Star factor ... Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden and Seal hold the power in Nine's <em>The Voice</em>.

Star factor ... Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden and Seal hold the power in Nine's The Voice.

Shhhh. Hush. Shut up. No really, why are you all still singing? More people are singing on TV this week than renovating, cooking or having sex.

Talent quests are cyclical, like dating shows. But we're not just inundated with talent quests. It's not just The Voice (Nine, Monday, 8pm and Tuesday, 7.30pm) and Australia's Got Talent (Seven, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 7.30pm) and American Idol and filthy Young Talent Time, it's also Glee and Smash, and lots more dancing shows where they shoehorn in some singing.

What's going on? Not so long ago, nobody sang, or just the odd nobody sang karaoke covers on The Midday Show. That never led to a life-changing career moment, just RSL club dates. They were just wedding singers, wearing lycra, braying into an Ah Bra void. There was nowhere else for the aspiring belter to thump out an ambitious rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings. Rove didn't allow some unknown youngster to bring her own personal magic to Time After Time. When little Nikki Webster swung onto the scene at our very own Olympics, a girl child hadn't sung publicly since the Minogues. And that was a good thing.

And now, for hours on end, we catch collective breath as armchair hopefuls sing famous songs on television in front of gobsmacked judges. In Glee and Smash, unknown actors, playing characters in a weekly musical comedy series (the definitive straight man's viewing poison) cover current hits, often on a theatre stage, and it's the high point of an episode. Now teen audiences have tired of Lea Michele channelling the still mostly alive Babs Streisand every week, the girls on Smash have taken over, misappropriating Rihanna's Drink to That, busking in Times Square to great effect. I nearly stood up in my living room and threw money. What's with that?

Back to the main event. The Voice is dialling up the heat on talent quests and worldwide interest in the genre. The US version created such a furore that our local remake has attracted international heft. Presumably the judges are furiously pawing over original new songs that will garner the kind of Moves Like Jagger attention that screams knock-down-dead hit.

Five years ago if anybody had suggested that Keith Urban, Seal, Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem would occupy ugly spinning red armchairs, we might have smelt career suicide. Not any more. Since J.Lo and Steven Tyler have completely hot-wired their careers in the Idol judges' chairs, and Christina Aguilera and co have created The Voice sensation, a talent show judging spot is a short walk back to the Grammys. Bernard King must be spinning in his grave. So far ahead of his time with the cooking and the very cruel judging, he could bring back Pot of Gold with a croque en bouche breakout and we would really have something. The man truly was a visionary.

As competition between the singing competitions rages, some anomalies become apparent. Keith Urban may be our own, but those dazzling teeth have only ever been a photo op. We've never heard him speak. Oddly, we're more familiar with Delta's ex, Brian McFadden, who appears to have parked here after some recent potato famine for no particular reason, other than to judge this very odd show full of acrobats and pink dogs, and to hang out with the odd and odious Kyle Sandilands. And the circle is complete when a fully grown Minogue fleshes out the judging panel of Australia's Got Talent. If we are judging the judges now, The Voice's certainly have an edge. Kyle Sandilands is looking as tired as an old sneaker.

Urban has a funny Peter Pan/David Cassidy quality, unlike Seal, who is a lord of some kind, and Joel Madden, whose heavily inked existence defies explanation on the show. And yet, with Delta The White Witch, everything is bouncing along beautifully on The Voice. Judges face the audience, not the talent, so this is something of a blind taste test. Even better, when the talent actually turns out to be legally blind.

We must console ourselves that this craze will pass again and make way for dating shows with Dexter The Robot. And they will make way for shows about old people playing cards and eating cake. And then, inevitably somebody will open their mouth and start singing again.

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