Reality Check: Are Carly Rose and Cassadee Unbeatable on The X Factor and The Voice?

There are still three weeks left of The X Factor Season 2 and The Voice Season 3, but most prognosticators would argue that the proceedings are mere formalities on the way to crowning Carly Rose Sonenclar and Cassadee Pope as the shows’ respective champs. But are these ladies worthy winners? And more importantly, what in the whatty what is going on with Simon Cowell’s bloated beast of a reality singing competition?

On the latest installment of Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I take a deep, uncomfortable dive into all things X Factor, from how we’re judging the show’s talent on a curve (and not against “singers for real”) to ousted Vino Alan’s disconcerting posture to Simon’s “compliments” about Carly Rose being an alien.

We also examine an unfortunate trend on The Voice, where a certain contestant whose name rhymes with A Panda Clown seems to be held to a higher standard than any of her inarguably fine competitors.

So press play on the video below to be a fly on the wall for our conversation — and get bonus footage from The Hunger Games, Small Wonder, Luther, and a pair of polar opposite vocalists in Britney Spears and Fantasia Barrino.

And for all my reality TV news, recaps, and interviews, 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. jay cross says:

    christina should not be put out on public, she should be in studio and stay locked out there, she’ll have a better chance to sell more records that way… she’s hurting herself.. and i want her to do good in life..

  2. Louise says:

    Yay, one extra minute! I’m a little embarrassed at how happy this makes me.

  3. CJ says:

    Hard to imagine Gilda Flip as a singing star.

  4. Screaming is not singing

    • That was in reference to Fantasia. Slezak sets it up as being the greatest thing on Earth then the clip starts and Fantasia is screaming. That’s not singing. The most boring thing about these singing shows are the people who scream instead of sing and are told how great they are. If I want to hears screams, I can do that myself. I don’t need to waste my time watching TV to hear screams.

      • GMom100 says:

        I SO agree with you!! Too much screaming and too little singing! I judge singers by how good their lower register tones are. Kelly Clarkson’s lower register, for example, sounds just as good if not better than her higher notes. Cassadee’s voice is too screechy IMHO. As for X Factor, what little I have seen – I always go by “Are they worth 5 mil?”. The answer is always “No”. With a little more real training they might actually be, but not yet.

      • EC says:

        OMG YES!! I’ve never understood how people go gaga over Fantasia when all I hear is screeching and screaming!

    • Kim R says:

      My thoughts exactly. The first time I heard the term “hollerating” was in Michael’s recaps. What I don’t understand is how he never applies it to Fantasia. She sounds like a cat that had its tail stepped on. I’m not trying to be mean but Holy Cow! She’s a screamer and it does not sound good!! :)

  5. bradnies says:

    I don’t get the Cassadee love. Sure, she’s a good singer but she has a very generic sound.

    • Blivins says:

      Here’s the deal: Cassadee does not have this thing in the bag, although I do personally believe she has the greatest chance of becoming a contemporary pop star. Slezak has come to the conclusion that she’s unbeatable because of the iTunes sales, but if you look at last season of The Voice, that theory doesn’t hold up. When last season’s Final 4 performed, the lowest-charting singer was Jermaine Paul… and he won. Week after week after week, Juliet Simms was the highest-selling singer in the iTunes store.

      My prediction is that someone will win who has 0% chance of having a real career in music after show is over. NICHOLAS DAVID.

      • Dave says:

        Oh man you are so right. Every season on “The Voice” the winner is a man in his mid-30’s with a wife and kids at home. You vote for them because they seem sweet and they seem like they need the win the most. And the show ends and… nothing.

      • BahyFirefly says:

        Last year they didnt factor in the iTunes rankings. This year they are, So someone that charts high might have an edge.

        • Sam says:

          You’re right… this year ALL the iTunes of each contestant are gonna count towards votes in the finale… not just the finale performances iTunes.

          • rick says:

            If that’s true then Cassadee has this in the bag, she was number 1 on itunes for like a week.

          • HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

            It really hurt Amanda that they didn’t count iTunes until the week AFTER her Dream On, so not only did she lose the bonus votes from her greatest performance, her worst performance on iTunes got tracked!

