It was announced yesterday that Ariana Grande will be joining season 21 of The Voice as a coach and I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. 


Ariana will be replacing Nick Jonas, joining Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Blake Shelton on her own fun spinny chair. On one hand, her loyal fan base is ecstatic… 

…while many others are scratching their heads... 

There’s no question as to why fans are excited to see Ariana as a judge. This means more Ari outfits, moments, and performances (we NEED to see her and John Legend sing “Beauty and The Beast”). But even though this announcement has made me interested in watching, I don’t know how long I, along with the rest of pop culture consumers, will stay interested in the show. 


The thing about singing competitions is that they’ve been on for a LONG time. Back in the early 2000s watching American Idol usually trumped watching the Raptors play in my house, and that is a HUGE deal. I might even go as far as to say that it was a part of day-to-day culture where I grew up because everyone watched it and had really strong feelings about it. I heard my six-year-old classmates talk about it with my teachers, and my Grandma would call my mom to talk about it on the phone every week. I even have a vivid memory of bawling my eyes out the year that David Archuleta lost to David Cook, and I don’t think my parents even questioned it. But it’s been a while since singing competitions have had that spark. 

After American Idol, other shows like The Voice and The X Factor (U.S.) tried to keep the spirit going, and although there have been some modern successes like Fifth Harmony, it never had the same impact. Even when ABC picked up American Idol again in 2018 with huge names Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie, it still didn’t get close to what it used to be. 


The Voice’s unique blind-audition format is certainly still one of its best assets, and it’s not that the show is doing bad at all. They have had awesome judges on the show, including Miley Cyrus, who I would put on the same celebrity level as Ariana. The show also brings a fun competitive edge for the coaches since they are building a team of singers to go head-to-head with the other teams, which is pretty similar to what The X Factor does. There is potential for this to be a good move for the show, because as much as people are confused, they are also intrigued. Ariana Grande is a powerhouse and I can’t even begin to imagine how much money they paid for her to join the cast, banking on her to boost ratings. When I think about the culture that American Idol became when I was younger, it also gets me thinking about where the culture is born today, and Twitter is up there. Arianators are notorious for their ability to take over the platform, so discourse between them about the show might bring back a glimmer of that feeling from when I was crying about David Archuleta. I’m sure the ratings won’t translate to 30 million views like they did back when we didn’t have streaming sites or PVRs, but the reality of pop culture these days is that most of the power lies in social media. I recently wrote about how Billie Eilish made a conscious decision to reveal her blonde hair on Instagram instead of at the Grammys, which resulted in her breaking a record on the platform. Can a Gen Z goddess like Ariana Grande do the trick in making the world of singing competitions come to life again?