Hold Me Closer, Carson Daly

Last night, The Voice returned to television, which means that for the next few months, it is a guarantee that my wife will be watching NBC whenever it’s on. She loves this show. She loves Kelly Clarkson, she loves watching some of the performances (she does not love country, so she tunes out every now and then). This show is her cup of tea. Because I’m a good husband, I started watching it with her.

And now I love it, too… for one very specific reason: the insane amount of kindness radiating from its host, Carson Daly.

Don’t get me wrong; the show is fine without Daly. The early conceit of judges only being able to hear the contestant is engaging, and many of the things the show does before it moves into the final stage (where the audience votes for who they want to keep on the show) are interesting and compelling. NBC always does a good job picking interesting celebrity mentors/judges for the program (this season the judges are Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Nick Jonas) and they have a fun rapport with each other.

But it doesn’t mean anything without my main man Carson.

Daly brings an unexpected and wonderful amount of heart to the show. In the initial round, when contestants are singing for a chance to be on the show, Daly is standing off in the wings (before COVID, he would stand with the friends and family of the contestant) and you can see that he is living and dying on every note the contestant sings. He is rooting for them. You know the old reality show adage, “I’m not hear to make friends”? Carson Daly is very much there to be your friend.

This is why The Voice has such a different tone from a show like American Idol, which- in the height of its popularity- spent so much of the early time making fun of bad singers. We just wanted to see a William Hung or a Chocolate Rain dude come onstage so Simon could tell him what a piece of shit he was. Fuck you for having dreams, you piece of shit! I hope everyone makes fun of you and you never fuck again! You want to know why so many people love who Donald Trump is as a person? Simon Cowell showed us how much we love when people get attacked. Cowell probably wanted to chant “Lock him up!” every time Taylor “Soul Patrol” Hicks sang a song, and that dude won his fucking season.

Now don’t get me wrong; it’s possible that Daly is too nice. He seems like the kind of guy where if your dog bit him, he would apologize to you for being “too tasty”. But there’s something about that warmth that we need right now. It’s been a hard year, and we all passed our breaking point weeks, if not months, ago. So there’s something to be said for sitting down two or three or however many nights a week The Voice is on the air and just watching a guy who wants everyone to be their best.

The Voice may not be something you like. But right now, in 2021, Carson Daly is something we all need.

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