The latest series of The Voice has come to a close, Britain’s Got Talent has invaded our screens once again and we are still constantly bombarded with constant updates on the X Factor despite it’s ever dwindling viewing figures. TV Talent shows have become a big part of popular culture, for better or for worse. However all of these shows have been struggling the past few years to gather public interest and have been trying anything they can to keep the spirit alive. Is it too little too late to try and save them and should we try and hasten their end instead?
Once upon a time, many years ago, televised singing competitions probably started with the best intentions. The idea behind it would be to try and find some great undiscovered talent, give them the big break they’d always longed for and let the public share in their story. Ever since the idea’s inception however things haven’t quite gone to plan. People with far more confidence than talent singing some top 40 rubbish to try and make some easy money and get their 15 minutes of fame. All probably due to sympathy votes thanks to some tragic backstory about their hamster dying or some such nonsense. A lot of the problems come from Simon Cowell: music’s equivalent of a Bond villain. With numerous competitions in several countries to feed him eager and naïve “artists”, he’s made a fortune from it all. In return we get a show sucking up all of the country’s media, producing a couple of perfectly crafted pop monstrosities each year who then clog up the airwaves and steal the Christmas number 1, up until the next flavour of the month rolls up.
The Voice as least tries to rise above the rest. Their blind auditions are aimed at putting the best singers through, they have (or rather, had) respected artists like Sir Tom Jones to help mentor them, and many contestants have a sense that they could be genuine artists rather than just cogs in a machine. However when you get to the end you realise that people like Cowell are a necessary evil, as otherwise no one will take notice of the winners once they’re off our screens. This year’s winner Kevin Simm won people’s respect with his excellent rendition of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and the fact that he was once the nobody at the back of a pop group, unable to get his voice heard. The sad truth is that he’ll probably be back playing pubs this time next year.
With ITV buying the rights to The Voice it’s possible that the combination of genuine people with genuine talent, and maniacal marketing power that is borderline brainwashing, could help redeem the TV talent genre. Not likely though. The damage has already been done. A rare few good artists have slipped through the cracks, the rest feel as though they have forced upon us like some wretched musical medicine. As all these shows are rapidly losing the interest of the disillusioned British public I think it’s time they went the way of most of their victors and simply faded away. Just have a cup of tea and see what else is on the box.