48 Singing Shows That Will Make You Want To Belt It Out Together
Do you know what Beyonce, Britney Spears, Becky Hill, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera have in common? They are all artists who found fame on TV talent shows! They all appeared in Star Search, an American TV show which ran from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s and was revived for a second run from 2003 to 2004. However, Star Search was a talent competition, not specifically a singing TV show.
Considering the number of singing stars that got discovered in the project, it was only a matter of time until someone came up with a TV format strictly dedicated to singing competition shows. It was Simon Fuller's singing shows, Pop Idol and American Idol, inspired by the reality documentary television show Popstars, that gained global commercial success and blew up the reality TV genre.
One of the first strictly singing shows on TV, American Idol, is still running today. 20 years after its initial release, and among all the competitors it served as a precursor for, American Idol remains one of the best singing shows ever made. However, following the Idol franchise, many other singing TV shows appeared on screens in the last two decades: The Voice, The Masked Singer, The X Factor, and many others.
Below, we've gathered and ranked some of the best TV shows about singing. What is your favorite singing competition? Let us know! Also, if you are into tunes, check out our list of the best musical movies of all time!
2011 - | NBC | Seasons: 21
The premise of The Voice is pretty simple. There are four coaches, all well-known figures in the music business. Think mega-celebs like Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, John Legend, Shakira, Usher, and many others. When they hear a performer they want on their team during the blind auditions, coaches have an option to turn around in their seats. However, if other coaches are also interested in a performer, the performer gets to choose the coach to work with. During the battles, two contestants from the same team compete against one another. The coach must pick one of them to go to the next stage, which is live shows. It's refreshing to see a show format that reassures us that skill alone may prevail in the competitive field that is the entertainment industry, where appearances are sometimes more important than talent. The show is an absolute hit, and no wonder it's been running for what, 11 years now? That's a middle-schooler!
Eurovision Song Contest
1956 - | European Broadcasting Union | Contests: 66
We wouldn't necessarily call it a TV show because it doesn't feature seasons and episodes; however, every year, we do get two Semi-Finals and, of course, the Grand Final. For those outside of Europe who aren't exactly familiar with Eurovision, let us give you a brief overview of the contest's format. The Eurovision Song Contest, also known as the Olympics of singing, is a global songwriting competition with contestants from European nations, with some exceptions from countries outside the EU (e.g., Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Israel, or Australia). Usually, countries have until mid-March to choose a song and artist to represent the country in the Grand Finale. They are generally selected through a televised national selection show (or shows). In the Grand Finale, after all songs have been performed, each country will give two sets of points (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12) to their favorite songs. One set is given by a jury of five from that country, and the other by viewers. You are not allowed to vote for your own country out of fairness. There's been a lot of debate lately about whether the show has lost its primary focus, which was to reward the best song and artist, and turned political. However, the show is entertaining nonetheless. At least for one night, Eurovision brings together countries all across Europe (and beyond). It's extravagant and dramatic, a celebration of different cultures, musical styles, and lots of glitter. The contest has been held annually since 1956, which makes it the world's longest-running annual live international music competition.
The Masked Singer
2019 - | FOX | Seasons: 7
The show's format goes that every season of The Masked Singer features a group of celebrities who each sing a 90-second song. However, they walk on stage in head-to-toe costumes to conceal their identity, and believe us when we say it won't be easy to tell who hides under the costume from their voice. Before each performance, a "clue package" containing hints about their identities is provided to the panelists and the audience. A celebrity's voice is electronically disguised and narrates a video with cryptic allusions to what the star is known for during a taped interview. The panelists can make wild guesses about each singer's identity while watching the clue packages, after their performances, or before an elimination. It's very enjoyable to watch and fun to guess along!
2002 - | FOX ; ABC | Seasons: 20
American Idol paved the way for the numerous singing shows that are available on television today. American Idol was released when Simon Fuller adapted his British singing show Pop Idol to fit the American audiences. However, Pop Idol was later canceled after Simon Cowell announced the launch of The X Factor, another singing competition, in 2004. The premise of both programs was the same: judges tour the nation to find the most gifted singers. After a round of auditions that significantly reduces the number of applicants, only the top few remain to compete against one another on a Hollywood studio set. Initially, participants had to be between the ages of 16 and 24. However, the age restrictions were soon changed to include everyone between the ages of 15 and 28. Tone-deaf contestants warbling in front of the judges is a common feature of early auditions. In further stages, the show evolves into a more polished competition among the best of the best. And to be fair, it's difficult not to become engrossed with the aspirant singers' journey, from the dreadful auditions to the nerve-wracking finale.
