Monday’s episode of The Voice demonstrated why the highly popular show has yet to launch one of its contestants in five previous seasons into the superstar strata some winners (and non-winners) from American Idol have attained. A prank illustrated that is because the stars being feted and featured on The Voice are the judges, not the singers.
The brawling bromance between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (the Rocker coach versus the Country coach) took attention away last night from some great performances by the wanna-be stars vying for attention on the live television (at least in Eastern and Central time). Shelton hit a low by most standards of rivalry/would-be friendship by tweeting Levine’s cell phone number to his followers. This was not a quick blip in the show. It took up several minutes of airtime. At first Shelton playfully threatened, then Levine kind of goaded him into it by insisting it was not going to happen. When host Carson Daly agreed that it would not happen because “that’s crossing a line,” Shelton proudly held up his phone to proclaim that he actually did the dirty deed.
Levine seemed mad, barking that it was “not cool.” Shakira and Usher (the Pop/Latina/token Chick coach and the R&B coach) looked from one to the other with expressions that said “we may sit in the middle, but we are not getting in the middle.” Levine answered his exploding phone and confirmed it was someone who got the tweet. Later in the show, footage showed Shelton answering Levine’s phone in staged penitence
In between Shelton’s and Levine’s posturing and preening, there were some great performances from Christina Grimmie, Delvin Choice, Sisaundra Lewis and others. They were dynamic, polished and deserved their moments to shine without the boys battle surrounding them. But, the prank took away from their evening and illustrates that the true stars are on The Voice are not the ones pouring in out onstage as singer.
Maybe one reason The Voice has not launched a new star is that it is too busy boosting the careers of its chair occupants. On American Idol and other singing competitions, the judges’ careers are not always hot or even based on singing. You also do not get to see them regularly strut their stuff (or voices) coaching others or singing with them.
The Voice has largely boosting the coaches’ brands. Maroon 5 and its lead singer, Adam Levine, were successful before the show launched, but nowhere near the level of sales or People magazine covers as now. Blake Shelton’s records sold okay before being cast as a coach, now they top the country charts. Shakira and Usher have replaced Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green for two of the seasons. Green and Usher have maintained an even keel, but Aguilera levied her time on The Voice to relaunch her career, partly with some duets (including Moves Like Jagger with Maroon 5). Shakira has used it to appeal to a broader demographic and highlight herself as a person rather than someone whose Hips Don’t Lie or stop moving.
Hopefully, the overgrown frat boys will tone it down in future shows and let their mentees shine. However, the odds are that the one over-the-top tweet stunt will spawn a revenge one (and a new cell phone number). But, one would hope a show called The Voice would illustrate the singers’ talent not the pranks of the stars coaching them.
Opinion by Dyanne Weiss