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Voice of America: What The Voice’s Shocker Elimination Says About the Show and the Audience

Even if it didn't make you hate this country, Tuesday's vote showed that The Voice is not, after all, always just about the voice.

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In a controversy that will captivate the nation until the plumbing breaks down on another cruise ship, The Voice‘s Adam Levine responded Tuesday night to the voting-off of two of his team members by saying, into a live mic, “I hate this country.” Outrage erupted. Levine answered, first with a series of defensive tweets deflecting the comment as a joke, then with a statement to Us Weekly that he was speaking out of “frustration.” At any point, I expect to discover Congressional hearings are pending.

I assume he didn’t mean it. Which is to say, he probably totally meant it, in the hyperbolic way that people do when they say things like that. As in: you really mean, “Oh, it annoys me to be reminded that most people don’t share my tastes!” Or, “Grr, it is frustrating that my fellow citizens cannot perceive quality that is objectively plain to me! They are plainly not my kindred!”

In a way, this kind of disappointment feels a personal rejection–in the sense that our music, movies, and favorite TV shows are bound up in our identities and emotions. Think of how you felt the last way a TV show you absolutely loved was canceled, and then you read something about Honey Boo Boo’s ratings or Kim Kardashian’s salary.

That’s how I’m guessing Levine meant it–he meant it in the same way I mean it when I say, “People are idiots,” or “This country is full of morons,” or “God Almighty, I freaking hate people.” Which I do about a hundred times a week, and then immediately forget it. And when I do, I don’t literally mean that all people are moron idiots whom I hate. I mean everyone except you personally. You, I like!

In any case, I share his exasperation with the vote, or at least half of it. Sarah Simmons was a talented singer, but I didn’t expect her to make the finals in any case. But I’d thought Judith had a good shot to take it all. Simply as a pure singer–in power, control, and assurance–she just seemed to be in another league from the rest of the competition. (Even Michelle, who I like better as a performer.)

I can’t read America’s collective mind, but I have to wonder if that didn’t hurt Judith in a way: that she seemed to polished, too accomplished, too much of a professional already. There wasn’t the same rising-talent-from-out-of-nowhere arc; she just a great voice.

But there’s the thing: isn’t the great voice supposed to be the be-all and end-all of this competition, hence the name? Part of The Voice’s original hook, after all, was that it would be a singing competition in which people would be judged on how they sounded, not how they looked or how heart-tugging their backstory was, unlike certain reality shows whose names rhyme with Schmamerican Schmidol. Hence the “blind” chair rounds that begin each season.

Beyond a certain point, though, The Voice isn’t blind; it’s just a reality competition show. And all those other reality-TV factors–charisma, biography, personal attachment–do matter, as they do on Idol.

I do think that The Voice is different from Idol in ways that make it, at this point, the show I prefer to watch. It’s more fun, for starters. It encourages a greater range of styles. And its contestants and song choices are much more current, where Idol still favors nostalgia and diva/power-ballad standards.

And yet, as I think Judith’s exit showed, The Voice isn’t only about the voice, any more than American Idol is. When it comes time for the public to vote, all that reality-TV stuff still matters. And the voters are still America. Love it, or, um, not.

93 comments
jessie
jessie

Have you all forgotten Kevin Hunt from last year, that young man can really sing, when he song chills went all over my body. well two season of the Voice has taken it's toll on me emotionally and all, i can't do it again, after they let Judith, Amber, and Sasha go, i thought for sure Michelle would win, i am so disappointed..... the show has become country and western. C-lo's person should have won last year, Usher's person should have won this year.

jessie
jessie

i really knocked off of my feet when Michelle did not win, , she is awesome, i don't think i will give any more time to the voice, it has truly become all country and no other talent will beat that. i love Blake Shelton, but i got a bit tired of country. There truly was no one else on that show that should have beat Judith that girl can sing her but off.

adnilxa
adnilxa

And.......If you don't like my comment~ you can kiss my Liberal ass 

adnilxa
adnilxa

Ok ~ this is the first time I've ever watch the Voice, my understanding is you don't have to be an amature to be on it~Judith had every right to be on the show according to my understanding of the rules, What I have learned watching this show is that the winner is already chosen by NBC/Record Industry~Danielle was their pick from the beginning~she is a nice singer like millions of others that was over-hyped~She sang with no emotion, passion or energy but she's marketable and cute and rednecks buy into hype (ie Iraq war hype/ lower taxes on billionaires will help them )  They wants puppets with no artistry and they got one~I liked Judith, Sarah, Sasha and Michelle~  Michelle losing to Danielle made it quite clear the show is rigged~Michelle was the people's choice and Danielle was the Industries choice ~ no need for me to watch Hee Haw next year!

