Reality Check: A Shakeup at the Top on American Idol! (AKA Caleb, Jena and CJ Rise, Majesty and Sam Slip) Plus: The Latest Voice Standouts!

It’s anybody’s game on Season 13 of American Idol — as evidenced by long-standing front-runners Sam Woolf and Majesty Rose landing in last week’s Bottom 3.

On this week’s Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle (who’s performing in NYC this week at 54 Below, BTW) talk about why the aforementioned contestants deserved a good, solid elimination scare; how the remaining 10 vocalists need to learn the difference between good risks and bad ones; and our general excitement over the race for Candice Glover’s crown now that Caleb, Jena, CJ, Alex and others are raising their games.

RELATED | American Idol: What Should the Top 10 Sing for ‘Top 10s of 2010-2014’ Night?

If that’s not enough, Melinda and I debate the competitive merits of Dexter Roberts’ “Sweet Home Alabama,” call out “mentor” Randy Jackson for his bad behavior, and flash back to some legendary moments from Idol seasons past.

RELATED | 2014 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Getting Cancelled? What’s Returning? What’s on the Bubble?

Also on the docket? Melinda’s favorite Blind Audition from Week 3 of The Voice — someone who, incidentally, does not line up with my top pick. (Oooh, it’s gonna get heated!)

So press play below for the full Reality Check experience, then hit the comments and share your thoughts about your Idol and Voice faves. And for all my reality TV news, interviews, exlusives 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!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Kelly says:

    You guys make my Mondays better. :) Thanks for the review and laughs.

  2. Tusk says:

    “Hard Core Bangage” #Testify

    I gave Ben a break because I appreciated that he took a risk instead of ‘stay in his lane’ as Dexter did, but when you juxtapose it against La Reinhart’s iconic rendition… man, it was THAT bad….. sorry Ben. There’s risk by trying something you do well, then there’s the ‘crash and burn’ type of risk…. Ben jumped out of the plane without a parachute on that one :P

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Yeah, the juxtaposition made it worse. LOL. I have mad respect for Ben’s attempt though. That took guts and a little bit of cray cray. Love Haley’s version though…

      • Larc says:

        I don’t think singing something outside his wheelhouse puts any feather in Ben’s cap unless he could kill it. He didn’t. Doing something different just for the sake of being different isn’t a win for anybody who can’t hit a homerun with it, IMO.

      • Tusk says:

        Best part of the episode was Slezak mimicking Ben’s piano playing:

        “plink, plink, plink….”


    • J. May says:

      Not only did Haley do a “hard core bangage” version of the song, she was even more badass with it when she got eliminated.

  3. Dhppy says:

    I stopped watching Idol after they picked the final 13, but I can’t quit you two.

  4. Jojo says:

    YASSS. My favorite part of the week. :) lol.

  5. Baby Clyde says:

    God I love you 2. You’re the only reason I’m still watching this dismal show.

  6. Leticia Prado says:

    3 mins on Haley x Ben? TOTTALY WORTH IT!!!!!

  7. -My fear for some of these artists, that got harsher criticism or lack of viewer votes, is that they are gonna play it way too safe. I think people are seeing Dexter week after week do the same thing and get rewarded for it by getting pleasant enough feedback and no Bottom 3. But there’s a fine line because changing things up for the sake of changing things up isn’t good, it’s taking what you know and improving with it. Ben suffered not taking direction well. He changed things up too much just to see if he could. Those contestants that change things up, aren’t predictable and sing every week like it’s their last week are the contestants that last, and the contestants that win. There is a perfect balance and only the contestants that figure it out will succeed. That’s what weeds out the good from the great.

    -Also, what happened to the Itunes Studio Versions? I would have loved to hear Jessica’s version without the band messing up. I think she could have killed it if everything with the band went right.

    • del says:

      I so agree with you about the ITunes versions….where the heck are they? Would have purchased Caleb’s Skyfall without hesitation.

      • Ben says:

        Completely agree. They are starting this week at top 10, but I think that was an error. I would have bought several by now (including Caleb’s Skyfall).

    • 2cents says:

      They need a different kind of clearance to do the iTunes version, something about distribution rights. It is much easier for them to get just performance rights for one performance. That is why they have been able to do much fresher material this season. They just can’t record and sell them.

    • Dani says:

      ITunes recordings start on top 10. I guess its part of them down scaling. Its too bad because the top 13-11 could have used the studio for experience and extra material for their post idol careers.

    • marie says:

      In a dismal world where 99 out of 100 would have said, “I would have loved to have heard,” I thank you.

    • Name This Tune says:

      That’s kind of funny. Scotty McCreary didn’t vary too much from his wheelhouse from week to week. He stayed the good old country boy, and that’s what his target audience wanted.

