears she sheds during a great performance.
With America's Got Talent: The Champions and The Masked Singer having both just ended, talent show lovers still have The World's Best (airing Wednesdays on CBS) to enjoy. It has a unique setup in that the judges — always-adorable Drew Barrymore, RuPaul and Faith Hill — also have an international panel of co-judges who also weigh in on the contestants onstage. Our money's on the TNT Boys, and if you don't watch this show, do yourself a favor and Google them right now. They are magical. And speaking of Ru, the new season of RuPal's Drag Race revved up just this week. We'll have more about this in a future TV Party column, but read about the All Stars finale in Michael Cooper's Time for Tea column here.
And finally, we cannot talk about singing shows without mentioning that the grand-daddy of them all, American Idol, returns Sunday night on Fox. Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan are the judges this time out, and maybe more than any of the above (which are filmed locally), this one builds on the premise that “Hollywood” is the place to fulfill dreams of stardom. Which means we partially have the show to blame for the overcrowding. Still, even for those of us who live here, it's hard not to get sucked in with them. Watch this Sunday to enjoy the good, the bad and the ugly tryouts vying for a chance to come here, and maybe discover a new William Hung in the process.
By the way, all the shows above are filmed right here in Southern California. Here are links if you're interested in getting off the couch to see them live: