In my red chair
Even before fully recovering from the Grand Finals of “The Voice Kids,” we’re back in our red chairs ready to listen to over 120 teenage artists trying their luck on “The Voice Teens.” We’ve got four chairs once again, and for this season, apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas has returned. Of course Bamboo, Sarah and I are very excited that he’s back.
The chemistry between all of us can be likened to that of a family of four, three of whom haven’t seen one for a long while, but once complete, it’s like hardly any time has passed and everyone picks up right from where they left off.
It’s easygoing and unforced. Truth be told, it’s been quite a while since Coach Apl has been on “The Voice,” but in the time away, he’s gotten himself ready for battle with the rest of us, trying to grab the best artists he can during Blind Auditions (filming of this stage of the competition was completed yesterday).
The mechanics are what you remember: four red chairs placed side by side (they’re back in their original positions: with our backs turned, from left to right, it’s Apl, me, Sarah and Bamboo), with that red button in front of the coach, just waiting to be pressed.
Our chairs are turned away from the stage, and we’re seated, waiting in anticipation, hoping to be wowed. If and when we are, we turn.
However, this season we’ve got something new to add: the Block. Our chairs now have three other buttons, each labeled with the names of all fellow coaches. If a coach feels that they would like to keep a particular teen artist away from another coach, he or she hits the Block (for example, if an artist auditioning is someone I like, and I feel Coach Bamboo also wants him or her, I’ll hit the Block Bamboo button to keep him out of contention). We each get two blocks to use as we please … and we definitely have.
At the top of each morning when our energy is full and we’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we spryly head to our chairs to begin the day.
I can’t speak for my fellow coaches, but as for me, once I settle myself in and prepare for the first young one to step out onstage, only one thought goes through my head: “Please, be amazing.”
When the performance begins, I perk up my ears and start listening. Sometimes, the response is immediate, and it only takes a few seconds before I
hit that red button (of course it’s even more exciting when two, three or all four chairs turn).
However, more often than not, it takes the entire song for me to figure things out: how’s this kid’s intonation, technique, emotional expression, intuition and instinct, diction and personality? Does this kid have that intangible thing called “star quality” that grips my soul? Does this performance make my heart skip a beat and lift my spirit?
There’s a checklist I keep in my head, and I start to tick the boxes one by one. But, at the end of the day, if my heart isn’t captivated even after those checklist boxes are ticked, I don’t turn. And sometimes, it does get frustrating.
All of us coaches as well as everyone on the production side of “The Voice” want nothing more than to find truly talented young people that will eventually take their place in this ever-evolving and ever-growing industry.
The show is but a platform for them to show off what they can do, and has served as a wonderful jumping-off point for quite a few popular performers, whether they win the competition or not: Juan Karlos Labajo, Darren Espanto, Jason Dy, Mitoy Yonting, Ehla Nympha, Esang de Torres and Lala Vinzon to name a few. And now, more names will be added, and their futures are looking bright.
This is our eighth season. Yes, we’ve been doing this a while and we’ve been able to spot some amazingly gifted artists. That is the fulfillment to be had from coaching on this show, and truly, I am very grateful.
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