Review: ‘I Can See Your Voice’

Tom Raes

‘I have a set of requirements!’ I will shout after my storming of the VTM offices. ‘First, no more singing competitions. Second, if that’s asking too much, at least leave no doubt about who’s singing what. And third: Ingeborg manu militari will be returned to her holistic dacha, where under no circumstances will she receive any camera attention.’ The dozen rods of dynamite that I have girded, the special units will determine after they have expertly tucked me, consists on closer inspection of twelve frankfurters; the handgun I wielded to my elimination turns out to be a carefully carved and blackened beetroot. In front of the papers, my neighbors will describe me as an eccentric. ‘Quite on its own. Watched a lot of TV.’

In my manifesto, which has not been published by any newspaper, I will be certain: what Flemish television lacks is a passionate customs officer. Someone who resolutely taps bad foreign program ideas across national borders by wiping the matrak. Then I shouldn’t have taken ‘I Can See Your Voice’ for granted and at least one Vilvoorde counter clerk would have been spared an uncomfortable working day.

‘There is only one question that keeps Flanders awake,’ claimed Jonas Van Geel against a decor after an alien model – busy and ugly. To know: ‘Can you tell from someone whether they can sing well or not?’ Never before have I wondered such a thing, let alone that I would lose sleep, but in this program you were simply expected to determine on your own whether the singing voice you heard really came from the performed participants. Deliberately impossible work, which you can nevertheless talk about for hours.

Van Geel pointed us to the jury on duty, ‘the crème de la crème of the entertainment world.’ He said it without audible irony, even though I think you’re asking to be laughed at if such an introduction turns out to include Q-dj Vincent Fierens, Kurt Rogiers and Ingeborg.

The seven candidates were portrayed as characters in imitation of ‘The Masked Singer’. ‘I’m already a big fan of Miss Extravaganza!’ Kürt Rogiers flared up before a single note had been struck: in the meantime he knows better than anyone how to pretend enthusiasm when his career requires it. And she requires that. ‘I missed a breath,’ Ingeborg let slip after one performance. Judging by the increasing slenderness of her speech, she has gradually gained startling momentum.

When the candidates were not on the podium, they assumed a rigid stance in the background: as if they were applying for an ongoing job as a mannequin. Such moments were an opportunity for the jury to break out unhindered into speculative drivel: a basic ingredient of this program, which can easily be shortened by half without loss of content.

Just like in ‘The Masked Singer’, ‘I Can See Your Voice’ also worked towards an unmasking: the moment when such a lip-smacking singer finally showed his real singing voice. Half of them were followed by a deliberately incited crowing next to the scale, but if such a candidate turned out to be tone-resistant, potential record executives among the viewers were called upon by the jury without hesitation to immediately aim a contract at that unknown person in question. I suspect that mannerism will have a recurring character in this program, but I will not experience it again.

As I carved in thought in an ominously shaped beet, I resolved not to waste another morsel on ‘I Can See Your Voice’ on Saturday. (tr)

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