The X Factor
2011 - 2013 | FOX | Seasons: 3 (USA)
2004 - 2018 | ITV | Seasons: 15 (UK)
The judges' central role in the audition sets The X Factor's idea apart from its direct precursors, Get Your Act Together, Pop Idol, and Popstars. The "reality" aspect of the show is that the judges individually "manage" the audition winners. The show also includes the televised management process footage, particularly in the "boot camp" section. The emotional behavior and musical performances behind the scenes help viewers identify with the candidates and see which one they like and "click" with the most. As with other reality competitions, we experience the chaotic beginning with sometimes awful performances (although very entertaining) and see the show evolve into a more polished "battle" between the best talents. If you enjoy spending weekends by the TV, The X Factor might be an excellent option to tune in with your friends or solo for an entertaining evening watch.
America's Got Talent
2006 - | NBC | Seasons: 17
Not strictly a singing competition, however, there's plenty! America's Got Talent is a talent (duh) show in which singers, dancers, magicians, comedians, and other entertainers of all ages compete for the $1 million grand prize and fame. The judges assess every performance once it is finished. However, suppose a judge doesn't like an act or wants the performance to end. In that case, they can hit their buzzer button anytime during the performance. If all four judges press their buzzers, the performance stops. In the earlier rounds of each season, the judges decide who continues and who leaves the show. In further stages, contestants perform live, and the American viewers vote for the performers they wish to see in the final rounds. Overall, this show is a lot of fun and never stops surprising us. Besides that, the producers' idea to show the contestants' backstories makes the show seem more genuine and allows for a better connection between the contestant, judges, and the audience.
The Four: Battle For Stardom
2018 | FOX | Seasons: 2
Hosted by Fergie, The Four: Battle for Stardom (also known as The Four) is a musical reality competition series where top-notch artists (DJ Khaled, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Meghan Trainor, and Charlie Walk) battle to keep their place on stage against fresh competitors who are determined to replace them. The winner is then chosen by the audience. The final performer standing has the chance to sign a recording contract and make a stunning music career debut. Because it doesn't provide viewers an opportunity to relate to the performers, The Four isn't as fun or enjoyable as programs like American Idol and The Voice, which is perhaps why the show hasn't been renewed for a third season (yet). However, fans of this genre may want to watch it, and the chemistry between Diddy and Khaled is a reason good enough to give this show a go. They are hysterical, so you might need "another one" after watching one of the episodes.
2020 - | Netflix | Seasons: 1
The show's premise is that six amateur singer candidates compete on a neon-lit stage in front of a sing-along audience cheering them on. With a live backing band, they take turns singing along to classics in episodes with titles like "Summer Anthems" or "'80s Mixtape." The program's centerpiece is a vocal analyzer instrument explicitly designed for Sing On! that continuously monitors each performer's pitch accuracy in real time. The more allegedly accurate their pitch is, the more money they pile up in a jackpot. Whoever is last left standing gets the total of everyone's winnings, up to a maximum of $60,000. It's a lot of fun to just turn on the television, crank up the volume, and sing along. For all karaoke fans, it’s very much worth it to give this show a go!
2019 - 2020 | NBC | Seasons: 2
Songland is a breath of fresh air from the Idol, Got Talent, and The Voice popularity contests. This show offers undiscovered songwriters the chance to pitch their original songs to a panel of celebrity judges, including Macklemore, The Jonas Brothers, Meghan Trainor, will.i.am, and many more, in a very different way than the current reality talent shows on television. Other more popular singing shows always receive criticism for being overly produced, exploiting some of their acts, and even being accused of predetermined outcomes. The focus of this program, however, is on the process of aspiring songwriters looking to write the next big hit. Even if you don't belong to the group of people whose entire lives revolve around music, it's exciting to learn how successful songs are created and fine-tuned until they are perfect. This is the show for you, without a doubt, if you aspire to be a songwriter or are just a fan of music in general. Even those who aren't particularly musical should watch this. It's much more exciting than you might think. However, despite relatively high ratings, the show hasn't been renewed (yet) for season three. Hence, Songland's fate remains unknown.
Rock Star: Inxs
CMT's Next Superstar
2011 | CMT | Seasons: 1
The show's premise was that participants, ranging in age from 22 to 50 and primarily undiscovered singer-songwriters in the country genre, would compete while sharing a residence in Nashville, Tennessee. Contestants living together in a single home also means drama, and there's just plenty of it. Each week, they’d compete in challenges related to the music business and grueling performance rounds. One contender would be eliminated each week, and fans would cast the deciding vote to select the winner. The prize? A recording contract with Warner Music Nashville and the opening slot on the CMT fall tour, headlined by Luke Bryan. Unfortunately, despite having relatively high ratings, the show has not been renewed since season 1 in 2011. For every country music lover, it's a must!