Well, it finally happened. After two hours of deliberate time-wasting, endless guest performances, and the obligatory obnoxious Kia product placement, the announcement was made—Blake Shelton finally won The Voice with a country star. It's his third victory in four seasons and his second consecutive win using the tried-and-true approach of "pretty white girl wears prom dresses and sings country ballads." 'Murica loves it some pretty white girl action.
Anyway, congrats and good luck and all that; chances are that newly crowned champ Danielle Bradbury will need it. Winning The Voice is, in theory, a great starting point to any music career what with the national exposure on a major network, making real connections in the music industry, and gaining experience and guidance from some hugely influential names in the field. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, despite the success of The Voice itself—which often rivals American Idol in the ratings and is basically the only show making money for NBC these days—the actual winners of The Voice are notably absent from the gravy train. The Season 1 winner, Javier Colon, left Universal Republic after the release of his debut album over production and marketing disagreements. The Season 2 winner, Jermaine Paul, still hasn't released an album (it's supposed to be out in December, though), and despite debuting his first original single on the very show that initially introduced him to millions of viewers, the single has failed to chart. Season 3 winner Cassadee Pope's post-Voice success has been modest at best.
Meanwhile, even many of the "losers" on Idol have gone on to very successful music careers—Adam Lambert was a runner-up in the finals and Jennifer Hudson placed seventh during her time on the show. But The Voice's winners just seem to disappear after their victories, popping in for an obligatory appearance on the show's next season before hopping into their complimentary Kias and puttering back to the ether of minor musical celebrity.
I'm not sure what the underlying problem is; maybe the artists aren't being marketed properly following their wins or America just sucks at picking out enduring talent or The Voice isn't as invested in it's contestants as it claims to be. Admittedly, I'm really not invested enough in any of the winners to apply too much brainpower to thinking of a solution. However, I'm not alone in my observation. After four seasons of being the biggest thing on NBC's schedule and one of the biggest things on TV period, The Voice's inability to produce a household name in the tradition of Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood is becoming a bit of an oddity, a distraction, and definitely a teensy bit of a credibility smasher.
After all, what are we cheering for as viewers if this is the last time we see our favorite contestant attain any kind of huge, primetime success? What's the point, if we know that The Voice ultimately can't deliver? Why is a silly reality show giving me an existential crisis?
The talent is there, certainly, and it was especially good this season, which was in no short supply of incredible voices and personalities. The show is insanely popular. The question of why this doesn't translate to success for the show's alumni is a debate for someone who's better versed in the nuances of the music industry and how The Voice actually works (or doesn't) in that system, and I'm not that person. However, I do think it's telling of the show's priorities that, since The Voice began airing, it may not've produced even modest stars from its ranks, but its judges' careers—which were already pretty solid to begin with—have gone into overdrive. Adam Levine acts now... if that's what we want to call his one long death scene on American Horror Story: Asylum, Blake Shelton has never been a bigger deal, even Cee Lo's freaking cat has a Twitter.
Anyway, that's a lot of deep thought for NBC's cash cow that probably cost them like $1.50 to make, so to recap the finale, Danielle Bradbury of Team Blake won. Michelle Chamuel of Team Usher placed second and the Swon Brothers, also of Team Blake, finished in third. Bruno Mars, Bob Segar, Cher, and a bunch of other musicians with nothing better to do performed. Christina Aguilera lost the baby weight. Everybody got a Kia. And of all the little skits sprinkled throughout the two-hour celebration of shallow, the spelling bee one made me irrationally angry because I'm weird (and it was dumb). The fan-submitted impressions of the judges made me laugh really hard, though.
Here's the performance that won Danielle B. the title:
And here's the big announcement:
– Are you happy with the season 4 results?
– Did your favorites make it to the finals?
– Cee Lo and Xtina are returning for Season 5; you in?
– Should Adam and Blake take a break?
– Why aren't any of The Voice's winners SOOPER successful?