Thursday, August 27, 2015

Singers in TV talent shows

This post spoils one of the winners of Britain's Got Talent, so I suppose that if you haven't seen them and want to watch them some time and not spoil the surprise for yourself, then you ought to skip this post.

I have been watching Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent, and while they are really interesting shows, there's one thing that I find a bit disappointing.

There are like three or four big-time singing TV contests. The "Got Talent" series is great in showing other kinds of talent than just singing. Thus it feels a bit extraneous to not only have singers in the "Got Talent" shows, but have them winning. There are tons of talent shows dedicated exclusively to singing; do we really need to dedicate time for them in the only big generic talent show?

I don't mean that a musical, even singing, performance never fits. It can be really interesting and fitting entry if it does something special and unusual. In other words, the kind of performance that can't be seen on those singing contests. Perhaps there could be something unusual about the performer him or herself (like being really young or old), or the way that the performer sings, or the song/music itself might be highly unusual (and something you never see on those singing contests), or there may be something additional that happens in addition to the singing (such as dancing, or other kind of ancillary talent.) I suppose big choirs also count (because it's also something you don't see in the singing contests.) Someone singing a more unusual style, like opera, is a bit borderline, but I suppose I could accept it, if it's really, really extraordinary.

But then you have, for example, just a five-member boy band winning the eighth season of Britain's Got Talent. Don't get me wrong, they were very good singers. However, other than that, there was absolutely nothing special about them. They did not sing in an unusual manner (like barbershop acapella style, or anything like that), there was nothing unusual about their voices, there was nothing unusual about the songs (which were just your regular run-of-the-mill pop songs with nothing unusual about them), there was nothing unusual about the singers themselves (they didn't even dress in any unusual manner or anything; not that that would had been enough in my books, but at least it would have been something), nor did they perform in any unusual manner (they just stand there pretty much motionless, singing the song).

In other words, they were quite bland. Their only talent was their run-of-the-mill regular average pop-song singing voice... but that's it. The exact same talent we have seen thousands of times in actual singing contests and elsewhere.

The same season showed many people with actual physical talent and skill. For example I thought the dancing group that got to the final was a lot more interesting and skillful than the winners. I would actually pay to see those dancers perform live; I would not pay to see that winning boy band perform live. They have an ok singing voice, but otherwise they were very bland and had nothing unusual or interesting about them.

Given that there are so many singing contests and so few generic talent shows, I think that it's a real shame that boring bland singers get to steal the spotlight from other talents. (Sure, this doesn't happen in all seasons, but it does happen way too often.)

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