Local adaptation finds its Voice right away

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Vietnamese version of new reality music show seems to have won over audiences and trumped a major rival

(Top) Huong Tram (L) and Dinh Huong (R) have been the two most outstanding contestants so far.

The show began 30 minutes late, but the appearance of the four judges - pop stars Ho Ngoc Ha, Dam Vinh Hung and Thu Minh, and noted rocker Tran Lap got the audience into the right mood.

Things got even better as the judges passed humorous comments and repartees that sometimes bordered on altercation as they vied with each other to lure the good contestants to their teams.

One day after the show, positive comments like "The Voice Vietnam is amazing" and "Will follow it every Sunday" mushroomed on Facebook.

Among the 16 contestants performing in the first episode, only four failed to satisfy the judges. The five episodes of the "unseen" rounds in the competition have 76 contestants chosen from thousands of applicants. Fifty-six of these 76 will be chosen by the four judges to form teams of 14 singers each. The teams will be trained by the judges and compete against each other to find the winner.

Cat Tien Sa Company, producers of Vietnam"˜s version of "The Voice" did not disclose how much money it has spent to adapt the hit series.

But rumors have been swirling.

The show's judges, who will coach the contestants in the next rounds, have been selected from the leading stars and their assent is said to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The top prize for the winner is VND500 million (some US$25,000), which is the largest sum awarded to date by any reality entertainment show in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese version has one marked change from the original format that has been adapted in over 47 countries. In Vietnam, there are two female judges (Ho Ngoc Ha and Thu Minh), instead of one. This distinction has, incidentally or not, added extra zing in the form of attention-grabbing catfights when the two women use all their tricks to entice the contestants to their teams.

In the first aired episode, Ha and Minh chose the same contestants several times and their contest ended in a draw with five each. The male judges, Dam Vinh Hung and Tran Lap, seemed to be quieter and more fastidious, selecting only two members for their teams.

Pop star Ho Ngoc Ha (in black). Her clever comments and elegant appearance have earned public support for the show.

In the episode, Dinh Huong and Huong Tram were the two most outstanding contestants, the women receiving "I choose you" decisions from four judges.

However, many newswires and their readers have criticized the fact that many contestants of "The Voice" chose English instead of Vietnamese songs. Some netizens have compared the show with the US format and expressed their disappointment with the local adaptation.

There is also a battle for ratings in the autumn between "The Voice" Vietnam and the fourth season of Vietnam Idol, auditioning for which began

July 4. Many people say that as of now, "The Voice" has prevailed because of the format that focuses on vocal talent over style and qualifications.

"The Voice," which originated in Holland has been a big success in the US since its first season in April 2011. At the "blind" auditions, the judges are unable to see the contestants, and their decisions are made solely on the latter's singing skills. The battle phase and live performances take place over the next two rounds when the four judges/coaches complete with their teams.

Vietnam is the second Asian country, after South Korea, to purchase the production copyright for the show.

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