Most of us who read this blog remember those middle school days of watching contestants like Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Kelly Clarkson take the American Idol stage and ignite a passion for singing competition shows in America. But with the 144 contentants that made up the top-12 over the span of Idol's Twelve Season existence, we wonder how competing networks reinvent a typical progression from auditions to declaring the winner, and gain market share in a music-loving America. Sure the $17 million salary demand from Jennifer Lopez after the 2012 season of Idol sure seemed like a lot for someone who sits in a chair, sips her Coca-Cola and watches Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler rant about the fantastic performances of the contestants. But over time America began to lose interest. Simon Cowell was able to escape after the peak of American Idol after the 2010 season to control the dark days / offseason with The X Factor.
So now we're here. Fox Network's one time dominance and gold standard setting with American Idol is now gone. Networks and competing shows alike are becoming more creative with the way they begin the show with auditions to selecting their top 10 for American to vote upon. The William Hung's of the world aren't as entertaining anymore, (we have YouTube for that) and people cannot just watch the 'funny' auditions then stop watching the show in its entirety. So what's really left? What has propelled NBC's The Voice to new heights in the reality singing competition category? Sure women love a weekly dose of Adam Levine in tight t-shirts and the unexpected word choices from Latin pop-star Shakira, but The Voice has taken on the true meaning of its show name. Despite the Coca Cola and AT&T product placements with American Idol, the Pepsi and Verizon deal with The X Factor and of course, the Sprint and Starbucks deal with The Voice, NBC's hit show has reinvented the way we discover talent.
Let's take St. Louis native Caroline Glaser as an example. Her uniquely styled voice, coupled with her love for a softer side of indie/alternative music brought her to the Voice stage. However, the panel of four judges merely base their decision to 'turn their chairs' (it's a bit of a dramatic process on the part of NBC) on the gracefulness and clarity of Glaser's voice. The way NBC presents its audition process gives the audience something they can see and judge that the panel of judges don't have. It allows the musical-knowledge of Adam Levine, Usher, Shakira and Blake Shelton to truly come out. Not only do I believe they are the most punctual, knowledgeable and entertaining panel out of the singing competition shows, but the uniquely styled process allows the judges to truly invest in the talent they are pursuing.
So what does this mean for the competition? Do they have to change the way they pursue talent as well? Randy Jackson will be the final original Idol judge to call it quits after he recently announced that season 13 will be his final season of American Idol. So, has a new gold standard for singing competition shows been set? It truly seems that way. NBC's The Voice has proven that their well-selected coaches bring a wide variety of musical genres to the show. Artists upon audition have the ability to chose a coach not only based on a genre-match, but how they believe that coach will oversee them as an artist. With NBC's 12.450 million viewers and a 4.1 rating for their Live Rounds this week, it truly serves as a wakeup call to Idol and The X Factor.
So if you are someone who likes watching new talent be born, along with a little throwback of those TRL days, you may want to consider watching The Voice.
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