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Published:April 26th, 2011 09:21 EST

'The Voice' Launches and the Battle of the Singing Competitions Begins!

By Paulette Cohn

The battle of the singing competitions begins Tuesday night when NBC premieres The Voice, the latest reality show in which the grand prize is a recording contract, and we will discover just how much undiscovered talent America is willing to watch.

thevoice_castphoto_nbcLike America`s Got Talent, which will be paired with The Voice this summer once The Biggest Loser finale airs, the age range for contestants is unlimited. On the first night, which is a two-hour premiere, it runs the gamut from 16 to 56, so surprises are in store with possibly a Susan Boyle, or a Jackie Evancho, waiting in the wings.

What makes The Voice different from other talent competitions is that the auditions are blind. The judges make their selections sight unseen as they have their backs to the performers and base their decision solely on sound. It isn`t until they press their buzzers that their seats swivel around, revealing the singer. And that first look -- sometimes startled, sometimes happy -- is worth the price of admission.

The judges are a stellar bunch, including Christina Aguilera, county star Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, and Cee Lo. While there is no great drama, there is friendly bickering amongst them when more than one of them is vying to sign someone to their team. But -- and again this is a reason to watch -- sometimes, they don`t push as hard as they could and it makes you wonder if they are having second thoughts about the contestant they picked sight unseen.

So what exactly are the judges looking for? Aguilera says she is searching for soulful, bluesy voices; Cee Lo says he will know it when he feels it; Shelton doesn`t just want country singers; and Levine waits to push his button until someone blows him away.

Most of the faces are new, but Frenchie Davis, who made it onto the second season of American Idol and then was disqualified due to topless photos taken earlier in her career, auditions. Davis, who went on to perform on Broadway in Rent, but never signed a record deal, is, therefore, eligible for The Voice.
There is some drama.

Not everyone makes it through and, often, those people have sad back stories; a few contestants are desired by all four judges, and several of those selected are in definite need of a makeover. It remains to be seen if that will happen, though, since this series is all about The Voice.

Once the initial eight-person teams are selected by the judges, the weeding process begins with a sing-off. Each judge will select their four strongest singers to mentor -- and then America gets to vote.

The Voice premieres Tuesday, April 26 at 9 p.m. on NBC.