Season 14 of “The Voice” was historic, but also the same

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The roller coaster known as season 14 of “The Voice” is over. The singing competition has crowned a winner. Brynn Cartelli, a 15-year-old from Massachusetts, has taken the show’s top prize.

Cartelli’s win comes as a surprise. The final four were cheered on by adamant online supporters who wanted Kyla Jade or Britton Buchanan to win. There seemed to be fewer audience members who called for Cartelli or Spensha Baker to win.

“The Voice” style and sound

Style-wise, all of the top four contestants were different. Cartelli represented teen pop quite well. The teen was only 14 when this season’s competition began. Even if it isn’t every audience member’s taste, some critics predict that Cartelli’s “Walk My Way” is poised to do what no other single by a winner on “The Voice” has done to date: become a hit. The song getting released just as summer vacation is beginning for many teens and Cartelli winning “The Voice,” could prove to be the right combination.

However, an article by The Huffington Post pointed out that the point of “The Voice” isn’t to churn out “stars.” Its point is to train artists. Shows like “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” are not touted as such training grounds.

But, if it happens for Cartelli, then good for her. However, some vocal fans of the show have criticized other singers on this season of “The Voice.” For example, more than one person has remarked that Kyla Jade “screams.” From a performance standpoint, what she does with the big runs, often punctuated by a high note, isn’t screaming. The criticism seems overly harsh, as it isn’t as if no one in the Western world has heard a powerhouse singer cut loose like that. Especially singers with gospel music backgrounds. Kyla had the strongest voice. But there are variables in choosing a winner, but to degrade strong singers as “screamers” and to promote a style often characterized by under-enunciated delivery and softer singing, does little to promote diversity.

Baker performed better toward the end of the competition. Her country covers, particularly Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round” sounded as if Baker herself had written them based on the way she sang.

Britton Buchanan made great use of his roots rock/country vibe. His voice settled in well with either country or storyteller rock. He and Cartelli were the top two, with Buchanan essentially earning second place.

“The Voice” prizes

The final four on “The Voice” each receive their own brand new Toyota. In a comedic moment, Baker compared her car at home to the size of the of the Toyota¬† she won and was ecstatic.

In addition, however, the winner takes home $100,000 and a recording contract.

Cartelli’s win, though, does bring up a trend that has been noticed on “The Voice” and even “America’s Got Talent.” The contestants have gotten a bit younger. Last season’s runner-up, Addison Agen, had been the youngest contestant. She was 15 when she auditioned and 16 by the time she was named runner-up. This makes the second season in a row that either the winner or runner-up were too young to drive the prize awarded to the final four.

Certainly, Cartelli should enjoy her win, and all the prizes that go with it. But as a show that emphasizes viewer involvement, it seems weird that the winners’ styles rarely embody what some viewers claim to like.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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