With “The Voice” and “American Idol” almost having their finales collide with one another this month, 24 hours separating them didn’t seem to make much difference in showing how similar they really are. With female singers on both shows arguably being the best lineup in the show’s history, you have to wonder what’s going on when the male singers clearly had a weaker talent pool. It’s worth pondering who’s really watching those shows and if their audiences have truly changed from what we thought they were.
The best way to analyze that is to look back to past “Idol” shows when a male and female were pitted against each other for the crown. There was a recurring pattern that seemingly hasn’t changed, despite “The Voice” appearing to alter things.
The Patterns of Male Singers Winning
In the last five years, adults who watch “American Idol” were bemoaning one fact: Any male singer with a fashionable look, a good pop sensibility, and a guitar looked to be unstoppable on “Idol.” While rocker Caleb Johnson this year breaks from this slightly, there was hope that the young teen demographic growing up with the show had moved on to something else in the last few seasons. Those who remember the time Taylor Hicks won over the more deserving Katharine McPhee in 2006 understand the specific patterns that went into males seeming to win most years.
Back then, older viewers were still watching “Idol”, giving some slight explanation in how an older Hicks managed to pull out a win. Since then, mostly male pop singers have won, giving indication young teen girls have hijacked the phone lines in order to make sure the male always win, no matter how talented the female singers are. And this year, there was clearly no better singer on “Idol” than Jena Irene. Not only did she have outstanding vocal chops, she was able to recreate virtually any song given to her, all while sitting pensively behind a piano.
Not that we should expect the very best singer to ever win “Idol.” Singers with overwhelmingly great voices have frequently been voted out and gone on to better careers than they would have winning. Most singers probably realize now that losing “Idol” is the best thing that can happen to them now to avoid being tied to a years-long contract.
In that regard, are all the outstanding female singers the show keeps getting going to be voted out in the future? There seems to be an indication that the young teen demographic is still hijacking the lines in order to make sure a male pop star wins. Also, the southern U.S. contingent can’t be counted out since they’ve always been strong on “Idol” voting. With winner Caleb Johnson from North Carolina, the southern states likely came through again as they once did for Taylor Hicks.
If “Idol” still has that teen demographic, is the same thing happening over at “The Voice?”
“The Voice” as a More Mature “Idol”
Some people have likely pictured “The Voice” as the singing contest real adults watch. However, they’ve had a similar situation “Idol” is facing: The female singers are so amazing that it’s painful when they’re all voted out one by one. Male singers on the show were arguably better than the ones on “Idol” by far. In fact, you can say “The Voice” seems to find better overall singers, regardless of gender. With far too many outstanding female singers on the show this year, though, it’s almost inexplicable one didn’t win.
Does this mean “The Voice” is still being secretly invaded by the teen girl contingent? This year’s winner, Josh Kaufman, seems to fall under the “Idol” scenario of the pop singer with a slightly better voice than usual. But was it really better than the amazing vocal ability of Christina Grimmie? To those who understand voice capability, Grimmie would have been the better choice, and Adam Levine obviously understood this by signing her to his record label. The same could have been said about the other departed women like Tess Boyer, Kat Perkins, and Bria Kelly.
All of this sends the message that a technically perfect singer isn’t any guarantee of a win on TV’s singing competitions. Not that we don’t know a pop singer is usually more about a look than the ability to actually sing. Nevertheless, there might be added confusion to it all when you consider the last two seasons of “The Voice” had female winners.
It all comes down to whoever invades the phone lines on one particular night. This year, it may have been the revenge of the teenagers who might have invaded “The Voice” lines because it didn’t collide with the “Idol” finale.