Is it “all about The Voice”?

April 15, 2012 1:37 pm

In recent weeks, the TV viewing public have become transfixed by the ‘battle’ between Simon Cowell-helmed ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ on ITV1 (now in its sixth year), and sparkling new format ‘The Voice UK’ on BBC1. Each week, the national press have managed to create an endless stream of stories about the ongoing ‘battle’ between the two broadcasters in their desperate attempts to be crowned the home of Saturday-night television. Whether it be Simon Cowell adopting a ‘nice guy’ attitude towards potential applicants on his show, or Tom Jones making another dig about how judges on shows in the Cowell empire aren’t qualified to judge, we’ve had our fair share of news stories about this ‘battle’. However, I think it’s fair to say we all think Amanda Holden went a bit far when she tried to persuade viewers to tune into Britain’s Got Talent because of her belief that Tom Jones may be dead by the end of ‘The Voice’ series as he was so old. Holden truly redefined ‘low blow’ when she whipped that clanger out the bag.

The whole debate is centered around the supposed fundamental differences between the two shows. BBC 1’s ‘The Voice’ is apparently a revolutionary format in the sense that it takes into consideration only the voice of the contestant and nothing else. Apparently, this makes it far easier for the less aesthetically pleasing singers of the UK to audition; they’re not being judged on their looks, but purely on their vocal talent. Indeed, co-host Reggie Yates exclaimed in a recent interview that the show didn’t encourage sob stories and was far more credible because of this. Unfortunately for Reggie, the first episode alone involved the story of a woman who had lost all of her hair and the singer who was singing a song about self-empowerment to her Mother as her Mother felt she was fat; an emotional roller-coaster if ever there was one.

The only reason I write this is that the media, and the creators of the respective shows hold a belief that these shows are fundamentally different and diametrically opposed; this is simply untrue. Do not get me wrong, dear readers, I adore Saturday evening television at its best. I adore BGT, and I am loving ‘The Voice UK’ – it’s really gripping television, and the fresh format of the way in which musicians are picked is fantastic. Let’s just not say that they are ideologically opposite as such a statement would be fundamentally untrue.Sadly, the proposition by the creators and ‘coaches’ of The Voice UK, that nothing matters apart from the quality of someones’ vocal ability is simply untrue in our current musical climate. The Top 40 charts are full to the brim of attractive musicians. Rihanna, Alexandra Burke, Chris Brown and JLS are all examples of musicians who regularly flaunt their attractiveness to sell records. Their music videos are full of sexual imagery and they often strip to revealing clothing in their marketing campaigns. I’m not for one moment saying that there is anything wrong with musicians using this in their work; it’s a standard element of being able to sell music to the masses. But it goes against the view that all that matters is the vocal ability.

If we take one look at the coaching panel on The Voice UK, or the artists currently sitting comfortably in the UK Top 20, is there anyone who you would label as truly unattractive? Most probably not, because in order for them to given their record deals, they would have had to have been seen as marketable by the A&R at the record company they are signed to. Sadly, this leads to a situation that is very much at odds with the very fundamental belief held by ‘The Voice UK’; that the voice is all that really matters. Funnily enough, a show that is supposed to find people that are there only for their vocal ability has thrown up some rather attractive contestants. What would happen if someone unbelievably attractive won the contest? The apparent differences between the two shows are suddenly beginning to blur.

%d bloggers like this: