Friday, May 3, 2013

Art, Opinions, and The Voice

You may not know this about me, but I’m the biggest “The Voice” fan. The weird thing about that is I have always liked obscure cultural phenomenon years before anyone else knows about them. Then it blows up and I get dismayed by the fact that what I used to think was cool is suddenly trendy. Alas, I lose my uniqueness and move on. Well, that was when I was young and egotistical. I get more humble and wise in my old age.

I came across “The Voice” when there was nothing else to watch on T.V. and it just turned out to be the number one show in America. I guess that means I have good taste for an artsy fartsy bohemian. This contradicts me always identifying with obscure pop culture but I like what I like.

            The truth is, underneath my brooding, philosophical side is a quirky chick that enjoys life. I love music and am in awe of the talent of that show. I thought of taking voice lessons just so I can compete on “The Voice” and work with the most brilliant musical artists of our time. The show is remarkably uplifting and the coaches are not judges but mentors that always encourage their team to have faith in their abilities and follow their dreams. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and these days, I really need that.

            One of the lessons I have taken from watching the voice is a constant validation of something I learned years ago, when I was a young acting student in New York. I was in a scene study class and performed a two person scene from the play, “Angels in America” where I played a bum. My teacher gave us some great direction. Later on, we had to perform for the acting director. His note to me was that I had bad posture. Later on, as I got to know the man, I realize that he believed that posture is the most important mark of a great actor. However, I made a creative choice to not use great posture because I was playing a homeless person who was used to being hunched over her can of stale soup.

            I asked my teacher why he hadn’t given me this note. After all, if he said it, I would have a chance to improve upon it and receive a better grade from the acting director. My teacher was very politically correct about his answer. He simply told me that “art is an opinion.” This was his way of saying that he liked my choice to use bad posture but he didn’t want to contradict his superior.

            The truth can be painful at first, but eventually, it sets you free. You can do everything in your power to perfect your painting, music, acting, writing etc. but in the end, it all boils down to someone’s opinion. In the end, it all boils down to whether or not your audience agreed with the choices you make.

            This brings me back to the voice. The other night Shakira coached a singer to yodel as often as she could because it was her signature sound (and Shakira’s too) and it would make her stand out among the rest. At the end of her performance Blake Sheldon told her she overdid the yodeling and Usher argued that he was about to compliment her on it--two extremely divergent view points coming from two very respected artists in the field of music.

            Over and over again, I watch the coaches disagree with the choices the artists make or whether or not this artist deserves to stay on the show compared to another one. I am constantly reminded that success is a game of chance. One person can wow all four judges with a mind blowing audition, and then sing a song that isn’t good enough to keep them on the show a week later. I know what that’s like. I’ve been there.

            And I guess it boils down to that. I can relate to the voice because my whole life has been a struggle with my own art. I come to terms with this fact when, after receiving some glowing reviews of my book, someone comes along to bash it because she just didn’t like the lead character.  

            My son has a very prejudiced loathing towards Justin Beiber. I’m pretty sure it’s because he’s dating the lovely Selena Gomez who my son just adores to pieces, but that’s beside the point. For everyone that hates Justin Beiber, he has millions of adoring fans.

Anne Rice, one of the greatest and most respected vampire authors, had a ton of glowing reviews for her recent book. But I couldn’t help noticing the one star reviewers who were probably disappointed that she wrote about werewolves instead of vampires.

Our relationship with our entertainers is a love story that involves chemistry. I can’t exactly say why I think John Cusack is such a great actor while Tom Cruise, who is even more famous, gives me the creeps and does nothing for me acting wise. It’s just the way it is. I’m just not attracted to Tom the way I am to John but there are plenty of women who would gladly take their clothes of for Tom Cruise.

            It’s all still worth it to have one or just a few people love you because to them, you have awoken something in them and this is a special relationship to have with your fans. It’s chemistry. They relate to you and because of this, someone out there is a little less lonely.

            So don’t be afraid to tell your story. Stories are wonderful. They help people connect with each other and bring the world together. And if someone breaks your heart by leaving you a bad review or a heartbreaking critique after all your hard work, remember this story:

            A young man auditioned to be on “The Voice” and did not make the auditions. He took the notes the coaches gave him and practiced every day. This season, Shakira became a coach for the first time. She was the only one to turn her chair around and give this teen a second chance. If she had not been on the show, he would not have had this chance. Thank God Shakira had an opinion that contradicted the others. No one thought he would make it past the battle rounds but he surprised everyone and he is still on the show. Often, life is just a turn of a coin. You meet the right person at the right time and chemistry happens. Don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away. Commit to your choices. They are what make you who you are.


  1. I was exactly like that once, liking 'obscure' stuff and disliking them once they become popular. In my high school it was anime, then I realized what's the point of that? They were created to be consumed after all, and its just sad if people use shows/bands/etc. to make themselves feel special, when I guess if something's good it deserves more people knowing about it.

    1. lol, Al, I love anime... and hentai too but that's off topic. ;)
      I guess it was cool to feel like you are into something no one else is. Maybe I felt deep down inside, that the majority of people were just following trends while I was really liking something, not because it was popular but because I had a true appreciation for it. Perhaps I'm too old for that now. Nah

    2. ...and yes, I guess you're right, the feeling of "truly appreciating" something and not just following the bandwagon. But also I realized there's nothing wrong with liking popular stuff (when before I ignored them) and I enjoy pop music & reality TV shows now without feeling like I shouldn't.

      yeah I like anime too, from some popular series to the less known stuff.

  2. Al, you are right on. One of the great things about the voice is that it highlights new, unknown talent. So even though is a popular show, it is doing something good for struggling singers. I used to be into anime like crazy but I don't know the latest releases. Being a mother has given less time to explore, although I have gotten my son into the old Robotech series. Some of the other stuff I was into is still to intense for him though. ;)

  3. I agree that art is opinion, and artists and musicians should look at their reviews statistically to figure out how good their art/music really is - and not get upset by a handful of scathing reviews when the rest are very positive.

    I think that the problem with talent shows like the Voice is that they maybe don't prepare people psychologically for the ups and downs of success and rejection, or for fame. Whereas building up a career from scratch, you'd learn a bit better how to deal with the good and bad.

    To jump straight from your bedroom or local pub to a primetime national TV program must be quite a shock.

  4. Hi Paul, you make a good point about reviews. We should take into account the majority of what people say because they can be used as constructive criticism to help us be better artists.

    I don't know about the problem with the voice. Since I started this blog, I have run into surprising controversy with people who don't like the show. It seems they are getting it mixed up with "American Idol" because most of the people who are against it, have never watched it and assume things about the show that aren't true.
    I'm not targeting anyone. It is just really weird how people have reacted to my blog. I guess it is because art is an opinion and some people have made up their minds about The Voice, often without ever watching it, but people feel very strongly about their identities and what they think talent shows represent.
    I never saw any problem in the psychology of the people performing. I think the show has showcased some of the best vocal talent I have ever seen in my life, searching far and wide for some very spectacular and entertaining people. They have own blown me away with their performances. Many have been struggling to make it all their lives, singing back up for stars such as Michael Jackson and Adele. One singer was a touring singer in a band who sang for large audiences every night for years. There is one young lady right now who is competing who is very new to the industry. However, she seems to be the least nervous of them all. I think it is because she has nothing to lose. However most of the people competing are seasoned artists who have faced rejection and the ups and downs of the industry. Some have had record deals that came and went The show makes it a point to let people know how much perseverance it takes to stick with your dreams.