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Would you like to swing on a star?
The song lyric (by Johnny Burke and made famous by Bing Crosby, Sinatra and Tony Bennett) illustrates one of the key appeals of NBC’s The Voice show (the live Final Performances air 8:00 tonight with the 2-hour Final Results show at 9:00pm tomorrow).
Contrasting with Fox’s American Idol, thus far the century’s definitive TV singing competition, #TheVoice came in much later, and with a few twists. The main advertised one: initial choices are made blind. The four big-name musicians (currently Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, plus Usher and Shakira replacing inaugural coaches Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green for the current Season 4) start with their backs to performers. When they press their button to choose a singer for their team, they turn large iconic red-and-black chairs, only then seeing who’s singing.
a key question answered
The “blinds” are no doubt a compelling aspect of the show.
However, the ongoing appeal has a lot to do with what happens after these artists are chosen.
The singers become part of the team. Rather than simply being Judges like they’d be on American Idol, these four music stars adopt their selected artists into their own stable of performers. Thus, the coaches own a stake in their artists’ outcome. A subtle difference in some ways, but is one of a handful of key factors that make The Voice a thoroughly enjoyable competition that I can’t wait to watch unfold (another key factors: far fewer “duds” to sit through).
Intentionally or not, the show has become an answer to a key question for any endeavour meant to garner appeal: what’s in it for me?
What’s interesting is that it answers a question that was already answered: what’s in it for an Idol judge? Exposure, obviously. However, The Voice builds on this “product feature” by defining its game to closely tie the contestants’ fate with those of the celebrities.
If you’re selling a product or service, the what’s-in-it-for-me for your target audiences is a key question to keep in mind. Having a what’s-in-it-for-me incorporated into your product features, and its benefit clearly communicated, can be a huge step in marketing and selling what you do. Already have one? Build on its strength to further establish market presence.
A fair counterpoint: The Voice has yet to produce a Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood like Idol has.
Even in this, though, every finalist has appeared on a subsequent Voice episode at least once. And in the hard-knocks real world of the popular music industry, Adam Levine’s finale performer from Season 2, Tony Lucca, is touring with Levine’s band Maroon5 this year.
Whether the show garners these artists a tour spot or not, though, the show exudes a mood of support that comes from building a reality where wins are shared in a natural and mutual way. The Voice seems to be illustrating golden-rule-ness, that if you do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, the star you shine up helps your own star shine brighter too.
My wife and I created our own what’s-in-it-for-me starting this March: we picked our own teams this season.
We even made a concerted effort to shield our eyes during the Blind Auditions.
Fate dealt us some extremely lopsided competitive drama.
At the Final 10 stage, Team Dana has 7 artists, and I (Lam) had 3.
My team at the Final 8 was further decimated: Team Dana 7, Team Lam 1.
For the finals tonight, Team Lam’s soul survivor, fan favourite alt-rocker Michelle Chamuel is now up against much better odds against only 2: Team Dana’s Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers (who I honestly believe will be splitting the Country vote).
May the best Voice (& Coach) win!
The Voice beat Idol in ratings for the first time this season.
American Idol had its lowest Finals viewership in years.
Currently, at least half its judges will be replaced for next season.
Unless the format changes substantially, though, it’s tough to see the rating trends turn around.
It’s taken some time, but The Voice now illustrates that swinging on a star holds much stronger appeal than merely being commented on or judged by a star.
see also: Mashable’s 2011 take on #TheVoice.
So now what do we have to say for ourselves?…
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Lam Tang, Principal, ThatGuyWriting Brand Consultancy