American Idol 2013 made it clear how producers wanted to distinguish the show this season from the competition by giving Season 12 the slogan, “Others dream, Idol delivers.” The preseason included plenty of promos surrounding the fact that this show produces stars where the others do not. The promo that got the most online buzz was the one with Randy Jackson discussing the show, as the names of successful Idols splashed onscreen behind him:
“We have a country superstar in Carrie Underwood. We’ve had an Oscar winner in Jennifer Hudson, I mean, you’ve got Daughtry,” Randy said in the promo. “Look what Phillip Phillips has done this year with the song 'Home.’” He closed out the promo by saying, “The show has truly permeated the whole world of entertainment. We are the original. We are the Picasso. You can try and copy, but you can never duplicate.”
It was obvious what FOX was trying to do but, at the same time, you can’t deny there is truth to it. However, with ratings on a severe decline, it would be silly for the powers that be to ignore their competition and, in particular, NBC’s The Voice. Perhaps it’s because it’s newer, but it seems to have a cooler vibe about it overall. Celebrity Dirty Laundry calls The Voice an "unparalleled reality television formula" and we can't really disagree.
Here’s the thing — American Idol has been given flack this season for putting all of its attention on their big names at the judges’ table. The Voice, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get any backlash, and they have huge star power in those chairs. Perhaps the difference is the way the judges interact. When watching The Voice, you can see that there is a general camaraderie among the judges and, although they are competing, you can tell that it’s not only totally fun for them, but it also means something.
Because The Voice’s judges have their own teams and are responsible for the talent they choose, they seem more invested. While the American Idol judges seem to give careful critiques, it’s over and done once they’ve said their piece. They have no reason to care who wins in the end. Their names aren't on the line if their 'favorite' fails to perform well or doesn't end up winning. On The Voice, the coaches have to pick and choose who they are going to mentor, and who they are going to pass on. They have to sometimes say no to singers they really like, just because they know it isn't the best fit for them, or their teams are already getting full.
Plus, The Voice judges really seem to just honestly care, and Adam Levine even ran up on stage recently to comfort someone who wasn’t chosen. There is such a direct connection between the coaches and the contestants that seems far more disconnected on American Idol.
While Nicki Minaj has had some bright spots this year, with her “NickiNames” and hilariously blatant flirting, she is beginning to lose credibility in the public eye. Many see her lacking professionalism, especially after being late to a live show. She also makes faces when Mariah Carey critiques, and the two have exchanged a few thinly veiled barbs throughout the season. In contrast, the conversation between the judges on The Voice seems genuine and light, and there are many laughs to be had. No one speaks in turn but, instead, it’s an informal and fun discussion.
Despite all the joking around, however, there is a constant vibe of seriousness running underneath it all. The Voice coaches are there to select honestly talented singers and take personal responsibility over whether they succeed or fail on the show... which could be their one big chance to make their dreams come true.
Another thing that is so vastly different about The Voice versus American Idol is that you rarely ever see a truly horrid performance on The Voice. American Idol producers seem to go out of their way every season to feature a horde of terrible contestants who end up being ridiculed and humiliated in front of millions of viewers for laughs. The Voice only features real singers who have been invited to audition on the main stage. Not all of them are future superstars, but all of them do have talent and with the right coaching could perhaps really have a career in the music business.
Even the failures in The Voice blind auditions are leagues above dozens of 'hopefuls' given lingering spotlights during American Idol auditions not because they are good, but because they are really bad. That's a very lowbrow kind of entertainment to make people look like idiots and crush their hopes like toilet paper on national TV — especially when some of them obviously have mental difficulties.
We’ve heard that American Idol is in for a major overhaul as of next season (even a possible replacement for Ryan Seacrest! Gasp!), so we hope they think to take a page from The Voice’s playbook. Their ability to repeatedly turn out stars is impressive, but the dropping ratings prove people may be losing interest.
What do you think of American Idol in comparison to The Voice?