The Voice is a bullshit vehicle for stars with dead careers

image from an episode of 30 Rock
Image via an episode of 30 Rock

I do not watch shows like The Voice or American Idol. I think they are lame. I’m all for entertainment and shit, capitalism is whatever, but the false hope that these shows instill in the thousands of forgettable people who are featured season after season makes me sick.

It’s true that SOME people have come out of singing competitions like American Idol with a successful singing career. Kelly Clarkson had a good run. That bald guy from American Idol is doing okay I guess. Clay Aiken was on an episode of 30 Rock once. Out of the 13 seasons of American Idol, Carrie Underwood is by far the most successful. But that’s 13 seasons and only 4 people that are only kinda-maybe culturally relevant today.

As for “The Voice”, I can’t even tell you one person who has had mainstream success. That’s because it’s a pretty transparent vehicle to launch the stagnant careers of its already famous, millionaire coaches.

Exhibit A: Gwen Stefani’s new single “Baby Don’t Lie”

As you may or may not know, Gwen Stefani is a coach on the current season of “The Voice.” Which is weird, right? Because she hasn’t been relevant in the music industry since her solo albums in the mid 2000s. Sure, No Doubt tried to come back in 2012 with their album “Push and Shove” but it didn’t really land anywhere mainstream.

But wait! Today (October 27) she just released a new solo single called “Baby Don’t Lie,” while she is currently serving as a coach on “The Voice.” What a coincidence. Where does she find the time?! I mean, when’s a better time to try and restart your music career than when you’ve been hired to “coach” a “singing competition” on network television?

Exhibit B: Rotating judges on “The Voice” and subsequent releases

Christina Aguilera? Dead career. Usher? Pretty sure dead career, but maybe I’m just not aware of his phantom hits somewhere. Cee Lo Green? “Fuck You” was cool 4 years ago. Shakira? Released a song with Rihanna called “Can’t Remember to Forget You” in between her season 4 and season 6 coaching duties.

Don’t even get me started on Maroon 5. (PLZ for the love of god stop howling at the moon on the radio) I don’t even know what a Blake Shelton is so I won’t go there.

In addition to using the show to promote their own music careers, the fact that the coaches actually perform on “The Voice” chaps me to the core of my chapable human parts. It’s not about you, famous people. JESUS. 

Take this video, for example, of Gwen Stefani performing her biggest solo hit ever “Hollaback Girl” on “The Voice.” I love Gwen Stefani, really. But she is not a singer that I would regard as being able to give anyone a whole lot of singing tips. Especially when the song she chooses to perform on the singing competition show is one where she is talk-singing over backing vocals. Which is totally fine, I ain’t no vocal performance snob. But it’s a singing competition show. The point of it is singing well, not getting by with what ya got. That’s called real life.

Exhibit C: The music industry has been wearing sweatpants in its mom’s basement for over a decade

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Look, we all know the music industry struggles everyday to make money. Small artists definitely struggle, and big artists struggle to make millions off of their music, not including the 7 perfumes they launched this year and a fucking clothing line at Kmart.

Blame it on Napster, blame it on people not respecting time-based art, blame it on the rain. Probably blame it on MTV somehow too.

Let’s not be idealistic idiots. Money is fun. These coaching gigs pay a fuckton of money, so I understand why someone would want to be a coach on a huge show like “The Voice.” They not only get a sick paycheck but they also get to promote their brand. Neat. But taking advantage of these idiot nobody singers (I say with love!) trying to make it big in a show that will never make them big is fucking rude.

Let’s get real: most of these nobody singers are not going to have a singing career after their stints on “The Voice.” They are used as props to fuel viewer engagement and promote the artists telling them they’re “great” and they “love what ur doing” and “ur gonna b a star.” As sickly entertaining as it is to watch people’s dreams get crushed on shows like these, can’t we find another way to promote music on primetime TV that doesn’t involve monetizing false hope in the hearts of starving singers?

COMMENT BELOW and tell me what you think.

