NBC’s ‘The Voice’ ratings debate: Is Blake Shelton’s popularity bad for the show?

Blake SheltonBrace yourselves: We’re about to open up a massive can of controversy on “The Voice.”

We’ll start by saying this: We like Blake Shelton a lot. He seems to be a guy you’d want to hang out with, he knows his type of music really well, and his “aw, shucks” demeanor and finger-pointing self-promotion are perfect for the show. We didn’t know much about him before season 1 being someone who doesn’t listen to country music, but this series has turned us into fans.

However, we are going to go to a dangerous place here and wonder: Is Team Blake too unstoppable of a force for the show’s own good? Every season, he has had an artist make it into the top two, and he won both seasons 2 and 3. Heck, last season he had the winner in Cassadee Pope, and the runner-up in Terry McDermott.

This season, Blake is yet again dominating. Danielle Bradbery has become so popular that her doppelganger Amanda Seyfried is probably jealous, and the Swon Brothers are suddenly the next great duo in country music. Like all of Blake’s former finalists, they’re talented, but we are possibly looking at the second straight season of the “Boys Round Here” singer occupying the top two spots on the show. If you go based on this week’s iTunes sales, both of his acts had two songs in the top ten. Meanwhile, Michelle Chamuel didn’t have any for Team Usher.

If you love Blake and only Blake, you probably love that he continues to rule this show like he’s Sony at the recent E3 press conference. At the same time, you probably don’t feel that way if you root for anyone else. The competition has become, if we’re being honest, completely slanted. Do you still have to work hard to win? Sure, but if you’re on Team Blake it doesn’t matter if you are a country singer or any other genre, because he’s won with R&B, with pop, and came in second with old-school rock. If he wins this year, it would be the first time he’s actually done so with an act that’s pure country. (Cassadee’s original sound was more pop-rock.)

This is the pattern that we fear the show is heading down: If you are a country artist, you’re going to audition for the show and pick Blake. Then, he’ll help you pick songs to get you to the finale, and beat a heap of other singers. Some ratings will suffer, but country fans will keep watching. That’s what has happened this year; viewership has dropped over the past few weeks, and you can blame it on either summer or the slow aging of singing competitions in general. We’ll be stunned if anyone other than Danielle wins, and thus it will be a predictable champ for the second straight year.

We don’t want NBC to get rid of Blake, but we would say this: Maybe it’s time to get rid of iTunes voting, or at least the part where your votes are multiplied if you are in the top 10. This has made it too obvious who the favorites are every week, and while we know this is a nice revenue stream, it’s basically saying that people who want to spend money are the people who deserve a winning artist. For whatever reason, most of the people who want to spent money are Blake fans.

It’s time for “The Voice” to at least consider level the playing field somewhat since, to use a sports analogy, no one wants to watch a baseball game where you know almost for sure one team is going to win every time. Ratings thrive on competition, and it will be better for the show to have some again.

Do you think Blake’s success has gotten out of hand, or is this something that is more of a testament to Blake’s success, and should actually be celebrated (maybe with a country singing show that he is at the helm of?) We want to hear what your opinion is on this issue below! If you want to take a look ahead at “The Voice’s” upcoming finale, all you have to do is click here.

Photo: NBC

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