austinman1242
austinman1242

@adnilxa  racist much?  So according to your statement, all rednecks are billionaires?  (lower taxes on billionaires will help them)  Puppets with no artistry?  Believe it or not, even Shakira loves country songs now, and the reality is the nation is starting to like what it started from.. i.e. bluegrass and country is making a comeback in a huge way, not just in this country.. the reasons are simple.. people are tired of voice twisting and ear hurting trills and voice acrobatics.. They want a simple in pitch straight forward singing and that is what Danielle has provided.. I bet you were the first to yell that Norah Jones shouldn't have won all those grammy's the year she did, right?

mblovesmusic
mblovesmusic

So sorry to see Danielle Bradbury take the win,  I was voting for either the Swon Brothers or Michelle.  But I knew as soon as she came out in the Barbie gown that she was going to win.  Too bad.  She is a good singer the other finalists were much better. 

LorettaAnnieNug
LorettaAnnieNug

Who cares really!  He was upset because hands down the 2 cut were clear cut in many minds to go to the finals.  Then they get cut.  Whatever, bunch of dookie

LorettaAnnieNug
LorettaAnnieNug

The song Judith song was weak and not one to catch America's votes.  That by itself  brought her doom. Sarah's song choice she got was not good and just cause Adam can't have power, his team should of picked a song for her to show off her vocal power.  Michelle gets better and better and I hope she takes it.  I'm sick of hearing the brothers.  Once Michelle gets cut I have no interest in it anymore

jgaylerobins
jgaylerobins

Funny how this week each singer picked a country song to sing.  Just because you are not a country fan don't put down those who are. Judith should not have been on the show.  She was already a professional singer.  I loved Sarah but she had a crappy song to sing.  No one to blame but the coach.  He is my favorite but he didn't do a good job of picking the music they sang.  Sarah was my choice to win a couple of weeks ago but even I didn't like her song and the music was too loud to hear her right.  


noofish86
noofish86

I think people are overthinking why Sarah & Judith were eliminated. It boils down to song choice. "Somebody I Used to Know" is WAY over played/performed. It quickly went from one of my favorite songs currently to one I try to run from when I hear it because it's grossly overplayed. The moment Judith Hill in her intro package proudly said "I'm doing HASHTAG..." with dramatic jazz hands "I've Got That Power" I flinched. Pretty sure most of the country did too. Hashtags belong on twitter, no where else. That song is quickly making the rounds and landing on the overplayed list. We want to hear songs that don't make us cringe. That's how you get votes.

hotandbothered
hotandbothered

The ONE thing I have learned from all the shows that have audience participation/voting is that who you really want to win is rigged against you. The show plays you, makes you hope and pray that your 'boy' or 'girl' will win when they have already decided long ago who would win the prize. I just don't understand why most folks don't understand how they are being manipulated this way...

jenny5555
jenny5555

I don't watch The Voice, or Idol, etc etc, but I read everything you write, James, just cuz. And you made me laugh out loud - "“People are idiots,” or “This country is full of morons,” or “God Almighty, I freaking hate people.” Which I do about a hundred times a week, and then immediately forget it."

Jeez, do we all do this? Hah.  Nice to know I'm not the only one. That was very funny in a George Carlin kinda way (and i mean that as a high compliment).



NellaTravers
NellaTravers

He didn't mean it and people always make a big deal about everything. 

bekah
bekah

Who cares if Adam said "I hate this country" honestly people make a big deal out of nothing he obviously didn't mean it in that context.  And honestly, I lost faith in "America's" voting capabilities a long time ago, the fact that they sent home judith hill before the Swon brother or holly & amber just proves that.  The swoon brothers are sloppy performers, and holly is just plain boring, so is amber. All of these country singers have zero artistry just good voices.  Danielle Bradbury for example is probably the most arrogant person on the show, she reminds me of those mean cheerleader girls in high school.  The judges keep pumping up her head talking about how good she is when she needs so much improvement like pitch and stage presence for starters.  And the songs she sings are always weird like either she's singing about whiskey, babies, and driving cross-country, or she's doing some hokey pokey, backwoods tune about her grandpa (whom she never met!). Like am I supposed to feel sorry that you "lost someone" that you never even knew in the first place.  You can already tell she's privileged when something like that is supposed to be you sob story, ugh.

hotandbothered
hotandbothered

@bekah I'm an American, born and bred. I can 'hate' anything I want to about my country. I can hate how politicians have turned into clowns and big jokes who don't care about what the public wants and votes because they are owned by corporations. I can hate how the rich get away with things the average Jane or Joe would be thrown into jail for. I can 'hate' anything I damned well like BECAUSE I love my country and want it to be better than it is and if I - or someone else - don't stand stand up and complain about what's wrong then NOTHING will change!!

