Distributor: The Nine Network
Release Date: Nightly
There was a time when Australian television producers looked on Reality TV as a weird aberration that would eventually die a natural death. But in the twelve years since the arrival of Big Brother it seems the appetites of Australian audiences for ‘truth television’ have only enlarged. The Voice is currently the cutting edge of that viewing phenomenon.
For those who are just becoming aware of this program, The Voice is a talent show that allows competitors to enter on the basis of their singing abilities alone. Celebrity judges Delta Goodrem, Joel Madden, Seal and Ricky Martin initially listen with their backs turned. If they like what they hear, they revolve their seats, thereby offering the singer a place on their team. If more than one turns, it’s up to the judge to convince the entrant that they will be the biggest benefit to their career. We’ve already reached the point where the coaches have assembled their teams and now they’re leading their singers through a series of ‘Battle Rounds’ designed to uncover Australia’s best, undiscovered voice.
The second season of The Voice debuted with close to 1.8 million viewers and the series was soon pushing over the legendary two million mark. It’s easy to see why this particular format has been so successful with viewers. It’s undeniably attractive to watch singers compete on the basis of how they sound rather than looks or stagecraft. But like most reality programs it’s worth asking how much of what we’re seeing is real?
To begin with, it’s become clear that the most successful competitors in this season are not the unsung voices of bathroom fame, but tested professionals who’ve struggled to break through to bigger careers. It’s not uncommon to hear successful team members talk about ten years of touring, previous album releases and even international performances. This doesn’t in any way diminish their talent, but it does change the nature of the truth on offer.
Australian Idol, Australia’s Got Talent and The X Factor have helped educate viewers to believe that it’s exposure that makes all the difference – “If I can just get on stage people will finally see how good I am!” But the truth is that The Voice’s stars are actually the product of long years of hard work. The spotlight isn’t enough; neither is potential. Effort and endurance are required. I, for one, am much happier with this more realistic take. The Voice reveals that even if we’re talented, we need a lot of help.
Is there a spiritual implication to this sort of lesson? Well obviously we can celebrate what God has done every time we hear a voice that sounds like it’s coming from the throat of an angel. However I’m also happy to be reminded that no matter how much I might bring to the microphone it’s not a guarantee of success. As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, a dose of real life should teach us that,
“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned.”
Judges often regret not turning around, the choice of song puts a performer at a disadvantage and even a simple cold can cause a fall from grace. More than two million Australians can’t fail to realize that success is an elusive and fleeting thing. If you don’t believe me, try and recall the names of our seven Australian Idols. Then go for a search online and see where they are today – you’ll be surprised. A proper view of reality begins by recognizing what the writer of Ecclesiastes discovered, that this sort of success is beautiful but a passing mist and ultimately meaningless. Better still to “Remember your creator in the days of your youth…” before all our songs ‘grow faint’ and “… the spirit returns to the God who gave it.”