Reality TV

‘Reality Check': Are the ‘Voice’ Coaches Screwing Up the Steal?

Credit: TVLine

Credit: TVLine

TVLine.com‘s Michael Slezak returns with American Idol Season 6 finalist Melinda Doolittle for an all-new episode of Reality Check, dissecting the week in reality singing competitions.

This week’s episode covers the best of The Voice Battle Rounds, as well as some of the more confusing matchups so far. In addition, Michael and Melinda question whether the coaches might actually be screwing up the entire concept of the Steal. It’s another keen, incisive episode!

Check out the full video below via TVLine.com:

Thoughts:

Michael and Melinda make some pretty excellent points about how patently ridiculous the use (or lack thereof) of the Steal ended up being. I could definitely see the argument for how there just might be some measure of ageism in the coaches’ decisions not to save Donna Allen. I mean, really, Cee Lo’s excuse for not stealing Donna was one of the dumbest explanations I’ve ever heard. You don’t want people to know your game plan? What does that even MEAN in a competition like this? What does a game plan matter when it ultimately all comes down to America? At least say “Donna is fantastic, but I don’t think she’s right for my team, so I’m saving one of my steals for a contestant who I feel will be a better fit for Team Cee Lo.”

With that said, I actually found Michael’s point about Adam’s absurd decision to match two top contenders against each other to be the more salient observation. I feel like the coaches pair up the battle rounds based on what will make the best duet, without really considering that making a good duet pairing isn’t the point of the battle round. Sure, we’re supposed to enjoy the matchup on both an entertainment and aesthetic level, but the real point of the battle round is not to pit two of the competition’s strongest singers against each other. They’ll be competing each other every week from top 12 onward, for crying out loud! Why force one of the strongest singers of the competition out of the competition before the competition even starts?

Why pair Tessanne against Donna and force yourself to lose one of them while keeping a less remarkable singer? Pair them against weaker competition and take them both to the Knockout Round! The battle round always works best when approached at the level of an NCAA tournament, with the top seeds facing the weaker competition: the uneven matchups inspire the middle-of-the-pack singers to really bring their A-game in order to score the upset win, and ultimately, no matter what happens, the cream has a better shot of rising to the top. But if you pit two world-class teams against each other in the first round, you end up with Purdue in the championship game.

I also appreciated Melinda’s observation about the point of the steal being the correction of an injustice. The battle between Amber and Timyra-Joi was insane, but not nearly as insane as all the coaches yammering on about what an incredible battle it was, only to then sit on their hands and let Timyra-Joi go. Yet Briana Cuoco and Monika Leigh somehow get a second chance? I don’t know, man. I enjoy The Voice, but this season isn’t off to the most inspiring start.

What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments!

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16 comments
Trey_
Trey_

TOTALYL AGREE! I need Donna and Timirya Joi! 

hrstump
hrstump moderator

Whatever. While I enjoy Melinda deciding why 'the steal' is used on The Voice, I have a hard time using the term 'injustice' about the results of a television reality singing competition. Thus far, the 'steal' has had no real impact on the show results, adding only some 'exciting' TV moments. And as for questioning why certain contestants are saved, I could have just an many questions why some not only made it on a team, but survived more than a round of audience voting.

mamashmoi
mamashmoi

I agree, Nick. What's up with the Cuoco thing. Hate to be cynical, but if her sister weren't famous right now she would'nt be here. Her Battle Round performance was better than her audition but very 'lounge-y'. Oh well, I'll watch until it's a young country gal  against an alt/rock/pop hipster and then I'll just give up :)

titina
titina

I 100% AGREE WITH THEM!

Tronella
Tronella

@hrstump Obviously Melinda was using the term "injustice" to refer fairness/deservingness in regards to who gets in a battle with 2 excellent singers. It is an "injustice" when whoever loses the battle leaves before lesser talented singers.

Also the "steal" was really helpful for Sasha Allen who was paired with Amber Carrington last season...If you recall, both Amber and Sasha went did really well in the competition, both finishing in the top 7! 
Without the save, one would've had to go much too soon!!

hrstump
hrstump moderator

@Tronellaa I would still stand by the thought that the term is really inappropriate for the situation. Who was the better singer/contestant is a subjective thing, not so clear cut. Because someone has a differing opinion hardly falls to the level of 'injustice', as long as both were allowed to perform.

Ultimately, we have yet to have any proof staying on the show a few more weeks, with or without the steal, helps a singer post-show, on this or any show.

Rickey
Rickey moderator

@Tronella @hrstump @HaiHi188 That's trying to have your cake and eat it. The whole process of choosing talent to be on these shows is inherently "unjust". Before any of these contestants end up on TV, they need to pass through casting. Some of these contestants are even chosen by casting to be on the show directly.

Tronella
Tronella

@hrstump @HaiHi188 Just a quick correction to note that Fantasia still has her major label contract, so does Lauren Alaina and Casey James.

