The Voice season 22 competitors in 2022
(NBC)

‘The Voice’ Controversy, Explained

The Voice boasts a 22-season run on NBC, but the results of the latest season’s semifinals have sparked backlash. Season 22 first kicked off on September 19, 2022. This season’s coaches/judges included musicians (and husband-and-wife), Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, as well American singer John Legend and Cuban-born American singer, Camila Cabello. Meanwhile, host Carson Daly returned, marking his 22nd season hosting the singing competition.

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This season, a total of 56 singers made it through the blind auditions to the battle rounds, with the coaches picking 14 singers each for their team. The singers went through battle rounds and live shows until only the top 8 remained. The top 8 were Justin Aaron, Brayden Lape, Parijita Bastola, Kim Cruse, Omar Jose Cardona, bodie, Bryce Leatherwood, and Morgan Myles. On December 6, four of the singers were voted “safe” by the public, while the others made up the bottom four.

The bottom four, who reportedly received the least amount of votes, were Aaron, Bastola, Cruse, and Cardona. What was glaringly obvious to viewers was that all of the bottom four were noticeably people of color, while the top four were all white. Ultimately, Aaron, Bastola, and Cruse were eliminated, while Cardona received an instant save and advanced to the final five. Viewers, however, were not happy with these results and many took to social media to blast The Voice for being racist.

Viewers accuse The Voice of racism

Users quickly took to social media to call out The Voice, accusing both the show and its voters of being racist. Viewers took note of the fact that country singer Shelton’s two choices were both safe, while all three of Legend’s choices were in the bottom three. This led to some users insisting that the show had intentionally been rigged to favor Shelton. He has been a coach on the show since the very beginning and the producers may have been trying to cater the show to him given his history and his announcement that season 23 will mark his final season with the series.

https://twitter.com/littlemoooody/status/1600308107522887680

Others, though, stated that it was just “typical America” and racism that was to blame for the results of the live show. They still stated that the producers should’ve been embarrassed to air the results of the racist vote, though. The consensus was that the bottom four were some of the season’s most talented contenders and that it can’t have been a coincidence they all ended up in the bottom.

https://twitter.com/samlway/status/1600301667311751168
https://twitter.com/M4HURIN/status/1600344697859231746

Is The Voice racist?

So far, The Voice has not publicly responded to the backlash they received over their most recent bottom four. Instead, they have focused on hyping up season 22’s top 5.

Most can agree that the bottom 4 and top 4 did not accurately reflect the talent of the final 8 competitors. However, it must be conceded that Myles did earn her place at the top as she is a true powerhouse singer. However, Bryce Leatherwood, Bodie, and Brayden Lape are fairly underwhelming typical, white male singers. Lape is at a slight advantage since his tender age of 15 has likely won over the younger audiences. Meanwhile, Bodie is arguably the most talented of the three given his indie style. However, Leatherwood, Bodie, and Lape don’t hold a candle to the powerhouse Cruse and balladeer Cardona. Aaron and Bastola are also enormously talented, though they’ve had some bumps along the road.

While The Voice has had a few winners of color, the vast, vast majority have been white. Across 21 seasons, 16 white contestants have been crowned winners as opposed to the 5 POC winners. It isn’t hard to see that there is a preference among the voting population for white singers. Additionally, the show has struggled to maintain coaches of color as well, rarely having more than one POC coach at the same time. However, coaches like Shelton have become synonymous with the show, attracting large crowds of country fans. While the show can’t really stop America from showing its racism through the votes, they could take measures to give their POC contestants a fair playing field, such as having more POC coaches and perhaps splitting the final decision between the public and the coaches. What’s clear is that what The Voice is doing clearly isn’t keeping racism from encroaching on the competition, suggesting it’s time for a change.

(featured image: NBC)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.