      • Tom22 says:

        While my initial feeling Casadee was generic and I don’t particularly like middle of the road music, I’ve been turned around. I’ve downloaded her songs via youtube (i’ll go buy my favorites after my trial) and I have to say, I enjoy listening to them… she brings something of her own to them and they’re not flat and simple.. her phrasing is good, she uses the interesting breaks in her voice to emphasize meaning in the song.

        Songs are about conveying emotion, and a story… and she does it. So.. just want to say I don’t find her generic after listening to her more and more. I’m not jumping up and down to buy a album of her covers, but they’re good enough to listen to now, and its possible she can have a interesting hit song after the show.

        • Tom22 says:

          Oh, I’ll add that I also like Nicholas and Melanie and I think its a toss up who is the “best” .. they’re all very good artists and it comes down to musical preference and if you like the songs.

          Personally, I’d stop the shows at the final 3 or 4 and call all of those “winners” because after that in comes down which singer is of a style and personality more people like. Popularity contest ? Yeah, but not in a bad way.. that’s what entertainment is all about.. people liking it. Music isn’t an athletic event with objective standars… after a point… (we can all tell crappy singers even in genres we don’t like)

          • teatime says:

            “I’d stop the shows at the final 3 or 4 and call all of those “winners”
            The top few contestants often get record contracts. So that is sort of how it works. It’s some of the fans who seem to get hung up on who wins.

  6. P says:

    Michael is still hating on Britney and Carly? Again? Michael Slezak, talking about Carly: “I just haven’t yet cared about one of her performances in the way that great singing stirs me and makes me feel something.” I love Carly’s performances and I hope she wins.

    • kevin says:

      How is he hating on carly, when there are plenty of moments where he compliments her voice? He is merely commenting on the lack of emotional connection/relatability with carly’s performances. sheesh.

      • seattlejohn449 says:

        I have the same issue with Amanda Brown…she is a good technical singer and stage performer but she doesn’t appeal to me emotionally like soulful Nicholas does (or even Melanie a little bit)…even if Vino wasn’t the kind of guy you would expect to sell records I really enjoyed how he could inhabit his singing with so much feeling

  7. The X-Factor is definitely flawed but I think Carly Rose and Tate could make it big. Same with Fifth Harmony and Emblem3. My problem with the X-Factor is that its almost as if Simon and LA know who they are signing going into the live shows. Its not like Idol where the contestants have room to grow. The X-Factor needs ANOTHER overhaul next season (mainly to the format IMO) and possibly it could be successful. I enjoy the show, I just wish it felt more authentic.

  8. noa says:

    wow. small wonder for Carly Rose. Jason- you are my favorite. that, and the district 11 sign for Beatrice made me laugh… it’s almost like your editing is reason enough for that pile of garbage called X Factor to exist.

  9. EVPandHC says:

    Michael, you try finding a song age appropriate for Carly. Do it. In this day and age, what is age appropriate and doesn’t suck?

  10. noa says:

    also, since The X Factor sucks so much, and i just can’t watch it anymore, i’d like the voice to get more screen time. it’s the same every week- 7 minutes of discussing how much the whole show is annoying and bad and just down right depressing. and then- let’s say how Cassadee shouldn’t win but will win while the credits are rolling. i think Melanie’s “journey” has been interesting enough to discuss. and how about talking about Terry, who looks like he’s on his way out, but still has a shot with the right song and vocal. and let’s mention how Trevin is STILL there and how he’s probably going to stay there because, you know, life. and then let’s also leave 4-5 minutes to discuss the awesomeness of Amanda Brown. because, really. it’s so much more interesting to talk about the singers on the voice than the crappy producers of the X Factor. Noa out.

    • Blivins says:

      I agree with this posting. Everyone thinks The Voice is superior to the X Factor…. so why devote the majority of your clip to the X Factor? I wish you guys would talk more about The Voice. Is it because negativity is funnier? Is trash more compelling than quality? The current state of things makes it seem that way.

