The Voice Proves That You Can Play Nice and Community Can Be Done Right

This past weekend, we did a marathon DVR viewing of the last 8 hours of the first season of THE VOICE and we were impressed.  Finally, a reality competition show that was not mean spirited in the least.  OK, maybe it sometimes ventured on too lovey-dovey. But, there were no contestants set up for ratings-driving failure embarrassments or nasty arguments among judges or subversiveness/plotting between contestants.  While the first couple episodes looked like the judges/coaches might turn catty, a few episodes later showed their budding friendship. And seriously, the relationship between Beverly and Frenchie seemed to be making Beverly’s partner tense. Oh, and I loved how looks, sexual preference and backgrounds played no part in the competition.  As advertised, it was just about the voice.

It was proof that you could do a competition show without bowing to the basest denominator.  There were fun and good performances throughout and there really wasn’t any opportunity to question choices.  And mostimportantly, nothing seemed over-directed or manipulated.

Perhaps some of the charm derived from the fact that the production as a whole seemed like a David going aganst a Goliath in the realm of music competition shows.  But it could have easily degraded into an also-ran like so many other reality biters who came before. Perhaps it was the fact that it came together so quickly that made it seem more real and, dare I say, wholesome.

On a total side note (purely because of my design background), I’ve got to point out that the set was unbelievable in how they were really able to reflect any song’s mood, location, whatever, by fully utilizing video panels both in the floor and in the backdrops.  It was certainly award worthy and I hadn’t seen anything like it except for during the Grammy’s at Staples. Truly a phenomenal job.

Ultimately, a large part of their success could be tied to their incorporation of social media that seemed to quickly bridge the gap between the show and its fans.  It was a “special sauce” that added a certain oomph to the performances and the characters of the performers and their coaches. They were one of the first major shows – if not the first – to aggressively push their hash-tag and all of their major players’ hash-tags to drive Twitter engagement.  And to have the # in the watermark was tasteful and effective. Some “live” interaction seemed forced, but in more cases than not, it strongly supplanted what could have been lame backstage interviews with no supposed fan involvement.

Their website made full use of the available resources as well in order to truly provide a fuller sense of community. And their inclusion of iTunes purchases as voting mechanisms was genius.  I would rather spend a buck to vote AND get a track with it, then spend money on an 855 number to just phone it in with no “ROI”.  That too provided an opportunity for added value for the community.

Only time will tell if they do not become a victim of their own success, but if they can keep the egos in check, continue to bring in strong talent and foster a true sense of community – both within the show and socially, it will be something to be proud of as a larger community.

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