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Why I love the Kardashians and why you should respect them

Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom Renew Their Wedding Vows on Their 1st Anniversary-Party I am sick of celebrities, random twitter and my dad saying that the Kardashians are stupid. Or bullshit. Or talentless. Or whores. Just stop it already. I am floored that people like Katie Couric, who are ALSO intelligent entertainment and business talents, don’t realize why the Kardashians are famous. Really?! REALLY. Have you ever seen their show, Ms. Couric? Do you not realize how opportunity mixed with insanely smart marketing, naturally entertaining personalities and EIGHT SEASONS of a successful reality show made this family famous and a household name? REALLY?!

alg-kardashian-sisters-jpg You know what, Katie Couric and everyone else who hates the Kardashians? They are awesome. I have seen every episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and their spinoffs, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami and Kourtney and Kim Take New York and I (along with my kool friends) have loved every minute of the rich, beautiful and super dysfunctional family drama. It’s like a modernized version of a soap opera where the characters live on forever on screen and in the pages of our real life magazines. Talk about some meta as fuck, never-ending performance art.

And really, you don’t have to like them. That’s not what I’m writing about. But can we put an end to the tired “Why are they famous?” question? This is why they’re famous and super awesome:

  1. Kim Kardashian made a sex tape. And? A) quit shaming women for having sex and seeking kinky pleasure. We R ppl with sex parts 2. It’s boring, rude and misogynistic.  Get. Over. This. One moment in time defines no one. B) who cares, this country is obsessed with sex anyways, so why not take advantage of a leaked/distributed sex tape to launch your career? Opportunity people. Take an unfortunate thing and turn it into a fortunate thing. This is like, success 101. C) If you haven’t taken naked selfies I feel bad for you son / you got 99 problems and naked pics is one. 

    The-Kardashian-Sisters-the-kardashians-11869128-729-1000
    dat biz
  2. They are business women.  Long before the sex tape release, the Kardashians ran a small business-and still do. Their chic fashion boutiques called D-A-S-H first opened in Calabasas, CA in 2006. The stores are owned and operated by Kourtney, Khloe and Kim. They now have stores in Miami and New York City. D-A-S-H is also the underlying story line of the first couple of season of KUWTK and the main reason for the spinoff season in Miami and New York. It’s cool to see young women in their 20s owning and operating their own store. Dare I say it’s inspirational for young girls to see a group of young, hip, beautiful women successfully running a small business?
  3. Their family is dysfunctional as fuck, blended and beautiful.
    When Brody confronted Kris about her materialistic lifestyle and why he wasn't included as much in their family as a child.
    When Brody confronted Kris about her materialistic lifestyle and why he wasn’t included as much in their family as a child.

     Really, what family isn’t dysfunctional? There’s like a billion kids in the Kardashian/Jenner family due to marriage, divorce, marriage, children, half siblings, step kids, etc. This probably looks waaaay more like the modern American family more so than parents who have been married since high school and have 2.5 kids. The show doesn’t shy away from the more awkward moments of family dynamics, like when Khloe’s biological father mystery was brought into question, or when Bruce’s sons from his second marriage (Brody and Brandon) began to vocalize why they felt they were never included much in the Jenner/Kardashian family growing up. Sometimes it’s hard to watch, but it’s relatable as all hell to a lot of different people who grew up in blended families.

  4. They have really great vagina moments. Like when Khloe burns her vagina on wax and has Kourtney put mayonnaise on it for her because mayo soothes AND shines the good ol’ vag. When Kourtney delivered her own baby and they filmed it (if that isn’t punk rock as shit I don’t know what is). When they had a vagina smell-off in London to see if eating pineapple really makes it smell sweeter. Hilarity. Vaginas vaginas vaginas.
  5. They provide a different kind of reality programming.
    that shit CRAY
    that shit CRAY

     Think about the other reality programs that are on TV. I don’t want to demean the other shows because they are super entertaining too. But come on, Real Housewives? Heyo plastic surgery, rampant materialism, alcoholism, dated gender roles, horrible role models for how any woman or man should act. Bridalplasty? Bridezilla? All women are SO crazy on their wedding day! All they care about is the perfect wedding! PUKE. Pretty Wild? Anything Paris Hilton was in? Every girl is a wild party girl who doesn’t know anything about anything! I think the Kardashians are the most positive role models for young women on reality television, given the competition. They run multiple businesses, have difficult personal relationships that they constantly work on (just like us!), are honest about feeling inadequate/fat/ugly, get cosmetic shit done and show it on television because lookin’ good takes WORK (vampire facelift, cellulite removal), support each other, get in fights with their siblings and later apologize, show a strong work ethic, take care of themselves, spend time with family, etc.