      Pretty much if you are going to succeed in business, you have to decide who your target market is and keep them happy. I think Dexter knows exactly who he is and who he wants to please. Not everyone wants to listen to the next Indie artist.

      • tealeaves says:

        Scotty did not stray from his wheel house. But he was a teenage boy with a voice deeper than most adults. So he was automatically different in everything he did.

  8. Mark says:

    I agreed with nearly everything Michael and Melinda had to say this week, but it was a jacked up Reality Check. This was the best week of AI so far, and nine minutes were spent discussing the three worst performances, and only four minutes on the seven better performances. Not a good allocation of time. And if they’re only going to do a minute on The Voice, well, why bother?

    • MayMay says:

      My thoughts exactly. Too much footage of the bad singing parts and super short snippets of the good performances.

    • Flicker says:

      Love the show, love the laughs, can’t wait for Monday etc etc. But I hoped you’d talk about a bit more about MK, hell, even Malaya. You didn’t give them any time. I’d love to have heard from the two of you your advice for what they can do to get better. Are they bound for the invisible middle of the pack?

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Because the 3 worst performances were more spectacularly bad than the 3 best performances were spectacularly good. I’m not pooping on Idol. I thought Jena and Calb were awesome last week. But Ben and Majesty were bottom of the barrel tragic.

    • CTZ says:

      They should cut the Voice altogether!

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Or cut Idol all together?

      • Name This Tune says:

        They said virtually nothing about The Voice. Really they just need to do 2 shows, one for each and spend about 5 minutes on each. They are just repeating what gets said in the comments section of Michael recaps
        We’re probably about 3 weeks away from the live rounds on The Voice and that’s when there will be more to discuss. So M&M , give us 2 versions of Reality Check.

  9. Teeny Bikini says:

    LOL. You cracked me up with Adam requiring women to be in their low twenties… That’s too funny, but true. They must also be classically pretty and the thinner the better. Or a dude. I’m just saying…. As for Dexter – he is not gonna change. Why should he? He has a fan base that is keeping him there. Am I bored with him? Yes. But different strokes for different folks and all that…. Personally, I think Jena should glue herself to the piano – she is not just good there, she is superb. She can learn new tricks on tour or when the show is over, but I say ride that pony til it’s dead. Anyway, LOVE the show. This week should be interesting – it’s anybody’s game. Thanks for posting.

  10. Wen says:

    Love how you continue the Haley Love! So depressing to me that she had such a strong album, with no support in the promoting on the back end of the release. She should be better known by now. Wonder if, had she won, would things be different in how her career was handled? Hoping you will be giving The Voice more attention starting next week? Yes?

    • Ben says:

      Were things different in how most winners careers were handled? No. Actually, for the most part, I’d think coming in at about 3 or 4 on idol is better for long term career success.

    • Gerry says:

      It’s criminal that Interscope just let Listen Up! die on the vine. No second single, no second video, no tour… criminal I say!

  11. chris says:

    Michael, why did you not include Carly Smithson’s version of Come Together? It’s my absolute favorite version done on Idol. In fact, you don’t show her much love at all. Long before the judges gave Haley an undeserved hard time, Carly had to endure being humiliated by Simon week after week.

    • MayMay says:

      This. Agree 100%.

    • Joe says:

      I agree three. Carly slayed it.

    • Sasha says:

      Same here, her version was my favourite!

    • xx says:

      Yep, they missed the best Idol Come Together in favor of Kris Allen’s, which really wasn’t much better than the most recent one.

      • chugbuster says:

        The recorded version of Kris’s Come Together is also high octane goodness – it’s still in my party mix. The comparison with Kris (and Haley) really highlights how Sam drained every bit of funk out of that song.

      • Lily says:

        Since I don’t watch the show anymore, although admittedly I had my reasons for watching most of this week’s, I so enjoy Melinda and Michael’s Reality Recaps.

        I really did enjoy Caleb and CJ and Jenna even though I have no comparison. And Michael…gotta say I had completely forgotten about Haley’s Benny & The Jets but you reminded me how amazing she was. Perhaps Ben should have waited a few weeks to take a risk or perhaps Randy should have coached him more. I didn’t think Sam’s “Come Together” was all that bad, albeit bland, but when you put it next to Crystal’s Come Together and especially Kris Allen’s “Come Together” it just gets lost. I’ll cut him a little bit of slack because Sam is only 17.

        But they really do need good mentors on that show. What does Randy know? He played guitar once for a band that, although great at the time, don’t exist anymore and THAT was in the 70s.

      • Fugbegone says:

        Wow..thanks for reminding me that Carly also sang Come Together. I didn’t remember her version at all. Guess I’ll have to check it out. I only remembered Crystal’s and Kris’.

        • Trouty Mouth says:

          Candice’s was my personal favourite, mostly because it kind of throws pie in the faces of all the naysayers (“all Candice ever did was belt/scream/sing R&B”).

