By Vanessa Obioha
Prior to its debut last year, concerns were raised on how the Voice Nigeria will meet the standard of the American reality singing competition. The Voice is very distinctive in its concept. Unlike other competitions of similar genre, The Voice prides itself in making the judges/coaches an integral part of the show. Through a series of auditions known as blind auditions, the coaches choose initial members of their teams. With their chairs facing the audience instead of the artiste, they choose the contestant whose voice appeal to them most by pressing a button which automatically turns the chair towards the artiste. In a case where more than one coach turns for a particular contestant, the coaches have to compete with one another to win the contestant to their team.
Arguably, this is the most interesting part of the competition as coaches make ridiculous comments, pitches and banters to clinch the contestant. This was why it was important that the Nigerian version got it right.
The first season saw Waje, 2Baba, Patoranking and Timi Dakolo playing the part. 2Baba came off as the most difficult judge to please; Timi assumed the role of the preacher; Waje was the mother to all even if she had her favourite children; then Patoranking, the youngest in the group fought to live up to expectations.
The foursome did their best to enliven the show given the outcry over the production taken outside Nigeria shores. Yet, the show lacked the lingo and rapport peculiar to Nigerians.
But that was last year.
This year, the tempo has admirably changed and increased. From the very first episode of season 2, it was clear that the production team paid attention to feedbacks from the previous edition. The script this year is full of humour, drama and honest dialogues in local lingo.
With Yemi Alade replacing 2Baba, Waje found an ally, although she leans towards Timi sometimes. Timi is definitely in his element this season. He apparently had divested himself off the preacher man toga and assumed the role of a coach whose ears pick only the best sounds. It works for him very well, in addition to a humourous side which was deftly hidden last season. He is constantly unleashing slangs peculiar to his state of origin, Bayelsa.
Interestingly, Patoranking is the audience’s favourite coach. His catchphrases like ‘Sky level’, ‘Winneranking’; antics and cheeky remarks to his fellow coaches has endeared him to the crowd.
Yemi Alade brings the feisty edge to this show. Very gifted with the gab, she often is caught between Waje and Patoranking. Her dramatic attitude gives the show that feminine flair it needs.
It will not be an understatement to say that Waje has delivered the most appealing sales pitch in the show so far. Perhaps she might consider a career in advertising. In addition to that, she thrills the audience with her dance steps each time a contestant chose her.
Indeed the season exudes the Nigerianness of the show, although the idea of shooting outside the country is yet to find a soft spot on most Nigerians. Nevertheless, we love the coaches for the fun they bring in each episode. The gang-ups, the lingos, and the humour resonate the Nigerian identity.
Of course, the contestants have contributed to the success of the show so far. Who could forget the shocking moment when 38 year-old Henry McJohn walked out on the coaches after his performance because they didn’t turn for him. He left angrily saying ‘You people are not my mate.’
Or the inseparable siblings Jahnomso and Jahtell Ilem who got IK looking at them weirdly.
Now that the blind show will be rounding off today, we simply can’t wait to see what the rest of the show offers. For now, we can proudly say that this is the Voice Nigeria.