'The Voice' Gives Us A 'Vision' Of How It All Began

I'll admit it -- I love singing competition reality shows. Witnessing others pursue their dreams gets me every time. I particularly pay attention to The Voice because I don't have to sit through painful auditions, and I believe the competition between the judges brings out the best in the contestants (even though you can't take it too seriously). Last night, two contestants, Amanda Brown and Trevin Hunte, sang their hearts out to one of my favorites, "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey. While both were phenomenal, I couldn't help but find it interesting that "Vision of Love" pretty much "birthed" a whole generation of
pop and R&B reality competition singers who, in my opinion, valued certain characteristics of Mariah, such as melisma (taken to the extreme), control and vocal range over songwriting abilities and desire to build upon R&B/pop legacies of Aretha, Gladys and Whitney, among others. While Carey's career has been based on melding R&B and pop together (and later rap, grrr), looking at this face-off was almost like looking back at the last 22 years of R&B for better or worse. When video surfaced recently of Mariah giving life to jazz standards like "Summertime" and "Lullaby of Birdland," it showed her unique ability to contemporize and recharge any genre. Hopefully the contestants on these types of shows will pick up on the sermon she rarely preaches these days.

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