Reality Check: Who's Pulling Ahead on The Voice? Does X Factor Need 'Groups' Therapy?

Season 5 of The Voice is down to just 10 contestants — but three or four standouts are beginning to separate from the pack.

On this week’s Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I discuss our favorite perfomers from Top 12 Week — spoiler alert: their names rhyme with Bowl, Tacky, Splat and Bath-View — and ponder why Tessanne Chin, technically the best of the bunch, keeps falling just short of our expectations.

RELATED | The X Factor Top 12 Results Recap: Did the Right Acts Get Booted This Week?

Also on the docket: The X Factor‘s ’80s Week, or more specifically Melinda’s pet peeve of excessive background vocals being used in the Groups category. Plus, there’s interpretive dancers, country-boy beefcake and even Mario Lopez’s Hipsways of Doom (™ pending)!

So press play below for the full Reality Check experience, then hit the comments with your thoughts. Who are your faves on The Voice and The X Factor? Sound off below!

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. Lauren says:


    • No. Just no, lol. This show has gone down the hole…

    • MAB says:

      I have really tried to be supportive of XFactor because I always liked Simon but I can’t, I just can’t. The production is just so over the top that it is gross. Get rid of the dancers and the screaming audience. I want to sit Simon down and say down and say wake up. Why can’t he see how his show has just been so cheapened. The best night of the XFactor was that Thursday do over and they just got out there and sang. I am trying but I seriously don’t know if I can continue to watch. And what was up with results night. The wrong people without a doubt went home.
      As for The Voice, I am enjoying this year more than ever. The talent is incredible.

    • HTGR says:

      Too late, they seem intent on cutting the best first and leaving the worst for the long haul. What a shame of a mess. What’s the point now that all the best will probably have been voted off after just one more week.

    • Shazay says:

      Melinda wearing that argyle sweater vest…..I can’t…..please…’re too awesome to dress like a lesbian.

      • S. says:

        That’s a pretty bigoted remark. Lesbians don’t have a dress code. Not everyone that dresses in a sweater vest or has their hair cut short, for instance, is a lesbian. As if dressing in a way that makes people think you’re a lesbian is a bad thing. Also, some lesbians wear sexy dresses and heels and you’d never guess they were in a same sex couple. Melinda can wear what she wants and it’s fine by me. She always looks nice. PS. Melinda, can you please do a cover of Hey Mickey? It’s all I can think of after you jammed to it for a few seconds while Michael was talking. ;)

    • Better Sundays says:

      Ew. No. Good God in heaven no.

  2. christopher bee says:

    Fantastic as ever guys and to the point.

  3. analythinker says:

    I’m still confused as how they managed to sort the #VoiceSave tweets based on countries and age of tweeters (to abide by the rules). I mean, they can track countries from Twitter locations, but age? As far as I know, people of all ages can sign up to Twitter.

    • Ayelet says:

      Technically you have to be older than 13 to register for a Twitter account, which was also in the voting rules shown on Tuesday night.

  4. Chablis says:

    Not a fan of Kat; very contrived IMHO.

    • Megyn says:

      Kat bugs me. I don’t ever feel she’s being genuine.

    • darcy the slutty twin says:

      Contrived, off-putting and has a penchant for wearing adult diapers.

    • Don Viajero says:

      I thought she was the most genuine that she’s been to date and easily had one of the top 4 performances of the week, along with Jacquie, Mathew and Cole. Sail is exactly the type of song she should be doing.

    • gravity says:

      i’m sick of her kicking the air. i mean, yes, you made your point. you can kick like a bad ass, kat. now sit. and stay. and, sorry slezak, but she’s def leaving this week. with the talent pool this deep, there’s no room for predictable performers like her and austin in the top 8.

    • Tom22 says:

      Lets say she were really a genuine “evil princess” . Would you enjoy it then or would it be a different complaint than “contrived” or an implication that it is fake others make ? I think it is “acting” but it is an “acting out” sort of release of something really there, than some of us, even those of us that feel the world is generally good.. depite it’s built in tests of tradgedies that we must bear, like to lash out against in moments. Sometimes it just feels good to yell or break something and get back to our normal happy natures having purged that bad feelings. Kat does that purging for us when we see her kick and stare etc..even if its just a 1/8th slice of her personality that comes out on stage

  5. Babybop says:

    Loved the clips of Mario Lopez horribly dancing whenever he said “eighties night”. I don’t understand why he thought that was a good idea to do…

    • S. says:

      I’m guessing he thought he had Saved by the Bell street cred when it came to being around to learn the dancing of the time, but a) that show started in 89 and b) still no.

