Anthony Calleas warning to Voice finalists: the fall is hard and painful
Cameron Adams National music writer
June 14, 2013 2:53PM
Former Australian Idol contestant Anthony Callea says the Voice is about TV ratings not generating hit musicians.
THIS time tomorrow Australia will have a second winner of The Voice. But for a program built on backstories, The Voices problematic backstory is that it has yet to spawn a major star despite being one of the worlds biggest TV brands.
Of the final four Harrison Craig, Luke Kennedy, Celia Pavey and Danny Ross Craig and Kennedy are the favourites, with their potential albums expected to follow the successful path standards crooner Michael Buble has followed in the last decade.
However Australian Idol already tried the crooner schtick remember jazz singer Carl Risely from 2007? He lost his major label record deal (with The Voices home Universal) after just two releases.
Anthony Callea, runner-up in Idol in 2004, says The Voice generates TV ratings rather than musical artists who can sell records once the show ends.
Everythings so fast now, Callea said. I saw one of the contestants from last year posting on social media and I just wanted to say `Youre not a star yet, youre on a hit TV show. They shouldnt believe the hype. Because the hypes not about you, the hypes about the show and the judges. And the sob story before people sing.
Its about the TV show, not about the actual singers on the show. And once that show has finished youre on your own. You have to work and prove yourself. Sometimes I worry for them because as quick as you can be put up there the fall is so much harder and painful.
Callea said record companies now relied on reality TV to find new talent.
Just because youre signed to a record label doesnt mean its going to work at all, Callea said. It doesnt matter who you are. You can have two successful albums and as soon as you have a dud album theyll drop you because theyve spent too much money. Everyones somewhat disposable. Thats the game we play in.
Callea said despite The Voices powerhouse ratings it has not generated the multi-platinum record sales early series of Australian Idol managed.
Back in the day it was about Guy (Sebastian) or Shannon (Noll) or Paulini or Jess (Mauboy) and people bought their records. Its bells and whistles now. We couldnt hide behind anything, there werent 20 dancers or pyro or lighting. When the TV show finishes, you dont have that. When you do your in-store performances its you and a microphone. If you dont know your craft it aint gonna translate. When you watch The Voice you get lost in the whole performance. Thats great for TV but if someone sees you in Westfield they might think Oh, I thought youd be better.
Tiffany Dunk, editor of Dolly whose audience are the demographic who vote for The Voice via downloads said the show is not a guaranteed star-maker.
Our readers really love coaches Joel Madden and Delta Goodrem, but their investment into the winner isnt as strong as singing-based competitions past, Dunk said. The final four havent managed to generate the same amount of fan followings as, for example, the last two seasons of The X Factor.
In the UK Leanne Mitchell, who won last years series of The Voice (with judges including Tom Jones and Will.i.am) saw her debut album sell just 895 copies in its first week, reaching No. 134 on the chart. In the US The Voices first winner Javier Colon also peaked at No. 134 on the chart with his winners album. The next two US Voice winners, from 2011 and 2012, are yet to release an album.
The Australian Voice has provided arguably the most successful winner per capita, with Karise Edens album My Journey hitting No.1. It has sold over 140,000 copies, however the singers personal issues derailed any major touring or promotion.
Last year the final four all scored record deals, with only Edens achieving major sales. This years contestants have only managed two Top 10 singles on the ARIA chart, despite being seen by over a million viewers a week.
The finalists will release a cover of John Farnhams Youre the Voice after the Grand Final, with the winners single and album to be rush-recorded and rush-released over the next week.
Music journalist Jeff Jenkins notes that its disconcerting seeing an 18 year old boy croon, but Craigs backstory his speech impediment caused an instant connection. Theres no doubt Harrison has a future. His story immediately won over the nation. But theres not a lot of room in the crooner market. Where is Carl Riseley today?, Jenkins said.
Iconic and influential DJ John Peters notes Everyone loves Harrison but I think the eskimoes have enough ice.
And Dolly editor Tiffany Dunk says Craig may struggle to sell crooner music to people his age. His story really resonates with teenagers and the fact that hes pretty easy on the eye doesnt hurt either, but Im not certain if his style of music will find a huge audience with teens post the show.
Prospects: Will sell albums to the set who buy albums for Mothers Day and Christmas but not the rest of the year.
Ross wacky outfits have created a niche on the show, but his original song Windmill was the least popular on iTunes after last weeks The Voice. He follows a similar music vein to hirsute hippy Angus Stone.
Seal proclaimed him the future of Australian music but Im not so sure, Jeff Jenkins said, comparing him to Idol square peg Bobby Flynn, whose career trailed off after the show ended. Danny is this years wildcard, but if youre truly edgy and alternative, would you launch your career on a national TV talent quest?
Tiffany Dunk said Ross could be the surprise packet. He may not have the biggest or strongest voice but hes nailing the music that people are listening to and loving right now.
John Peters said Danny may sell a few capes and puffy shirts.
Prospects: Shaky. Will either fill the eccentric artiste niche, or disappear like X Factor oddball Altiyan Childs.
Pavey already gained attention on You Tube with her original folk tunes shes the Julia Stone to Danny Ross Angus Stone. Jeff Jenkins also compares her to Australian Idol graduate Lisa Mitchell, who like Matt Corby has managed a credible career by not winning a reality TV competition.
Her future will depend on the quality of her songwriting, Jenkins says. `Shes a talent, but not unique check out other female folk pop singers who have chosen not to go down the TV path, such as Melody Pool and Caitlin Harnett.
Peters said Paveys original song Candle in the Night was strong.
If she records an album of originals without too much interference she will do well and go on to greatness.
Dunk said while she was extremely talented Pavey hasnt resonated strongly with the teen readers yet.
Prospects: Australia isnt averse to unusual female vocalists, so if her original songwriting proves up to snuff, has a decent chance of a career.
Kennedy was a member of opera act The Ten Tenors, and is the only second-chance contestant from this years Voice to make the final four.
Hes perhaps the most versatile member of the final four, which is a surprise, given his time with The Ten Tenors, Jenkins said. But what sort of album will Luke make? Does he go down the popera path, or make a pop album?
Peters also fears Kennedy may be stuck making Mothers or Fathers Day albums. Italian opera has a fairly limited audience.
However Dunk believed Kennedy will seize his second chance. With the exposure he and Celia have had on the show as well as the introduction to those working on it behind the scenes definitely helps with their future careers.
Prospects: Will be a difficult balancing act. If he stays with his opera roots hell narrow his market, but if he tries to turn himself into a pop star it might seem inauthentic.