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Popular songs are all over the place such as "Rise Up" by Andra Day.
Popular songs are all over the place such as "Rise Up" by Andra Day.

AMID our country’s political turmoil and the Covid-19 non-pandemic, I have taken refuge in fun and melodious entertainment like Allan Perera’s new show called "HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS" (which starts March 19 at the PJ Live Arts, Jaya One); and reality show “The Voice”.

I have even given “I Can Hear Your Voice” on local television a try, but I just don't get the title.. lost in translation, perhaps.

Another thing is that there is no diversity in the show. Like most reality shows on local TV, it's as if non-Malays don't take part in such shows. (Oops, censorship snip!) You may disagree with that take, but I really like what I see and hear on the auditions that are going on now for “American Idol” and “The Voice UK”, France and the US. The latter, like “The X Factor”, has a global franchise.

To watch wanna-be singers try out with even non-mainstream genres is so inspiring. The back-stories of some of the try-outs are the standard format for “American Idol” (I can't call it AI, can I?).

Popular songs are all over the place, from “Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts and "Girl From the North Country" by Bob Dylan to "Rise Up" by Andra Day.

But Season 18 is seeing more singer-songwriters trying their luck, it seems to me, with more crooning their original songs. Most aren't so bad, with some being pretty darn good. Tough choices for judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan but not so much airtime for the host, an ageless Ryan Seacrest.

From the auditions so far, which began airing on Feb 16, I was taken aback at Nepali Dibesh Rokharel. Err, he looks like a Nepali but was introduced as “Arthur Gunn”.

Wow! He has an okay singing voice, with a strong country twang. He's been living in Kansas for the past five years, after his parents migrated there. There’s also a Filipino, as par for the course.

While I like the singing on “Idol”, and the judges’ banter, “The Voice UK 2020”, with judges Olly Murs, Sir Tom Jones, Meghan Trainor and has a more eclectic repertoire.

The wannabes are offering Mi Gente (My People) recorded by Colombian singer J Balvin and French singer and producer Willy William. I think the remix with Beyonce reached a bigger audience.

The “Voice UK” is now in the battles round, where two singers slug it out for a spot in the semifinals.

For more auditions, I’m checking out France's “The Voice: la plus belle voix” (the Most Beautiful Voice) which started in mid-January, with judges Lara Fabian, Amel Bent, Marc Lavoine and Pascal Obispo.

I do miss Mika's antics from previous seasons, but it's all about the voice. French wannabe singers that have auditioned so far include Lebanese Enzo Sabbagha, who sang Sam Cooke's “A Change is Gonna Come” with soulful jazz.

In the US, Season 18 of “The Voice” which kicked off on Feb 24, is now being judged by Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas (of Priyanka fame, haha) and John Legend.

The try-outs are earnest and generally good singers. The American reality shows mentioned seem to like belters and those who can hit the really high notes (or low), while – from my humble perspective – the British and Euro versions seem to want story-telling and heartfelt deliveries.

Whatever it is, I'm having a blast with the online availability of these shows – terima kasih, Unifi.

Yes, when confusion reigns on the homefront, why not dig into these wannabe singers' auditions on YouTube!

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