Season 14 of “The Voice” offers new controls and a new judge

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The new season of “The Voice” just started. For those of us who watched the rise and near-triumph of Addison Agen last season, we might not be ready for another season that requires so much emotional investment. This season of “The Voice” the judges will have more buttons to allow them to block and save. It seems like the new buttons offer judges more opportunity for really fighting to get the contestants they want. In addition to the change in technology, singer Kelly Clarkson has joined the judges.

“The Voice”: “block” feature

This is potentially the most confusing of the new features. Essentially, a judge can prevent another judge from choosing a singer. Another judge won’t know he or she has been blocked unless they attempt to turn for the singer. The judge who has used the block feature immediately turns around. Judges are allowed to use the feature only once during the first round.

This seems an interesting development in the franchise. Previously, all that occurred to indicate a battle, or that one judge didn’t want another to take a singer was via the verbal jousting that judges sometimes participate in. Particularly Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. While the comedic element of the verbal battle might be missed, the implementation of the block button makes the show a bit more technical. Time will tell how the button plays a role in the development of the season.

“The Voice”: save button

One way to think about the save button is to call it the “change-one’s-mind” button. Judges can use it to essentially recall singers that have been eliminated during knockout round. It is not too difficult to see how this feature could be great for both singers and judges.

However, there is no word if the “steal” button has been replaced. There is potential drama if a judge tries to steal a singer that another judge is attempting to save. That would be an interesting development.

Kelly Clarkson, new judge on “The Voice”

It isn’t just technology that is potentially yielding new dynamics and drama. In promos and late night talk show spots, Clarkson’s energy is obvious. Her conviction that the singers she has chosen are special is at least as convincing as that of the veteran judges. Like previous judge Jennifer Hudson, Clarkson is herself a former contestant on a performance show (“American Idol”). Her empathy for how singers are feeling is often obvious.

Alicia Keys also returns this season. The singer brings a warmth to the show that it sometimes lacks.

With the new season of “The Voice” just underway, there are no frontrunners yet. However, there are new buttons and new (one returning) judges to raise the tension. It will be interesting to watch judges battle for the best singers.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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