How ‘The Voice’ is making ‘American’ idle

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Normally, I’m not one for singing competition. I avoided “American Idol” like the plague and sought a show that did not insult every competitor or viciously attack people who could not sing to save their lives.

But, all that changed when I first saw “The Voice.” At first, I thought it was yet another copy of “American Idol” with artists as judges. However, I then I saw Beverly McClellan, a 40-year-old rocker who was a bald lesbian and had tattoos from her head to feet. I was curious — then she sang a stirring rendition of “Piece of My Heart” which made Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Christina Aguliera turn their chairs around for the “blind” auditions.

After they saw her, I thought, “OK, who is going to be Simon Cowell and mock her for her tattoos, style, or something,” but they complemented her on voice and passion, no insults. They did not insult her style, or anything. What is this show, so positive and affirming to its contestants?

I certainly thought social stigmas would carry with the show after the initial “blind” auditions, but I was completely wrong. McClellan moved on the finals of the first season.  After I heard McClellan was advancing I was hooked onto “The Voice.” Finally, “The Voice” was a show that did not disparage artists, but sought to affirm them for their talent, personal choices, and other factors.

In the first season, the finals consisted of two openly lesbian contestants, a Korean-Dutch female contestant, and an African-American contestant in an interracial marriage with two kids. “Idol” would have stopped any of this from happening but “The Voice” lovingly embraced all of these contestants, which is why “Idol” is about to be replaced in popularity and numbers by “The Voice.”

“Idol” is so disparaging and hateful toward its contestants; why did anyone like insulting and ridiculing commentary by Simon Cowell for eight long and painful years? Did people really like all of the horrible contestants just to get the sick satisfaction of knowing that they were at least a better singer than someone else?

Another thing that I despise about “American Idol” is their censoring and bias of contestants who are in minority groups. In the first season, Jim Verraros was the first openly gay contestant on the show. He was told by FOX to remove all gay comments from his online journal. Another more famous example is when Jennifer Hudson was removed from “Idol” in the third season. Hudson, along with two other African American, contests were in the bottom three and Hudson ultimately lost to John Stephens, a white male pop singer.

“Idol” has been losing steam since Cowell left. The show then made a terrible decision to bring on Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. (Way to stay current with the 18-49 demographic with two artists who are loved by people in their 60s and 70s.)

“The Voice” has stayed current with having judges in their early 30s, all from different genres of music. Another key to it s success is its effective integration of that week’s music to iTunes, social media, and other popular forms of media among the people who are 18-49, the demographic that TV executives kill for every week.

The penultimate example that illustrates why “The Voice” is better than “Idol” comes with one of this season’s favorite contestants on “The Voice,” Jamar Rogers.

Rogers, 29, an HIV-positive, former crystal meth addict and African American male, tried out for “Idol” in its eighth season along with his friend Danny Gokey, a white male. Rogers told “Idol” producers about his past drug use, but did not reveal that he was HIV-positive.

“I did talk to them about the drug use. I was very candid; as a matter of fact, I was under the impression that they were going to use that as a part of my story. But they didn’t,” Rogers said to Yahoo! Music’s Reality Rocks blog.

Instead, “Idol” producers used Gokey’s story of his recently deceased wife asking him to try out for “Idol” before she died. Rogers lost out and Gokey ultimately finished third that season.

Last year, Rogers auditioned for “The Voice,” only this time, he told the same story and that he was HIV-positive.  Rogers said, “[It] felt like I kind of had an obligation to let people know what my story really was.”

Rogers auditioned and was selected by Cee Lo Green. Rogers has quickly become one of the favorites with his strong vocal and stage presence.

I’m not taking anything away from “American Idol” – if anything, it propelled me to go after what I want –but I will say that “Idol” is more of a cookie-cutter show.” Rogers said to Yahoo! Music Reality Rocks blog. “‘The Voice’ lets people really be themselves. I didn’t even think twice when I told the producers that I wanted to talk about [HIV]. No one coerced me, no one tried to make my story more interesting. I just said, ‘I want to get this off my chest.’ They didn’t exploit me, and for that I was truly grateful.”

“Idol” is dead.  It has clear racial bias, demeaning minority contestants and supporting contestants who are white. It has been “whitewashed” as the past four winners have been white males.

Rogers last week sang Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” one of the season’s best performances. Yes, Jamar, I am going your and “The Voice”’s way. “The Voice” is cutting into “Idol”’s ratings because it allows contestants to be truthful about their identity and character which is why “The Voice” is and always will better than the cruel, dying and racially bias “American Idol.”