One of the best things about The Voice is that it is open to anybody, and in particular, it gives formerly indie artists an opportunity to achieve greater success. In two seasons, we’ve had numerous artists who’ve already had varying forms of success, and are looking to this show as a second (or third, fourth, etc.) chance. Javier Colon, last season’s winner, had a record contract previously, but didn’t really go anywhere. Dia Frampton, last season’s runner-up, was known from Meg & Dia, her band with her sister. Most people knew Frenchie Davis from American Idol and she was also on Broadway for some time. This season, we’ve got Juliet Simms from Automatic Loveletter, Tony Vincent comes from Broadway, Jordis Unga previously competed on Rock Star INXS, Jamar Rogers previously competed on American Idol, and Tony Lucca who has released many albums independently but is widely known right now as a former Mouseketeer.
At the same time though, at what point does them having a career (or some notoriety) prior to being a contestant hinder their chances here? Or a better question is, does it affect them at all as a contestant on this show, at this time? I bring this up because of what happened on last night’s show with Christina Aguilera and Tony Lucca. At this point, everyone knows that Christina and Tony were both Mouseketeers, and we all know that those Mouseketeers were clearly a talented bunch, as evidenced by all the stars who are well-known in the industry now. Christina made a mention of how Justin Timberlake was tweeting his support for Tony, and how she wanted the show to be strictly about the contestants’ singing and not celebrity sway.
Christina makes a good point – it should be about the contestants and how well they sing – but at the same time, celebrity sway/endorsements/support/etc. can’t be avoided. It’s a tricky situation for Tony to be in, because it just so happens that his connections are made more aware. For Tony, he’s been a working musicians all these years, he’s toured with Sara Bareilles and obviously still friends with Justin and Matt Morris from MMC, and it was just inevitable that these artists would support him in his venture. Plus the added awkwardness that Christina didn’t initially recognize Tony and he’s on Adam’s team, and I feel a sense of her giving Tony a harder time because she knows him. We’ve also been told on numerous occasions that Jermaine Paul used to be one of Alicia Keys’ backup singers and they also got her calling him to give him support. So how different is all of this to any other celebrity calling favourites? We live in a Facebook/Twitter-filled world and it would seem that other musicians/actors/celebrities watch television too; they watch The Voice, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and they voice their opinion on who their favourites are to their followers and who they think should continue on in the competition. How is that any different from Justin tweeting his support for his friend Tony?
We can’t count out the fact that viewers of the show, do have their own minds and are capable of making a decision without any celebrity sway. We know what we heard and saw on our TV screens. And regardless of TV show, some contestants may already come in with a decent fanbase or develop a good fanbase while on the show and a lot of fans will vote for their favourites no matter what. Look at DWTS: the pros at this point are sometimes more famous than their “star” partners, so you can’t deny that some people vote for their favourite pro dancer moreso than voting for the best dance. Point is, bias is inevitable. It’s the name of the game.
So yes, Christina had a point in saying that votes should be based on the singing and not celebrity connections. But where reality competition TV is concerned, when voting among the masses is required, there may be rules in place as to how to vote and the number of votes, but that’s about it.