‘The Voice’ Promises A ‘New Era’ — By Promoting The Old One

Ah, The Voice. No reality TV singing competition brings out my inner Ian Malcolm quite like this NBC program. We’re a little over a month away from The Voice’s 11th season, and here’s the part where I remind you that The Voice first aired in 2011.

Ten seasons later and we’ve been promised a “new era.” Translation: “Ratings have dipped a little, and we need to change things up…lest we go the way of American Idol.”

NBC even dropped a quick little promo for the upcoming season:

Ordinarily, I’d applaud The Voice for recognizing the need to stay fresh and maintain viewer interest and participation. Except that’s not what happened in this promo. Sure it’s a teaser, but it also suggests to me that we’re not getting a “new era” in Season 11.

Instead, The Voice likely intends to pass off the old one in a shiny new wrapper and hope viewers don’t notice.

We already know who our new Voice judges are. Us Weekly and Variety reported in March that Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus would be replacing Pharrell Williams and Christina Aguilera (and Gwen Stefani). Yet both women are notably absent from the Voice teaser.

We’re instead left with Adam Levine and Blake Shelton giving us their best “Men In Black” impressions, which are admittedly adorable. The clip doesn’t offer much of a glimpse of this allegedly marvelous new age. That is unless you count stylish boots and a high-five.

No, what we get an entire minute or so of the old era — and in more ways than one.

Image via 'The Voice'

The absence of Miley and Alicia from this promo is telling. We’re several weeks away from a show with changes we’ve known about for months. Why are the stars of the “new” Voice era absent from a promo about said era?

More importantly, why does The Voice continue to go out of its way to promote the fame and careers of already famous people rather than bothering to care about the little-known singers? Suffice it to say, The Voice has already crushed any legitimacy as to its ability or willingness to launch careers at this point.

For instance, the once promising career of Jordan Smith seems to have stagnated — and that’s despite singing the theme for the ongoing Summer Olympics. Unless hearing his song invites mass curiosity over the next few weeks, I’m afraid Smith will be just the latest Voice hopeful to be utterly forgotten by the viewing public.

Yes, I know The Voice’s Season 10 winner was Alison Porter. I also know that in a year, barring an act of God, the average person will answer, “Who?” when her name is brought up in conversation.

That is the legacy of the “old era” of The Voice.

Given the fact that promos continue to emphasize people who already famous, I’ll tell you what you can expect from The Voice going forward:

  1. Sob stories from individuals who hope you’ll feel sorry enough for them to vote every week.
  2. Product placement. Lots and lots of product placement.
  3. At least one of the judges will have new music to promote. Shocker!
  4. Fantastic performances that ultimately mean nothing because who’ll care in six months?

We’ll probably lose Miley and Alicia at some point, but if they get a chance to sell music thanks to direct access to millions of Voice fans, I doubt they’ll count it as a loss. Meanwhile, Voice producers will continue their grand experiment of throwing ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks.

I can only imagine what they have in store for us during Season 11 of The Voice, and I really don’t want to. Inner Ian Malcolm: Activated.

[Image via The Voice Official Website]