| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Nov 21 In May, two months after the
release of his song "Blurred Lines," pop singer Robin Thicke
performed the soon-to-be megahit on NBC's TV singing
contest "The Voice."
That performance with collaborators Pharrell Williams and
rapper T.I. helped catapult his single 42 spots to No. 12 on
Billboard's Hot 100 chart the following week. It also tripled
the previous week's downloads to 206,000. The song rose to No. 1
on the chart in June for a 12-week run in the top spot.
Although "The Voice" may not be the most-watched singing
contest on television and has yet to launch a star of its own,
the show has become one of the music industry's most coveted
promotional platforms with its influence far outpacing Fox
rivals "American Idol" and "The X Factor," music and TV
"It continues to be a launching pad and a shot of steroids
for certain songs," said Joe Levy, editor of trade magazine
Billboard whose annual poll of industry experts published this
week showed a big jump in influence for the show.
He points to the recent performance by one of its judges,
Christina Aguilera, singing "Say Something" with pop group A
Great Big World. It helped the song claim the top spot on
Billboard's digital songs chart last week.
"The Voice," which airs twice a week and draws about 12.7
million viewers per episode, ranked as the sixth-best venue for
promoting music up from No. 37 in 2012, according to the
Meanwhile, a live performance on "American Idol," which can
still best "The Voice" in attracting viewers, fell to No. 60
from No. 17, and Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" did not make the
list of 75.
"The Voice" actually made the list twice. When a contestant
performs an artist's song, that type of promotion was good
enough for No. 56 on the list.
Part of the winning mixture for "The Voice" and the music
industry has been the show's ability to distinguish itself as a
music-first competition where everyone plays nicely, Levy said.
"'The Voice' is really about professionals," he said. "It's
really in that sense about building or restarting careers.
'Idol' hews closer to its talent-show roots and, frankly, people
react to the fact that 'The Voice' is positive."
ALL ABOUT THE JUDGES
That is an unusual characteristic in the reality TV
landscape where much of the focus is on conflict. Part of the
appeal that "American Idol" built when it drew more than 30
million viewers for its finale in peak years of 2006-07 were its
"jaw-dropping" failures, Levy said.
Another key to success of "The Voice" has been one of the
problems that has plagued "Idol" and "The X Factor" in recent
years: getting the personalities on the judging panel right,
said Eric Deggans, the TV critic for National Public Radio.
The show's panel is led by Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and
country singer Blake Shelton in both fall and spring seasons,
while singers Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green serve in the
fall, and Colombian pop star Shakira and R&B singer Usher in the
"What people like about 'The Voice' is that the judges, at
least on camera, get along," Deggans said, noting that ratings
for "The Voice" tend to dip as the season moves along and the
focus is put more on the contestants.
"When they've tweaked the show, they've tweaked the show to
keep them involved for longer throughout the competition,"
"Idol" and "The X Factor" have suffered in part because of
strife or poor chemistry on their panels on which they spend
tens of millions of dollars in salaries, Deggans said.
Pop singer Britney Spears received poor reviews for her
apparent lack of interest while on "The X Factor" last year, and
a feud between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj ran
throughout "Idol's" spring season. All three judges have since
Although "Idol" can still command more for advertising rates
than "The Voice," David Campanelli, a senior vice president at
Horizon Media, said the NBC contest has been able to capture the
popular culture buzz its rival once had.
"If it was all things equal, you'd pick 'The Voice' because
people are talking about that, and you want to associate your
brand with that."