After the second year of American Idol, I gave up. I stumbled onto The Voice in its second week, and far preferred it, and have stuck with it since. Without going into a long explanation, the two basic reasons are -- 1) I like the involvement and relationship of the coaches between themselves and with the artists, and 2) it focuses on singing, more than performance and attitude. I just find it an entertaining show, regardless of the competition.
After the winner was announced tonight, I went on the show's Facebook page and was amused by the responses. Lots of support for the winner, but it's pretty much how upset people get when their favorite didn't win. It's not that they're disappointed, but that there's a need to trash the winner.
1) What people tend to miss is that the contestants remaining in the top 3 are all extremely talented. For that matter, the contestants who make it to the top 15 are very talented. But most especially when it's culled down to the final night, two really good singers (or in this case with a duo, three) are going to be eliminated. Regardless of who wins, no one is "robbed." It's not a case of a great singer losing to a "say what??!" These are the finals -- they...are...all...good. To varying degrees, yes, but All Good.
2) People tend to forget that this is a game show. Who "wins" is very nice, but ultimately it means little when it comes to the point all of them are there -- they want to have careers as singers. From Day One, there are agents, managers, and recording companies watching this show and having meetings about people who they want to keep an eye on. By the time we get to the final 10, plans are being put into motion about who to pursue. And at the final 3 -- all of them have already established the foundation for their career. They will all get agents, they will all get managers, their "The Voice" coaches will all support them and help, and they all likely will have meetings with recording companies.
That doesn't mean all with succeed. What comes next is up to many factors. But "winning" is so distant second to this. In fact, witness all the people eliminated during earlier years who came on the show this year to promote their new record. Witness people who didn't win American Idol who've gone on to terrific careers -- Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar. Katherine McPhee starred in a TV series.
All that said, of the three finalists this year, I do think that the winner, Danielle Bradberry, has the best chance for success. It's just that she has a remarkable voice, especially for something 16 (it's scary good), but she's in the country music field where there's a tradition of young singers (think LeeAnn Rhimes and Tanya Tucker), so there's a big space for her.
Oddly, I think the Swon Brothers have the second best chance for success. And again, it's because country music has a tradition of duos, and there don't tend to be a lot of them, so when a good one comes along, there's an opening. And country fans, more than most other pop genres, are phenomenally loyal. Singers don't have a 3-5 year shelf life, they can have 20-30 years.
The runner-up Michelle Chamuel is wildly talented, and perhaps the best performer on the show, and that gives her a boost for a career. I do think she has the biggest challenge of the finalists, because she fits in an odd niche, and that's a field that's more demanding. But -- because she clearly did build up a fan base, and because she is so talented and...perhaps mostly...it's clear that she had a strong relationship with her coach, Usher, who has credentials as a producer of young talent, I think he will be supporting and developing her. So, the fact that I think she has the biggest challenge doesn't mean I don't think she'll succeed. I think she has a solid chance.
(By the way, if you see a video of the announcement of the winner, watch Michelle Chamuel's reaction. You'd swear she won. She not only appears overjoyed for Danielle Bradberry, but even starts jumping around with her arms in the air. And then notice that she later goes over to Bradberry's mother and starts hugging her. Quite a class act all the way.)
And so, we wrap up another season of The Voice. I look forward to the next season -- except I don't look forward to Christina Aguilera returning and replacing Shakira. Shakira came across as joyful, charming, excited by most everything good, and wildly supportive of everyone. Ms. Aguilera seems...well, interested in Christina Aguilera.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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