  6. Montavilla says:

    Thank you for making me laugh first thing in the morning. All I want to do is to hear Melinda Doolittle say, “The lady with no pants on” for the rest of the day.

  7. L says:

    more x factor!

  8. Alienate says:

    Good stuff! Keep covering both shows: The singing one and the trainwreck one. :)

  9. Terry says:

    Interesting that Kat was a top 3 pick for both Michael and Melinda but bottom 3 pick for voters. I’m not a fan of this save thing. People already voted, why have them vote again? It’s lame.

    • Lumplestilskin says:

      I’ll tell you why they let people vote again:
      Let’s say you watched the performance show, and then voted for Matthew and Tessanne, your two favorites. And then on Tuesday night they show the bottom 3 and there is Kat, who was your 3rd favorite, although you didn’t vote for her. You’re sitting there thinking “No! I don’t want Kat to go!” So you tweet your vote for Kat and help save her.
      I love this idea!

    • Calli says:

      It’s a gimmick to up the ratings for the elimination show, in my opinion.

  10. The Beach says:

    And thank you, Melinda for your spot-on comments about the groups on X Factor. I have felt that way for several years.

  11. Julie says:

    Might’ve SUNG, Michael. I know that past participle is falling out of the English language, but it’s still there for now. Kat sang just fine, but she might have SUNG it better. Or something.

    Anyway, I am connecting much better with Will than you are, and Kat and Jacquie Lee areleaving me cold. Still like Matthew a lot, though.

    • Lee says:

      I’m with you, Julie. I really don’t understand the Jacquie hoopla. When she hits her upper register, to me, it sounds screechy and inaudible–I can’t make out the words she’s singing. I’m glad they stopped talking about Caroline. I always thought she was one-dimensional. I like Will too–along with Matthew and Tessanne because of the intensity they bring to the songs they sing. And they’re not screechy like Jacquie!

      • Ella says:

        I agree, even those short clips played in the video made me cringe. It’s not a pleasant sound to my ears but maybe I’d feel different with a different song, I def didn’t like that one!

      • will says:

        I don’t understand the screechy comments. She is objectively not screeching. Like just by definition of the word, she is not doing that, and if you think she is, I’m sorry, but you’re actually just wrong and don’t understand what kind of sound that word is actually referring to.

        • LB says:

          Maybe better words would be “squeaky” or “thin.” Jacquie’s upper register is the opposite of “full” and “rich.” I don’t know exactly what words to use because I’m not a singer. All I know is that I don’t like it.

          • Don Viajero says:

            Well I do. In fact I like it a lot.

          • Tom22 says:

            Far better way of putting it than screechy, which it is not. I do understand how some people might not like it because I’ve heard some of the same sorts of comments over the years about some of my other favorite singers on the shows. Actually, I read many people, many of whom I’d read enough to know they were thoughtful listeners have that sort of opinion. To me however, even if I can agree about the “less rich” on those notes, I think that the exultation and gut wrenching “Hell fing yeah” emotion of those notes do call for something more rough.
            Think of the Music-Man .. “My White Knight” .. the high notes in that song demand a rich ringing vibrato.. but not so much the ones Jaquie has sung… quite the opposite although there might be somewhere in between.

          • HTGR says:

            @tom22 – +1

    • GingerSnap says:

      Amen, sistah!

    • hmr says:

      I am connecting with Will as well. Jacquie is overpraised because of her age. I don’t enjoy her excessive emoting.

      • HTGR says:

        Hah I guess you can’t win on these shows if you under 18. Usually they say oh so and so isn’t old enough and therefore can’t emote enough and then one someone under 18 does, now it’s oh they are under 18 so all they do is emote too much hah.
        I really don’t see what her age has to do with anything myself.
        I like Will and he is over 18. I liked Sasha and she was over 30. I like Jacquie and she is 16. What’s age got to do with it? It sounds like an excuse to find fault one way or another, too old, too young….

      • Better Sundays says:

        LOVE WILL. He’s my Champ.

    • Alex says:

      Thanks for that correction. I was thinking the same thing! Basic grammar! It makes me sad when people don’t know it.

  12. Lee says:

    Could your dislike for Tessanne have more to do with Adam than Tessanne? Oh–well. It doesn’t matter. The recapper at EW loves Tessanne. She wants her to sing the whole Beatles songbook.

    • Timmah says:

      I think it does have something to do with Adam, his song selection I mean. If I were him, I’d choose something really slow and dramatic for Tessanne that showcases those pitch perfect notes. Maybe even go a capella.

      • LB says:

        If you’re suggesting another power ballad, please shoot me now. People already know she’s a technically accurate singer with a big range. What they don’t know is that she can sing something in a cool or trendy way.

