Not Even Ariana Grande Can Save ‘The Voice’
On Monday evening, The Voice welcomed its newest coach and one of the most famous artists to win the singing competition in its 10-year run, Ariana Grande. During the two-hour premiere, the "Positions" singer was greeted with a lot of fanfare and lip service by the candidates and her coaching colleagues, as expected, and initially stole the limelight in a group performance of Aretha Franklin's "Respect". and remained the focus of her peers' stale comedic banter throughout the show. The pop superstar even received a "thank you, continue" button on her swivel chair.
Since its inception, the NBC Reality Competition program has always focused on its celebrities, based its later seasons on American Idol, and promoted its star power and coaching dynamics beyond amateur talent. But Grande's announcement on The Voice felt a little more urgent and tactical, especially since the recent departure of one of the show's inaugural coaches, Adam Levine, who had more mainstream hits and relevance among a younger, more feminine audience than artists like Blake Shelton, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, or even Gwen Stefani in the years she has been training. As with the inclusion of Miley Cyrus in 2016 and Nick Jonas last year, The Voice seems to be making yet another desperate proposition to grab the attention of younger Millennials and Generation Z, given that the show's viewership is like most network television in the streaming era have become increasingly older. But while Grande and her legion of Arianators are most likely to make a difference in that department, the charismatic, astute trainer still can't save the show from itself.
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Thirty minutes after the season 21 premiere, it becomes clear that The Voice will always be primarily a lengthy meeting with celebrities. While jurors for more cutthroat competitions like American Idol and The X Factor have historically been less approachable and intimidating - they purposely hold the positions of jurors rather than coaches - The Voice has always presented its stars as the most caring and good-natured people in the industry, suggesting that you should actually meet your heroes and even feel safe enough around them to be the most vulnerable version of yourself. At a time when the cruelty of competition reality shows is waning, that #positivevibes ethos has worked in the show's favor, even inspiring American Idol to eliminate “bad” auditions.
Even more insidiously, The Voice has successfully exploited the naive assumptions made by viewers - including the infamous musicians auditioning for the show - about celebrities, their supposed magic, and the overrated power of our closeness to them in favor of tangible results for these immensely gifted competitors, who deserve more than promised exaggerated compliments from Kelly Clarkson and Grande's Instagram presence.
In the years that The Voice has become a major pillar of broadcasting, much has been said about the blatant dilemma of competition: its inability to produce successful, or at least recognizable, artists. Every now and then, a viral tweet will appear on Twitter, usually while the show is preparing for a new season, advising social media to name just one winner or to compare the show's lack of care and attention for its own Candidate for its Fox predecessor. That being said, measuring the accomplishments of these two shows and how they lived up to their expectations or not just based on the fact that they are both televised singing competitions is a bit reductive and ignores the importance of social media and streaming like stars Discovered and manufactured where public attention is drawn and how fans mobilize (not to mention how oversaturated the music industry is compared to when American Idol premiered in 2002).
But according to The Voice contestants and even some of the judges, NBC threw the ball at its winners before they even had a real chance to see how they could fare against the world's Shawn Mendeses and Billie Eilishes. In 2018, HuffPost reported on the careers of the series winners after the competition. While Cassadee Pope, a former member of the already well-known pop-punk band Hey Monday, stands out as someone who has noticeably blossomed after her experience and has collected several country hits, previous winners such as Alisan Porter, Tessanne Chin, Craig Wayne Boyd, Javier are Colon, and Sawyer Fredericks were either dropped by Universal Music Group (The Voice's pricing is $ 100,000 and a recording deal with Universal Music Group or its subsidiary Big Machine Records, both of which are part of NBCUniversal) or for neglect left alone. Winners Jordan Smith and Danielle Bradbery have found niche fame in the Christian and Country genres, but their marginal popularity still pales in comparison to what we have achieved reality television alumni, from Clarkson and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson to the Men of One Direction.
That's what the judges said. Levine had previously voiced his frustration over the mismanagement of the show's winners on Howard Stern's 2015 radio show. And the following year, Blake Shelton repeated at a press conference after the final of the 11th, won. Clarkson, in the aforementioned HuffPost article, argued that the show didn't promise a superstar, and emphasized the importance of taking opportunities and "meeting as many people as possible." This is the answer, while not sufficient to address NBC's organizational problems, it is probably most in line with the overall message of the performance society's show, despite the fact that the jury often recklessly promises that they alone can turn competitors into stars.
When Grande mentioned her mammoth follower number on Instagram during the premiere while convincing contestant Wendy Moten to join her team, it felt like the show accidentally revealed the realities of modern day fame that one show this one Format additionally prevent other structural problems from ever really functioning. Moten can sing its way out to all of America week after week, battling for her place in a competition that is unlikely to adequately reward her or as simple as Grande can give her a guaranteed greeting on Instagram result. A new star of the charts on the coaches list may bring the megawatts of star power and some occasional funny moments, but The Voice can't hide its empty promises.
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