There’s currently a war of words going on between the popular talent competition shows American Idol and The Voice. But, as is so often the case with most disagreements, both parties could actually have more to learn from each other then they’d think.
While The Voice‘s Adam Levine may have disagreed with American Idol‘s Randy Jackson’s diss of his show, regarding first-season winner Javier Colon (“[He] was an artist who had a deal at Capitol Records for several years, a failed contract… That show was almost ‘second chance people,'” Jackson had said), there are certain things Levine and his Voice cohorts Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton can learn from the more polished Idol as their second season kicks off this Sunday on NBC after the Super Bowl. Of course, there’s plenty Idol can learn from fresh-faced newcomer The Voice, too. Whether or not the shows will call a truce is still up in the air, but in the meantime, here’s what these shows can take away from each other:
What The Voice can learn from American Idol:
About those auditions: It’s hard to disagree with Idol executive producer Cécile Frot-Coutaz on her opinion that Voice “casts” their talent as opposed to holding open auditions. After all, open auditions have worked awfully well for finding Idol talent. While The Voice doesn’t have to get as crazy with audition footage as Idol does, it would be nice to see them open their doors to a wider spectrum of hopefuls.
Let those chairs keep spinning, but you guys stay put: Ignore Jackson’s slam that “we will never rip off Star Trek like they did with spinning chairs,” because those chairs are plain freakin’ awesome. (Thank you 30 Rock: “Next week Jay-Z was going to do a duet with one of the spinning chairs from The Voice, and the chair just pulled out.”) Just keep Levine, Aguilera, Green, and Shelton as firmly planted in them for as long as they can. Even the most devoted Idol fans long for the days of the original judges Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell. Viewers feel a certain kinship to the judges that are there from the start and enjoy the irreplaceable rapport they have with one another. (Who doesn’t want to keep watching Levine and Aguilera spar for the next few seasons?)
Guest judges-mentors, however…: Occasionally the judges can get stuck in a critical rut, and it’s always good to have a fresh new perspective on hand. Idol has seen everyone from Harry Connick Jr. to Miley Cyrus lend their talents and know-how to the contestants, and it’s proved to be a successful way to attract eyes for their show.
What American Idol can learn from The Voice:
Be an equal opportunity talent show: Sure, Idol might hold open auditions, but The Voice is already light years ahead of them when it comes to having openly gay singers have their chance at the spotlight. As we reported last May, “The Voice featured two openly lesbian contestants during its premiere, then two openly gay men during its second episode.” To be fair, Idol hardly shuts out the gay community (look at single-season host Ellen DeGeneres, for instance), but performers like Adam Lambert and Jim Verraros didn’t acknowledge their sexuality until after they appeared on the show. The Voice, however, seems to be encouraging their hopefuls to have a voice from the start.
Don’t be closed off to the idea of second chances: It’s easy to understand Levine’s frustration with Jackson’s complaint that The Voice rewards second chances because, honestly, why not do that? The music business can be a pretty unforgiving place, even to some of the most talented artists out there, so why begrudge these talented people a chance to show the world –again — what they’ve got? If they were good enough to get a deal the first time around, there must have been something there. Hey, if you can give Steven Tyler a second chance…
No catch phrases: They’re not always pitchy, dawg.
Get the spinning chairs: Wheeeeeeee!
What do you think The Voice can learn from American Idol? What can AI learn from The Voice? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.