    • justme says:

      Yes! Carly’s version is probably on my top 10 list of favorite Idol performances- if not top 10, at least way up there. Love it!

    • Gale says:

      Agree! One of the most underrated contestants ever.

    • Jerry says:

      Absolutely. I remembered I first watched Season 7 during Top 12 Beatles night, one of the best ever nights in the history of Idol in my opinion, with standout performances, David Archuleta actually did something wrong for once and threw the game wide open, and Kristy Lee Cook gave a horrendous performance that made that night quite historic in my opinion, and I thought that night epitomizes everything we love about Idol.

      Carly’s performance was so good I thought she can actually win after that. The hat trick sequence of great performances from Carly Smithson’s Come Together, David Cook’s Eleanor Rigby and Brooke White’s Let It Be, might be my favourite continuous trio of performances.

  12. I love how the reports are slowly getting longer. Little by little, we are getting MORE! Love it.

  13. Emily says:

    I love American Idol, but can there please be more about The Voice? I mean, 2 minutes to 12 minutes. The Voice is better and deserves more time to actually discuss the contestants! Please, talk more about The Voice next week!

    • Idolhead Ed says:

      The Voice is not nearly as interesting. You get a lot of label drops for second chances and a few throw ins. Plus it has always seemed to be more about the celeb judges. They give zero real critiques. I watch it only to get me to Wednesday.And another thing, if this career path was really all about the voice there would be fewer pros out there right now. I think it was an interesting concept but please show me one success off this show. It is way more than just the voice.

      • Trouty Mouth says:

        I don’t like The Voice. I like how Idol is all about plucking people from obscurity, and The Voice, with it’s whole “let’s give a platform to has-beens with craptons of experience, and people like Christina Grimmie who are already YouTube-famous” schtick doesn’t really do it for me.

      • Name This Tune says:

        The Voice isn’t interesting to You. But, right now it has the larger audience. We’re watching Idol lose viewers each week. Maybe because the raw talent you are so excited about just isn’t very interesting to listen to.
        I will be curious to see if we’re still having this conversation when Idol dips below 8 million viewers.

        • M G says:

          Without a doubt Idol is swirling the bowl.  All of the fixes that were put in for this season have improved the show, but viewers are still fleeing.  The reasons are too numerous to recount here, but the two biggest are undoubtedly the abysmally boring and off-putting season 12, and the competition from The Voice.  Whether readers of this column want to admit it or not, The Voice is crushing AI with 50% more viewers each week.  That’s not my opinion, that’s a cold hard fact. 

        • Mark says:

          Sorry to say, but the truth is that Idol is circling the bowl. I give it one more season, at most. The fixes that were implemented last year vastly improved the show, but nobody cares. It’s still losing viewers. The reasons are too numerous to recount, but I can point out the two most prominent: the abysmally boring season 12 and the competition from The Voice. Each week 50% more eyes are watching The Voice than AI. That’s not opinion, it’s fact. Whether it’s the judges, the format, or the talent, bottom line is that America has tired of Idol and is switching to The Voice.

          • Mary says:

            The voice might be a higher rated show, but I still Like like AI more. Two minutes of the voice recap is fine with me. Michael is a die hard AI fan and Melinda came from AI so I would think it would be a top billing for them. The voice might have a larger audience but quite frankly it is centered around the judges to much for my taste, and I don’t think they need any more publicity.

          • Name This Tune says:

            Just checked the top 25 shows last week. American Idol came in at #13 & #19 in the coveted 18 to 49 age group and #12 and #21 in total viewers. It’s down 3 to 4 million viewers from Season 12. I don’t think it’s missed making the top 10 shows since it’s very early years.
            Mary you are free to choose Idol for as long as you want to watch it. There’s going to be a hard core group who will follow it all the way through season 20, if it lasts that long. But it may only keep 5 million viewers at most. And Fox is still living off of The Simpsons, which is in its 25th year.
            But people who have opted for The Voice really don’t want to be harassed with how great Idol is. It is not anymore.

        • MAB says:

          I hate to tell you this but a The Voice is also down in the ratings. I know I didn’t even watch it yesterday and today I watched it while doing something else with it in the background.

    • They’re still in the auditions! Idol is swinging and in the middle of competition, there’s just more happening right now. Of course they’ll start talking about the Voice more when there’s more to talk about.