    • Tom22 says:

      Plus 1, ditto , etc … show is shameful

    • KC says:

      The X Factor sucks BIG TIME and I have no idea WTF Simon was thinking when he cast for this season. I can’t watch anymore because of Khloe, Demi and Brittany. Khloe’s modulation of her voice is THE WORST I have ever heard for an announcer/host. I cannot believe no one has gotten right on it and given her lessons on what inflection means and how to properly modulate/inflect when she is talking. The questions she asks are so freaking stupid and lame.

      As for Demi….I have again never seen such immature and disrespectful behavior. She has absolutely NO idea how to be a mentor or teach. Instead of pitching a hissy fit when someone gives criticism to one of hers she immediately tells them how proud she is, etc….Clearly the girl who went home last week needed to be gone LONG ago. She was so lame and pitchy that there is no way Demi could not hear what everyone else was hearing. How in the heck is someone to learn if you constantly tell them they are so good. Her job as a mentor was to give her constructive criticism. Demi’s disrespect for Simon is not cute or funny.

      Don’t even get me started on Brittany but I can say she it more tolerable to watch than Khloe and Demi. If Simon brings those three back or even one of them then I will officially no longer watch that show. If I was Simon I would be embarrassed of the show he created.
      LAME, LAME, LAME Simon….now clean up your show.

  11. EVPandHC says:

    At least you talk about the awesomeness of Amanda Brown. I really hope she continues to blow us away and win over Cassadee.

  12. vighorois says:

    The more important question: how many copies can either champion sell with their first album? 20K? 30K if I’m being generous?

  13. Aria says:

    The X Factor pretty much cuts anyone interesting, and no one is amazing. Over it.

    On the Voice, I still can’t root for Cassadee because, while she has been better the last few weeks, she still isn’t THAT good. She’s Avril Lavigne plus a few inches. Amanda and Melanie FTW.

    Do we know how many finalists there will be in the finale- 2 or 4?

  14. Craig Hansen says:

    Y’all are whack. I completely enjoy X-Factor, because the judges have the cojones to actually be critical. The Voice is a joke, because the judges tell everyone, “Oh, you’re a superstar, you’re huger than any of us.” Please… if you cut someone, tell them, “You’re just not good enough.” It’s more honest, and even Idol has lacked that since Simon left for X-Factor.

    • Ashley says:

      Because graciousness and tact are no longer good things, right? I’m glad they don’t try to garner ratings with tart remarks to the contestants. You want that, I’m sure you can download the early seasons of Idol somewhere.

      • Yo' says:

        Or, how about a judge on XFActor saying “I was bored” (to which the retort must be, “You are being paid far too much to affect boredom.”) XFactor judges don’t actually judge either, they generally feign attitudes, unpleasant attitudes.

    • Sam says:

      Yeah you’re right, on X Factor they give amazing advice by telling the contestants that they are either “AMAZING” and “VERY PROUD” of them or otherwise downright putting them down. On The Voice they actually have an excellent line up of talent so theres nothing wrong with the encouragement as it always come with excellent critique of their performance and great advice. Honesty does not mean bashing the contestant and that is what Simon Cowell has had people believing since his Idol days.

    • Tom22 says:

      I beg to differ. While the voice judges are positive, they are not generically positive. If you watch the show more, you hear advice.. you hear when they say “you look nice” they’re saying that they weren’t impressed by the vocals. When Blake explains he likes “the story telling” that also sends a message to the other contestants what they should step up. Snarking isn’t necessary, but in sum, they speak about singing in ways that distinguish specifics… instead of saying as much “youl’ll sell tons of records” or self serving “I’ve had sucess with groups like you” etc.

      I do agree a bit as the show goes on the comments are getting more positive because, as the poster above stated, the remaining singers are people the judges respect , and have their personal styles. You can’t say one artist is better than another once things come down to styles…. you can’t say who is the best musician among the Judges.. all you can talk about is preference for the type of music Blake sings, or Adam sings, or Chris , or Cloo sings.. they’re all artists .. but you can say what you particularly like about them

  15. Craig Hansen says:

    The only mistake made on X-Factor this year (and it was a huge one) was when idiot judge Demi Lovoto cut the wonderful Jillian Jensen for the terrible (and completely fake) CeCe Frey. A pure ego move because Demi thought, “I can make America love this girl most people want to hate.” Well, surprise surprise, WE HATE CECE! Jillian Jensen was, to me, a Top 3 talent and would have given Carly Rose and Tate a run for their money…

    • Sam says:

      I’m pretty certain that Jillian’s spot was taken by Willie Jones or Paige Thomas.

