FEATURE: T.V. Eye: Are Talent Shows the Modern Alternative to Music Television?




T.V. Eye



Are Talent Shows the Modern Alternative to Music Television?


THERE was a time when music played a big role on our screens...



and it was a pivotal form of exposure for artists. It wasn’t that long ago when I used to turn on the T.V. and could see the latest music videos and news. It was a way for the big artists of the day to get their latest hit to the people and was a big deal. I guess the introduction of streaming services and the Internet means the role of music television has shifted. It seems odd that we do not have a big music T.V. scene given the fact the industry is busier and bigger than ever. Unlike times past, there is a whole new world of artists coming through. I have talked about this before but I wonder why there has been such an absence regarding music on T.V. MTV, once the staple when it came to music on the screens, has become a network for reality shows and inane broadcast. It seems that music videos, live performances and documentaries have taken a back seat. Last night’s T.V. was a perfect example of why we need to revise the schedules and get proper music back on the screens. The Greatest Dancer is the BBC’s latest dance-related show. I do wonder why we need ANOTHER dance show on the screen! We have just seen the end of Strictly Come Dancing – the latest series at least – and other networks have had their say. I do not see any point having dance shows on the T.V.


 IN THIS PHOTO: A promotional image for the BBC show, The Greatest Dancer/PHOTO CREDIT: BBC

Strictly Come Dancing has some value but why are we invested in unknowns competing to get a contract or win a prize?! We are not going to see them perform after the show is over and why do we need to see the same formulaic and pointless shows time and time again?! It is cheap and unimaginative and shows how hopelessly unimaginative and derivative networks are. We will, very soon, see All Together Now come back to the screen. Again, it is another stupid and predictable singing contest that claims to have a ‘niche’ – a unique selling point that differs from everything else. At the end of the day, we are still seeing a bunch of wannabes singing covers – without playing instruments – and being subjected to a vote. It is designed to appeal to those who do not want to find the best new musicians: it is a shallow and inane talent show that, yet again, displays a huge lack of imagination. We still have ‘talent shows’ like The Voice and X Factor and they have not changed their format. I can confidently say I have never discovered or stuck with any artist who has ever appeared on any talent show ever. Every sound and act I listen to have come through music the honest way and not subjected us to the same warbling, pathetic stories and hackneyed routines.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @strompictures/Unsplash

It is the same story every single year. I guess it is the public’s fault that these shows exist. Whether it is a singing or dancing contest; it seems the only way we get to see music on T.V. is through these shows. There is brief commercial appeal to be found with these artists but the fact they are so manufactured, Pop-based and samey means there is no point continuing. It seems genuine music and entertainment has been replaced by a chase for ratings and commercialism. I miss the days of MTV and shows like Top of the Pops. I am not suggesting we should limit everything to genuine and real shows but can we just cap things at one singing show and one dance show? Why do we need so many options that do the same thing? I do wonder whether British T.V. has got to a point where it is so short of ideas and talent that it goes for the lowest common denominator. Music is always growing and there are so many great acts out. Where do they get to shine and get their music seen by the nation? Jools Holland’s long-running late-night show has its format and core but it has not changed since its inception. That show has been on for decades and does go for the cooler side of the dial. It is good the show has survived but I do think there needs to be alternatives. We do not have a T.V. show for underground artists and there is only so far Jools Holland can go.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Jools Holland/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I feel there could be more time spent interviewing artists and other options are out there. What about music documentaries and special shows? We do not have shows that feature classic albums or documentaries on great bands and time for music. I think generations are missing out on classic albums and past masters. How are we ever going to ensure the music of the past is remembered and finds new audience if we only rely on the Internet? I do worry that is assumed music survives solely on the Internet and live gigs. The scene is struggling and I think we need to revise the lost art of music T.V. It would be great to have a channel that was dedicated to new music shows and non-talent shows; maybe a few new shows that regularly featured live acts, documentaries and music news. I do despair at the dominance of talent shows and the fact this is where music T.V. has got to. It is sad seeing this decline and stagnation; real shame that broadcasters forget why music T.V. of the past was so popular and remains iconic. There are so many, myself included, who do not want to see dance and singing contests plague the screens. We have seen it all before and nobody they foster is going to remain and match the best artists around.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @dmjdenise/Unsplash

I have this fear that, in years to come, all we will see on T.V. are talent shows. Variations on a theme that each have their own angle and all say the same thing. We need to stop assuming music, real music, has no place on T.V. and realise that there is a desire for genuine quality. Not only do upcoming artists need that platform but there are so many established artists that do not make it onto Jools Holland’s show. We also have decades of music that can inspire the new generation; so much gold that can be revealed and put onto the screen. We have this immense medium that can generate millions of viewers and there is practically no room for music. Talent shows take up so much real estate and garner so much criticism and mockery. How many artists do we listen to and hold close to the chest that have appeared on these talent shows?! Do we really get more involved with dance when we have seen dance shows?! It is a sorry state of affairs and it needs to change. I think there is an appetite out there and we cannot assume that the Internet will take care of everything. Given the fact so many venues are closing, having a T.V. show to play live on would be invaluable to artists and show just how good and needed live gigs are. I am not a fan of making resolutions each year but I think, if our T.V. broadcasters and stations do one thing, we need to give...


 PHOTO CREDIT: @othentikisra/Unsplash

A lot more time to real music.