Backstage at Tuesday’s The Voice Season 11 finale, winner Sundance Head was all smiles. But as his postshow press conference came to an end, his coach, Blake Shelton, got serious, directly addressing the show’s spotty track record — or, more specifically, Universal Records’ spotty track record — when it comes to launching viable Voice recording artists.
“I want to say one more thing here, because it’s important. I want to personally issue a challenge to Universal Records. This is Season 11 of The Voice, and I’m sitting here right now next to a guy who has won over America’s hearts. He’s so popular. … He has proven that he sells tons of music. His biggest-selling song, arguably, is going to be the song he wrote by himself,” Shelton said, referring to Head’s “Darlin’ Don’t Go,” which shot to No. 1 on iTunes this week.
“I hope that we can all come together — meaning us and Universal Records,” Shelton continued. “This is the guy that I think can break the mold and become a star out of this show. And I give my word that I’ll put my work in, and I know [Sundance] will. This guy deserves to be a star, and there’s no excuses anymore. We need to make the record and put the work behind it that he deserves, to have this success that he deserves. And that has to start with Universal Records getting involved and behind him.”
Shelton is the most successful Voice coach, having now won five times. However, while two of his past champions, Season 3’s Cassadee Pope and Season 4’s Danielle Bradbery, have done fairly well on the country circuit (Pope even received a Grammy nomination last week for her duet with Chris Young), two others, Season 2’s Jermaine Paul and Season 7’s Craig Wayne Boyd, never released full albums after the show.
Shelton’s frank comments echoed similar shady sentiments expressed by Adam Levine at Season 9’s press conference exactly a year ago, when Levine demanded that Universal/Republic “do right by Jordan Smith,” that season’s winner. Smith has since gone on to become one of the biggest Voice success stories, so it seems Universal listened to Levine. Let’s hope the label will heed Shelton’s challenge as well and do right by Sundance Head.
Incidentally, Sundance has already been through the reality-TV wringer, having competed on American Idol in 2007. Backstage at his press conference, he addressed the differences between the two experiences, and explained why he wasn’t ready then, but is ready for the big time — hopefully with Universal’s help — right now.