“The Four” is like “The Voice,” except different and meaner


When I first learned that FOX was going to have another vocal performance competition show, my misgivings centered on there being a glut of such shows across all networks.

However, now that the show has aired, different criticisms arise. The premise of the show, there are four singers well-groomed for the music industry after having been selected by Diddy (Sean Combs), who defend their coveted spots on the show and related perks against newcomers. After the challengers and one of the selected four perform, the studio audience votes. But before that vote, the panel of judges votes on the newcomer.


Sean Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk vote. If a performer is good enough, he or she is awarded blue votes. One red vote can keep a performer from an opportunity to battle one of main four contestants. In the event that a challenger gets through, that performer gets to chose which of the four he or she would like to battle. The audience determines the winner. This is the vote that can remove one of the four.

Besides being somewhat convoluted, the tone of the show is just kind of mean. Say what you want about “The Voice,” but the criticism is far more constructive. The atmosphere often feels like that of a high school talent show. There is a great deal of trash talking, sometimes from the judges on behalf of one of the four, and between challengers and the four.

Last night’s episode saw the only male component of the four voted off after a performance. This happened even though DJ Khaled warned the newcomer that he might not be successful. The newcomer beat one of the four easily. His powerful and energetic performance completely overshadowed one of the four that he challenged.

Prior to last night’s upset, two of the four had yet to be challenged. And now, there is a new member of the four. It is starting to seem like a drawn-out game of musical chairs – -no pun intended. How does a singer win? By being one of the four with a seat? Do the remaining four eventually battle each other? For those who are actually interested, the answer to those questions will probably only be answered by watching.

Despite Fergie’s admirable job of hosting, the tone of this show is off. It seems as though singers are judged (not in a meaningful way) on their trash talk skills as well, which appears immature and further tears down the tone of the show. The four are encouraged to respond if a challenger disparages them.

While it would be great if the winner gets the professional music career of his or her dreams, the awkward process of winning this show probably won’t be helpful to his or her development.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 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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