Will ‘The Voice’ Sink Without Producing A Star?

The Voice makes me so sad; that’s one of the main reasons I resisted writing about this latest season.

Sure, I recently talked about the possibility that certain Voice results might be fixed. I’ve also mentioned that the show cared more about product placement than developing the careers of dozens of truly talented individuals.

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It seems at about the same time I declared my intention to stop watching, so did a host of other people. According to Deadline and TV By The Numbers, ratings for The Voice just hit a series low. It’s worth noting that Cinema Blend first raised the alarms about ratings “quietly tumbling” almost a year ago.

As I explained in another article, any combination of reasons could be to blame for the ratings drop. One particular reason stood out above all others: The Voice has yet to produce a single, internationally recognized star.

The average American likely has no idea who’s won any past season, or they’ve since forgotten. Voice winner Jordan Smith, who dominated Season 9, is attempting to break the “curse.” According to Music Times, his first album debuted at No. 2 (behind The Voice coach Gwen Stefani) on the U.S. charts.

Another bonus is that Smith sang the theme for this year’s Summer Olympics.

The significance of this is that the Olympics are broadcast by NBC, the network behind The Voice.

Also, Jordan’s album features such stars as Rihanna, Josh Groban, and Billy Joel. It seems that out of all Voice winners, Jordan Smith is the one that has had the greatest post-Voice appearance push. It could be that because Smith’s so talented, even NBC recognizes ignoring him and moving on would be a tragic waste.

Or, perhaps, it could be that Jordan Smith represents the last gasp of legitimacy for a show on the verge of becoming a laughing-stock.

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Simon Cowell’s attempt to bring the UK’s X-Factor to the United States (as a rival to indirect spinoff American Idol) proved disastrous. The singing competition’s ratings floundered and after three seasons, the show was canceled. And yet despite awful ratings, it still managed to produce the now world-famous girl group Fifth Harmony.

If a failed singing competition on a rival network could manage to create just one world-famous product in about three seasons, why hasn’t The Voice done the same?

Jordan Smith has yet to reach the level of popularity that even American Idol gifted many singers before it went off the rails. Still he could do it if given the right chances. For the sake of The Voice, it seems the network is doing all it can to make him happen.

Interestingly, the visible effort to make him a singing sensation at this stage of the show’s history indicates just how bad things probably are.

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Think about it.

The Voice endured criticism from its earliest seasons about its lack of focus on promoting winners or finalists. The show stuck to that format and philosophy anyway. So many chances to launch promising careers were unapologetically wasted as a result.

Despite being the ninth champion of The Voice, Jordan received the kind of push and attention that no champion before him enjoyed. Was Jordan’s talent so undeniable, NBC was moved to make him a star? I doubt it.

Smith is probably benefiting from the fact that The Voice has suffered a ratings drop thanks to its blatant lack of interest in the singers it parades across its stage.

Rumors persist that The Voice producers go out of their way to track down talents who were already semi-established. That’s evidenced by certain Voice contestants having a relatively sizeable Twitter or YouTube following before appearing in a “blind” audition.

The Voice could even be struggling to land talented, internet famous singers as word of its iron-clad contracts spreads. Word-of-mouth could keep truly talented individuals from trying out.

That would, unfortunately, leave The Voice with a host of mediocre singers that are so uninteresting to watch, not even the “sob story” angle will get American audience members to tune in.

The Voice hopes to shake things up by introducing not one, but two judges next season. Should we see the departure of Adam and Blake within a couple of seasons (which feels highly likely at this point), consider it the overt beginning of the end.

Still, bringing in Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys might allow for a new combination of talent that hit the right note with viewers. If so, The Voice may be able to bounce back.

Jordan Smith’s career might also catch fire via his Olympic theme, and The Voice could then have its first true star.

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That’s me being an optimist. I fear that The Voice will simply be used to help Alicia and Miley promote new music, and the new Voice participants will feature mediocre and uninteresting people.

Should that be the case, we may see The Voice go down in history as a cringe-worthy example of what happens when a show fails to deliver on its promise while throwing its very contestants under the bus for ratings and advertising dollars.

[Image via NBC/YouTube screen grab]