Hey, hey, hey. It’s that time again, friends. Another “Voice” champion has been crowned! Jermaine Paul, it’s time for your close up.
That’s right. After four months of passive-aggressive bickering between Xtina and pretty much everyone else in the world, NBC’s savior wrapped its second season last night, and you — yes, you! — have subsequently turned here for the now-annual annoyingly snarky season-ending diatribe on “The Voice” we here at TV Without A TV just love providing. And by “you,” I mean “the two people who haven’t jumped ship on this blog yet,” of course.
And by “the two people who haven’t jumped ship on this blog yet,” I mean, “everyone — including the fine human being who gave this blog an award last month — has jumped ship on this blog,” of course.
Anyways, we will now press the rewind button to zoom in on something that might actually matter in the world of television. That’s right, friends. NBC matters again! Or, well, kind of.
OK. Not really.
Either way, here’s what I said all the way back on Feb. 7 about how important this season was going to be for both network and show …
“It will be interesting to see how this turns out. In fact, it might even be more intriguing than watching the somewhat inevitable demise ‘American Idol’ is going through this season, if only because ‘The Voice’ is almost brand-spankin’-new and watching a show rise like it did last year, only to falter almost immediately would be somewhat unprecedented. How sad it would be if Cee-Lo had to reunite Gnarls Barkley. Or if Carson Daly had to return to radio full-time. Or, well, if Blake Shelton had to go back to being a greeter at Wal-Mart. It could happen, though. If the show keeps traveling down this road of palpably forced gimmicks and awkwardly hostile dialogue, there isn’t anyone — or anything, for that matter — that will be able to save it.”
… And down that road it traveled.
As Greg Kot wrote Saturday on the Chicago Tribune‘s website, “American Idol” still managed to keep its stranglehold on the ratings war throughout this season. Granted, “The Voice” still carried the precious ages 18-47 demographic for most weeks, though the most important word in this sentence is, of course, most. As the season wound down, “Idol” actually nipped its biggest competitor in the place it hurts the most — that precious aforementioned ages 18-47 demo.
“It comes down to the audience’s emotional investment in the outcome,” Kot said. “‘The Voice’ is about established stars helping pro singers climb a rung in the music-industry ladder. Though “Idol” is becoming increasingly infested with power brokers and middle men (Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine, we’re looking at you), it still comes off as a show about fans voting for singers who appear to be a lot like them — in other words, their peers. … As the season winds down and the pretenders are eliminated, the allure of the out-of-nowhere ‘Idol’ contestants develops a momentum of its own. Americans like rooting for underdogs and unknowns, and ‘Idol’ has scratched that itch since the days of Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry. … As for ‘The Voice’ singers, there’s a reason many of them didn’t get their big break before — they’re just not good enough.”
And here I thought Christina Milian’s turn as the show’s Social Media Correspondent would be the one thing that finally pushed this show to the top of Television Ratings Mountain. Stupid me.
Actually, that climb to the top might have been a little more steep than we initially guessed. As it goes, with the exception of that prized aforementioned demographic, “The Voice” actually trailed “Idol” by about six million viewers on a weekly basis throughout this season. And while 11 million people is better than what NBC has grown accustomed to in recent years, it’s still not nearly as encouraging as the show needed it to be after the unexpected success the show enjoyed during its initial season.
The most telling thing from last night’s finale? No matter how hard NBC tried, this year’s champion-crowning episode simply didn’t feel like it was a big event. Last year, we got Stevie Nicks. This year, we got a not-nearly-as-important-as-he-once-was Justin Bieber and an odd Hall & Oates rendition of “Rich Girl” (and by the way, for the fit Xtina threw about her Mickey Mouse Club nemesis NOT using the B-word during his performance, did anyone else notice the irony of Daryl Hall never censoring himself when that word came around during the song’s hook? Classic).
One thing “American Idol” benefited from was the success of its early winners. Kelly Clarkson was, and still is, a bona-fide star. Clay Aiken got hot for a minute, Carrie Underwood has enjoyed a fantastically successful country music career since her time on the show and even Jordin Sparks had herself a hit or two after all was said and done. Javier Colon, on the other hand, was recently seen covering “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” at a dive bar near you.
Another problem? How about the judges …
“Try switching up the panel every season,” I said last year around this time. “Why not? If you are a show that makes its money off the notion of being innovative, ‘The Voice,’ then why not take it a step further and see what John Mayer, Robyn, Rev. Run and, well, Blake Shelton are up to in a few months? Besides, you really think Aguilera will stay out of rehab between now and the beginning of the next season, anyways?”
OK. OK. I admit that Xtina did indeed stay out of rehab, but even so — I don’t think it’s unfair to point out how much the bickering this season simply got tiresome. Ms. Aguilera’s tantrums have earned her more of a bratty reputation than the type of Simon Cowell-esque lovable villain that “Idol” relied on during its earlier years to generate interest. The judges have simply run their course. Sure, the show allowed Maroon 5 to matter again and it also even helped bring Cee-Lo into the public’s eye more than he’s probably ever been before (and no, “Crazy” did not catapult him into everyone’s conscious nearly as much as this show has). But the time has come to move them along now. The show needs a fresh set of faces to try and capitalize on its strong-but-not-strong-enough two-season stint.
All told, “The Voice” needs to do better if it wants to continue to exist. I’ve long had an eye on Jermaine Paul (from his coming out party on Alicia Keys’ “Unplugged” album and that on-fire rendition of “Diary,” I’ve been sure to check in with what he’s been up to every now and then), but he’s going to have to go out there and sell some records if this show has a shot at remaining a force over the next five years. Because if it doesn’t, Blake Shelton might just have to start mapping out that BINGO hall tour before Adam Levine can say “Pay Phone” five times fast.