LukeTia
LukeTia

" she just a great voice."

dsmith8605
dsmith8605

Judith is a great singer but way too old fashioned. She got voted off because she made a current hit sound like it was made in the 70s. She was my least favorite to make it to the live shows.

mq30's
mq30's

She is a total talent to watch. Are you sure you were watching the same show as everyone else?  

dsmith8605
dsmith8605

I wasn't in the minority on my opinion. she didn't get many iTunes downloads.

drewwhitcomb
drewwhitcomb

Truthfully, I stopped watching after my sister got eliminated prior to live rounds. I would just tell everyone to remember that the producers are trying to make the best TV show they can, not crown the best singer as champion. That said, I'm actually really surprised that the producers let Judith get voted off. They set her up from the beginning as a contender. She was the very first artist shown this season and got a lot of screen time.

On28acres
On28acres

I'm not so sure what was so shocking.  Although both Judith and Sarah were among the best singers, they made the poorest song choices by far that night and it cost them both dearly.  It's not the time to take risks.

Elle-s
Elle-s

Judith Hill had a good voice but she was boring to watch. She reminded me of a cruise ship performer entertaining but lacking character and that unique charm that would make them great. 

jake.bellows123
jake.bellows123

@Elle-s Exactly!! Perfect way to describe it. Judith has a nice voice but never captivated me!

mq30's
mq30's like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Elle-s Nothing about Judith says "cruise ship performer". You may not like her singing personally but she is really fun to watch. We have enough "pop tart singers" in the music world.

PatriciaMMorris
PatriciaMMorris

I have watched every season of this show, I dislike the fact that at the end the voting goes to the public.  The public does not vote for talent, they vote on likes and dislikes.  Just look at American Idol, how many of those winners gone on to sell out albums or concerts, um very few if any at all.  I mean everyone is slamming Judith Hill, Sarah, and Amber, what about the rest.  Really Michelle, she is awkward so they trend her, the fact that Usher said " how many people tweeted and posted pictures with glasses, she doesn't have the talent to go all the way.  Holly and Sarah do too much screaming and very little singing, I want to be able to hear and understand the words in a song not yelling.  Judith Hill did ride the MJ train too much, I liked her but get off the soap box and perform woman.  Blake Shelton will probably have one of his win again this season cuz he will ride the Oklahoma disaster as long as he can, using to et the popular vote not the talent,  bleeding hearts. that's why Cassidie Pope won last season, the boohoo I had no daddy growing up. Really, how many people in America and around the world are from single parent homes and still make something of themselves without whining about it. 

andrejkur
andrejkur like.author.displayName 1 Like

@PatriciaMMorris "..at the end the voting goes to the public.  The public does not vote for talent, they vote on likes and dislikes.  Just look at American Idol, how many of those winners gone on to sell out albums or concerts, um very few if any at all"

There is contradiction in the above statements. In order to be able to sell albums and concert tickets, the winners must have the favor of the public, who ultimately spend the money. In another words if public vote a contestant to be the winner, there is a chance for the winner to be able successful financially. But in American Idol voting system, public can vote unlimited. Their votes don't reflect the amount of voters. Whereas in The Voice, starting in Season 3, iTunes download sales are counted as votes in addition to the limited votes by individual voter. The voting result in The Voice is more accurate for predicting the success of the winner in the music industry.

About "sob-stories". It seems it's very common in these reality TV shows, contestants are supposed to come up with that kind of "drama", unfortunately. To be honest, it's not only Cassadee Pope did that.

Let's get to the core of the record of success, in terms of being able to sell the music they perform in the competition. So far, the only measurable way to know about that we have to look at the iTunes rankings.

We have the complete record of iTunes rankings of the winner of last season (Season 3): Cassadee Pope. Starting in Top 10, her "Over You" song was #1, then in Top 8: "Are You Happy Now?" #2, in Top 6: "Stand" #3 + "I'm With You" #7, in Top 4: "Stupid Boy" #1, in Final Top 3: "Cry" #1.

Cassadee Pope is going to release her debut single "Wasting All These Tears" on June 4 and to perform it live on The Voice. Let's see what iTunes ranking her song will be. 

