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The Voice: My embarrassing personal awakening

- December 16th, 2012

Christina Aguilera 4

Judge not lest you be judged? Hardly.

Perhaps the best way to gauge what reality-competition television shows do for the careers of their hosts is to analyze it on a really personal level.

The hottest reality-competition series right now is The Voice (NBC, CTV), and I’ll be 100%, embarrassingly honest about it.

The background: I’m a big music person historically, but because my job focus these days is TV rather than music, my musical world is limited to the music I prefer – like any average fan – rather than keeping up on the entire industry. So …

1) I had never heard of Blake Shelton before he was a judge on The Voice. Recently during the Grammy Nominations Concert Live broadcast (CBS, Global), Shelton got nominated for something, and I was like, “Hey, the guy from The Voice.”

2) While I had heard of the band Maroon 5, I did not know Adam Levine’s name, and I could not have picked him out of a police lineup before he was a judge on The Voice. Now, when I see him performing, as I did on the Grammy noms show, or in a recurring role on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX Canada), I think, “Hey, it’s that Moves Like Jagger guy from The Voice.”

3) I vaguely was aware of Ce Lo Green before The Voice, but I initially thought his performing name was Gnarls Barkley. Turns out that was a musical duo, of which Green was one-half (the shorter half, I presume). But I knew the 2006 song Crazy, which was everywhere.

4) Of course, I was well aware of Christina Aguilera (pictured above) long before The Voice. But admittedly, that had more to do with her, um, “assets” than her music. To this day, I don’t think I could name one of her songs. Nothing against her, it’s just not my genre.

The wider point being, with the music business essentially in the toilet, there is definite value for Shelton, Levine, Green and Aguilera – and their cohorts on other reality shows – to appear on these projects, at least for a year or two.

It keeps their names “out there.”

There isn’t a direct impact on CDs any more, with sales of actual physical CDs dwindling every day. But when you’re talking about touring, or appearances on other TV shows or in movies, either as themselves or as actors, any added “face time” with the public provides a leg up on the competition for a piece of an ever-shrinking pie.

Being on a high-profile reality show sends the message that you’re “relevant” – not necessarily to people who keenly follow modern music, but more to the vast majority of the population that follows music only casually or peripherally.

You know, people like me.

I know who Blake Shelton and Adam Levine and Ce Lo Green are now. And Christina Aguilera, you just keep doin’ whatever it is you do.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv