Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
The lovely Phoebe Raven is off gallivanting in parts unknown and no doubt enjoying far better television than what’s out at present. There were several things I could have discussed as I substitute for Ms. Raven but I found myself going back to a show she and I both love: The Voice. Yes I hate to discuss reality television and I probably could have done something on far superior shows like Copper or The New Normal but The Voice has been nagging me. This was a show that strived to be different but somehow in its last two seasons it’s become American Idol with classier judges. I decided to count down the five things that have grown to make me hate The Voice.
5. The Constant Rule Changes
From the time the show aired there was criticism about how the show was handled past the blind auditions. The number of team members has slowly risen over the seasons with each judge now having up to sixteen singers to mentor (and pushing out the blind auditions to over three weeks). So far these blind auditions are taking forever and for me, I’m able to get an hour’s episode of the show done in twenty by simply watching the singing and reading that the singers pick online. It’s not that I don’t want to know but the seasons have seemed to get longer since the show started.
Last season saw the deployment of a rule where each judge had to eliminate a contestant on the spot. This caused a lot of controversy as the judges were stuck with a decision that had to be made in a matter of seconds, and they weren’t helped by host Carson Daly prodding them. Not only did the judges appear frustrated with this rule but considering the live shows were padded to two hours with musical performances from whatever hot singer had an album out this week and audiences were forced to wonder why these musical acts weren’t removed to let the judges do their jobs in a timely manner.
This season sees another change by letting the judges “snatch” a contestant that another judge has eliminated during the battle rounds. We haven’t seen this play out but why can’t this show keep a consistent set of rules (I also forgot that iTunes hits and social networking were considered “voting”)? I understand it now competes with American Idol and The X-Factor but considering what the show started out as: being about vocal talent, all these rule changes play like tired gimmicks meant to get someone to stop changing the channel but not necessarily commit to watching long-term.
4. Everything but “The Voice”
I mentioned the show originally being about vocal talent…that seems to have gone the way of the dodo this season. There have been several contestants who have been able to sway a judge into turning around based on some modicum of talent and yet when the judges are told to explain why they turned it all boils down to something they’ve “seen.” Blake Shelton turned around for a country singer and kept going on about the contestant’s dancing. Christina Aguilera has famously gone on and on about a singer’s “look” or “style.” The only one who appears to be going on about vocal ability is Adam Levine but that’s only when a pretty girl isn’t around.
Speaking of pretty girls, this season has been all about the “outcast whose pretty” that’s grow tiresome. Several young girls have been on the show and their stories all seem to be “I was an outcast” yet their wearing miniskirts and are utterly gorgeous. In last week’s episode a 17-year-old girl who went to the “Fame” school was almost molested on-camera as all the male judges ogled her. This is nothing new for the show but the fact that so many of these young girls are being leered at on-stage and are cited for being beautiful makes the show seem to be about appearance over talent.
3. The Sob Stories
The Voice really should charge for psychological counseling as almost every contestant who’s appeared has had some type of trauma. The problem is this trope has steadily increased over the show’s length of time on the air and I’m starting to wonder if a question on the application is “Has anything seemingly bad – no matter how minor – happened to you.” So far we’ve had a kidnapped hot girl, a Nigerian refugee, and a guy who had a terrible virus. I know the creators want the audience to connect with certain contestants but maybe have them be on the show longer than an audition then show their back stories. NBC’s other show, America’s Got Talent, does this right by slowing doling out information about the contest as it gets closer to the finals. Show the audience that these contestants are actually going to be sticking around, are veritable contenders to win, then make me care about something traumatic. And why does everyone have to have something bad? Maybe I want to pick someone whose just normal!
2. The Age Bracket
The age bracket is a big thing that’s bothered me over the last two seasons of The Voice. As mentioned before, the show originally set out to discover talent regardless of appearance and, most importantly, age. The Voice had a higher age cutoff than American Idol and X-Factor with several contestants being 50 and older. As the shows progressed the median age now appears to be about 21. There have been a few contestants over 30 in the last few weeks but none have been selected by the judges. A prime example was last week’s audition by Trevanne Howell who was over 30. She had a good voice but Christina Aguilera summed up that no one turned for her because her voice sounded nervous. We then cut to several young girls, under 18, whose nervous voices were attributed to be “so young.” What’s the standard here? So far every judge has an under 18 girl who looks exactly alike and sounds the same, what’s wrong with diversity in age and vocal styling’s?
1. Good Not Great But You Make It Anyway
I’ll let my number one sum up why The Voice is done; there are no truly amazing singers this season. Everyone so far has been good, but not great. In fact Christina Aguilera has mentioned to a few contestants that they sound like they could be on radio. That’s what The Voice is looking for, a young girl or boy who has a radio voice. All the teams have maybe one or two great singers but the majority of singers auditioning are just good. And due to the editing it appears that everyone who auditions makes a time…unless your old. The rejected montages are few and far between this year and the odds are so high of being picked it makes the audience scratch their heads further on why certain others weren’t picked; everyone sounds the same!
Those are the reason The Voice is wearing thin. I continue to watch, hoping something will change but what needs to happen is have the judge’s fight for a contestant without seeing them. Have the show return to truly being about a person’s voice and it could be the shot in the arm it needs!
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.