The Voice Factor

 In Entertainment

The 2012 reality singing competition showdown officially kicked off this week with the premieres of NBC’s The Voice and FOX’s The X Factor.

Both shows begin their seasons with lengthy audition rounds before selecting the top contenders to compete in front of America for a chance at the big prize and bragging rights. Both shows also include a panel of four judges that coach/mentor the artists (and bicker among themselves) throughout the competition. And both judging panels include a blond Pop Princess who kissed Madonna onstage during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. But, if you ever get confused about which show you’re watching, just look for The Voice’s giant, spinning, red chairs…

Debuting on Monday night, this season’s blind auditions on The Voice have showcased the first ever yodeling and fully Spanish-language performances.  Judges Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton continue to stack their teams – super-sized with 16 contestants each this year – and with some new changes to the rules (coaches will be able to “steal” contestants from each other during the battle rounds and a “knockout” round will slice the number of contestants on each team), the show’s third season promises to be a dramatic one.

Over on FOX, The X Factor premiered last night after a summer full of headline-making drama around the firing and hiring of judges Paula Abdul (fired), Demi Lovato (hired), Nicole Scherzinger (fired), and Britney Spears (hired), who grabbed even more attention with media speculation that she may crack under the pressure of being back in the public eye. But, in a “judge not lest ye be judged” twist, Brit is back with a vengeance. If you somehow managed to miss the many FOX promos teasing this refreshed second season, watch out because there’s a new Simon in town! Kicking off with a “Toxic” mash-up of Britney’s snarky send-offs for less-than-stellar contestants, producers chose to keep a camera focused on Spears and her animated expressions throughout this initial audition episode. And with some behind-the-scenes footage spliced in between the performances, audiences got the chance to see how the judges (Spears, Lovato, Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid) and contestants interacted with each other off-stage.

If you’re not already a fan, check out The Voice (airs Mondays & Tuesdays on NBC) and The X Factor (airs Wednesdays & Thursdays on FOX). If you like what you see, we suggest setting your TiVo season passes so you won’t miss a moment of what is already shaping up to be quite a vocal battle.

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