Many of the best singers from The Voice began their musical journeys in small towns or in so-called flyover country, but that certainly hasn’t stopped them from achieving great things. Usually, the coaches only have good things to say about these singers’ seemingly humble origins. In fact, Blake Shelton goes out of his way to connect with singers from a variety of regions, although he has a clear bias for Southern musicians.
Not all coaches share Shelton’s ability to capture the admiration of non-coastal viewers. Some have no trouble offending viewers from regions they clearly deem inferior. This was especially evident tonight, when Pharrell ticked off many Midwesterners by speaking ill of Nebraska. If his dismissive tone is any indication, he doesn’t think the state produces any talented musicians, except, of course, his team member, Hannah Huston.
Pharrell’s Nebraska bashing arrived shortly after Huston delivered an impressive rendition of “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” a classic Etta James tune that Christina Aguilera covered for the Burlesque soundtrack. He began by interjecting Shelton’s very positive commentary with an offhand remark about Nebraska. Then, when it was his turn to speak, he continued to badmouth Huston’s home state. Not everything he said was overtly negative, for he claimed that Nebraska should be very proud of the talented singer. However, he went on to talk about how her talent is innate, joking, “Dude, you’re from Nebraska.” He added, “You are inspiring so many people when they watch your willingness to dream.”
Pharrell is definitely right about Huston being inspiring, but his facial expressions and tone of voice indicate that he doesn’t think much of Nebraska’s music scene. He acts as if Huston is from the middle of nowhere, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. She’s from Lincoln, a city with a population of well over 270,000, not to mention, a thriving music scene. That being said, she could hail from a tiny Midwestern town and it ultimately wouldn’t matter. Musical talent is not confined to the east or west coast, and it’s not just a big city phenomenon. Pharrell should know this better than anyone, as he worked with Sawyer Fredericks during Season 8.
Viewers did not appreciate Pharrell’s Nebraska attitude, as they made quite clear while live tweeting tonight’s episode.
Although Pharrell’s Nebraska negativity was annoying, it may ultimately have benefited Huston, as it fired up Midwestern viewers. Eager to send Pharrell a message, Midwestern viewers have already let it be known that they intend to give Huston an edge.
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