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Vote for what you like

Last week, Americans picked the man who will lead them for the next four years. Next year, Bangkok residents will vote for their next governor. Incumbent MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, embarrassed over the Futsal Arena, challenged Bangkokians to prove if he is qualified for re-election. For some Thai voters elsewhere, they are hopeful the Thai government will not be "doomed" by the controversial rice-pledging scheme.

Casting ballots too often is not enjoyable. But voting for something we are fascinated with can be. Yes, I'm talking about voting on "The Voice", the vocal TV talent show that originated in Holland and became famous in the UK, then the US and then Thailand.

It's easy to enjoy a talent show like this, particularly with the well-designed details - the sequences and judges. Singing is a talent that all can share, explaining why a song in one country can be famous across the world (also attributable to marketing campaigns). I guess all people are inspired to sing, but all have to admit that it needs talent to be a true singer.

Watching "The Voice" gives a distinct feeling from "So You Think You Can Dance". The dance show is impressive with its techniques and routines. Yet, I have to admit that dancing is a step away from singing. Singing to me is a lot easier than dancing.

But I have to admit that most contestants in the American version of "The Voice" are talented. As shown in Season 3 last week, who would imagine a backup singer like Amanda Brown could successfully make it to the top 12.

The producer is also talented in picking the judges. Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine are famous artists. But in their new role, they have to come up with professional comments - why they think one contestant is good while others should not advance to the next rounds. They also have to coach - like how to hit a high-pitched note. Audiences learn all those techniques. Too bad that Christina will leave Season 4 to Latin pop goddess Shakira, while Cee Lo's place will be replaced by R&B star Usher.

The voting system is also impressive. After the knockout rounds, all contestants need popular votes to get in the top 12. Keep in mind who you will vote for. When the episode is over, you have a day to make a phone call. Loading songs from iTunes also counts as a vote.

It was unfortunate that Channel 3 chose to air the Thai version on Sunday evening. When the one-hour show was over, AXN channel started airing the American version. With just a glimpse, all the flaws are apparent.

They start with the vocal quality of the singers. Some are great, others are so-so, indicative of the judges' impression of their performance.

The Thai version has five judges - Saharat Sangkapricha, Jennifer Kim, Joey Boy, Apiwat Eauthavornsuk and Punyarisa Teanprasit. All are famous, but when it comes to commenting and coaching, not all are good at it. Last week, Saharat bored me with his monotonous comment: "You did well. You improved." While Jennifer got into every note in coaching, Saharat did most in encouraging them, not coaching. In a knockout round, I was shocked by Jennifer's comment: "You two were so close that you almost had intercourse."

In voting, Thai fans can only send short messages, at Bt6 each. Last week, fans were coerced to vote right after the performance of the first contestant. As voting ended at the end of the programme, there was so little time to think if we should vote for the No.12 contestant.

We have to admit that it is difficult for a copycat to outdo the original, as we have observed in some Chinese products. We also have to admit that, no matter how proud we are, the Thai music industry is miles behind the US. Indeed, Thailand is lagging behind in many other fronts.

Re-elected President Barack Obama may have put American and Thai politics on a par when he started his campaign by attacking his opponent's wealth - not policies. Yet, the US political system is far more stable than ours. After the election, politicians will refocus on measures to address the "fiscal cliff". Failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney also accepted his failure. In Thailand? Criticisms on voting and canvassing can continue for weeks after the election. If politicians do not trust the system they are in, how can laymen like us?

A few days after victory, the Obama administration prepared the first trip for the re-elected president. In Thailand? Power negotiations can take place for weeks before a Cabinet can be formed. Without new ministers, all ministries delay urgent issues pending, for possible changes to be introduced by new ministers. Thailand will take years to catch up in this regard.

To spare myself further annoyance, I will skip next week's episode of "The Voice Thailand". At least I voiced my support to "The Voice Thailand" by sending three SMSs for my favourite contestants. As I said, voting for something like this is more enjoyable than casting political ballots.


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