    • noa says:

      look, i’m not a big Jillian fan like a lot of people are, but i thought she should have stayed. the fact is, that CeCe and Paige stayed on the show for a while and CeCe is still there. so i don’t know how you can consider this “the only/biggest mistake” (especially since there’s a Kardashian on that stage twice a week). i thought Jennel was the best one and America voted her out first, so was putting her through “a mistake” as well? i don’t think so…

      • teatime says:

        Remember, Jennel got sent home by the judges. She might have been 3rd from the bottom that week and might have bounced but up in the ranking the next week. The judges have sent hom Jennel, Beatrice, and Vino without finding out if they were 3rd from the bottom.

  16. Ashley says:

    Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pope won. I don’t hate her, she seems like a sweet kid but she’s easily the most generic singer on the show and probably the last artist I’d buy anything from, cover or no cover. But listening to popular radio, generic seems to be what people want. With a few exceptions of course. At the moment, I can only think of Adele but surely there are a couple more…Right?

  17. EVPandHC says:

    Also, Michael, that’s not Lady Marmalade. I’m a fan of Fantasia, but the performance had so much shrieking in it that it was just too hard to watch.

  18. dj says:

    Thank you, Michael, Melinda, and Jason for giving us a new Reality Check! I so agree about how bizarre X-Factor has been. It’s like the Twilight Zone of reality singing shows. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised by anything on that show at this point. All my favorites got voted off, so now I’m kind of watching just for the spectacle of it all, although I feel a little guilty like I’m watching gladiators fight to the death or something. I think we should all call Simon “Simon Cow” forever from this point on. It suits him. I can’t wait to hear what Mario comes up with this week.

    I hope Cassadee doesn’t win on the Voice. I don’t think she’s earned it. Unless she ups her game by a lot, I think it should go to Amanda or Nicholas. I would be thrilled if one of them won. I totally agree that Christina hurt Dez. I think she needs to step back and take a good look at how she’s coming across, and make some adjustments, both for her artists’ sake and her own. But I doubt she will. I think she will just get more bitter and act out, unfortunately. She’s the poster child of spoiled brat celebs. I love her voice, and some of her songs have been amazing, but her attitude stinks.

    People talking about Fantasia screaming: she sings a lot of the time, too. It’s not total screaming. And when she sings, she hits her notes, she connects, she emotes. Give her more of a listen.

  19. George B says:

    Said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t care who wins, so long as Skid Mark (and you know who I mean) goes home.

  20. BarbL says:

    Vino was having health issues, on top of dealing with a “mentor” (and i use the term loosely) who was undercutting him.
    I think the posture thing was body language for “I’m ticked that I’m in this situation, singing for my life against a cute little girl who I like.” When people hunch over like that it creates stress on the voice, and constricts the sound rather than letting it soar. It’s a bad habit that I hope he can break, given some good vocal coaching.
    I don’t like the Voice, and refuse to watch X (baloney) Factor, lost interest in Idol (don’t want to watch due to the drama already mentioned). I’m taking a year off, hopefully XF will be better next season–if not, I doubt the show will be on for a 4th year.

  21. julie says:

    Christina tweeted the Bieber fans about watching Dez, likely hoping they would end up voting for him. But she ignored the fact that Dez isn’t anything like Bieber in terms of style. Bieber, love him or hate him, is a current sounding r&b/pop artist. Dez, although he can sing ok, is a cheesy lounge singer with no relevance to his style.

    I’m still not a fan of Cassadee. She’s been better the last couple weeks, but she’s boring and generic. Amanda, Melanie and Nicholas would all be better choices to be the winner. None of them are boring, But Cassade may actually have the best chance of selling decently, because of her Hey Monday fanbase.

    XF is a total joke. Simon is working so hard to try and get Emblem3 to win this show, but he is also trying to turn them into a 1D clone, rather than allowing them to pull out the musical instruments and perform their own music. And sorry, but all this does is prove how much like 1D they are NOT (And I don’t even like 1D). Emblem3 isprobably not going to go on and sell millions of albums and have dolls made of them, sell out arena shows, etc. So why not just let them be who they are and see if that will catch on with the public?

