With season two of “The Voice” concluded, we offer a look back at the season and what might lie ahead for the show and its final four, Chris Mann, Tony Lucca, runner-up Juliet Simms and winner Jermaine Paul.
1. TWO CHAMPS IN ONE YEAR? If the rumors are true — and we will know on Monday — “The Voice” will be part of NBC’s fall lineup where its musical competition on FOX will be “The X Factor.” Come holiday time it would mean a second “Voice” winner for 2012. One pro for this year’s cast — a promotional opportunity for them to launch albums or singles. A con: With the structures similar — teams, mentors, voting, etc. — the shows need to devise strong marketing tools so fans can keep the contestants straight.
2. CAN “THE VOICE” CREATE A STAR? In its current configuration, the answer remains no. The top four receive the same amount of airtime, which is limited when compared to the number of times winners are seen on “American Idol” and “X Factor.” Think about it. Jermaine Paul made four performances, about the same number as the eight-place finishers on the other shows. Likeable as his personality is — and as strong as his voice is — without potential hit singles on an album, the two things working in his favor are insufficient. He has to have great songs.
3. THE BIG WINNER AMONG THE RUNNER-UPS? Chris Mann. “The Voice” was a weekly audition for Mann, not necessarily to secure the Universal Republic deal and the $100,000 prize, but to establish himself as a rising star in the popera category. His identity was strong from the start, he possesses a voice with personality and a winning stage presence, and his a known quantity to television viewers who would have no problem turning to PBS to watch him in concert.
4. WERE JULIET AND TONY NOT FAVORITES? The No. 1 reason Tony Lucca believers felt he would take home the prize rested in the number of followers on his Twitter account — half a million plus. Juliet Simms was a rocker, the lone female and the one who had the potential to be a rising star. Ultimately, though, Simms and Mann commandeered musical niches and the Lucca story was too heavy on an apparent rift with Christina Aguilera and his dramatic stylistic change to more of a rock sound.
5. RATE THE COACHES, PART 1. A key element of “The Voice” is watching Aguilera, Adam Levine, CeeLo Green and Blake Shelton provide feedback and musical ideas to the singers. This year, they brought in too many additional side coaches, which made for too many names and faces to remember. Based on their onscreen work, Shelton deserves an A, Levine an A- and a Green a B-. Aguilera deserves either a B- or a D and a trip to the principal’s office to discuss her behavioral issues.
6. RATE THE COACHES, PART 2. In the first season, the coaches were frequently available for interviews after shows and their comments often reflected insightful takes on the show. Access was significantly limited this year to the coaches, with Levine getting an A for taking time to walk red carpets answer questions posed by print and online reporters in addition to the TV magazines. Green and Shelton both get Cs; Aguilera flunked this part of the test.
7. CHANGE IN DIRECTION. Were there more episodes, a gradual build of exposing the artists could naturally flow as the show progressed. As it is now, back stories are crammed in and audiences only see snippets of the long hours they put in. While America is picking its favorites, though, the show continues to push the “team” concept even when they are down to two or a single contestant. By the time “The Voice” is into its semi-finals, viewers have stopped rooting for Team Adam and have latched onto the individuals. The news was Jamar Rogers was eliminated, not Team Cee Lo lost a solid competitor.
8. TWO HOURS TO GET TO A TWO MINUTE ANNOUNCEMENT. “The Voice” finale had strong moments — Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “Rich Girl,” the Jermaine 4 doing “I Want You Back” and Simms unleashing her inner-Joe Cocker on “With a Little Help From My Friends” – but it felt like mish-mash designed to connect with multiple age groups. Justin Bieber’s overly hyped appearance helped hold onto eyeballs, but his song lacks the zip of his earlier hits; Flo Rida and Simms did not make a compelling pairing; and every eliminated female contestant except Erin Willett had tone and pitch issues. The finale did not capitalize on the show’s charms.
9. UNSOLICITED CAREER ADVICE. After the show, Paul said “this is a life changer, a confidence booster and I needed it.” Now he needs to make an album that would appeal to fans of Journey, Seal and Luther Vandross. He needs strong producers and songwriters who will craft songs using classic templates. Simms needs to use “The Voice” as a stepping stone to secure an endorsement from the types of acts she covered. Whether that’s through a duet or an opening slot on a tour, the magic of Simms voice requires a great guitar player alongside her and the sooner she secures that the better. Unlike other singing shows, “The Voice” is not connected with a management company, meaning the singers can stay with old managers or sign with new ones.
10. REMEMBER, ‘AMERICAN IDOL’ IS STILL NO. 1. Much was made of the ratings this year for “The Voice” but it still attracts only about two-thirds as many viewers as “Idol.” Where “Idol” slipped and “The Voice” significantly gained was in the 18-49 demographic that advertisers crave. The three network singing shows deliver that demo audience like few others — ABC’s “Modern Family” and CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” are among the leaders — but the singing shows are best at delivering significant live audiences, meaning the commercials are being watched. As long as those numbers hold, singing will be a big part of network schedules and the combination of seven-figure judges’ salaries and the platform it provides for new music means Aguilera, Levine, Green and Shelton are likely in for an encore.