Reality Check: Awful Eliminations, Questionable Front-Runners Tarnish The X Factor, The Voice

Not all reality singing competition contestants are created equal. And when the best of ’em are sent way too soon to the results-show guillotine, it can result in a creative tailspin worthy of the World War I Flying Ace under heavy fire from The Red Baron.

That was pretty much what went down this past week on The X Factor and The Voice — and on an all-new Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I try to figure out (with some help from our friends from Homeland, Doctor Who, and Sherlock) where voters went wrong, and how the shows can restore their respective mojos.

Which X Factor act has us drawing comparisons to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Who’s making us long for American Idol‘s Season 11 soul sensation Joshua Ledet? And which vocalist can find her latest performance in the file marked “too late, not enough”? Press play below on our latest episode to find out!

And for all my reality TV news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Annie says:

    The genius of the X Factor is that they are purposefully awful, so that people will continue to watch and talk about the show.

    • Julie says:

      X Factor’s ratings are not very good. The Voice is KILLING XF in the ratings, in fact. So not all that many people even watch XF, let alone talk about it.

    • Joe says:

      I can’t even get through an episode of X Factor this year and I’m a Simon fan. The contestants, the production, the groups…all of it is just maddening to the point it’s unwatchable. It’s just style over substance to such an insane degree that when you watch it you don’t know exactly who the audience really is for this show and what planet they are currently living on. It’s wretched.

      • I Heart Chuck Bass (and Damon Salvatore) says:

        X-Factor suffers from being too much about the judges, manufactured drama, bad hosts, poor production quality (seriously, how many times did the mics drop out on Wednesday?) and giving the judges too much power. Sending Jennel home over Paige? You can’t tell me that wasn’t more to cripple Demi than because they think Paige was better. And, that’s not a show I’m interested in watching. I want the better talent to advance, not who judges think is worst.

  2. DarkDefender says:

    Tense shows become more and more obviously driven by who the producers want to win. I really feel like the voting isn’t actually counted.. IMLTHO.

    • DarkDefender says:


    • Stacey says:

      Except last year on American Idol. Although Phillip surprised people by having a hit single right off the show. You can’t tell me the producers behind the scenes wanted Phillip to win. They wanted Jessica, or Hollie or even Skylar. Very marketable women. Phillip was more of the same. And is allowing the urban legend that is growing with each year that only men can win now. And the same type of singer. The audience voted for him. No matter how much seeds the show could put out there that Phillip wanted it his own way. Was not listening to the mentors and maybe was too sick to compete. Heck he was allowed a pass from all those video shoots. Yet he won. So sometimes the audience do speak in the end to who they want. I agree, on X Factor. Jennel and Lyric were questionable exits. But I feel Demi is killing her team with her choices. And Lyric songs they have been doing is not a viable for who they should be… Doing Queen and Katy Perry mashup is barely in the diva theme. Also it was a double elimination which killed them most of all!

      • Temperence says:

        Phillip won because he has the broadest appeal. He had a massive hit right of of the box (and I’ll mention that Home was back in the iTunes Top 40 this week) – even after being used over and over again for the Olympics. I’m glad that his album will be out on Tuesday. Personally, I think that it’s nonsense to say that a woman can’t win Idol these days.

        • Marianne says:

          Phillip won because all that wins are WGWG’s. Most of voting is female tweens/teens/cougars. I don’t think it’s “nonsense to say that a woman can’t win idol these days”.

          • Stacey says:

            I agree it’s growing into a question with much credence. I still think a woman can win. I still maintain Skylar could have won if it hadn’t been for all country finale the year before. She was everything that Lauren Alaina wasn’t, and I was a Lauren fan and have her CD. It’s a unfair double standard. The female have to be strong, yet different while not turning off viewers like Crystal likely did…. The men can just be cute, with a subpar voice. And can use a guitar. We will see if new judges will bring some changes… It was evident Jennifer loved the cute guys…. and couldn’t be mean. The girls were criticized, the guys were given passes… Who knows… I can’t wait until January!

          • kevin says:

            Just because they are white guys with guitars doesn’t mean they are the same, I mean scotty mcreery and philip philips are both white guys with guitars yet they are very different. I personally think jessica should’ve won, but philip is equally deserving and muscially talented too.

        • teatime says:

          Singer-songwriter-musicians tend to win Idol. I am okay with that.

