Now That The Voice Season 12 Blind Auditions Are Over, Can We Talk?

The Voice season 12 blind auditions - coaches performance

Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC

 

The Voice season 12 blind auditions are over!  Congratulations to everyone that made it on the show! It takes a lot to put yourself out there the way these people have.  It’s always inspiring to hear the various stories of  how people have persevered to get to the point of getting onto the show.  This season is no exception.

Nevertheless,  viewers, can we talk about what went on during the blinds?  There are a couple of  things that really are not working this season.  One of them can be fixed moving forward, the other…let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again.

Feeling the Loving vs. Seeing the Love

The Voice season 12 theme of “Feel the Love” has many positive things going for it.  During this turbulent political time where the nation is sharply divided focusing on stories of families sticking together and supporting each other are great.  They are a reminder of the underlying fabric of America.  Regardless of race or economic background, or sexual orientation, love is love – and it keeps us together.

In terms of the coaches, the way Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys compete, choosing not to tear other coaches down and being supportive of each other is cool.  The ongoing funny competition between coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton also continues to be amusing.  What’s not so great is the focusing on the relationship between Gwen and Blake.

When The Voice season 12 premiered, the Gwen and Blake stuff immediately popped up as a concern.  It felt like there was too much of the fact being forced into the coaches dialogue.  Worse, the chatter distracted from the dynamics of coaches relating about the singer onstage.

My hope was that the issue would be a one-off, and things would settle down.  They didn’t.  The two-for-one quips about picking Gwen and her being able to get help from Blake were relevant, but some many others had nothing to do with the issue of picking a coach. Really, Blake’s going to end up sleeping on the couch for battling Gwen?  Those comments pull focus from the singer and the team he or she is on.

The absolute worst moment happened in the last week – and they even promoted it!

“Did Blake Cheat”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM3KLYaQ0Ak?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

 

Of course Blake didn’t cheat! What actually happened is something far more concerning.  Gwen was looking to Blake to decide whether or not she should push her button!  It’s not the first time they’ve showed Gwen looking at Blake to decide what to do either.  This time, Blake faked out Gwen by pretending not to be interested and then when she looked away he buzzed in at the last second.   

The above  scenario pulled focus from the awesome singer and for what?  All it did was make Gwen look like she can’t decide for herself if someone is good or not!  Yes, the coaches do sometimes talk among themselves while listening.  However, it’s never been staged in a way that  suggests a coach can’t make their own decision!   This “Gwen & Blake” moment was by far the lowest point of The Voice season 12 blind auditions.

Until this season The Voice has done a good job of letting the coaches’ personalities shine through in service of the contestants.  Now that the blinds are over and the teams are set hopefully the Blake and Gwen stuff will be nixed.   We don’t need the antics of the coaches to eclipse the performances or the connection of the  coaches to the artists on their teams.

The age drop to 13 

There’s no question that the younger singers this season are immensely talented.   What I’m not sure of is if this is the best venue for them.  The Voice Kids is a successful franchise worldwide. Why don’t the producers  just make that a summer show with different coaches?  That part in particular is essential, because you need coaches who know how to deal with young teens.

One of the most painful things to see during The Voice season 12 blind auditions was Gwen saying things like “Look, another little boo-boo” and talking about how she wants to “mother” a little girl.  At one point Gwen lamented that the young girls weren’t picking her. Pitching to them like they were five instead of 13 probably had a lot to do with it.  Teenage girls girls don’t want to be mothered.  They have a mother. They want guidance, but also the respect of being treated like the artists that they are.

Secondly, there’s a reason most competition show separate the adults from the kids: Fairness.  The under 15 crowd would be better served in a group of their peers. Last season had a few younger artists that it would have been great to see get more development – but against their older competition, they were eliminated early on.  As talented as these teens are, if more than one of the 15-and-under group makes it to the live shows I’ll be surprised.  Experience tends to trump raw talent. 

The only  competition  shows of note that have such young teens going up against adults are the Simon Cowell productions The X-Factor and America’s got Talent.  Being that America’s got Talent is about unusual talents a child prodigy fits right in.  However,  one of the most memorable things about the 3 year run of the The American X-Factor – which had an age limit of 12  – is  the disastrous onscreen meltdown of Rachel Crow. (Meanwhile, Cowell kept the limit at 16 for the British version.  It was only  changed to 14 three years ago.)

Sure, one can point to Danielle Bradbery in season 4 or Sawyer Fredericks in season eight as examples of young winners of The Voice.  Both were sixteen years old.  In terms of competing against adults that seems to be the threshold.  It also helped that there weren’t a bunch of 16-year-olds in the competition, so it felt more like dealing with an exceptional teen singer. (Like on America’s Got Talent.)

Having a swath of under 15 performers on The Voice this season feels more like a gimmick for ratings.  Many of them have similar-sounding radio voices because they haven’t developed enough – or been through enough – to develop their own sound.  Yes, they are insanely talented – and  a year or two of seasoning would do them good.

The Voice Season 12 Blind Auditions – The Wrap Up

This season does have great talent.  This is not about the younger singers being less talented or deserving. Nevertheless, let’s hope season 13 puts the age limit back to where it was.  If the producers want to launch the USA version of The Voice Kids let them do so.  It could be another NBC summer show.

What would that show look like? Obviously finding talent wouldn’t be a problem.  They would need different coaches though.  Blake and Adam need their time off.   A dream team for coaching might be Usher, Miley Cyrus, and Ed Sheeran. (The Voice Kids is usually only three coaches.)

All three of these stars have experience with The Voice.  Usher is famously known for working with the young Justin Beaver. Cyrus and Sheeran are big stars with a ton of experience, yet they’re young enough to remember how to talk to teenagers.  That would be a great show!

As for the rest of The Voice season 12, we’re all looking forward to some great music.  Let’s hope the show now focuses on the singers working with their coaches and not the coaches being in love with each other.  

 

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