I watched The Voice last night. It isn’t one of my favorite television shows, but a couple of the contestants caught my eye in the preliminary rounds, and I tuned in to see if they were still around. Besides, some of those coaches are easy on the eyes.
The competition has progressed to the battle rounds. During these rounds, two members from the same team sing together on a stage set up to represent a boxing ring. But they are competing against each other while so doing. It’s kind of like a duet to the finish, if you will.
Christina chose Chris Mann and Monique Benabou from her team. I have to admit, Chris Mann is probably my favorite contestant. His voice sends shivers down my spine, and I can envision him playing the lead in a variety of musical productions. He’s truly remarkable in his level of control over his voice.
Monique is also a fabulous vocalist. She’s strong and expressive, and the amount of emotion she projects into her performance makes her as much a joy to watch as to hear. The viewer can’t help but see how much she loves what she is doing.
Together, the two stole the show for me. Christina is one very smart woman to have put them together for the battle round, because of the stunning beauty they produced on that stage. It wasn’t just the blending of their voices that made the moment so special; it was the way they pulled it off together. For me, they were by far the stars of the show. So it kind of irritated me that Ms. Aguilera pitted them against one another. She knew one would be eliminated.
One thing that stood out for me during last night’s viewing has to do with my work as a writer. Two of the contestants were given a song choice that I, in my limited knowledge of music, didn’t think was the best choice for them. The coaches all commented that they did a great job, but the whole performance fell flat for me. I could not hear the harmonies, and some of the notes ran on for so long that their voices seemed to waiver. It began to hurt my ears.
The contrast between the two groups reaffirmed the lessons I’ve been trying to learn concerning voice. It isn’t just what you say, although that is extremely important, but it’s also the way in which you say it. These two skills have to work together, or your work isn’t going to be your best. And even though most people read silently, they hear your words in their head, so you have to make a pleasing sound that is believable and a joy to their inner ear. Your characters need to not only attract your reader by their own actions, but in the way they connect with every other character in your story. There needs to be a harmony between them, even if they are mortal enemies.
I like the analogy between music and writing. It works for me. Others may not see the connection, and that’s okay. But if any of this makes sense to you, I’d like to hear your thoughts. I know voice is something that many of us struggle with, and it changes from work to work. What works for you?