        • FreeHaley says:

          It definitely is NOT nonsense to say that a woman can’t win Idol. Haley was a million times more diverse, talented and interesting than Scotty. Alaina was more interesting too.

          No woman could ever have lasted as many weeks in a row that Phillip did when he was being bland or strained or worse. I did like him at the start and he wasn’t that bad, I did like him, and he sure has had a hit with that song (which fit almost insanely perfectly to the story of what was going on with the gymnastics team too) and it is true he was horrible sick for that stretch too. But

          Anyway you see a lot more guys just coast along on all of these shows week after week farther along. I mean Elise had an insane performance there with “Whole Lotta Love” and tried to mix things up and be interesting, took a risk in week 6 and heaven forbid and boom she is home and can’t even make top 5!

          Even look at The Voice, woman could make it to the top four at least and even top two but then the, IMO, in both cases somewhat generic guy won even though pretty much every critic had her first and above him by a mile.

          So come on.

  3. Nikos says:

    i just cant understand why the X-Factor would have a leaderboard where Tate Stevens is Number 1 two weeks in a row. Surely they rig enough of these shows to make up a leaderboard right? Cause if I have to see Tate and Carly at the top every week and numerous good contestants fall on the wayside instead of Arin and Cece, I dont think these 8 weeks Ive watched has been a good investment

    • teatime says:

      Tate is getting all the country vote. He probably won’t stay in the number 1 spot for the next couple of weeks. He should finish the season near the top because he actually sings. IMO if he does win that will be okay. He is not what I listen to but there are plenty of worse options for that top spot.

  4. Lily says:

    I don’t say this too often, but I really agree with Michael. Carly Rose just isn’t someone I can get excited about. Knowing she’s a plant doesn’t really help either.

    • Johnny says:

      This x 1000000

      • Johnny says:

        Her middle name is ROSE, a definite tip off that she is a plant. Oh yeah, and her multiple years on Broadway..

        • dan says:

          I couldn’t figure out why everyone said she is a plant, until I googled it. X-Factor is really tacky to not acknowledge all of her professional experience. I appreciate that the Voice doesn’t try to hide it, and it’s probably not Carly’s fault, but it doesn’t make me want to vote for her.

  5. BethT says:

    X Factor may be causing zzzz’s, but Michael and Melinda always entertain me!

  6. Blinged Up says:

    I’m with Melinda. I’m going to keep voting for Lyric 145.

  7. Kate says:

    Can’t bring myself to watch either one of these shows but I ALWAYS tune in to Reality Check. Much more entertaining :)

    • Stacie says:

      This! So much. I actually DVR’ed both episodes of both shows and deleted the first episodes and fast forwarded through 90% of both of the results show. X Factor is so bad and The Voice is making me lose hope very quickly.

      I can’t believe last year on X Factor we had Melanie and Josh and Chris. But there is nothing to root for this year. I know Melanie has done nothing thus far, but at least she always killed it on the show and Josh was always so good. I don’t know with this show. I watch too much TV and don’t need this show to keep me entertained.

  8. onlyakb says:

    I can’t wait for Emblem 3 and Cece to be booted out, actually I don’t know understand how they are still on the show and Jennel is not!! it doesn’t make any sense!!

  9. kavyn says:

    I’m with you about Lyric 145 and Jennel not being the worst performances (imo you hit the money with Arin, Cece and Paige being bottom 3). But at the same time Lyric 145 has never impressed me (I thought the Katy Perry and Queen song was just horrible) and Jennel wasn’t going to make it beyond Top 5 anyways (she just can’t live up to her audition performance, she couldn’t in boot camp, she couldn’t at the judge’s house and she couldn’t during live performances). I do think despite my lack of interest for Lyric 145, they did get jipped last second with the song choice.

    I thought Paige should have gone home over Jennel, but I don’t think it’s the *worst* thing in the world that Jennel left so soon. Demi’s team isn’t going to win. I was absolutely shocked with Cece being top 5, that was beyond random despite the fact that I do like her personality. Her singing on Wednesday night was most definitely not better than Beatrice, Diamond, Lyric 145, or really anyone else. I genuinely thought she would be right above Paige, or possibly above Arin but that’s it.

    I really don’t understand why Beatrice Miller is so low. Her performance was my personal favourite despite the stupid wardrobe. I totally believed her song and she sang the chorus quite nicely. Carly Rose was good too but she also got jipped on the song choices in general.

