Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: Five Reasons America's Got Talent and The Voice Are Better than American Idol

I hate American Idol. I want to get that right out of the way up front to be clear that I don't have some obsession or even passing general interest in talent competitions that air on TV. Over the years, I've never really cared for any of them for numerous reasons, the most significant of which is that they are rarely about who has the most talent but rather about who can win a popularity contest. Meritocracies, for the most part, these are not.

But, Sunday night, I flipped on America's Got Talent to watch Houston's favorite rollerblade dancer take his turn in front of the camera and the judges. After about 40 minutes, Juan Carlos had rolled his happy self off the stage, but I strangely wanted to keep watching. My wife did as well. Then, during an ad for The Voice showing off shiny new judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, I remembered there might actually be two talent shows on TV I kinda like and I began to see similarities between the two.

And make no mistake, there are things I despise about them too like how they run roughshod over auditions, their attempts to constantly pull at heartstrings with practically manufactured stories and way too much face time for the stars. But what AGT and The Voice also manage to do is keep me entertained and I think I've figured out why.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke