Another season of The Voice is in the books and Blake
Shelton retains his status as the coach with the most winning artists. (If
Billy had won, Adam and Blake would be tied at four wins each, but as it is, it's a five/three split.) Sundance's win certainly isn't shocking -- I predicted Sundance's victory
myself in my pre-finale predictions. Sundance is a deserving
artist, but is he the most deserving artist from season 11 or did someone else
deserve the winner title more?
The Voice Season 11 Finale Recap: Who Is the Winner?>>>
Yet Another Country Artist
While fans might have anticipated Sundance's win, The Voice didn't seem as certain of the country artist's victory. Sundance certainly wasn't the producers' favorite artist of the season. The Voice was much more interested in hyping up Billy and We with their stories and voices than they were with Sundance. The edits (and Carson's inane babble) favored Billy and We. The fact that Sundance did win suggests that The Voice audience rejected the narrative pushed by the show and picked the artist with the best voice. Sundance is many ways was the most consistent artist all season but there is a reason that The Voice favored Billy and/or We. Sundance is a good choice for the winner but he is also a bit of a boring choice.
The Voice has always been a very country-heavy competition. Maybe that is because of the popularity of Blake Shelton or maybe it is just because country fans are far more plentiful than many people realize. Still, while a lot of country artists have won The Voice, very few of them have gone to have much success. Cassadee Pope is the one stand-out, but The Voice's most successful winners have been more of the pop variety.
We are grading on a curve here because no Voice winner has exactly become a superstar. (Jordan Smith is the winner with the most staying power as of late, but he is still very recent.) If we look at the success stories from the show, the more pop-oriented singers have had more success outside of the competition. Artists like Matt McAndrew, Melanie Martinez and the aforementioned Jordan Smith are doing just as well, if not better than someone like Cassadee.
Throughout season 11 Sundance showed that through and through he is a country artist. He's an inventive and confident one, but there is no crossover appeal for him. The most successful country artists nowadays have more than a bit of poppy flavor to their music. Cassadee Pope (and another country success, Danielle Bradbury) straddle the line between pop and country. Sundance is 100% country and that does not bode well for his chances outside the competition.
Would Any Other Artist Do Better?
Even if you accept that Sundance is fighting an uphill battle for success outside the competition (and I do think that's a fact), none of the final four from The Voice season 11 look any more commercially viable than Sundance.
Billy might seem like he could be a pop star but Billy is just another powerhouse voice like Adele and Sam Smith. Unfortunately for Billy he is not nearly as good (or popular) as either one of those artists. The current music industry is saturated with artists that have similar ranges and tones like Billy. Sundance might fit the niche of country but he also looks and sounds like an older country artist. There aren't many current country stars who are unapologetically old-school like Sundance. Even Blake has veered toward pop territory with some of his recent hits.
We would have run into similar problems as Billy. In time We could be a superstar but she is simply too young. There is a lot of potential within We but she's not exactly a phenom. We is a very talented and very interesting artist but she has a few more years until she becomes a superstar. We's need to grow was obvious when she sang with artists like Alicia and John Legend in the finale. We didn't embarrass herself and did hold her own but John and Alicia were still very clearly the stars.
As for Josh Gallagher, it is not even really worth mentioning how well he would do outside The Voice. We all know how it would go. Josh was a middling performer on the competition and had to make it into the finale by an Instant Save. Josh might have been likable but he was never exciting or interesting.
Maybe Sundance will be fighting an uphill battle outside The Voice. Inside the insular community of season 11, though, Sundance was a star and probably the biggest star of the competition. Sundance consistently managed to impress and wow with his voice. He didn't need a good backstory like We or a dynamic range going up and down the vocal scale like Billy. Sundance did his thing and while very contained, he was very, very good at it.
Sundance might not be the next Voice winner to become a superstar. But of his season 11 competition, especially his competition at the very end, Sundance was the best artist. Sundance might be boring and safe but he was also by far the most deserving artist of the season.
Do you agree? Was Sundance the best winner possible on season 11? Do you agree with America's choice? Who did you want to win? Were you surprised by Sundance's victory?
The Voice will return for season 12 on Monday, February 27 at 8/7c on NBC. Adam and Blake will return as coaches, as will Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani.
(Images courtesy of NBC)