I’ve never been in to reality shows, talent contests or otherwise, so this is a bit new, but it’s true. I’m geeking out about this season of The Voice. I started watching because Gwen Stefani joined the show as a celebrity coach. Like lots of girls around my age, I came to love her in the 90’s and still believe her to be all that is awesome.
So, Gwen got me to tune in, but here’s what keeps me coming back for more.
- Their experience versus their talent versus their artistry. The contestants’ journey for this balance is at the heart of the show. We see who’s at home on the stage, at home in their own skin, and who’s really talented, but still trying to find their way as an artist. Usually, the difference between someone who has been at their craft for ten years versus two is pretty obvious. Only in a rare, truly exceptional person/talent are the years of experience not a factor in the quality of their performance. This is such a testament to working at a craft and being committed to growth and professionalism for the long haul.
- Their guts. The contestants stand in front of four superstars and millions of viewers and do the best they can with whatever training and instincts they have. They do this for a chance to learn and gain exposure, to get better. By standing up there, they are saying, “I have potential. I want to learn. I will work. I am worth your time. I deserve a chance.” I so admire them for being more driven than scared, for believing in their talent, believing they are worth their gifts, and that their art is worth their effort.
- Their voices. It’s amazing how different a song (the same song) can sound coming through one human versus another. It’s a testament to the beauty of our differences and to the unique gifts we are given. It’s interesting to watch the way the artists learn and use their own voices. What they can and can’t do, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what sort of songs suits them, challenge them, and what just won’t work for them at all. It’s also cool to see they can’t authentically sound quite like anyone else. The best performances are the ones they make their own, not the ones where they try to mimic a current superstar.
- The stories. Who doesn’t love a great story? The producers understand viewers need to care about the contestants, so they expertly present us with brief, emotionally highlighted backstories to give us a context around the contestants’ lives. We meet the artist (and often their families), learn how they came to their craft, and get a look at what their struggles have been. Knowing them a little allows us to more fully appreciate their performance and the results as part of our viewing experience.
- The families. After the intro, we get glimpses of the contestants’ supporters, their deep breaths and nervous smiles and their shifting proud, pained, anxious, hopeful, ecstatic expressions during the performances and judging. It’s a powerful reminder of how much the people who love us are impacted by what happens to us, how much they want what we want, and dance when we dance, and hurt when we hurt. We shouldn’t take these people for granted, ever.
- The progress. The shaky hands and faltering expressions of the early rounds are fading away, or at least better concealed. The contestants are listening to their coaches, improving, getting a feel for how good they really are, and how good they can be. Viewers get a peek at this journey-in-progress. We see who’s ready and who’s not quite. We see the gut-kick that is falling short and we know, because it’s easier to see when it’s someone else, the experience is the real success and what they do next is the most important thing. For the contestants who move on, the validation and elation that is a success, and we see it is worth all the effort and struggle one faces to get there.
- The coaching. The coaching interactions we see are all incredibly professional. Those willing to teach and mentor are invaluable to their art, as are those willing to learn and work. We see through the coaching sessions a good mentor/mentee relationship can yield mutual inspiration. The student grows. The teacher can be energized, inspired, and sometimes (often) learning as well. The best creative collaborations can have the look and feel of magic.
- The coaches. I am blown away by their generous, kind, encouraging spirits. All four are superstars in their own right. They are entertainers and professionals, of course, but they come across as truly open, inspired, humbled, and excited by the talent in front of them. This reaffirms my belief the very best artists out there have, at their cores, a spirit that thrives on creating, on adding something of value to the realm of their craft. They seek what is unique, genuine, and inspiring. You can see this in the way they are moved by some of the performances. Their assessments of the contestants’ raw talent. How excited they get by progress. When they discuss the intricacies of their craft. When they pass on someone and offer professional, encouraging feedback. How they recognize what can be influenced / fixed by someone else (i.e., a coach) versus what an artist must work out for themselves.
- The prep and performances. There is much planning and preparation involved, especially for these young, somewhat inexperienced performers. The performances are mapped out, often down to the note, along with the exact position on the stage where the artist should be when the note is delivered. Then it’s rehearse, adjust as needed, repeat. They do not just show up and sing. Strong performances are the result of artistry and work.
- The show is a well-spring of inspiration, entertainment, and fun. We get to watch an interesting creative process and the effort that goes into developing raw talent. Perfection isn’t required. A base level of talent is, then it’s mostly a willingness to learn and work. Most among us can learn and work. That’s inspiring.
Anyone else enjoying this season of The Voice? Or do you think I’m way off on my assessment of the positives? Please, share! I welcome your mutual enthusiasm or disagreements. My husband tries to pretend to care with me. He tries really hard, but I know he’s not into it quite as much as I am, so it’s not the same.
Image Credit: Microphone https://flic.kr/p/9XZhS1 by TOM81115 –> License link https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/