Reality Check: The Voice's Most Wide-Open Season Ever? Plus: Another 'Battles' Injustice

The Voice‘s Season 5 Battle Rounds are over, and there are at least a dozen singers left in the competition with a legitimate chance to inherit Danielle Bradbery’s crown and sash.

That unprecedented unpredictability is one of the reasons my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I are particularly stoked during the latest installment of Reality Check. Among the contestants that have us buzzing this time around are James Wolpert, Will Champlin, Olivia Henken and Stephanie Anne Johnson.

RELATED | The Voice Recap: Knockouts. Who’s There?

Also on the docket is another Battle Rounds injustice that robbed us of an artist who coulda (and shoulda) been a contender. Plus, the awesomeness of Cher, and the joys of Christina Aguilera’s rehearsal singing.

So press play below for the full conversation, then hit the comments and tell us who’s on your shortlist of Season 5 faves!

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. TW says:

    Wow…it really is wide open. Those you guys pick as your favorites (James Wolpert, Will Champlin, Olivia Henken and Stephanie Anne Johnson) don’t map to mine at all. I’m partial to (in no particular order) Tessanne Chin, Caroline Pennell, Holly Henry, Amber Nicole, Juhi and even Tamara Chaunice (although we haven’t seen enough of her). Plus a little Jonny Gray and Jacquie Lee.

    Of your list, the only one I like much at all is Stephanie. James is good, but not my thing.

    • Dan (Haleyloonie) says:

      Well, they said favorites from this week. Melinda and Michael obviously love Tessanne, Juhi, and Caroline. And to some extent Holly.

    • Tyler says:

      So far I think this is the best season of The Voice. I love the talent and diversity of its contestants. Right now my favorites are Tessanne, Will, James, Juhi, Caroline and Ray.

      • Teeny Bikini says:

        I have to agree with this. Even though some dumb choices were made by the judges, the remaining contestants are round of contestants. There is a lot of diversity. And I love that The Voice producers are not pushing one particular contestant… yet.

  2. Jess says:

    I love Cher so much. I also feel like she’d probably give actual constructive criticisms once we hit the live rounds, which would be a nice change.
    I’d also like this show to institute a rule that Christina has to sing at least once per episode, even if it’s just half a chorus.
    I love how wide-open the competition seems to be so far, but the Knockout round will really tell us who’s in contention.

    • David says:

      Cher proved that she would have been a fantastic judge on Idol or XF if they would have gotten it. I always knew she had the star quality, experience, clothes and wig drama, and from Twitter, we know she takes no guff and says what she wants. I didn’t think shed be so good at pointing things out to contestants and have specific musical tips. She was superb and I love her even more

  3. Kelsey says:

    THANK YOU! I was so in love with Matt Cermanski, and I was utterly shocked when nobody stole him. That’s the kind of voice you want to lightly lull you to sleep at night.

  4. Sierra1707 says:

    Two words: Preston Pohl.

  5. B. says:

    Actually after last seasons battles Danielle was NOT a front runner. It was more like Judith Hill, Sarah Simmons, Sasha. Danielle became a front runner kinda after the live shows started when she did Maybe it Was Memphis…

    • Dan (Haleyloonie) says:

      True, but she was still pimped by the coaches during the live shows. Though she was popular, but probably not one of the top 5 most expected to win.

      • Lumplestilskin says:

        Maybe NBC wanted Cassadee to win, but that was not the case for Danielle. They were sick of Blake being the winning coach by that point. Michelle Chamuelle was the network’s preferred winner last season. It was obvious!

  6. Chablis says:

    Glad Michael you are coming around to Will. I like that you’ll re listen to an artist. Go RedSox.

