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Kelly Clarkson The Voice NBC

Warning! The following contains spoilers for The Voice Season 19 premiere. Read at your own risk!

The Voice Season 19 premiered its first blind audition, though there were some notable changes from last season. Due to COVID-19 protocols, there were no hugs from the judges, t-shirt cannons, cardboard cutouts, and no in-studio audience or family to cheer on competitors as they auditioned. It was quite a change for the show, but I daresay one that may lead to change for the better.

I had already heard The Voice's executive producer Audrey Morrissey talk about the advantages of competitors going without a massive crowd to perform, and after witnessing it for myself, I have to agree. Tonight's premiere was loaded with a bunch of strong performers, and not once did I hear their voice drowned out by a roaring crowd or nerves getting the better of a competitor.

I'm not sure how The Voice top brass will feel about the comparison, but the premiere reminded me of the audition phases of American Idol. Taking the big-time concert feel out of the audition makes it more about the performer, and them pouring their heart out in an effort to be noticed by coaches. Sure there was still a virtual audience peering and chiming in on a screen behind it all, but that was a far cry from a full studio of fans hooting and hollering for any reason whatsoever.

I also appreciated that less of the banter between the coaches went towards catering to the audience in attendance. It's always fun to see The Voice coaches pal around, but I'm never necessarily a fan of how the audience influences the reactions by the coaches with each other. Truthfully, I had this same thought when watching America's Got Talent without the audience, so maybe these new protocols are just showing me an in-studio audience isn't all that necessary?

Truth be told, I had no negative takeaways from the lack of the audience during The Voice Season 19 premiere. The premiere had the same level of energy, the performances were amazing, and we still got the touching reactions from the friends and family that we usually get during the audition rounds. Again, I almost preferred that the family wasn't there because it was one less thing that put the competitors on edge.

The only downside is that, as of writing, there are no plans to bring in a live audience for The Voice Season 19. While I love the fact there's nobody in the studio to trip up competitors now and put the pressure on, I do wonder whether or not the virtual audience will be able to effectively raise the stakes in episodes outside of the audition round and make this show feel as big as it has in the past.

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Vote in our poll below about whether or not The Voice is better without an audience! We can only wait and see and continue to tune into The Voice on NBC Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET to find out! Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happenings with the show, and for more happening in television and movies.

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