Blake Shelton’s three-win streak: does it hurt The Voice?

The Voice‘s fourth season ended with what’s now become a three-times-in-a-row trend: a member of Blake Shelton’s team winning. Danielle Bradbery, who at 16 years old is the youngest contestant this season, defeated Michelle Chamuel.

Season one went to Adam Levine team member Javier Colon, but all the winners since have been members of Blake Shelton’s team. Does that, or the lack of successful winners, present a problem for the show?

In a thoughtful piece, Time’s James Poniewozik asks, “who would you want to win if you were a producer of The Voice?” He points out that singing competitions “have different, though related, goals: they’re talent competitions, which want to launch successful recording artists, and TV shows, which want to pull big ratings year after year.”

The Voice has yet to produce even a Lee Dewyze-level star (and already people are predicting that Danielle won’t be a star, either), but that hasn’t really affected the show.

As he and I discussed on Twitter yesterday, I think winning actually matters less to The Voice than it does to American Idol, because the latter started out by creating a huge star (Kelly Clarkson), and now that’s the expectation. I don’t think we have that with The Voice, because it seems to be more about the entertainment of the coaches and performances than the outcome–at least for now.

Actually, Blake’s wins might be a bigger issue. On Twitter, Poniewozik reiterated a point from his essay and wrote that “the potential for Team Blake unipolarity is the bigger risk for the future,” and I agree.

Blake Shelton was the surprise break-out star of the series, and perhaps because of his underdog status–he was the least well-known of the four original coaches–he tried harder, pushing his button more and fighting for contestants. Now that he’s known as a coach who is both supportive and successful, which makes future contestants more likely to select him; “he has a built-in recruiting advantage,” as Poniewozik wrote.

More than failing to sell records, predictability is the biggest enemy of The Voice, I think. Mark Burnett and company wisely–though apparently out of necessity–decided to rotate the coaches each year, which will definitely keep things fresh. Then again, Blake won’t be rotating off, at least not next year, so there’s possibility for his domination to continue.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.