    • the real wendy says:

      I love Tessanne… but they are styling her pretty old? She is young and beautiful but on the show she always seems very dated. Also she needs a really impactful song that whole audience is going to get behind. Impactful, I guess, is not a word.

      • Timmah says:

        Yes, the styling is definitely a problem. Her hair and clothing make her look like she’s about 60.

      • JM says:

        Agree, her styling is way too old. But the song choices that Adam has been making certainly isn’t doing her any favors either.

      • Tom22 says:

        Styling(and in a broader sense, the personality that fits the styling) is the Key YET I think the show doing all they can. I thought her styling was excellent on the Kelly Clarkson piece but it is her styling during rehearsals that hurts her.

        The thing is, I think she is being true to herself (and I think all of the contestants are being true to themselves … they are quite distinct…even maybe a bit odd in their styling (Cole’s beard) but it all rings true to me at rehearsals.

        SO, I guess what I’m saying it that her style, and say, her respectful bearing, is admirable and charming on a personal level yet, perhaps not the type of engagement with music many people want. I think many of us want more escape in our music, and less say, “coming to grips with reality?”.. I guess we wan to “tilt at windmills” ? “Stronger” , pop song though it is, can be a bit defiant… instead of just a statement of personal resolve? It is really subtle but if even a defiant song doesn’t feel optimistic and limitless.. well .. I’m not sure that’s what people want…

        Just a thought. I think Michael and Melinda put it great. As much as they raved about her voice.. they just didn’t leap to pick her songs as their favorites without stepping back from what they were excited about hearing but instead just judging. If music doesn’t make you want to listen.. when you’re away from the competition part.. there is an issue. Of course.. Tessane sold lots of itunes so many people evidently do want to hear her.. she shouldn’t change.. but it might not be the type that gets excited about voting.

    • I love Tessanne, but Tuesday night wasn’t her best, and I think I know why. She sang a love song to her husband, but her voice and mannerism indicated that it was supposed to be a depressing song. She also looked really uncomfortable in the intro before the commercial break when they were styling her hair, and I think she still might be very nervous. No doubt she’s majorly talented, though.

    • Calli says:

      Not connecting with a performer is not the same as disliking them. I’ve seen lots of performances that have made me think, “she’s got a great voice, but I’m just not feeling anything from her.” That’s different from disliking someone.

      • Tom22 says:

        ditto – great person, great singer, not a musician I really want to hear. But, I don’t like the great Celine Dion either.. she fills stadiums all over the world. Is there a place for another singer in that style to sell records? Is there anything new or different or more engaging about Tessane? I think that is a question each fan answers on a personal basis. Many here respectfully share that they feel others are just “one trick ponies’. Usually those people don’t like the type of music so, I’d think it would be hard to differeniate for them. Let the lovers of a genre put their favorites forward and.. basically all are winners if they get to the final 3 or 4. The ones then that can attract across audiences or, who have a larger voting segment will take first place.. we shouldn’t really care who takes first if we know the style we like is less popular.

  13. Steve Z says:

    Tim is a nicer, almost Branson-friendly version of Scott Savoy. I think they even sang the same song. Scott needs to move on to an amusement park where he will find a good, steady job doing what he loves… or perhaps he could be a singer on “Dancing with the Stars?” Honestly, the Voice is just not doing it for me this year. The talent level between the two shows is so disparate. I think it is time to say goodbye to X-Factor

  14. Sorry Melinda, I still think it was unnecessary to hear Hallelujah another time, EVEN with Matthew Schuler singing it. We’ll have to disagree on this one :P

  15. JM says:

    Still think Austin should have gone home instead of Jonny. But he seems okay with the results, so I wish him well.
    Apparently, the Today Show thinks highly of him too, because they had him on the next morning but not Josh. Major insult to Josh, IMO.

  16. Britt says:

    Slezak, you need to sing the song!!!!!!!!! Maybe next week lol. I like Jacquie (when she doesn’t scream), Matt, Will, Cole, and Tessanne the best. With Matt being my favorite!!!

    Also I don’t get why the quality of talent has gone down on X Factor year after year. If they got better judges/mentors (those that can speak English & those who actually know how to pick songs and help their artists), slow down on all of the production, and get better talent, the show would be worth watching. I feel like they are trying too hard to distinguish themselves from American Idol and The Voice and it isn’t working. Maybe they should just merge American Idol and X Factor. Call it The American Idol who has the X Factor or American X Factor, something.

  17. Diana says:

    I have one complaint: the videos are too short! Seriously, I could listen to you two bitch about The X Factor for days. And it’s especially interesting when you have differing views on certain contestants (either from X Factor or The Voice), so make Reality Check a little longer, pleeeeeeease!