  6. THEY ARE ENTERTAINING. Khloe is absolutely hilarious, it’s fun to watch the whole family make fun of Kim and Kris, and Rob embodies every moment of self doubt, worthlessness and self fat-shaming you’ve ever had in your life.  Despite the fame and wealth, these people are fucking relatable.

The Kardashians are entertaining. They have a crazy family dynamic. They are a successful bunch of strong, business-minded women who totally outshine all of the men in the show (sorry dudes but it’s true). I’m not asking anyone to like them, but you can at least give credit where credit is due. *Drops Kardashian Kollection mic*

U LUV THEM
U LUV THEM

Pop culture: Is the lyric video the new music video?

Lady Gaga’s lyric video for “Applause”

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Katy Perry and Lady Gaga both released singles this week ahead of schedule due to leaks (duh, welcome to the internet and 2008). Along with their single releases, they both have released lyric videos to go along with their singles. You know, to give the drooling pop obsessed masses (yo what up thats me 2) something to look at while the real video gets made, and so the artist/record label can make official money off the ads from youtube. Holla fo that dolla. But really, have we entered a new era of the music video?

TRL! my heart strings are a-pullin'. miss u 4ever.
TRL! my heart strings are a-pullin’. miss u 4ever.

The first music video to ever grace MTV was The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.” LOL. 4shadowing FTW. MTV gave music videos a great place to live until they decided ain’t nobody got time fo that shit. They cut down the regularly scheduled music video programming to an hour and a half after school on Total Request Live, or belovedly, TRL. In case you were living on Mars, Russia or a home where your parents banned television (my condolences), TRL was awesome. It was a place where kids got to call in (USING LANDLINE PHONES!!!!!) to request their favorite music videos and hopefully get their Britney or NSYNC vid to the number 1 spot. It was such a big fucking deal. I actually miss it.

Since TRL’s cancellation in 2008 (R.I.P. 4ever and PLEASE bring this show back on the internet. seriously. SRSLY), the music video has had a pretty much exclusive internet platform, because let’s be real: MTV2 couldn’t even keep to its word that it would be the real music video channel, and VH1 LOL. Throw in internet file sharing and the money-losing scramble of the music industry over the past decade, our poor little Music Video has suffered quite a lot in quality, budget and creativity.

first lyric video However, out of a seemingly doomed medium of sonic visual expression came a little thing called the Lyric Video. It’s a modest, bastardly child of the once great Music Video. The first lyric videos started off with horrible fonts and and a gross blue screen. You’ve seen them. They’ve come a long way since Windows 2000 though. Now they’ve got pretty colors and exciting fonts. The joy!

a still of Ke$ha's lyric video for "Die Young"
a still of Ke$ha’s lyric video for “Die Young”

Somewhere along the line, a music exec/artist/manager not completely fucked up on blow realized how many views theses videos get, how CHEAP it is to make them, and how useful it would be to slap ads on an official lyric video and make some extra dollaz.

Good job, music industry. It only took you about 8 years to figure that shit out.

Anyways, it seems more and more with big time releases to put out a lyric video while the actual video gets made, if one even gets made. The lyric video has sort of become a toe in the water to see if a real music video would be a lucrative venture or a compete waste of time and money. But is this creating a greater creative divide between video formats for songs? If the lyric video is the cheap, low-key video version of the song, then will real music videos in turn become something more cinematic? Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see.

Taylor Swift released both a lyric video and an official video for her single “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Swift’s lyric video has over 27 million views, and the official video has nearly 175 million views. That’s over 200 million views combined. That’s a lot of fucking views.

T swift and her font-y lyric video
T swift and her font-y lyric video

Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ke$ha have all released lyric videos this year for songs. If it hasn’t become a huge norm to release a lyric video, it’s going to be. Especially since both Katy Perry and Gaga released lyric videos quickly after their songs leaked. It’s a great way to make a little quick, extra money ahead of a budgeted music video, give the fans something official to watch and deliver a cheaply made but (hopefully) creative video to accompany a new single.

After all, throwing money at something like art doesn’t always make it good. Put restrictions in place, like money, time and scrolling lyrics, and see how creative artists can get within those boundaries. Who knows. We may have our next piece of musical cinematic brilliance in a 2 Chainz lyric video. Maybe not. All I know is, we are entering a new era of videos made for visually enjoying and interacting with modern music. Thank god a new creative platform has come to the music industry, cuz it’s about goddamn time.