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Christina Aguilera accuses The Voice—but of what, exactly?

Christina Aguilera accuses The Voice—but of what, exactly?
Christina Aguilera on The Voice (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Christina Aguilera hasn’t been on The Voice since season 10 two years ago, but she’s been critical of the show recently—and now suggests it was a problematic work environment and not a fair competition. However, her criticism is frustratingly short on specifics.

She coached seasons 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 10, with an appearance during season 7 as an adviser to Gwen Stefani’s team. Christina Aguilera only won The Voice once during that time, when her teammate Alisan Porter won season 10 in 2016.

Billboard profiled her in early May, and she said she stuck around for six seasons over five years because “It’s easy to get comfortable and cushy in the same place and not have to worry about uprooting your kids.”

But in that interview, Aguilera also called the show a “churning hamster wheel” and an “energy sucker,” and added, “I was longing for freedom,” especially when The Voice “became something that I didn’t feel was what I had signed up for in season one. You realize it’s not about music. It’s about making good TV moments and massaging a story.”

And that focus and emphasis affected her as a coach, too: “I didn’t get into this business to be a television show host and to be given all these [rules]. Especially as a female: You can’t wear this, can’t say that. I would find myself on that show desperately trying to express myself through clothing or makeup or hair. It was my only kind of outlet,” she said.

So, she left the show, and has been working on a new album that came out in June, and she goes on tour this fall.

The Voice’s ‘blatant’ problems

In a more recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Christina reiterates that, on The Voice, she was “in an environment that was just not good for me.”

She talks specifically about the type of work that was required, and how its unexpected success:

“Nobody expected [“The Voice”] to be as big as “Idol” or take off the way it did. It just became a whole different kind of a machine. You’d have two teams at once because they were overlapping seasons. It just wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life. I’m not a spokesperson. I’m an artist.”

That makes sense; it wasn’t just a good fit.

But then she suggests that even though the competition starts with blind auditions, it was not fair:

“The blind audition thing was very intriguing to me because it provided an opportunity for anybody to get on stage and be discovered, regardless of their look. Being in this business for so long and knowing how labels work and how packaging is so very important, that idea of not being able to see them was genius to me. But year by year, I kept seeing things that were not lining up with that original vision. The show progressed in a direction I wasn’t into and that I didn’t think was a lot of times fair.”

What does that mean? How was it not fair? What changed? So many questions!

Christina was then asked if she sees “any value to singing competition shows,” and her answer includes comments about the nature of a show that’s produced and concerned with its ratings.

But there’s a twist ending:

“Look, everybody has their own experience, and I don’t want to devalue anyone’s own experience with any of those shows. As an artist, I believe in artists being able to express themselves how they feel they should. Just know there’s a lot of other people involved in those shows. Certain factors and things are dictated according to what ratings will be. It’s definitely a business. I also saw blatant things that I didn’t think were okay and that I’m sure no one would want to put up with in a work environment. It was important for me to step away.”

What are those “blatant things”? What was not okay for “a work environment”?

It doesn’t seem like she’s just repeating her earlier comments that it wasn’t a work environment for her, but instead is saying that, as a workplace, The Voice was somehow toxic.

If it was “important … to step away,” might it also be important to be specific about those complaints, exposing whatever is happening—and perhaps preventing it from continuing to happen, especially if it affects others?

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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