  18. dj says:

    I’m glad to hear the x-factor highlights from you guys because I haven’t been able to watch the show in a couple of weeks. I don’t mean I’m not home or can’t DVR it, I just can’t make myself watch it any more. But watching amusing little snippets while you guys discuss it is doable, so thanks.

  19. dj says:

    On the Voice, my #save tweets were not accepted because it kept saying “duplicate tweet.” Did this happen to anyone else? Do you have to add some more text to change it up each time, because I thought the point was to get as many #savewhoever tweets in as you could before time was up.

  20. Annie says:

    I just want to thank the person who put in that Mario Lopez clip 4 times. and the Pow-lina clip. Seriously.

    I loved Matthew this week. I actually really liked Ray this week too.

  21. aravis says:

    Please continue covering XFactor! I need it for laughs.

  22. Ginger Snap says:

    Okay this is the thing that bugs me about these shows. The “Top 12” singers are composed of 8 guys and 4 girls. With the elimination of 2 guys we’re left with 6 guys and 4 girls. Odds are that one of the girls gets eliminated this week (my money is on Kat). I think I counted at least 4 WGWGs during last week’s rendition of An American Band (Cole, Austin, James and Will). It’s almost a certainty that one of these 4 makes the finals. Given the weaknesses of each of the girls (although Tessanne is the best pure singer of the girls), it’s doubtful that even one of them makes the final 3. Which means we’ll see more over the top screaming from Jacqui and Kat and more comments that Tessanne looks matronly.
    And we’ll see some combination of Matthew, Will, Cole and James in the top 4.

    This is why I grew tired of American Idol.

    • MAB says:

      This is totally ridiculous. Is a guy never allowed to win anymore without people protesting about WGWG. The last two winners of The Voice were females. What is the problem?

      • Calli says:

        I don’t see a problem no matter who wins. The viewers want who the viewers want, and there’s not much that can be done about it after casting is finished.

    • davey says:

      Two white women and two men of color have won the Voice so far. So the WGWG complaint is kind of lame. It may be time for a white male or a woman of color to win the Voice now.

      • HTGR says:

        That complaint came from all these shows put together, mostly from AI and perhaps XF (although not enough season on the latter to say much). So far XF has had 50% WGWG and AI, until this last season and even then only because they stacked the deck, had been WGWG for years. But yeah not so much for TV.

  23. I was incredibly pissed off this week when the X-Factor went long and took up 40 minutes of Glee’s timeslot. Why is that allowed? I hope X-Factor is cancelled tomorrow.

  24. Erin says:

    I’m with Slezak on the Jacquie love. She’s the one I most look forward to seeing and listening to. I think she is crazy talented, and I think she has awesome stage presence. I do hope they have her do something a little softer this week, though.

    • Don Viajero says:

      I agree. I also find myself most looking forward to Jacquie’s performances. And I also think it would be a good time for her to something slower. Everyone always talks about her upper register and it is amazing how she always manages to stay on pitch while also emoting so much. But there is also something about her raspy lower register that I first noticed when she did Stompa and that I’ve come to love. .

      • Tom22 says:

        I love Stompa ! I didn’t super love it live but that’s pretty normal for me. Most of the songs improve when I hear them on my headphones on a second listen.. but some really really do. The drop to the low tone from PEE — poll .. that “poll” is such a lush sound and the anticipation of the perfectly pitched leap downward in the triad is mouth watering and satisfying in the 2 seconds it happens.

    • davey says:

      I would never buy an album by Jacquie until she grows up.

  25. Leela says:

    I could listen to both of you talk for hours! Please expand this to 20 minutes at least. And thanks to the editor for all those clips of Mario “dancing” to 80’s night – I’m still laughing.

  26. John Anthony says:

    Saying it’s time to have a performer of color win anything is as prejudice a statement as there is. It is time for the person of color, as you put it, to win if they have the talent!!!! Not the right color skin! I’ve said this before. Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Lena Horn, Whitney, Diana Ross, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis, and many others were stars because they had talent! They rose above far more prejudice times than these people today could even imagine. One thing the music industry teaches us as far back as the 40’s & 50’s is that talent wins out without prejudice. I’ve watched these shows the past four years and several times a person of color was cut that I honestly thought should have stayed like Judith Hill and Sara on the Voice. I must say that Bradbery should have won and did. As soon as white performers win out several times in any endeavor it must be due to prejudice. The music industry wants to make money – that’s it!!! If a performer of color doesn’t win these shows the music industry is watching and will certainly come knocking on their door no matter their finish. Also, with the kind of exposure the acts get on these shows opens doors for most of them. It’s up to them to make it , and just maybe, they weren’t as good as we think! Maybe just average?