On Sept. 4, 2002, Kelly Clarkson beat Justin Guarini and claimed her title as the country’s first American Idol. To get there, she had the help of a loyal fan base repeatedly dialing 1-866-IDOLS-02 until the wee hours of the morning.

That same system caused some controversy in American Idol’s next season when Ruben Studdard beat out fan favorite, Clay Aiken. At the time, those in the industry claimed the phone system was overloaded, preventing fans from getting their votes in, and Ruben only won by 130,000 votes.

Now, more than 10 years after Kelly’s win, there’s a new age of reality music competition, and The Voice is leading the pack. Sure, you can still dial in for your favorites, but there are now five different ways to vote. The show’s also instituted a rule that you can only vote 10 times on each method for one contestant, guaranteeing no clogged phone lines or voting problems.

But the most revolutionary shift was integrating iTunes purchases into the voting process. It seems natural the goal of these shows is to find the next music star, and artists’ success is partially determined by how many fans buy their music. On The Voice, if you support a contestant, you want to buy their music, and in this age of illegal downloading and burning CDs, these “votes” can only boost the industry.

And though The Voice has been around for three seasons now, the iTunes votes have recently started predicting who will be eliminated and who will move forward. 

When Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Team Adam’s Amanda Brown on the red carpet following her recent elimination, the fan favorite claimed to know she was going home.

“I had a little bit of a feeling. I was kind of watching iTunes and was like, ‘Umm …’” she told us. “So I had a bit of a feeling, but it is what it is.” 

And Team Blake’s Cassadee Pope has practically been guaranteed a spot in the finale thanks to her record-breaking iTunes singles. The punk-rocker shot up to the No. 1 spot beating out PSY’s “Gangnam Style” with her cover of Miranda Lambert’s “Over You,” which is especially poignant because the original never made it to No. 1.

Since then, it’s been fairly simple to predict who will be moving forward based on their iTunes rank. Those who make it to the Top 10 are probably safe for the week, but those who fail to chart with the big dogs are probably heading home.

It’s truly a game-changing move on the show’s part that will likely have a permanent effect on the industry. After all, if you really think someone’s done a great job, wouldn’t you want to buy that single?

Should iTunes downloading be part of the voting process? Share your thoughts below!


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