The Voice vs. The Pen

I have no idea, really, why I started watching The Voice. Generally speaking, I have very little interest in “reality” television or in singing contests. So, what’s to account for my unaccountable affection for this singing contest? This is actually something that gave me a bit of pause, but in the end it seemed to remind me of some of the best qualities of writing workshops, especially those intensive writers conferences, like Bread Loaf. When the coaches get down to coaching, to criticising and complimenting their contestants—and despite all the “I love yous”—you get the impression that they tend to treat these mostly young, sometimes very young, people as peers, with real affection for their talent.

The show has even gotten better this year with the addition of Shakira and Usher. The latter, in particular, adds a kind of adds a kind of wacky athleticism to the program.

It’s clear, from the outset, that the contestants are talented, even if much of the music I don’t care much for, and some of them are extraordinarly talented, and so there’s none of that sort of drive-by gawking at people making fools of themselves that I once saw on American Idol. All of the coaches are clearly committed to craft, and so when they’re working through technical aspects of performances, or criticizing them, you can see that they know what they’re talking about. Wouldn’t it be cool to have that kind of show (what’s the tier below basic cable?) and coaching for writers?

In my more fatuous moments, I imagine a program called The Pen. The panel would be eclectic. I imagine Stephen King or even George Pelecanos as the Blake Shelton Continue reading