The Voice’s cast and crew pride themselves on being the “positive” show, free of meanie Simon Cowell and overflowing with love and supporting for rising hopefuls. In fact, it’s this positive attitude that they credit to the show’s impressive success, beating American Idol this season in the ratings war for the first time.
But as each of the remaining artists is showered night after night with an endless array of compliments, “amazeballs” and otherwise, we're beginning to wonder what the point of the celebrity coaches really is. If America’s content with their humorous back and forth, we could set up a comedy hour for Blake and Adam to duke it out, but we're under the impression that they were hired to train these artists to become professional singers.
And if ‘80s dance movies have taught us anything, it’s that constructive criticism and honest feedback are the best remedies to weak performances. That doesn’t mean the coaches need to bash the artists. In fact, none of them deserve to be painfully criticized. But none of them are flawless or even close to it.
The Current Problem
“I feel like a broken record because every week I always just tell you how much I love you,” Adam Levine told Michelle Chamuel on The Voice’s live shows on June 10. “So I don’t really know what else I can say other than, I love you. You’re always amazing.”
Hmmm, let’s think Adam. What could you possibly have to say to an aspiring artist? These coaches are billed as industry veterans with years, even decades, of experience performing and recording and they can’t think of anything more to say than “I love you”?
Adam tends to be the main culprit in this situation. He often starts off as if he’s going to offer constructive criticism, but then back-peddles over his words and ends on, “You’re amazing.” Blake Shelton’s favorite catch phrases are “You’re a rockstar!” and “You’re going to sell a bunch of records!”
But the most shocking comment from a coach this season came from Shakira early in the competition. Carson Daly asked the Colombian superstar her opinion on a contestant’s performance, and her response was, “Who am I to judge?”
Sorry, but aren’t you a judge?! Feedback can be helpful without being sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops after each performance. Saying an artist is flat, has breath control issues, or lacks emotion isn’t bashing them, and could, in fact, help them in the competition and in their career.
The Xtina Factor
We had less to complain about when Christina Aguilera was a coach on The Voice. Though many Americans labelled her as “the bitch,” her honesty actually helped a lot of artists achieve their potential. In Season 2 fans harped on the singer's comments to former Mouseketeer co-star Tony Lucca.
It all started when she called the singer’s performances “one-dimensional.” Fans called the attack personal saying that the diva had always had an issue with her childhood co-star, but the comments inspired Tony to come back the next week and sing Britney Spears’s “...Baby One More Time.” This marked a significant shift in his time on the show that ultimately ended with him making it to the finals. Sure, she took things a bit far as she continued to harp on him week after week, but that first honest critique made Tony into the contestant we remembered, not the one who sang classic rock tunes as we snoozed.
Though the exchange between Christina Aguilera and Team Blake’s winner Cassadee Pope was far less publicized, some may recall that Xtina’s comments helped turn Cassadee’s performances around too.
After several weeks of average tunes from the pop rocker, Christina admitted that she still didn’t feel an emotional connection to Cassadee’s lyrics or performances. Then, in her second week of live shows, Cassadee sang Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes” as a message to her absent father. For the first time, Christina acknowledged the singer’s ability to connect, and the next week she sang “Over You,” the tune that ended up winning her Season 3.
Love her or hate her, Christina Aguilera’s honesty is what helped propel these artists to greatness, and the other coaches would do well to learn from her example.
The Other Shows
We love that The Voice isn’t filled with coaches like Simon Cowell who reduces artists to tears and says mean things just to get higher ratings. But none of this season’s contestants seem to have a goal to strive towards.
Take The X Factor’s CeCe Frey from last season. This leopard-tattooed sass factory wasn’t exactly America’s sweetheart, but she did have a complete journey. She worked hard to impress Simon and continued to strive towards the goal of getting a compliment from the clearly biased judge.
But on The Voice, everyone and everything is always perfect, giving no room for real growth.
Criticism of Critics
Last week Blake Shelton engaged in a massive Twitter war with Houston Chronicle music writer Joey Guerra. Joey made the mistake of saying that Team Blake’s Holly Tucker was not the Texan contestant he was interested in (implying that Team Blake’s Danielle Bradbery was his favorite). This sent Blake into a vicious online rage in which he called the writer “chicken s—” and bashed him for insulting an innocent “child.”
The publication responded with an explanation and their reasoning. Writer Andrew Dansby put it well when he said, “Shelton called his singer ‘a great person that's simply chasing a dream,’ which are damning things to say about somebody in an often vicious business. The path to attaining dreams is a boneyard littered with ‘great’ people. To pretend the music industry is a field of flowers is doing her a disservice.”
If the coaches aren’t willing to offer their artists (or opponents’ artists) the proper critiques and willing to attack any music critics or viewers who might not find everything to be “amazing,” what chance do these singers have at a real career? Shouldn’t they be getting all the necessary training to prepare them for the outside world?
Do you agree? Are The Voice coaches too positive? Tell us below!