For a healthy discussion in this blog, it is really preferable to opine based on facts rather on personal feeling or subjective observation.



KatieDew10
KatieDew10

He didn't respond to the voting off of two of his contestants. He responded to the SAVING of ONE of his contestants. He made the comment when America Saved Amber--his singer. Not after Judith and Sarah were sent home. There was still the very likely possiblity that he would only lose one of the them--which would have been really reasonable if one of Team Blake and one of Team Adam went home. He didn't like his own contestant. That's why he sucks.

Razor_Ramon
Razor_Ramon

It takes more than just vocal talent to be an "artist" in mainstream music. There's a reason why Judith hasn't made it considering she was singing with MJ. Plus her diva and arrogant attitude didn't help. She was good but I've heard more talented singers and more charismatic singers.

mq30's
mq30's like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Razor_Ramon Judith said nothing about MJ & has an amazing personality. That is just your ideal of her. Name some current singers better that Judy by the way....

jistbeachy
jistbeachy

I think the whole thing is rigged.  Judith Hill is incredible!   3 of the 6 contestants that won, were the 3 I would have eliminated (Michelle, Swon Bro's And Sasha)  I think The Voice is trying to teach society a lesson in in morality and compassion, because Michelle's voice, although not bad , does not in any way compare to Judith Hill or Sarah Simmons.  The Swon Bro's are pretty good,  Sasha...well I'm not so fond of her.  I think she sounds like she is in a broadway musical, too theatrical for my taste (be real girl).  I'm not watching anymore, so disappointed!  TOOO Many Commercials Anyway!!

SJohnstun
SJohnstun like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I love watching these singing show and love to see how the contestants grow.  Judith was good from the get go and has coasted the whole way.  I have not seen an improvement from her and was tired of her.  all of the others have made growth.  Sarah is a rocker and did pretty well, reminds me a little of Janice Joplin and is akin to Heart.  Rockers never win these things.  After watching Monday I hoped Judith would go but did not expect it.  I thought the other leaving would be either of Team Sheltons Swon Bros or Holly..  I love how passionate the coaches are and how they teach and work with their singers, never was a fan of Usher but have come to appreciate him and how he is not afraid to try different things to try to reach his singers.  For a coach it should be about coaching and making them the best, winning is secondary.  America knows who they like, Judith was not very likable and that is why she went.

gentlejim
gentlejim like.author.displayName 1 Like

@SJohnstun Of course Judith was not likable.She happens to be black

AndreiB
AndreiB like.author.displayName 1 Like

@gentlejim @SJohnstun Remember Jermaine Paul? How about Javier Colon? Both likebla, and guess what, they won the whole thing!

sportsgal00
sportsgal00 like.author.displayName 1 Like

To all those claiming Judith Hill should not have been on the show because she is a professional singer, let's not forget a previous winner of The Voice - Javier Colon. He was also a professional singer who had a previous record deal and released at least one album prior to auditioning for and winning The Voice. #TeamAdam

Almazza1
Almazza1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

No Judith?...im not watching...she is they only singer I look forward to each week because she is not "affected" as they say in the music industry.. I hope to see her as a pop female artist on a label very soon!

nanj1313
nanj1313 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I cannot believe Judith is off the Voice!!!  I have to put some of the blame on her coach who should have been giving her R&B/Soul tunes instead of power ballads! She has an AWESOME voice and I am so pissed that I won't get to hear it any more.  I still feel the duet Judith performed with Karina was by far the best performance of this season!!!

mushymiddle
mushymiddle

I think Adam forgot about the show's concept. I'm sure Cher could win too, but is that the purpose? To put professionals against newbies? The people got it right. Judith should not have been allowed on in the first place

hotandbothered
hotandbothered

@mushymiddle If other people have had semi-professional careers before getting on the show then STFU. You can't let some get the gravy and not the others. They should not let ANY people who've EVER had a music contract on the show. That way it would all be amateurs vying for the win.

tbutler
tbutler

I don't think it was merely backstory that ended Judith's run. Judith did have a powerful voice, but one question I always ask myself when voting for Voice contestants is whether I can see a given artist producing an album I would consider buying, whether I can imagine the artist playing on the radio, etc. I can see that with Michelle. I can see that with Amber. I really though Judith fit Broadway better than the recording industry -- which isn't an argument against the quality of her voice, but rather her fit stylistically. I also though her performance this past week was the worst performance of the night. Sarah's was the second worst, which I was sad about, because Sarah had been one of my early favorites.