    I agree with Michael and Melinda about Carly Rose. Great great great voice, flawless technique, totally unable to connect with the emotion or meaning of the songs. Again, she’s just too young to be able to sing these songs. Give her something fun & upbeat, something that is more appropriate for a 13-year old. For example, have her sing a Selena Gomez song or one of Bieber’s earlier songs. Or one of Taylor Swift songs that are about teenage romance. They can find more appropriate songs for her if they bother to actually look. I doubt she’ll be successful anyway, because like I say, she’s too young to really fit into the current music industry, but maybe if someone signs her and takes their time to develop her, when she;’s 16 she could make an impact on the music world .Maybe.

  22. Magali says:

    The x factor US is simply horrible this year. Thank god for The xfactor UK and James Arthur (also that Jahmene Douglas kid can SING!)! Now that’s the type of talent we look for watching reality signing competitions. In america this season only Amanda Brown comes close to this type of talent.

  23. Dona says:

    I much prefer The Voice to X Factor. It’s interesting to watch how my daughter and her friends vote. They vote for The Voice singers based on on the performer and performances. But with X Factor, they seem to be voting for their favorite mentor/coach. The Lovatics are rallying around CeCe, so Demi will be the “winning mentor.” Whilel they like Carly Rose and Diamond, they hate Britany so won’t vote for those 2.

  24. Ed Hamell says:

    Yup, you guys have lost it. You’re over the line on “cynical and horrible” regarding Carly Rose. Maybe it’s your own cynicism that prevents you from connecting with her. (Do ya think???) The kid’s darling and as L.A. and Simon told her, “You may be 13, but your soul is OLD” and “You have soul”. She giggles, tears up after songs … what do you want from her? Taking shots at a 13 year old with those sitcom videos is just not right.

    • RyeNeckGirl says:

      The comments are spot on. Carly IS robotic. Technically flawless, but not relatable or relevant. If she wins, she can’t be marketed to her age group because no teenagers would relate to her. And adults don’t care for teenage stars. She will end up like Jackie Evancho and will appeal to the same demographics that buy Jackie’s records. Like Jackie, she’s an old woman in a young girl’s body and that’s a little off-putting.

      • aheniwa says:

        You and these reviewers are way off base on Carly’s appeal, bordering on the laughably clueless. She has huge *demonstrated* appeal to teens and tweens. She’s nearing half a million twitter followers and *70M* YouTube video views in only 3 months. She’s listed as one of the “100 stars you need to know in 2013” in J-14 magazine. What about older fans? 250K Likes on Facebook. Heck, Julie Andrews got on her FB account and asked her fans to vote for Carly–just one data point, but a very indicative one. There are tons of folks “connecting” alright.

        Her fan base is also global in the most important markets. She trends at the top globally on twitter at times, and has a significant following in North America, UK, Japan, Europe and South America. There are billboards in Tokyo showing her

        Why is this? Apart from the fact that she has immense talent and appears to be a very humble, likeable, down to earth person so far, she spends a lot of time and attention on her fans–her so called “Carly’s Angels”. She works social media diligently and “relates” to her fans round the clock. That’s probably some of what Britney sees when she says that Carly understands the “business” side of things–social media is how music breaks these days. Carly seems to be an extremely hard-working and well-grounded person with solid people in her life who will make the most of this opportunity.

        If her recording choices are well made and she continues with her obviously strong work ethic, it’s certainly plausible that she could amass a fan base of many millions, move multiple platinum records and sell out concerts. There are no guarantees in life, she’s young and its tricky at that age, and plenty of things could go wrong, but she’s got big potential. In fact, arguably given the stats, she’s already a global star–not a superstar mind you–but a star. Not a bad “starting point” for a career in the music biz if you ask me.

