The Voice

You don’t need a good voice, you need good material.

That doesn’t mean a manager isn’t important.  With anybody but Irving Azoff, Christina Aguilera would have already been forgotten.  But he keeps getting her on shows, and it’s working for her here.  It’s not her voice, which is pedestrian in that it’s nothing special, but her personality.  Who knew she was so bawdy, she appears to be fun!  The Super Bowl is in her taillights.

Adam Levine had almost no charisma to begin with, TV eviscerates what little he’s got.

Cee-Lo ain’t bad, but I’m thinking I’d rather see him as a cop or a criminal on "CSI" or in a movie, this is a bad use of his talents. We don’t want to see him be a coach, we want to see him be unique.  Furthermore, is he that big a star?  Wow!  That must mean Danger Mouse is a superstar, because as good as Cee-Lo’s voice is, Mr. Mouse is the creative talent.

As for Blake Shelton…  He’s the hee-haw factor.  For those living in the heartland who feel abandoned by the mainstream.  I like some of his records, but explain exactly why he’s got tattoos again?  Does he think they make him look dangerous?  Do you have to have a tattoo to sing?  Wouldn’t it be a bigger threat to go ink free?

As for Carson Daly, call him Brian Dunkleman.  Carson’s always walking the line between credibility and incredulity, but he’s survived by being in ridiculous situations.  TRL was all about little girls coming into puberty, no one watches late at night, to see Carson effusing in his hipster/sincere style here is positively creepy.  Fire him.  Say he fell down the stairs or something.  THIS is the role for Steven Tyler, not being a judge.

But that show is different.  Yet, they both focus on finding a voice.  Which is very different from having creative ability.

This is a race to the bottom.  Do you really think the public is going to support "American Idol" and "The Voice" and "X Factor" to the tune of 20 million viewers apiece?  Anybody can copy a formula, just like anybody can easily imitate the Top Forty… Rebecca Black proved that.  You may think "Friday" is shite, but it’s catchy and the obligatory rapper is as good as those on so many hit records.  In other words, tighten up the lyrics and put Fergie in the video and it’s a number one record.

Actually, "Friday" is a number one record, as voted where it counts, on YouTube.  Radio is irrelevant.  It’s part of an old disappearing game that record labels think is important but is going the way of Smith Corona.  If you truly want to make it in music, run away from these shows.  Do something so original that people are drawn to it.  Hell, that’s how everybody learned who Cee-Lo was, he was the voice on the song of the decade!  Long after we’ve forgotten the written by hacks crap of the likes of Diane Warren, we’re still listening to "Crazy".

But I don’t want to say this is bad television.  HD gives the whole affair a visceral effect that draws one in.  It’s kind of like watching "Jersey Shore", you ask yourself, WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE DOING IT?

The stars are doing it for the exposure.  Their handlers have convinced them credibility is for pussies and if Steven Tyler can make it work, so can they.

But Steven Tyler is not making it work.  He’s no longer seen as dangerous and he hasn’t had a hit in ten years.  To think "American Idol" is helping Tyler is to think Ozzy’s TV show helped Osbourne’s musical career.  In case you haven’t noticed, Ozzy can barely sell a ticket.  He can reunite Black Sabbath one more time or retire.  TV killed his act.

So there you’ve got it.  Do you want to take the easy way out and get close, or do you want to go the hard way and play for all the marbles, everything, ownership!

Make no mistake, everything about this show is safe.

The network invested in a proven concept with a proven hitmaker, Mark Burnett.

As mentioned above, the stars want some of what Tyler and J. Lo got.

As for the performers…  You want to be famous and hopefully rich.  If someone said they wanted to play for the Yankees and could field but not hit, would they be signed?  Singing is only part of the equation.  In music, you’ve got to do it all.

And unlike in sports, in music there are no rules.  It’s a vast landscape.  You invent the game.

And you have to recognize the difference between marketing and art.  "The Voice" is all marketing.  A video clip is marketing. Josh Freeze’s solo work is all about marketing, he gets plenty of Internet ink with his promotions, but no one wants to listen to his records.

"The Voice" has got it part right.  Greatness should not require a visual, you should be able to hear it.

But that hasn’t happened in music for a very long time.

Don’t be confused by the ratings.  Don’t be confused by the hype.  The next big thing won’t start on television, it will come completely from left field.  And if the new superstar is on television, he or she will use it to their advantage as opposed to the other way around.

That’s what’s wrong with Steve Stoute’s screed.  It’s not like all the artists he defends had no choice.  Eminem could  have boycotted the Grammy ceremony, Justin Bieber too, but they just couldn’t turn down tens of millions of viewers.

Unless you’re willing to forgo the easy way out, you’re a pawn in their game.  And if you’re not bought by Mark Burnett, you’re bought by your label or your agent or your manager.  Hate to tell you, but they’re supposed to work for you, not the other way around.

Bob Dylan could never win a television singing competition.

But he’s the best songwriter of the modern era.

And Diane Warren, who I like personally, has never written anything lasting and meaningful because she’s writing for someone else as opposed to herself.  How about a song about a rich workaholic who forgot to get married?  I’d be more interested in that then the pabulum she writes for here today gone tomorrow stars.

Hell, she wrote one for Aerosmith…  Does anybody want to hear "I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing"?  Does anybody consider it an Aerosmith song?

In other words, take the easy way out at your peril.

It’s a new era.  The images alone make your jaw drop.  Hell, I remember five or six years ago when I could watch the test pattern on HDTV, it’s like these people are in your living room, like you know them, but you don’t.

We want to know your inner life.  Your attitudes.  Your hopes and wishes and losses the way you confide them to your best friend, not how you’d put them forth on television.

That’s what makes Howard Stern so great.  He gets people to speak the truth, to answer the questions we all want to ask.

We’re not learning anything watching "The Voice".

You wasted all that time making a record with Mutt Lange and it stiffed?  What does that feel like?  Maybe you’ll find out when Adam Levine goes on Stern, but not on "The Voice".

And Blake Shelton, what makes you different from the rest of those weenies with hats?  I can tell the difference between Waylon and Willie, but I’m not sure you and Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley are not the same person, have you ever seen them in the same room?

Cee-Lo has to go a little more Tyler.  You were a forgotten member of the Goodie Mob and now you’re on network TV, I guess that’s why he’s always smiling but wasn’t he supposed to be dangerous and who exactly is this guy?

It’s only Christina Aguilera who wins here.  Someone who grew up on TV.  Who doesn’t know how to live off it.  She’s got a good voice, but she ain’t no Janis Joplin.  Janis’s voice had character, Christina’s trick is a big sound comes out of a little girl, singing inane material.  She’s at no risk of losing a little piece of her heart.

So the mainstream continues to tell us it’s important.  To be thrilled that music is on prime time, that they’re doing artist development.

Make me puke.

This is commerce.

Greatness is art.

There’s no art to be seen here.  Just money and desperation.

Move right along.

One Response to The Voice


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  1. […] be informed by a little bit of bias, but … different opinions, different perspectives. Visit for more of his thoughts on The Voice. Form your own opinions when the show airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. […]

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  1. […] be informed by a little bit of bias, but … different opinions, different perspectives. Visit for more of his thoughts on The Voice. Form your own opinions when the show airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. […]

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