After last night, The Voice is officially on it’s way to the Top 6 and quickly falling into the all-too-familiar pattern of last season. With the shocking elimination of Team Adam’s Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill – both of whom my colleague Adam Carlson and I had pegged for the final four – America has once again sided with Team Blake. Deja vu, anyone?
Here’s how the pattern played out last season: Adam’s powerhouse vocalist, Amanda Brown, peaked too early, and instead, America became infatuated with the everyday listenings of Team Blake’s rocker-turned-country-artist Cassadee Pope, who would go on to win the entire show. That’s not to say that Pope wasn’t talented, but with the choice of 1) a Team Blake artist and 2) Pope’s rock-country, we’ve-heard-it-before radio voice (as opposed to someone like CeeLo’s Nicholas David), the feel of The Voice shifted.
A year later, we find ourselves in a similar position with America choosing all three of Blake’s country acts (some more talented than others) over two of Adam’s three powerhouse vocalists. So with three of the top six singers being country artists at this point in season 4, the country influence seems to have grown from last season, so much so that the show could be well on its way to becoming The Country Voice.
What brought about this pattern, which really only began during season 3? In my opinion, all signs point to the addition of using iTunes to vote for singers. iTunes added an advantage for never-before-heard songs (aka a lot of country), because audiences are much more likely to buy a song that’s brand new to them rather than add yet another cover of a song they already have two versions of on their iPod (the original version and the Glee version, obviously). Also, if audiences haven’t heard the original, they’re much less harsh in their judgment of the contestant’s version.
The prominent role of iTunes – which can usually be used to predict elimination outcomes – also points to The Voice’s core audience. My parents aren’t exactly jumping on their computer to update their iPod after every episode. We’re looking at young people who love to pull for the younger contestants and who seem to have fallen in love with both Blake as a coach and country music as a whole. First up, Blake’s charming, he’s funny, and he loves his contestants. So does having Blake as a coach give contestants an immediate advantage? It’s possible. Does singing country give contestants an immediate advantage? It’s also possible. Blake always mentions how very loyal country music fans are. And perhaps the fact that there aren’t any high-profile country music singing competitions has brought people to The Voice. After all, who’s a better face for country music than the handsome Blake Shelton?
More importantly, if this pattern becomes routine, it could easily be the downfall of the show. If each year, America becomes infatuated with Blake and his country roots, therefore siding with his talented country artists over some of the most original voices in the competition – much like this season’s Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill – the show could be at risk of becoming predictable, which is the kiss of death for any reality show (or any show, really). Is Danielle Bradbery not this year’s Cassadee Pope?
Will you keep watching if Blake wins yet again with yet another country artist? Do you agree that Blake being so lovable plays into how successful his contestants are (all talent aside)? Is The Voice becoming a country music competition?