The Voice is turning up some knockout talent this year.
Passionate singers, soaring notes and diverse backstories, from singing cricketers to trans teens and air crash survivors… there’s been something for everybody.
But trying to name previous season winners -or anybody who has lasting chart success- is tricky.
More than 3 million Australians watched Karise Eden win the inaugural season in 2012 and her “My Journey” album peaked at #1 on the Australian music charts earning double Platinum. Her last album in 2018 just cracked the Top 40 at #37.
Season Two’s Harrison Craig also peaked at #1 with “More Than A Dream.” Anja Nissen made it to #11 when her album was finally released followed by Ellie Drennan #14, Alfie Arcuri #5 and Judah Kelly #3. 2018’s looper Sam Perry is yet to release an album.
Despite initial chart success in a fickle business, commercial popularity is quick as the turn of a big red chair -not just in Australia but seemingly worldwide.
This contrasts to former talent shows Australian Idol and The X Factor creating industry stars in Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Jessica Mauboy, Anthony Callea, Casey Donovan, Rob Mills, Courtney Act, Matt Corby, Axel Whitehead, Stan Walker, Dami Im, Samantha Jade, Johnny Ruffo (note: not all are working in recording).
“The issue may not be one under Nine’s control”
TV exposure has led to club and corporate work for some Voice acts. Yet 8 seasons in, its coaches still talk about finding the next big artist, not just for Australia but for the world.
In its defence the issue may not be one under Nine’s control with artists but with Artist & Repertoire development at Universal Music (both Idol & X Factor were aligned with Sony Music).
Cameron Adams, national music writer for the Herald Sun, tells TV Tonight, “There’s almost an international Voice curse – the show has never discovered one major global star the way the Idol franchise have Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood and X Factor have One Direction and Little Mix. People are more familiar with the musicians who have signed on to be Voice coaches around the world (from Kylie to Miley) than anyone The Voice programs around the world have discovered.
“It’s almost like it focuses on making the best TV show each year”
“It’s almost like it focuses on making the best TV show each year (no crime there) and they figure there’ll be more singers next year, whereas The X Factor in particular had Simon Cowell who came from a record industry background and really wanted to see the people from the show in the charts, not just on TV.
“The X Factor was very good at bringing previous contestants back each season to perform – it’s good for perception that the show can launch a career if viewers see that you’ve been invited back in a guest slot just like Jason DeRulo or whatever other pop star is promoting their new record on the show is. Whereas The Voice seem to be more interested in keeping that guest performance slot for a Katy Perry or similar superstar international guest rather than giving it to their own talent.
“You very rarely hear The Voice talk about previous artists from earlier seasons”
“You very rarely hear The Voice talk about previous artists from earlier seasons, arguably because there’s not much to talk about. Some of the ‘All Stars’ they have brought back this year haven’t really gone on to do that much unfortunately – they’re not all that recognisable – so tellingly they’ve had to find people from other reality shows who have more famous faces.”
Adams acknowledges the mentorship from The Voice coaches but suspects locally-based coaches offer more support long term.
“If you’re on Kelly Rowland’s team you surely don’t think you’re going to be hanging with Beyonce? If you’re smart you do all the brain-picking while the TV show is on air.”
Neil Griffiths Head Of Online News & Content at themusic.com.au agrees The Voice is focussed on creating TV entertainment, accompanied by a follow-up single.
“If you look at last year’s winner, Sam Perry, he was billed as the next big thing and ‘the series’ most controversial entrant ever’ and that was driven all the way through to him winning the the whole thing,” he said. “But you don’t have to look very far to see that Sam has been grinding since at least 2013 and what they billed as ‘controversial’ is actually just Sam being a loop artist, which Sam has even said in the past he is not the pioneer of.
“It possibly hurt his career by being on the show”
“The Voice does not do that for its artists which is why they struggle immensely post-season. While Sam, through his years of music industry grind, may have stood a better chance than any of the previous winners, it possibly hurt his career by being on the show; not mainstream enough for radio but now too mainstream for the club or indie scenes because he appeared on a network singing competition.”
“The song choices for the winners have been chin-scratchers”
Adams agrees Universal needs to improve the transition of artist from the exposure of a national TV platform to a long term career,
“Sony have a great track record for translating Idol and X Factor to sales, but they also had a record label linked to Simon Cowell. It’s a reality show cliche, but the song choices for the winners have been chin-scratchers,” he said.
“People no longer watch these grand finals and buying the song instantly. It’s more about getting a song that will get on radio and transition the winner to a viable artist once the show is over and that’s been a problem for The Voice that hopefully they can overcome this year – all it takes is the right artist paired with the right song.”
Nine & Universal Music did not respond to enquiries.
The Voice airs 7pm Sunday and 7:30pm Monday – Tuesday on Nine.