Why ‘The Voice’ shows us not to be worried about music

You know that moment when you’re in the supermarket, staring at the cold meat fridge. In front of you are an array of meats. In theory, they’re all the same substance (insert your own horse-lasagne joke here). Ham is ham, chicken is chicken, salami is a little bit weird, and chorizo is something you buy to keep at the back of the fridge. But I digress. You know the meat is all the same, but you select the nicest looking version don’t you? I mean, in emergencies wafer thin ham is great, but the stuff that looks like Boxing Day dinner is what you really want.

And it’s the same with singing and pop music. You see, there’s an awful lot of wafer thin ham in the charts. There’s also some chorizo (think of that Dire Straits or Chris de Burgh cd you have, but never listen to). All of those thin, over-processed voices singing songs written for them in dimly lit rooms full of chain-smoking monkeys working away on typewriters. I won’t name them. Oh, okay; Katy Perry, Peter Andre, Lady Gaga, Jessie J…

People buy this stuff, otherwise it wouldn’t be made, but this is where The Voice comes in. Every Saturday night families sit around watching a dozen or more singers giving a rendition of 90 seconds of a well-known pop song. Yes, for some it’s a personality contest, but it’s hard to ignore the premise we’re judging their voices. People are actually sitting around talking about ‘pitchy’ vocals, how someone didn’t ‘bring anything to the song’ (whatever that means), how another person’s voice is thin, and another’s too strong.

And here’s the hope: Some of this will carry across into radio playlists and iTunes sales. If this rubs-off on the public at large, they’ll start taking notice of how over processed Perry’s Roar is, or how thin Jessie J’s voice is. And tastes will go somewhere again. What’s more, we’re searching for something different – if you’ve spent more than 30 minutes listening to the radio, you’ll know what I mean when I say there’s an awful lot of wafer-thin ham about at the moment.

Even if I’m wrong, there’s still a massive positive. A 90 minute programme tonight contained everything from Dionne Warwick to the Kaiser Chiefs, Nina Simone to Bob Marley. It’s a life reaffirming moment to be shown each week just how much great music is out there. And what’s more, everyone’s jumping up and down to it. Everyone is smiling. It’s bringing everyone together as they remember an amazing song which had fallen out of memory (like that chorizo at the back of the fridge). When you rediscover it, it’s good. At a time when everyone is talking about how music is dead, and no one is interested anymore, it’s a great thing to see.

About this entry