Fun With “The Voice”‘s Online Audition Tool

carsonDaly

Posted by on 06/20/2011 at 5:21 PM News

The Popdust Files: the voice

Think you can do better than half the performers on The Voice last week? You’re probably right! Luckily for you, auditions for season two are open. You can haul yourself to one of the open casting calls somewhere (no dates are announced, but they’ll be next month), or you can save yourself gas money and potential humiliation and just do it online, like everything is these days.

But there’s a catch. See, NBC’s site has this slightly creepy video where Carson Daly explains the “online audition tool.” (Go on, make your Carson Daly/tool jokes. We’ll wait.) You get to choose from ten songs, which for some reason include Nelly, record yourself on them, and then subject your recording to the approval or disdain of an algorithmic grader that rates pitch and tone. Pitch and tone as compared to what? Well, one hopes it’s the original song, although this is vague. And what about tempo? Variations in mic quality? Ad-libbing? Singerly art?

As you might surmise, you should not trust these “online audition tools” too much, as anyone who’s seen a horrible American Idol audition where the guy goes “But I watched the [Idol-branded vocal training] DVD!” knows. At best, they reward really good mic setups and soundproofing; at worst, they reward nothing in particular.

But Daly says that the casting staff will put at least some stock into this thing when choosing potential contestants, so we decided to have a little fun with it. After all, one would hope The Voice would use a tool (har har) that works. Our highly unscientific method: We went trawling on YouTube for a cappella, or close, tracks of the original performers of the song. We found four. Then went to a nice quiet corner of the Popdust office, let them play at the same place the preview pointed out, started recording and went to town! Like we said, unscientific, and a recording of a recording isn’t exactly what The Voice had in mind, but Marvin Gaye wasn’t available to record it in person.

The Voice says a score of 8 or higher is good enough to start dreaming of NBC stardom. So will any of these four qualify? Let’s see:

MARVIN GAYE, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“: 3.6
METRO STATION, “Shake It“: 4.82
NELLY, “Just A Dream“: 4.92
TEMPTATIONS, “My Girl“: 5.15

So yes: according to this algorithm, neither Gaye nor Nelly nor any of the Metro Station or Temptations guys would’ve even made it to the blind auditions. Aww. That might be the harshest thing to come out of The Voice yet!

We highly encourage you to try to replicate these results. Maybe you can come up with a better setup that actually puts these guys over the line! Or maybe you just shouldn’t put too much stock in algorithms to judge art forms like singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_P9gmpk3iI

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