Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for the Voice vs. American Idol

I need to start this post by saying that I'm a television snob. I prefer my TV shows to look like The West Wing (that's tomorrow's post). I really don't like reality TV. I feel most of it is a waste of my time (I really mean no offense by people who do watch it. I can think of a great many things I do that are a waste of time. Reality TV just isn't one of them). But for some reason, I can't stop watching the singing shows.

I started watching American Idol back in the first season, back when Kelly Clarkson was really the only viable option, Simon Cowell was brutally honest (but not vicious), and Brian Dunkleman co-hosted with Ryan Seacrest. I love music, and I love television, and the combination (while certainly not new or unique to American Idol) was an instant winner. I missed a few seasons while I was away at school, but I'm still watching.

Same thing with The Voice, though it's only been on for a season and a half. It came out when I was at my lowest Idol point (when Pia Toscano got voted off last season, if anyone cares) and filled the hole. As a show, I like The Voice better. The judges are critical without being mean (mostly), the focus is on talent rather than gimmicks (mostly), and I can watch Blake Shelton and Adam Levine banter all day long (er... mostly). But at the end of the day, I watch American Idol the day after it airs (recorded, so I can fast-forward through two hours of Ford commercials), and I'm a week and change behind on The Voice.

Idol is a more compelling show. You follow the same group of contestants week after week. In The Voice, the contestants are broken up into teams, and each team goes only every other week. So in the early rounds, you can go four weeks without seeing a repeat contestant. It's harder to pick the contestants you want to cheer for when you can't remember who's already gone. Instead, you're cheering for the coaches because they're the only ones in every episode. Don't get me wrong; I like the coaches. But they already have successful careers. Why would I cheer for them?

That said, the cast of character on The Voice is significantly more diverse and interesting. It's where every singer who doesn't fit that perfect mold goes. Some are overweight, some are gay, some ordinary, some have weird voices or weird noses or weird hair (well, okay, they have that on Idol too). They aren't pretty little perfect popstars. As somehow who would never fall into the pretty little perfect popstar mold, I appreciate this.

The biggest problem I have with both shows is that they take forever. You don't need two hours for six people to sing. Or an endless look into the contestant's sob story. Or the increasingly painful Ford music videos. Or Christina Milan in the Social Media Room (or whatever they call it). They could wrap everything up in an hour, and I could have two hours of my week back.

Do you watch either of these shows? If so, who are you rooting for (I'm torn between Skylar and Hollie for Idol. For The Voice, it's Chris Mann all the way)? Any major beefs with them? Any other reality shows you like that I'm not giving a fair chance?


  1. I used to watch American Idol, but not anymore. And I haven't seen The Voice yet, but I hear it's interesting. I'm not really one for reality tv. I've been able to enjoy a few of the programs for a short period of time, but I'd rather watch House or Big Bang Theory! :)

  2. I don't watch TV, so this was a really interesting post for me!

  3. I used to watch American Idol, but I haven't seen it for years. They just started a UK version of The Voice, but I've yet to check it out!

  4. I watched American Idol in the very beginning, and then picked it up for one season (the one with Adam Lambert), then stopped watching it. I lost interest, I guess.

    I've never seen a full episode of The Voice, just clips here and there. My mom watches it and says I'd like it.

  5. I mentioned The Voice yesterday too! Only seen the UK version. I like the idea, but I'm not sure about the battles round as they go a bit OTT to outdo each other. I also like the fact that all the judges are singers and act as coaches. Though I'm not sure if Will.I.Am can actually sing because of the amount of autotune he uses...