The Voice Judges Want Great Vocalists Not Commercial Stars

The Voice has done a lot of things for NBC, as well as to shake-up the reality competition field, but the show hasn’t yet produced a serious hitmaker, when compared to singing competition shows like American Idol. Even The X Factor recently saw runner-up Fifth Harmony hit over a million page views on YouTube for the group’s new single. Although The Voice contestants haven’t gained quite as much prominence, judges Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera still defend the format and purpose of the show.

As noted by singing competitions in the past, winning a season doesn’t always mean a person will become famous. Additionally, other people who have managed to make a presence on a series but not win the overall competition have done quite well in their careers following the show. As Levine noted at The Voice's recent TCA conference, it’s more difficult than you might think to become famous overnight.

‘‘A lot of things have to happen in order for that to take place. I think the goal of the show is to do what we can do for these amazing singers while they’re on the show...I think that we all know that the lightning in a bottle you have to capture in order to be successful in this business is extraordinarily difficult. I'm not sure that that is the overall mission statement of the show.’’

According to Boston, Aguilera also says it takes work to get into the business and make a name for yourself.

‘‘It’s not like everything needs to be like boom, boom, boom, then record deal, then No. 1 success. It doesn’t happen like that. It didn’t happen that way for me either. Like, for instance, my experience with ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’, the alumni from that show, you know, you have huge names…But, you know, right after the show, did we rocket to success right after it? No. It takes time.’’

The Voice is great exposure for contestants, helping them to get their names out into the universe and get their unique vocals into the public eye. However, if The Voice is constantly failing to produce winners that the overall populace cares about while other shows have, this could prove to be a knock to The Voice’s overall ratings. Additionally, if The Voice can’t produce a star, why would major vocal talent keep returning to the show?

It’s not that Aguilera and Levine are wrong about The Voice. It is their specific job as judges to do the best they can for the talent offered and to choose the best voices in the pool to appear on the show. It is also tough to break into the music business, just as it is tough to remain relevant once a person or group has had a big hit. It’s not that the show is lacking in talent; in fact, The Voice has had some great voices—Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery among them. The problem is that the show hasn’t signed on any names and faces that people care about in the long run, which could affect the show’s ratings sooner or later. Bradbery's first single only has earned 158,000 YouTube views, which isn't bad, but isn't wildly successful, either.

Danielle Bradbery the voice

One of the problems with The Voice may be that the show isn’t as well-connected to the behind-the-scenes portion of the music industry. While Shelton, Aguilera, Levine, and Cee Lo Green are all great singers and/or musicians, they aren’t music producers or business guys like some judges on other singing competition shows have been. Looking for the best voice isn’t always the same thing as looking for the most commercial voice, and that could help to explain why The Voice has seen its share of challenges. Still, an argument could be made that prize money should be given out while skipping the recording contract if the series can't produce a star. It's sort of embarrassing for the series that Season 2 winner Jermaine Paul's album still hasn't been released.

Right now, ratings are high and Season 5 could yet prove to be the year that pulls everything together for the series. The Voice returns to NBC's schedule on Monday, September 23 at 8 p.m. ET.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.