  10. AlyssaGs says:

    Cassadee Pope’s success is largely owed to her built-in fan base. Her band, while not reaching mainstream recognition, toured with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship, We the Kings. I like that The Voice provides second chances, but I think there should be some limitations on this if the first missed opportunity leaves a contestant with an unfair advantage.

    • Lisa LoPiccolo says:

      The first winner Javier Colon had record deals that did not work out, Jermane Paul was a back up singer for Alicia Keys, Juliet Simms has been in a great band called Automatic Loveletters forever. So how is Cassadee any different in having a advantage? She is very good and deserves the attention she is getting. The Voice is the best singing contest we have. Hope she goes all the way. This season’s contestants have been amazing and the quality of the show is getting better, unlike the others.

  11. Aria says:

    I would have thought that ‘The Voice’ would be pushing Amanda Brown as a frontrunner because 1) she’s female, and they’ve only had male winners thus far, and 2) she’s the only remaining product of the “steal” feature of this season’s Battle Rounds, which would validate this new feature as one that is necessary and worthwhile to keep. Amanda was great at Top 20, but faltered at Top 16, and she was criticized immensely despite the fact that what was her own personal weakest performance was still better than most of the others, most of whom received praise.
    I’m also surprised that the show is pushing Trevin so hard (he gets all of the sympathetic backstage interactions with other contestants, etc.) when he’s a soulful African-American male with little current pop potential, just like the last two winners of the show.
    I’m still rooting for Amanda (and Sylvia, as long as she gets back to her singer-songwriter vibe), although I’m annoyed that they started this whole thing where, starting at Top 12, iTunes downloads will count toward the finale vote for the contestants, because Amanda had her strongest week at Top 20 and blew away the competition in iTunes downloads, yet that isn’t going to count toward her finale tally.

    • kavyn says:

      I don’t mind so much, since Top 12 is when voters actually choose who makes it and who doesn’t. The voters only got to pick 8 out of 12 people to make it for Top 20.

      Besides, Amanda is absolutely great and made many fans from not just her Top 20 performance, but also her duet with Trevin (I gained mad respect from her for that one). I’m sure Amanda will be able to maintain those fans as she continues in the competition. She’s definitely my #1 on The Voice.

  12. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    The guy that won The Voice last year is awful. His song that he performed on the show was horrific. They need someone besides Trevan to win or it will be more of the same for them. You can’t convince me Jermaine, or whatever his name was, was the best contestant on The Voice last year. Not even close. Same goes for Trevan.

    • malarson2 says:

      I liked the awesome rocker-ish chick from last year on The Voice and was very surprised – and disappointed – when Jermaine won instead. I am sure it was all about his back-up singer back-story and how he performed with Blake Shelton on the last night of the show that anyone could vote. In fact I’m so convinced of it that I just couldn’t get into it this season. I watched the first four eps and the rest are sitting on my Tivo right now. It’s only a matter of time before the delete button takes over…

      • FreeHaley says:

        Yeah it was a total crime she didn’t win. She was awesome. Would’ve been nice to have that on radio and now we get another bland same old. I didn’t even think it sounded so good live when he did it the other week. He is a nice guy, I like him, but to have won it over her??

  13. niks says:

    I just want Beatrice to win. I get that Carly is a better singer, but even at 13, Beatrice puts more emotions into her performances than any other contestant. Come on America! Vote for Beatrice.

  14. teatime says:

    Great RealityCheck this week!

  15. Juju says:

    C’mon guys. Vote for Beatrice. Please.

  16. dani says:

    What? No love for Nick??

  17. RW says:

    Unfortunately, and VERY inccorectly, I believe that Beatrice has probably been hurt in the voting just for the fact that she has “Same Sex” parents!

  18. Toni says:

    My theory on Cee-Lo’s song choices are that he wants to be more “viewer friendly” and have the viewers know the song.

  19. Portia says:

    When Carson Daly announced that Trevin was singing When a Man Loves a Woman, I seriously thought, “Didn’t he sing that last week?” Still can’t remember what he sang the week before, but I’m pretty sure it’s all from the Michael Bolton songbook.

  20. Julie says:

    Beatrice and Carly Rose are both awesome singers, but they are both 13. So I don’t believe either one of them when they are handed songs that they don’t have the life experience to infuse any genuine emotion into it. Not their fault — XF did the same thing last year with Drew and Rachel.

