While flipping through the channels on Monday night, I ended up catching the last 20 minutes or so of The Voice blind auditions. This was the first time I watched the show since the premiere of the first season, which I also just so happened to catch while flipping through the channels. The fact that I didn’t tune into the show again isn’t to say that I don’t like it. I did enjoy it, and I also think that it is infinitely better than American Idol, which lost me after the second season due to complete and utter boredom. The truth is, The Voice, while entertaining, just didn’t excite me enough to want to tune in every week. And so I didn’t, and then I completely forgot about it.
This season is different because when I saw that the show was on, I remembered that I recently read on Facebook that Charlotte Sometimes would be competing, and that excited me to no end!
Charlotte Sometimes is an immensely talented singer/songwriter with one of the most unique voices I have ever heard. I gravitate heavily towards unique voices that can’t help but simply be what they are without trying to sound like something else. I have been a fan of hers for a number of years now, since I first heard her music stream on Pandora. I heard the song “Sweet Valium High” and immediately got my hands on her CD, Waves and the Both of Us. I listened to that CD nearly every day for almost a year while working full-time as a web designer and developer for a fairly large company that was quickly sucking my soul from me with every new project I was assigned. I was overworked, miserable, loathed my job, but I rocked out to that CD while sitting at my computer for hours on end, and her songs never got old.
Naturally, after the episode ended, I proceed to go to the NBC website and catch up on the four episodes that I missed. I watched those episodes back-to-back in one night, and when I finally saw Charlotte Sometimes’ blind audition, I couldn’t help but re-watch it more times than I can possibly count. It is awesome.
If it weren’t for Charlotte Sometimes being on this season of The Voice there’s a very good chance that I wouldn’t be watching it; but because she is, I have something to be excited about and a reason to tune in every week.
I have seen a lot of people criticize the fact that Charlotte Sometimes is competing on The Voice, given that in 2008 she was signed to Geffen Records and released her first full album under that label. However, Dia Frampton, who competed in the first season, was also known in the music industry before being on the show.
As part of the duo Meg & Dia, she released six EPs and four full albums, two of which, Something Real in 2006 and Here, Here and Here in 2009, were released under Doghouse Records and Warner Bros. In August 2011, the last Meg & Dia album, Cocoon, was released independently, and because of her success on The Voice, Dia Frampton was able to release her solo album Red under Universal Republic Records in December 2011.
Just as Dia Frampton was widely unknown before appearing on The Voice, the same is true for Charlotte Sometimes, who has released two EPs independently since her 2008 studio album Waves and the Both of Us.
I think that the competition reality television world has taught us to assume that everyone who tries out and competes on a talent-based show is or should be an amateur seeking their 15 minutes of fame. In reality, these people have worked for the better part of their lives, giving their craft everything they have, in order to get their name and their talent out into the world. Just because a singer/songwriter, a duo, or a band is at one point signed to a label of some sort or releases an album does not mean that they have necessarily achieved the level of success that is presumed with being signed to a label or having an album.
My partner is a professional guitarist. In 2005, he independently released an instrumental guitar album. You can buy it on Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, and other various websites, and you can listen to it on Spotify and Last.FM. He has achieved a level of success that, according to some, should disqualify him from attempting to propel himself and his music further out into the world through the outlet of a competition reality television show. However, the reality of his success tells a completely different story. He got lucky in the sense that he is able to work within the music industry, but the fact of the matter is that he relies on having that job. He has also been giving guitar lessons online for several years. The fact that he has an album out did not suddenly make him wealthy enough to quit his job and live on money coming from album sales. The same is true for artists who are being told that they don’t belong somewhere or shouldn’t be able to be part of something because people have unknowingly assumed that they have achieved enough or do not deserve the chance to become more widely known.
The fact that The Voice has opened their platform to also allow artists who have been struggling within the music industry to compete is only a good thing. It gives that artist the platform to reach more people and to gain new fans who appreciate the work that they love to do, and it’s good for the show because those same people will bring their fans along for the journey as they compete week after week, just as Charlotte Sometimes has compelled me to make sure I tune into The Voice this season.