        • Ed Hamell says:

          Thank you so much for this well-written, spot-on post. One doesn’t find many 13 year-olds who have already performed on TV, in films and concerts, and had a leading role on Broadway. It’s impossible to imagine that anyone of Carly’s age, or of any age, really, could do so without popular appeal and relatability. And gobs and gobs of talent too. You don’t have to like Carly or her work. It only makes sense though at least to respect Carly the person and what she has achieved at a most tender age. And it is only human decency not to publicly belittle or mock any 13 year-old. Where I come from, that’s called bullying.

  25. Jared says:

    Hey Melinda..Britney Spears has sold over 100 million records many have you sold??

    And sure Simon Cowell is no singer..but the artists he’s developed have sold those 300 million records so I’m gonna say he knows a little something about talent.

    • dj says:

      I think we can all agree that Britney sells mostly based on looks, not on vocal talent. Right?

      • whosays says:

        there are a lot of good-looking women in this world. in fact, visit LA or the SoCal beaches sometime – they are literally a dime a dozen. very few People, let alone Good Looking Women, have achieved the sales figures and the longevity and cultural dominance of Britney Spears. not saying i’m her biggest fan, but no, good looks alone won’t get you there.

      • Tess says:

        I don’t know about you, but when I buy music, I’m buying for how the music sounds, not how good someone looks on the cover art.

        Britney may not have the greatest voice but let’s be honest, most major selling pop stars don’t have great voices. What they do have are catchy songs with great melodies, instant hooks, and danceable beats that it seems a lot of people gravatate toward.

  26. jojo says:

    Melinda..according to my research your last album sold 53,000 units to date. When Britney releases an album she might sell 53,000 units in a day. Enough said.

  27. Yo' says:

    I need Tate to win XFactor for a couple of reasons: I want to screw with Simon’s head and since the prize is five million dollars, Tate seems to have his head stuck on right enough to handle it. I can’t imagine much more satisfying than watching Simon try to create a teen star and getting a middle-aged happily married country singer (and a good one) in its stead. The thought makes me very happy; I like it when power is thwarted.

  28. whosays says:

    who here thinks Dez Duran looks like Mario Lopez??

    Carly Rose is way too good for her age. Giving her teen pop ala Bieber or Gomez would be a waste. It’s like if you heard Barbra Streisand when she was 13 – you wouldn’t want her to record an album yet. You wouldn’t want her to do teen pop. You’d want to hear her live, maybe have some roles playing kids or teens on broadway or songs for disney movies, but she shouldn’t be releasing original material for a mainstream audience until at least 16-18. And you’d probably say the same to Streisand at 13 – “it’s perfect but I’m not connecting”…

    If Carly were to release an album now, she should be marketed as a phenom ala Jackie Evancho and release classics, standards, and showtunes. Jackie isn’t releasing teen pop, she’s doing classic opera, spiritiuals, and choral works (solos, of course).

    • whosays says:

      If anyone feels like a robot to me, it isn’t Carly; it’s Amanda. Carly’s got age as her excuse. With Amanda, I think it’s too much training, as well as her not-a-hair-out-of-place personal style (hair, clothes, makeup) to go with her not-a-note-out-of-place vocal style. She’s too PTA mom and not badass enough. She’s one I think Should be on Broadway. With a character and a storyline as her context, she could emote and illustrate her singing quite well. She’d probably be right up there with the best of the current crop (Menzel, Chenowyth, etc).

    • RyeNeckGirl says:

      Exactly. Carly is Jackie’s sister from another mother. Yawn. The other two girls in her category were more relatable, relevant and entertaining.

  29. Whimsical says:

    Unlike Cassadee, Carly is unbeatable purely because she’s the best singer on the show.

  30. Tyler says:

    Am I the only one who notices that most of Emblem3’s “harmonies” are in the music track behind the live vocals?

  31. Ash says:

    Listening to Cassadee right now…Yeah, do not want.

  32. Beth T says:

    LOVE the Michael-and-Melinda show! If they sold tickets I would come. That.Is.All. :D :D

  33. BarbL says:

    By the way…I found out the other day that Vino is a quite a musician who plays several instruments, piano being one. While he didn’t say it himself, I got the impression that Vino tried to make it happen but the PTB’s wouldn’t let him.
    It’s going to be interesting to see if he is able to come out with some original music; from what I gather, he’s had quite a few offers already.