When the best contestant doesn’t win: talent show judging flawed
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 20:09
“America’s Got Talent” made number one on the top 50 most watched programs this summer with an audience of 12.61 million, according to insidetv.ew.com. Viewers across the country tune into talent shows like “America’s Got Talent” to see contestants compete for record contracts or large sums of money.
Assistant Voice professor Noël Archambeault says the music industry today is influenced by image and less focused on talent or musicality. Archambeault says some shows do a better job at judging contestants fairly than others.
Sophomore Katie Ryan says she loves watching “America’s Got Talent” because of the variation of performances, but says she doesn’t think judges are always fair when judging contestants. Fan favorites that attract viewers may influence whether the most talented contestants are eliminated, Ryan says.
“Dancing with the Stars” caters to viewer favorites when it brings back celebrity all-stars from the previous 14 seasons. Pamela Anderson, Drew Lachey, Joey Fatone and other returning celebrities will begin competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy starting on Sept. 24.
Communication Professor Juliet Dee says when she watched ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” the element of eliminating a talented contestant made her cringe. She says these shows demonstrate a commentary on our extremely competitive American culture. She says she would prefer to watch a show that does not include an elimination process or cutthroat competition.
Judges on NBC’s “The Voice” do not face contestants during auditions in an effort to remain unbiased. Unlike other talent shows, the judges participate in the competition by acting as the contestants’ mentors. During the blind audition, judges select mentees for their team by pressing a buzzer.
The elimination process begins when two contestants from the same coach battle by singing the same song. Finalists compete through a live performance show, judged on vocal skills and stage presence.
Archambeault says she enjoyed “The Sing Off” because the judges were good at focusing on the contestants’ voices since it was an a capella competition. “The Sing Off” was not renewed for a fourth season.
Dee says she would imagine herself in the judging position when watching “The Sing Off.”
“When I listened to the three judges on ‘The Sing Off’ I was trying to figure out if my analysis of the a capella groups’ singing abilities were the same as the judges,” Dee says. “Sometimes you hear what groups were better versus other groups that struggled with something like a key change.”
Dee says talent shows provide young people with an opportunity that they would not have received otherwise. She says the shows function as an opportunity for those who do not have the means to move to big cities.
Dee says they typically do not capture the most talented artists.
“The most talented singers and dancers are in New York City performing on Broadway, in the New York City Ballet, or singing with the Metropolitan Opera,” Dee says. “The best people are already professionals or performing in Los Angeles in Hollywood movies.”