  7. Don Viajero says:

    It really is wide open this season. While I’ve started to develop some personal favorites, I can’t say I’m that settled on them because I like so many of the others as well. At this point in the last two seasons, I could have predicted who the likely final 6 would be and have gotten 5 out of 6 correct (though not the order in which they finished). But this season I couldn’t even begin to predict the final 6 with any kind of confidence. I think that first live show is going to be brutal as we’re going start losing some very good people, particularly if they go from 20 to 12 contestants in one shot.

    I agree with Michael about Juhi. I find her to be one of the more entertaining contestants this season and do like most of what she does with her vocals, though I do also agree with Adam that she still needs some work. While I don’t expect her to go all that far, I still don’t understand what CeeLo was thinking when he picked George.

    While I liked Matt, I wasn’t really quite as impressed with him as both of you. I actually liked his audition much better than his battle with James (which I thought ended up being one of the weaker battles in a season full of very good ones). I do think Matt was much better than both of Blake’s saves.

    Finally, Done is a great battleround song, which allowed both Olivia and Stephanie to shine. But I really need to see more from both of them before I’m sold, particularly given the level of competition this season.

  8. Mel says:

    Oliva looks like Carrie Underwood’s younger sister.

  9. HTGR says:

    Agree with Melinda that Stephanie and Will took the rounds. I wasn’t really that crazy about James. Olivia was pretty good though even though, as I said, I think Stephanie beat her.
    Yeah I thought Juhi won too (although I’m not quite as sold on her though perhaps, but we’ll see).
    I did like James better than Matt though (I liked Matt’s audition though but wasn’t all that crazy about his battle round).

  10. dj says:

    Agree with yo guys on the battles, Cher, and Christina. I think Christina is happier with herself after her makeover, so she gets along with the world better than she did before. Cher is fun. I wish she was going to be on Idol instead of Jlo.

  11. Can y’all please give Josh Logan some credit after his upcoming performance???

  12. Teeny Bikini says:

    Yes. Let it be Cher. She’s so good at this. I mean really.

  13. Becky says:

    Preston Pohl
    Ray Beaudreaux
    Josh Logan
    Nic Hawk
    Shelbie Z

  14. Pat says:

    The love for Juhi, I do not get it whatsoever.

  15. mjdolorico says:

    My top 12:
    Will Champlin
    Tessanne Chin
    Matthew Schuler
    Ray Boudreaux
    Ashley DuBose
    Josh Logan
    Amber Nicole
    James Wolpert
    Caroline Pennell
    Jonny Gray

  16. Tamara says:

    Totally agree, this year is wide open and I’m also happy that it hasn’t become ‘The Voice of Nashville’ like it did last year haha, lots of different genres represented.

    Rooting also for Josh Logan, because his battle round was great but mainly because he was a contestant on Rockstar Supernova, a show that was hands down the best reality-singing competition I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. He wasn’t a true blue rock singer though and didn’t last too long, but the judges always noted that he was a great singer, just not a high-energy, lead singer type, much more singer-songwriter. So I hope he does well on The Voice, though I’m not optimistic as he’ll have the cookie cutter female pop singers to contend with and he’s got quite a subtle personality. Either way, I’m excited for this season.

    And YES Christina Aguilera needs to be literally contracted to sing at least a verse each episode. Hearing her just makes me happy. Also, Can we please get a Christina-Ed Sheeran duet?!

    • Don Viajero says:

      I thought Rock Star:INXS was even better than the Supernova version, but agree that the series was the best reality singing competition we’ve had. Too bad that the very concept (finding a lead singer for an existing band) was not sustainable. You are right that Josh Logan does seem much more suited to this show. He remains one of my favorites.
      Not sure what you mean by female cookie-cutter pop singers, as I don’t think we have many this season (Monika, Briana, Jacquie?) and none strike me as front runners. Most of the stronger female contestants seem more like singer-songwriters, r&b, or country. I think Josh’s biggest competition is going to come from the likes of Preston, James W., Will, Jonny, etc. There are a lot of strong male blues/rock singers who eventually are going to start cancelling each other out.

