A decade ago, FOX’s American Idol was the reality show that was deemed unbeatable in popularity. Any other format of singing competition, including the popular but eventually canceled continental counterpart of Canadian Idol, that followed was deemed “not the same”. However, in the past few years (specifically this one) it has become increasingly clear that one of these newer versions has now outshone Idol in terms of popularity: NBC’s The Voice has, without a doubt, made the former show a thing of the past.
American Idol‘s flame has been dying out for the past five years, with issues for the show becoming a problem following the departure of the judge viewers loved to hate but still clearly wanted around, Simon Cowell. Fellow judging panel member Paula Abdul had left at the end of season eight, but her bizarre antics and tendency to give criticism or praise that did not make much sense left fans not exactly sad to see her go. Following Cowell’s exit at the end of the show’s ninth season (which unfortunately still carries something of a legacy in regards to people deeming winner Lee Dewyze as the worst thing to ever come out of the series, a low-blow that the singer still has to deal with to this day) those interested in reality singing competitions began to wonder if they should look elsewhere for this type of entertainment. A year later, however, their question was answered in the form of a new talent show-type series: The Voice.
The Voice premiered on April 26, 2011, just a few weeks before the season finale of Idol’s 10th season. Dedicated followers of the show could not hide their disappointment with not just the new pair of judges, but also with the final group of contestants this installment ended up with. Panel members Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were thought to not find with the format in any way, particularly Tyler with his outlandish statements to contestants that usually included profanity and, similar to Abdul, things that made no sense seemingly just to cause a reaction. The dynamic of the three (Jackson remained until the end of the show’s 12th season) were very off and the entirety of it all seemed very forced and set on continuing simply to continue.
The fact that the judging panel has changed several times over the past 5 years, sometimes without warning prior to the last minute and even following the alleged confirmation of a previous season’s judge leaving, staying, or coming back after a hiatus is a big part of the reason why viewers began to shift over to The Voice. Although it is not to be said that The Voice has contained the same group of judges since the start, they certainly have not have a total of three individuals be part of only a single season before departing from the show for good (the aforementioned Tyler, as well as Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.)
The hit NBC show has, rather, remained mostly steady when it comes to who will be judging contestants and what their commitments to the future of the show are. Adam Levine and Blake Shelton have been on the panel ever since the very first season, and CeeLo Green was a part of the process for the first three seasons and then the fifth, before exiting the show for good. The year in which he quit The Voice was riddled with controversy for the singer, in regards to accusations that he drugged a woman with ecstasy and proceeded to initiate intercourse with her without her consent. A slew of tweets he uploaded during the investigation and its outcome did not help his cause, and clearly showed that he maintained his innocence and upset at the accusations, given the fact that he insinuated if someone was “really” raped they would remember the circumstance.
Christina Aguilera joined the panel at the beginning of the show as well, but left in season four to be replaced by Shakira (Green’s place was taken by Usher, who came back for season six following the aforementioned official departure of the singer. Both judges left to focus on their music career, and have reportedly not ruled out the possibility of returning.) She came back in season five and departed again for the next two seasons due to her pregnancy and maternal duties following it. She is currently back for the show’s eighth season, alongside Shelton and Levine, as well as newcomer Pharrell Williams. Although there has most certainly been change-ups in terms of the judging panel of The Voice, the difference between it and American Idol is that changes on The Voice are predetermined and are always accompanied by a legitimate reason for the switch-up. The only time that a judge stayed for one season and left without any real explanation as to why was Gwen Stefani in season seven, who replaced Shakira following her departure.
Although The Voice still has a long way to go in terms of reaching American Idol‘s level of legacy and infamy, it is clear that the show’s growing following is making the latter show a thing of the past in terms of current popularity. Indeed, current Idol fans are getting harder and harder to find overall. If nothing else, The Voice is most certainly beating Idol ratings and has been for some time now. Viewers can watch The Voice Mondays & Tuesdays at 8pm/7pm (central).
Opinion By Rebecca Grace
Photo by YayA Lee – Creativecommons Flickr License