Reality TV Finds Its Voice

First, a few key facts:

  1. The juggernaut that is the reality TV sensation The Voice, has returned for a second season.
  2. Cowboy judge Keith Urban has been replaced by hip-handling Ricky Martin who uses his Latin charm as a nuclear weapon to win over spellbound contestants.
  3. Logie winner Joel Madden’s engaging rock star personality hasn’t faded even if it is the same rotten toothpick he’s chewing on from last season.
  4. Seal is still taking things a little too seriously as if he’s engaging in open-heart surgery.
  5. As for Delta, she’s still under the impression that she’s sitting on top of the world as she spins around in her big chair, pretending she’s Princess of the Nile.

However, as far as the show’s development goes, there has definitely been a dynamic shift. I don’t watch The Voice religiously – it’s actually my dad who I’ve found watching post-performance clips on Youtube – but I’ve noticed that the show and it’s coaches have become more flexible with structure. With experience, the judges have become faster, more confident and more competitive. In turn, the show has refined the game, hitting the mark harder and sharpening its “TV moments” to achieve emotional accuracy. For example, on Tuesday 9th of April, 18-year-old Harrison Craig – who stutters when he speaks but soars when he sings – forced even the most cynical viewers to tears.

So far this season, as expected, the judges occupy centre stage with even more force. That may change, but for the moment, most of us are more interested in Seal’s nail varnish than any vocal prowess. Scorn at my tasteless TV interests if you will, but from a marketing perspective, and from the perspective of someone sans cable, you’d be surprised at how much reality TV has revitalised networks. It has successfully stimulated that water-cooler buzz again and offered a different brand of television.

Sometimes it can be unpredictable, but more than anything, it offers a change – rather than seeing scripted shows with stagnant characters – The Voice gives fresh, spontaneous content to viewers. Reality shows don’t just reach tens of millions of viewers but they also leave them feeling part of a communal experience.

Sometimes they lay it on a bit thick, and yes the majority of finalists are usually either single mums or guys who lost their dads at age 9. I acknowledge how pre-packaged the whole thing is and I’m very aware that no reality show can match the layers of well-constructed fiction seen in shows such as Breaking Bad and The OC.  But on a sheer ratings level, The Voice has worked regenerated the Nine Network and put reality TV back on the pop-culture map after losing battles to cable TV for years.

I’m not defending the indefensible – but I will defend The Voice. You can’t help but pay attention as the judges fiddle around – it’s entertainment in itself just watching their thrones rotate when they hit their buzzers. Ricky Martin’s buttery Puerto Rican accent also adds to the whole experience…

What works best with The Voice is that the show is all about positivity. There are no montages of shitty singers being mocked by dickhead judges and the show doesn’t dwell excessively on contestants who have overcome great obstacles in order to realise their dreams…which is ironic because the winners will only ever be regarded as temporary pseudo-celebrities. Their promised prize of eternal glory is a delusion. They’ll release one album, it’ll experience some mild success and then the fans will move on. Luckily for the Nine Network, by that stage, the new season will be ready to roll. It’s the circle of TV-life.

The Voice is bound to get tiring three or more times per week, but I definitely suggest you tune in and check out what’s going on – who knows, the show might hit your high notes.