      • Tamara says:

        No you’re right, the male blues/rock genre was actually what I meant when I said more genres being represented this season- i.e. my favourite genre. I think I was thinking of last season more when I wrote that. I love Preston and Will and a couple others, its going to be a good season.

        Ahh it’s so difficult to pick between Supernova and INXS haha, lets just say that both were amazing. Let’s hope Josh sticks around a while!

  17. My favorite to win is that girl who looks like Prarie Dawn. What’s her name? Caroline? The one who did those crazy adlibs with “As Long As You Love Me”? She was amazing!

    Also, Destinee Quinn, because her version of Not Ready to Make Nice was so powerful. I I could feel the passion. You really need to be haunted to sing that song right.

    And I like Tessanne, too. So refined and mature :)

    • Jasmine says:

      Though I loved Destinee’s performance, she wasn’t haunting, she was acting and it was over the top, fake emotion. But she still sang the song well. However, everybody knows Lina should’ve won that battle. She ran circles around Destinee. Lina, please, please, please, make it through the Knockout rounds. Lina Gaudenzi could be one to watch out for…her voice is *halo* and she’s incredibly gorgeous!

  18. Don Viajero says:

    My favorites so far include:

    Amber Nicole
    Mathew Schuler
    Jacquie Lee
    James Wolpert

    My feeling though is that if anybody is the front runner right now, it may be Ray Boudreaux. He’s a technically good singer, very bland and inoffensive, the father of a cute little girl, and on Blake’s team. In other terms, Jermaine Paul 2.0.

  19. JM says:

    I agree with Michael and Melinda that there are many singers who could win this and that the Knockouts should show us which ones are the real contenders. So many times, a great singer picks a BAD song for themselves and ends up leaving.

    I wish there would be a chance for singers to sing songs they’ve written as well. To me, even if you win, if you can’t write a good song, your chances for survival are slim.

  20. I completely disagree that the show is wide open. To me Preston, who both songs sold well, and Holly Henry, who was neck and neck with Preston on the iTunes chart for the Blind Audition, well above everyone else, and managed to make it into the the top 100 of the iTunes pop charts with her Battle Round song despite being montaged, are the two clear front runners right now. I would also give a punchers chance to Caroline, Matthew, James W., Tessanne, Jonny, and Austin. I also think Ray, Jacquie, Will, and whatever absurdly hot country chick Christina takes to the Live Shows could be dark horses with the right songs. Everyone else’s chances range somewhere in between slim and none.

    I also disagree producers are not pushing anyone right now. They have given a lot of screen time this season to Tessanne, Matthew, and Kat. Those three seem to be heavily featured in every promo and recap.

  21. scooby says:

    Michael jamming to “Think” while Melinda was talking just made me so happy. Can they review everything I watch? :)

  22. KnockOut says:

    Spoiler Alert… Knockout Results. This is still unconfirmed though. I stumbled this somewhere:

    “I’ve been reading The Voice U.S. on Baidu and spoilers/rumors of the KO round results have been released. They seem to comply with the previews and other spoilers thus far, so take them for what you will.

    Team Adam: James Wolpert, Ashley DuBose, Preston Pohl, Grey + Will Champlin (stolen from Team Xtina)
    Team Blake: Shelbie Z., Ray Boudreaux, Nic Hawk, Austin Jenckes + Stephanie Anne Johnson (stolen from Team Cee Lo)
    Team Cee Lo: Caroline Pennell, Kat Robichaud, Jonny Gray, Tamara Chauniece + Amber Nicole (stolen from Team Xtina)
    Team Xtina: Jacquie Lee, Matthew Schuler, Olivia Henken, Josh Logan + Tessanne Chin (stolen from Team Adam)”

    • Olivia says:

      Well, Holly fans aren’t going to be happy, I see.

