Here’s a thought. If our money is being used on talent show judging panels, could we at least have a say on who's on them?
Yesterday, the BBC came under attack for acting as a recruiter and advertiser for Universal Music Publishing. Conservative MP Philip Davies claimed that The Voice, which the broadcaster has spent £22 million of license-fee payers' money on, is merely an attempt to sabotage ITV’s success with Britain’s Got Talent and is nothing more than an expensive advert for Universal.
His remarks aren’t too outlandish. The winner of The Voice will receive £100,000 and a record deal with the record company, and the losing finalists will be signed to Twenty First Artists – a Universal-owned management firm. The artists’ lawyers are from Universal, and it’s expected guest performers will also be represented by the label.
The show’s coaches, which are hailed amusingly as “four of the biggest music stars on the planet”, are seen on screen for two-thirds of each episode. Since the show began, three of them, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones, and Will.i.am, (who are all signed to, yep, Universal) have seen album sales rocket by up to 89 per cent.
This isn’t the first time the BBC has been criticized for its connection with the label. In 2009, it was forced to apologise for breaching its own guidelines after an investigation revealed it had given U2 more than £1 million worth of free publicity.
But if the BBC really wants to burst ITV’s bubble, it's going to have to try harder. For a show that “counts substance, not style”, The Voice has hardly invested in quality music or captivating figures - if the four people in the back-to-front chairs are anything to go by.
If we're talking big music personalities, my ultimate panel would have to consist of Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey, Patti Smith and Damon Albarn. Jarvis would bring the wry one-liners, Damon the producer’s cool logic, Patti the emotions and Mozza would kick any overtly annoying contestant in the eye.
Or maybe, I’d sit the Gallagher brothers next to each other and witness the inevitable madness that ensues. Now that’s £22 million well spent.
So if you had to replace Jessie, Will, Tom Jones and the other one, who would be on your judging panel, and why? Would you go for the controversial, the talented, or do you actually think the BBC’s got it spot on?