If you’re at all in tune with French-language TV in Quebec this time of year (and if you aren’t, you really should be), it’s hard to miss the phenomenon that is La Voix, Quebec’s version of the Dutch singing competition show whose distinguishing feature is blind auditions.
(If you don’t care about that show, don’t bother reading the rest of this post. It won’t interest you.)
The show has an audience that hovers around 2.5 million each week, and will probably reach 3 million during Sunday’s finale. To put that in perspective, there are about 6 million people in the province that have French as their first language. And a bit under 1 million of them are watching La Voix’s direct competitor, Tout le monde en parle, on Radio-Canada. That’s half of francophone Quebec watching one of two shows on Sunday nights.
After ignoring it at first (I don’t tend to watch reality competition shows), I kinda got hooked on it a bit last year and have been following it intently this year (even watching the behind-the-scenes shows on Monday and Thursday nights). That means I’ve had my heart crushed when a contestant I liked got eliminated, and I’ve taken sides in the heated debates among fans about who is the better singer, or scandals where the public complains that popular voting has too little say in who wins or that popular voting has too much say in who wins. (But seriously HOW THE HELL DOES THIS NOT WIN? COME ON! #TeamGeneviève)
Anyway, back to those blind auditions. The way they work is the contestant goes on stage and sings for two minutes, and coaches that want the contestant on their team press a button that causes their chair to turn around. If more than one coach turns around, the contestant gets to choose their coach from among those who did so. The process continues until all four coaches have 12 singers on their team.
It didn’t take me long to notice patterns, both in how the coaches acted and how the contestants did. Éric Lapointe, in particular, would often be the first to turn around, especially if the singer was a rocker. And, it seemed, in battles between him and another coach over a contestant, he would more often lose. After I noticed someone else make a joke on TV that suggested the same, I decided to put that theory to the test, analyzing the choices made by coaches and contestants during blind auditions for Seasons 2, 3 and 4 of La Voix. (Lapointe wasn’t a coach in Season 1.)
Here’s what I found.
During Season 2, Lapointe hit his button for 38 of 62 contestants before his team was full and he could no longer select others. That’s far more than his fellow coaches, Isabelle Boulay (29/64), Marc Dupré (27/67) and Louis-Jean Cormier (22/66). Of them, in six cases he was the only coach to turn around, which means half his team had no choice but to pick him. For the three other coaches combined, there were only seven contestants who didn’t have a choice of coach.
It looks more striking when you consider it as a percentage: How likely, when there was more than one judge to choose from, was each coach to get the contestant on his team:
- Louis-Jean Cormier: 52% (11/21)
- Marc Dupré: 40% (10/25)
- Isabelle Boulay: 32% (8/25)
- Éric Lapointe: 19% (6/32)
In cases where all four judges turned around, Cormier and Dupré each one five of those battles, Boulay two and Lapointe only once.
There’s another point in the show where coach selection comes into play. The second round is a duet between two candidates on a coach’s team. After the combined performance, the coach selects one of the two candidates to stay on (so a total of 6 of the 12 members of their team). But each coach can also steal two contestants from another team that loses a battle. If more than one judge tries to steal, the contestant can choose which one to go with.
Lapointe used his two steals, but neither was contested. But it’s interesting that half the contestants stolen during this season came from his team, which suggests he picked good candidates.
The numbers were less striking for Season 3. Each coach hit their button for about half of the 66 contestants (Éric Lapointe 33, Isabelle Boulay 32, Marc Dupré 28 and new coach Pierre Lapointe 26). Eight of 12 members of Éric Lapointe’s team were contested wins, and he won four four-way battles, which was actually one more than all the other coaches.
The likelihood of a coach winning a multi-coach battle involving them:
- Pierre Lapointe: 39% (9/23)
- Marc Dupré: 38% (10/26)
- Isabelle Boulay: 29% (8/28)
- Éric Lapointe: 28% (8/29)
This season, Lapointe was less lucky with steals, though. He tried five times, but only two were successful. Half the steals this season were from Dupré’s team, with only one from Éric Lapointe’s.
Once again this season, Lapointe was heavy on the button, hitting it 42 times for 66 contestants, or 64% of the time. Pierre Lapointe hit 35/65, Ariane Moffatt 28/59 and Marc Dupré 26/63.
Once again, half of Lapointe’s team had no choice of coach (though in one case, it was the 66th contestant, and the three other coaches’ teams were full).
The likelihood of a coach winning a multi-coach battle involving them:
- Marc Dupré: 44% (11/25)
- Ariane Moffatt: 38% (10/26)
- Pierre Lapointe: 30% (10/33)
- Éric Lapointe: 17% (6/36)
Éric Lapointe won three four-way battles (including the first contestant, Travis Cormier, who’s a finalist and fan favourite which means he’ll probably win it all). It’s one more than Pierre Lapointe but well below Moffatt’s 7 and Dupré’s 8. For battles of three or two coaches, it was more equal, with each winning one or two.
Steals didn’t give us much information. Éric Lapointe stole two candidates, and neither was contested. Two of his candidates were stolen by other coaches.
The nemesis: Marc Dupré
Dupré is the only coach who has been on La Voix for all three seasons the Éric Lapointe has been there, so I decided to compare them head-to-head.
- Season 2: Lapointe loses battles to Dupré 10 times, Dupré loses to Lapointe 5 (including one steal)
- Season 3: Lapointe loses to Dupré 10 times (including two steals), Dupré loses to Lapointe 5 times
- Season 4: Lapointe loses to Dupré 11 times, Dupré loses to Lapointe 4 (there were no battles between them for steals)
- Total wins: Dupré 31, Lapointe 14
- Deux fois la même histoire: Two of three seasons, Éric Lapointe is picked fewer times than other coaches, and has to fill more of his team with contestants none of the others want. The third season, he’s about average.
- Loadé comme un gun: Marc Dupré in particular is consistently more popular among contestants.
- Terre promise: Maybe, if Travis Cormier wins on Sunday, everything turns around for Éric.
- Rien à regretter: In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter anyway.
- N’importe quoi: Who cares? It’s a TV show.
UPDATE (April 12): Surprise finale of La Voix. Not only did Éric Lapointe’s guy, Travis Cormier, not win despite a huge following, but the candidate he lost to, Stéphanie St-Jean, was originally on Lapointe’s team and stolen by another coach.
Your article about Lapointe and La Voix was very interesting. It makes me want to record it on Sunday while I watch Laflaque and TLMP. Maybe I’ll watch it regularly next season. For sure there’s a big buzz around that show. I like the way you write.
Pierre La quoi?
This is why I don’t watch the shows at all. The few times I tried it was obvious that often the contestants that won (due to both coach and public votes), were not the better vocalist of the two contestants, but the more saleable of the two. When someone who has a better voice loses to someone who’s better looking but sings noticeably off key multiple times in one song, the fix is definitely in. I watch the blind audition videos on YT, but the shows can stuff it.