      • HTGR says:


        No. No, not at all. Knew it was coming though since all the leaks have been 100% and the way Holly has apparently been tweeting a lot and her partner of last week too I was hoping it didn’t mean it was someone trying to take advantage before they were forgotten and striking now while it was hot before it was too late and hoping it wasn’t bad sign, but sadly. And then when Nic apparently tweeted he won (which seems to me like it breaks NDA and = automatically booted or blacklisted from Hollywood stuff in the future no?).
        Gah, damn Blake what the heck man!! Nic’s voice just grates on me like nails on a chalkboard!! Dang I wish Adam had taken the chance on Holly. Damn what the heck Blake!!!! Ugh most disappointing round results ever. And this might be the first time every someone at the tops on itunes doesn’t even make live rounds or top 12 or whatever. Not a good look for the show. Yeah a touch shaky on pitch a few times but it’s a tricky song and so much promise and such a vastly better tone than nails on chalkboard.
        And once again Blake. Man, he wins when his contestants are not my favorite, sometimes very far from and then he has a good contestant and he doesn’t even let her make live rounds! WTH Blake!


        • HTGR says:

          Adam should’ve stolen her. Holly has a lot more power and vocals than his alternate fav the other season and not half the pitch problems she had and Holly seemed a lot more genuine too.

        • HTGR says:

          Knew Blake was a bad choice for her, she shoulda gone with her seemed a better fit rather than he seemed to give the most bonus votes.

        • HTGR says:

          And if Blake was so in love with Nic why pair Holly with her and why pair Briana and Shelby who were two of his weaker members? Why not pair Nic and Holly against each of them?
          Why the heck did he not pair Holly against Briana? The he gets to keep his Nic and gets his one country singer. Man if there is one judge it’s more than time to take a break it’s Blake.

    • MC says:

      Some of these singers are good, but I’m not really excited yet about most of them. I think Kat should rebound from a mediocre battle round. I’m following her with anticipation. I think Team Xtina will be the strongest one after the knockout rounds (if the spoilers are true). I’ll pay to see Holly in concert and that’s something I can say about very few singer/songwriters who have appeared on any of these talent shows.

    • HTGR says:

      Actually some of those above are wrong! Totally wrong. Weird, so far the other spoilers were all 100%.
      but not the one I really cared about tonight :(

  23. Austin says:

    I don’t get the James Wolpert love . . .

    • HTGR says:

      I don’t either. He is wayyyy down on my list to the point I wouldn’t be upset at all if he didn’t even make lives.

    • Jasmine says:

      He seems fake to me. And all that bouncing on his heels was really off-putting during his performance of Radioactive. I want him to go. The dudes to get with are Cole and Johnny. They are cuties and they have incredible, unique voices!

  24. Tom22 says:

    If they have technical difficulties with voting again this season I really hope they have a re-vote. I’d really like to continue to watch it. ! I’d stop on principal is they did the shenanigans of ignoring text and computer votes again.
    Lots of good contestants.. wide open. I agree

  25. HTGR says:

    Man, the way tonight it going and steals right off the bat and so on I think the show is going to step in it big time and send Holly home before the lives!!!! Man, if only they had seen the iTunes and not pre-taped it all months head, what a mess if so, kind of an embarrassment for the show really.

    • HTGR says:

      I don’t get how the show is so utterly downplaying her ever since the big audition. What a disaster and mess of a joke.

  26. Jasmine says:

    Clearly I’m the underdog, but am I really the only one who thinks that Lina Gaudenzi has huge potential to kill it with the right song choice? I mean, I’ve listened to her battle performance time and time again and I loved how she sang that song! I thought she was great! Her voice is so distinct and fresh, unlike what Michael said about her voice being flat. I disagree with you Michael 100 times over. Lina’s performance wasn’t 100%, there was one moment near the end of the song where she veered off pitch, but that was it…she was 99% in my book. I was so excited when Adam stole her…and if she doesn’t win the Knockout Round, I hope Christina steals her back! She’s the one I’m rooting for…I just love her….sighs…please please please Lina, choose the right song and KILL IT!