Kylie may have given the ailing talent show a bit of much-needed zip – but if it wants to survive it needs to make some major changes. Here are some suggestions
The good news is that we're just two episodes away from the end of The Voice. The bad news is that we've still got the remainder of The Voice's live shows to get through. Traditionally, this is where The Voice falls flat, and Saturday's show was no different – the singers are dull, the criticism is flaccid and, since the last two years have shown that winning The Voice offers roughly the same level of career boost as selling a cassette of your demo to an old lady from the boot of your car near a Tesco, nobody really cares who wins.
If we're being generous, there have been improvements this year – Kylie is better than Jessie J, Emma Willis is better than Holly Willoughby and there are only three live shows rather than several hundred billion. But The Voice still isn't a very good television programme. If it's to make it to a fourth series it will need major changes. Here's what I think it's missing.
More interesting performers
Look at the name. The Voice. All it wants to do is find someone with a nice voice. The X Factor, meanwhile, gets its name because it wants to find someone with undefinable star quality. Admittedly this makes it slightly more exploitative than The Voice, but at least it has personality. Meanwhile, hand on heart, I don't think I could identify any of The Voice's finalists by sight. That's probably a problem.
An all-out ban on singing judges
Think back to this year's first episode. Now think of the panic that took hold in your heart when the four judges hopped up to sing I Predict a Riot together. That wasn't entertainment, that was rainy-day holiday-camp karaoke. You couldn't have destroyed the show's residual goodwill any faster if you opened with a shot of Tom Jones licking a photo of Hitler. These performances are dreadful. Stop them.
By far, The Voice has been Kylie Minogue's show. Tom Jones now reacts to events so slowly that it's like watching the Rock Biter from The Never Ending Story. Will.i.am has settled into an unsatisfactory groove of making oblivious blippety-blip noises instead of speaking normally. Ricky Wilson is a weird, unblinking River Island mannequin who has somehow come to represent All Singers Who Sound Like Bryan Adams. But Kylie has been flirty, astute, fun and undeniably the star of the series. The BBC should keep her at all costs.
After covering The X Factor for several years, the thing I've come to appreciate most about it is all the adverts. They might be annoying at the time, but at least they break the show into manageable chunks. Meanwhile The Voice starts, then it continues, then it continues, then it continues, then it continues, then you fall asleep, then you wake up, then it continues, then you lose all sensation in your feet, then it continues, then it finishes. One episode of The Voice is a non-stop deathmarch to an imaginary point on a distant horizon. It needs something to break up the monotony. If that something happens to be Gok Wan flogging yoghurt, so be it.
An intermediary round that doesn't sound like a burning abattoir
Jesus, the battle round is dreadful. It's always been dreadful. It's just two people on a stage, yelling over each other. It's not even singing. It's the noise a bullock would make if you tied it to a piano and shoved it out of a helicopter. It needs to be replaced by something. Anything. I don't care what. An exercise in competitive restraint. A game of Knuckles. Dance Dance Revolution. Anything – anything – is better than the battle round.
A satisfying conclusion
This is something that The Voice has always lacked. The final never manages to capture the sense of spectacle that other shows of its ilk have. There's never a sense that anything's actually been accomplished, which makes the viewer feel as if they've been wasting their time by watching. It doesn't help that the winner of The Voice is always embarrassingly insipid, nor that their victory effectively spells the end of their musical career, but at least give the thing a satisfying climax. My suggestion? As soon as the winner is announced, collapse the entire studio and set it on fire.
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