The Voice: Light Show or Talent Show?

THE VOICE -- "Live Playoffs" Episode 913B -- Pictured: Darius Scott -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

THE VOICE — “Live Playoffs” Episode 913B — Pictured: Darius Scott — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

My readers already know that I love The Voice, that it shares my values of professional excellence, (coaching) human fairness (blind audition) and the pursuit of one’s dream (self-belief and risk-taking).  However, I do have some concerns about fairness and influence that have less to do with the performers and the coaches, and everything to do with staging and production choices.

Recently two judges commented on being blinded by the intensity of flashing lights that were part of the staging backdrop to the vocal performance. I was home watching the show and felt this way before hearing their comments. Thank you, judges, for validating my reaction!  As a TV viewer, I felt disappointed, manipulated and cheated.  The vocalist was upstaged by the production design and I had to work too hard to listen to the vocals. This did not seem fair at all.

I remember feeling this way about singers staged with back-up dancers too.  The dancers with their sexy outfits, toned and flexible bodies and beautiful smiles, captured my attention, challenging both listening and watching the contestant.

Of course I realize that different types of music might be supported by background singers, dancers, lighting, stage design, etc., and that for viewer interest, much of these additions can add value.  At the same time, if lighting or gymnastics, costumes or set design, consume the viewer’s attention, then critical listening and focus on the vocal performer suffers.

Choices in clothing, hairdos, hair color, glasses, contact lenses, shoes, heels, boots, hats, jewelry – they’re all part of artistic and performance development.  I get it.  But please, please, make the artist more important than the set or production, so that both the remote and live audiences can balance their viewing  with their listening.

A light show is not more important than the vocal artist – not for a talent competition that values fairness, vocal talent and performance excellence.

What are your thoughts? Let me know.

This is part three of a series. To be continued.