Why I No Longer Believe in NBC's "The Voice"

So it's been a hectic weekend. My loving and adorable boyfriend went to try out for The Voice in St. Louis. He was supposed to try out last season in NYC but ended up getting strep throat so bad that his uvula was sitting on the back of his tongue--so he didn't get to go.

So as soon as I checked their site and saw that they were auditioning again, I let him know and he signed up.

Now as many of you know, my boyfriend Donnie Smith is a local musician here in Charleston, West Virginia. There are not many who can hold a candle to him, vocally. Sorry, Charleston. Nothing against any of you guys; because he could out-sing over half of the finalists last season on The Voice. He's got a clear powerhouse tenor voice that is full of soul, it's not pitchy at all and his annunciation is perfection. You don't get a leading role in productions of Jesus Christ Superstar by being a bad singer, let's just say that.


          (L to R: Donnie Smith, Dylan Burkhammer)

Anyway, I digress.

My parents have become very big supporters of his music as well, and have been doing crazy amounts of word-of-mouth promotions for his career. So my parents, Donnie, our dogs and myself all piled into a rental car this weekend and set out to St. Louis.

We got there a day early so we could settle in and let my mom give us a tour or St. Louis and outlying cities, since she used to live in the area. We stayed in a nice hotel, swam, shopped, dined and relaxed as much as possible.

The morning before the audition, my parents told Donnie that the country-hipster girl who won by a hair last season had just been on the news. She gave out different information than The Voice's guidelines did. The guidelines stated that he needed two 30 second acapella pieces ready. The Danielle Bradbury girl stated that you needed three full acapella songs prepared.

And the nerves began.

A day before the auditions and we're getting new information. So Donnie spends the rest of the night trying to figure out three full songs to do acapella in case he needs them instead...

So, the day of the auditions is finally upon on. We pack up everything in the hotel, get in the car and head downtown. There's a nervous silence in the car until it was parked. We get to the St. Louis University campus, park nearby and head over. It was only like 11:45am and the audition wasn't until 2pm, but Donnie went inside to be in the front of the line.

We stood outside, walked the dogs, sat around and people started really piling in around 1pm. There were people from all walks of life, but even before his audition started I already began noticing a trend of the turn-aways. They were mostly dressed like country artists.. cowboy boots and hats, jeans, dresses with denim vests, etc. Most everyone I saw with a red card looked like they just walked out of a Maroon 5 concert. Skinny jeans and bad personalities.

So then I began to wonder; is The Voice laying off country music since Blake Shelton has "won" three years in a row? Which, I think is ridiculous. As far as coaches go (last season) Usher was the only coach who actually HELPED his people. Usher made his people box while they sang so they could control their breathing. Who takes someone to karaoke to prepare for an ACTUAL singing competition? Blake Shelton.

Hell, even my parents don't know much about being a vocalist, but they could coach better than Blake Shelton.

Anyway, he gets in there and I don't have my phone. I left it at the hotel on accident. Ooops. That's what happens when I get rushed. So, here we are, sitting outside, watching all these teenagers/early 20's line the sidewalk in the most ridiculous and/or skimpy outfits you could imagine. They were dressed like they were going to the club at the Jersey Shore. Again, Maroon 5 concert.. skinny jeans and bad personalities.

So, we're sitting out in the overcast sun--baking without knowing it, listening to people sing as they walk by. Some can't even carry a tune in a bucket and some miraculously come back with red cards while the people who can really wail are walking away empty-handed and broken-hearted.

So my question is: What kind of competition is it, if the vocally talented don't make it through?

I've known three people to try out for this show, two of which are extremely talented. None of the three made it past the initial audition. So what does it take?

If people like Garrett Gardner can make it into the finalist rounds (albeit Shakira, the vibrato goat, was the only one rooting for him) then obviously, this isn't an actual competition. I mean, Christ. Shakira couldn't even pass the initial audition if it was based on vocal talent. Anybody can add vibrato. Vibrato does not equal talent.

But again, I digress.

My parents leave to get more drinks and I take the dogs over and dip them in the koi pond to cool them off. On my way back across the field, I see my boyfriend. He has his sunglasses on and I can't tell.

"Are you okay?" I asked, hopeful. He shakes his head slowly and my heart sinks.

I've never been so blind-sided in my life. I've been through a lot of things, as you all know, but this really takes the cake.

Telling a talented person they didn't make it and letting mediocrity advance is despicable. Someone who has raw talent, an unspeakable drive, heart, soul and passion versus some vapid 18 year old beauty queen in a short dress singing the same song as the last 200 girls? I'm sorry, but I choose talent every time.

(Examples of what was "talented" today)

So, to NBC's "The Voice" producers: Stop wasting talented people's time. You once held esteem in the musical community for not selling out like American Idol. But you groom your competitions to sell. I see that now. And so has every other talented person who was unjustly overlooked.

And to anyone looking to compete: Do it. If you're bad at singing and dress like a hooker/hipster, expect a red card and a call back. If you're original, talented and have a voice that blows every other singer out of the water by a longshot--you're going to be turned down and you'll have to work to the top the good ole' fashioned way.

I do promotions and publications for a living. NBC is a corporation. They pay for these shows by having sponsors/commercials. Sex sells. Talent is passed up for eye candy and more people tune in. I was really hopeful that talent was still valued in today's society, but I'm starting to be disappointed. I'm sorry to say it, but I will no longer be watching "The Voice" because now I see.


I agree with you, but sadly this is how new artists are being found. It's no longer about talent, it's about what a random TV producer thinks will make good TV. Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and many others would have never made the cut either.

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