I love watching videos from talent shows like The Voice, The X Factor, and America’s Got Talent. I go back to them over and over on YouTube.
When I was a teenager, there was a show on Zimbabwean TV, called Starbrite, which had the same sort of formula; stand on a stage and prove to the world that you have undiscovered talent.
I loved that show. So did my family. And a lot of my friends. Heck, so did hundreds of thousands of other viewers in Zimbabwe who tuned in to watch contestants of all backgrounds step in front of the judges and sing.
There is something about someone who has never been given an opportunity to shine, standing on a stage, filling their lungs with air, and turning it into magic audio dust. It gets me every time.
It gets a lot of people around the world too, looking at the popularity of talent shows. In 2011, The Voice gave NBC its first big ratings hit in years. Its premiere in April that year had over 12 million total viewers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that one show helped NBC regain confidence in itself as a network.
The Voice was inspired by a hugely successful talent show in The Netherlands, The Voice of Holland.
As of 2020, another talent show, America’s Got Talent, was the top summer show on NBC for fifteen years straight.
In China, shows like Produce 101, became some of the biggest shows in the country; so big in fact that the Chinese Government became worried that they were ‘negatively influencing’ young people and earlier this year instated rules banning a number of talent shows.
But why do we love talent shows so much? I think there are a number of reasons for this:
It’s the idea that we too may be superstars in waiting
We are often tempted to believe that the stars are the stars because they are the best at what they do and the rest of us are mere mortals.
Susan Boyle, Gamu Nhengu, Angelica Hale, Paul Potts, and other talent show successes like them…