And yes I see your analogy with Lazaro's place finish. However, my point remains that, during the live shows, it's out of the judges' hands, at that point it is up to the voting publics. I have no problem with Lazaro finishing 6th or 8th, BUT I would have had a problem if, say the judges had chosen Lazaro over Candice to put into the live shows. That is where I would have the issue. If a talented contestant doesn't connect with the voting audience, then that is fine by me, but if a subpar contestant makes it to the live shows over a more talented one, that qualifies as "unjust" in my book. 

For what it's worth, I am very thankful that you took the time to engage with me for this discussion :)

mamashmoi
mamashmoi

@hrstump It's funny, I don't listen to music of any of these competitors/winners unless I decide to create an online 'radio station' once in awhile, or they pop up randomly. If it weren't for Rickey, I'd never even know they had a song or album out!

hrstump
hrstump moderator

@HaiHi188 Those folks have not come thru the Philadelphia area, at least to the places I go and see music. 

I was not trying to get into a discussion of one show versus the other, as my point was about complaints made about the steal. To me, that is much like complaining about Lazaro should have gone home in 8th, not 6th. Doesn't matter in the long run. 

I feel I must mention, however, that of your list of other successful alums, only Jordin & Scottie still have their contract with their original record label. And with PP, we shall see - it is usually the second album that is the killer.

 But when all is said and done, I wish them all the success they can earn. I enjoy watching the television shows, but don't really expect to find my music on TV. I expect to watch some entertaining TV.

HaiHi188
HaiHi188

@hrstump pls don't forget that Phillip Phillips is doing pretty well in terms of selling albums. I also think that Jordin, Scotty, Katharine Mcphee, FANTASIA, Adam Lambert, David Cook and a bunch of others are more successful than these The Voice winners. You probably do not update about Idol but a lot of them are also doing in smaller venues and making music (Haley Reinhart, Jessica Sanchez, Lauren Alaina, James Durbin, Melinda Doolittle...). 

I'm now loving The Voice much more than Idol but sorry I still have to say it. 

hrstump
hrstump moderator

@TronellaAs someone who has an eye on the indie music scene, The Voice has contestants who tour around clubs and smaller venues, still making music. That is something I don't see much from the AI contestants. They tend to be more singers than musicians. The most recent AI contestant I read passing thru the area was Kris Allen, playing the say venues The Voice contestants played.

I am glad you have such great respect for the Idol winners. I hope you are cheering for Ruben Studdard on 'Biggest Loser'.

I am fascinated by your impression that critical acclaim is objective. Critics, by the very nature, are giving their (subjective) opinions about music. And if Grammys are all that objective, I will point out Milli Vanili and Starland Vocal Band both 'objectively' won Grammys for Best New Artist and Jethro Tull (featuring the flute playing of Ian Anderson) topped Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental.

Tronella
Tronella

@hrstump I can respect how you view the Idol winners/contestants' careers in the context of the US pop music scene, but if you consider the global numbers and niche markets, I would say many of them have done really well. If they are able to make a good comfortable living as a singer, I think they've won. [I concede that this is not yet the case for winners of The Voice]

In my book most of the winners on Idol [except Taylor, Lee and Candice] have done well.  Also niche artists like Mandisa have done really well in their genres, scoring several number 1 hits in their particular formats. To name a few, Mandisa has 3 No.1 christian contemporary albums, Kellie Pickler may not be a megastar of Carrie's caliber but she's had a respectable career.  Jasmine Trias made a ton of cash in the Philippines.

And to address your point on subjectivity another way, commercial success/popular appeal is and should be different from critical acclaim. Commercial success is entirely subjective and subject to people's whims and tastes, but critical acclaim has/or should have more objective judgements on quality.

That's why we can't vote for the Grammys, but we can vote for the AMA awards. In this case, the Battle Rounds & Knock Out rounds would be equivalent to the Grammys while the Open voting rounds would be equivalent to the AMAs, this would explain Adele's numerous grammys vs Katy's many AMA's

hrstump
hrstump moderator

@Tronella Over the course of the last 12 seasons, Idol has given us three 'stars', two winners and one 4th place finish. All in the first five seasons. So even AI could not consider a 7th place finish really more than a television moment. Hell, not even 2nd guarantees you all that much. That is why I feel as though the steal has yet to be a factor on The Voice.

And while I would say Adele is the better singer for me, I bet there are thousands of Katy fans who would disagree. Could they call the decision to keep Adele 'unjust'? From their subjective view, I suppose 'justice' would not be served...

Tronella
Tronella

@hrstump Ok so maybe I can concede that the word "injustice" is a tad bit strong for this context. 
Also, you definitely have a point about "The Voice" failing to produce a legit star thus far. 

However, other singing competitions have clearly given us stars: Carrie, Kelly, Daughtry all made it after using Idol as a springboard to launch their careers.

Even though who the better singer is might be a subjective question, it can't be denied that some singers are just better than other singers on the scale of tone, pitch, timing, cadence etc. For example Adele is a better singer than Katy Perry, no matter how subjective we wanna be about it. 
If they were on a show called "The Voice" singing live, it would be unfair/unjust for Katy to advance over Adele....wouldn't it?