    There is a reason why there aren’t any 13-year-old pop stars out there (Willow Smith is rhythmic/urban, not pop). Even if you are in a boy band, you generally have to be at least 15 or 16 for anyone other than little kids to care and want to buy your music. For solo artists, it’s even harder. Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez — they were all at least 15 or 16 before they had any success as recording artists. Beatrice and Carly Rose would have been better off waiting another couple of years before trying out (assuming XF is around in 2 years, that is, which it might not be).

    • Eric says:

      There’s only one person who kind of had success when they were 13 , and it was JoJo, but u don’t really see her anymore .

  21. Ann VerWiebe says:

    I like Trevin – but honestly, if the songs you are most-comfortable singing haven’t been popular for decades (or there would be more to choose from), how do you build a career?

  22. Portia says:

    I just can’t seem to get into X Factor this year, although I remember mildly enjoying most of it last year. I think part of the reason is that this time it’s running along side The Voice, and (for me, for you) X Factor comes off as a bit of blood sport in comparison. Without arguing which show format is better, I notice that I smile when I watch The Voice. I enjoy the spirit of the show. I like that it is good-natured. I like judges’ camaraderie. I appreciate the show’s attempt to focus its mentoring (at least more than X Factor or Idol) on the technical, and I find that more compelling than judges ripping contestants and each other apart. With X Factor I get that uncomfortable sense of having witnessed an unfortunate auto accident first hand each week. I can’t connect to the X Factor judges or the contestants, not when there is a more positive, less icky option each week. Anyone else having this experience? I’m curious…

  23. Samantha says:

    I stopped watching after the first judges house episode but I keep watching these.I don’t understand how CeCe and Paige are still on the show. They’re both awful, especially CeCe!

  24. Andrea says:

    Well…I think Demi sabotaged her team the minute she didn’t put Jillian Jensen through…but on the other hand, I think she did Jillian a favor because I haven’t liked anything that Demi’s done with her team and now that Jennel is gone, I really hope that her team is the first complete team to be eliminated. (Clearly she’s less interested in their singing as she is in stage production…which I feel is the problem with a lot of popular artists today.)

  25. G-Mom says:

    I didn’t like X Factor last year, so I’m not watching it this year. The name Lyric 145 sounds like a robot!

    I do watch The Voice. The only girl I might have voted for the last show was Melanie (the girl with the half and half hair). I think I just liked the song. My favorite from day 1 is Terry, then Bryan. I hadn’t paid too much attention to him before, but he did really well the last few performances. My female favorite was Nicole Nelson. What a voice! Too bad she was “older”. Grown women have good voices, too! Better, actually. Remember Yolanda who you all passed on? She was great! I guess either baby girl voices or screaching/LOUD voices make it today. Too bad……..

  26. Alex says:

    Tate sucks!

  27. Chelle says:

    Is there some mandatory (stagnant) well that these judges are using for their song choices? With the exception of Adam Levine, the songs they pick are incredibly overdone. Can one of the soul singers try a group like Alabama Shakes instead of treading out songs that have been memorably done by other shows?

  28. Chelle says:

    Also forgot to mention that whoever edited that video was pure genius for the Sherlock clip.

  29. FreeHaley says:

    Lots of good stuff. Can’t really disagree with much in this week’s Reality Check.

    Yeah Carly she is good and yet…. as I’ve said something seems somehow a touch artificial or not quite connected and not quite exciting as you’d think.

    Whatever some say about Beatrice not doing this in some technically perfect way at least there is a real interesting tone, true feeling and connection (even when it isn’t her first choice and so many struggle with that even when it is their most favoritest choice of all). I still think she has the most going for her of anyone left regardless of what happens to her on the show.

    Lyric 145 I did think had a bad week but man their judge’s house audition was magic and even the Mary Poppins thing was pretty rad. It may have been one of the wildest top twos ever if we had had Lyric 145 and Beatrice! Damn. Sadly, looking like neither. Once Beatrice goes there is not all that much exciting left. Not that Carly is bad, she is quite good, but somehow a touch plain. Still good though.

    People may have voted for CeCe despite some troubles because maybe they felt she got so beaten down and she maybe had some promise before that so they were still willing to rebel against the beat down last week even despite the couple misses and maybe they figure at least she might be interesting whether interesting good or interesting bad? Can’t be as plain as Tate, that is for sure.

  30. Mari says:

    Beatrice gets my vote always!