      • S. says:

        Ugh The Voice should be called The Ringer or The Plant. That’s all they are. I was a subscriber of Christina Grimmie’s a long time before she did The Voice (I’m one of millions of subscribers she has) and she’s been Selena Gomez’ opening act. They’re friends. She’s not an unknown by a long stretch. I hope everybody enjoyed being played to help Cassadee Pope go solo from her band with which she already had a single covered on Glee. Labels are using The Voice for free PR for artists they want to sign without having to pay to develop them or put them under contract officially, and NBC is using it for ratings. This isn’t about finding someone by their voice. They didn’t earn their way in with just that. The “blind” auditions weren’t blind for the producers that recruited them. They got on the show with an eye on things like how popular they are already on Youtube. I get that they’ve successfully crafted a story that people buy, but c’mon, if Simon Cowell gets called on all the attempts he did to create narratives on X Factor, why aren’t people seeing thru the smoke screen on NBC? No mockery or derision for them because I guess they just do it so well. I’ve heard some excellent performances–this isn’t a slam of the singers’ abilities at all–but I don’t see the point of watching the whole show for people like Adam and Blake who get on my nerves. I actually care about the Idol kids in all their often ridiculous naivete about the music business. I hope we don’t see a ton of The Voice on Reality Check. Besides which, this used to be Idology and it was a whole segment of Idol. The Voice is horning in. If they get too much of a segment, just have split Reality Check episodes that week. Give us a twofer if they’re that interesting on their own or make it a double length episode. Sharing one slot of time with both shows could get rough.

        • Peter says:

          The premise of Idol was good to find raw talent, but I think by now the well has run dry. That’s why i think the Voice is doing the right thing by combining professionals with amateurs otherwise you get a show full of no talents like this season of Idol–with the possible exception of Caleb.

    • tealeaves says:

      The Voice does have more to mock these days. I am tired of hearing people on it say it is ‘different’ because it is all about the voice and not appearance. *rolls eyes* That is only true for the blind auditions, if that. Every year the judges fight like crazy for contestants they are just going to cut the first chance they get, in the battle rounds. Also the judges still talk like every contestant is an amazing and is going to win!

  14. The Original Lamen says:

    Caleb was just jammin’ out to Harry….a fellow Southerner. I saw no disrespect…just a young…early 20’s kid, rockin’ out to music that moved him. I agree with Melinda often, but not on this. Caleb is visceral. It’s just a different way of “being” and we are all benefiting from it, ’cause Caleb’s performances attract us viscerally.

    Basically, right now the top 4 are Caleb, Jena, Alex, and CJ. What a change! Everybody else needs to catch up to these 4 now.

  15. Miguel says:

    Where was Carly?? Michael Slezak, where was Carly Smithson for the “Come Together” segment?

  16. syb says:

    Great RC. I did come to really appreciate Haley, but for the life of me will never understand why so many were so impressed with her Bennie and the Jets. I thought it was grating, weird and off key. Oh well–rock on Haley. She was great at nearly everything else.

    • Lee says:

      Agree – liked “Blue” – that was about it.

    • Emma says:

      Well apparently Ben Briley agrees with you, he just said in an interview with realitytvworld that he is not a fan of Haley Reinhart and he didn’t like her version of Bennie and the Jets. Hmmph, that just makes me more happy that he was eliminated!

  17. neaorlean says:

    Oh, I totally remember Melinda suggesting the new voting system after the Phillip Phillips win. :) As for Ben – these guys need to understand, that “do something different” means something else you’re good at, and not something so out of your comfort zone, that’s pretty much all we can give you credit for at the end. Ben looks like a sweetheart and he really wanted people to like what he did, but it just didn’t work for him, because it was on the other side of what he can do, and that’s not the point of “doing something different”.

  18. r says:

    <3Malaya is the best. Mk takes 2nd best, but first for that nightMalaya was 3rd best

  19. J says:

    Mr. Slezak, you and Melinda are the only reasons I still can watch Idol nowadays.

  20. Timmah says:

    5:40 cracked me up!

  21. billnyc says:

    Yes ! Great to see Melinda face-to-face with Michael in NY ! Good luck with the show !

  22. Jessica says:

    So agree with Michael about Dexter. Loved seeing both him and Melinda together :)

  23. Bonnie A. says:

    Great RC! Haley and Kris are two of my favorite Idol contestants and was good to see them perform. Hoping for another great week of singing–they almost all really stepped it up last week.

    And PLEASE could this be Randy Jackson’s last season in any capacity at AI!

  24. MAB says:

    So happy to see Michael and Melinda actually together in the same room.

  25. Adam Reinaldy says:

    Tbh, I love the way Caleb reacted to HCJ’s performance. HCJ looks like he’s such a big fan of himself, so I’m glad that he actually has another one, which is Caleb.

    Anyway, I think Melinda should move to New York. Their chemistry on-screen together is delightful!

    • Becky says:

      Fan of himself. Lol. I was thinking the same thing. I love his music. His passion. But HCJ is his biggest fan. Keith has more humility. Humble. And HCJ is an extraordinary talent . So that vibe is something he developed early.

  26. James says:

    Honestly I didn’t think HCJ even sounded that great. No wonder I didn’t know who he was prior to season 9. So I got no beef with Caleb dancing like he did.

  27. Cub says:

    Can you rank all of AI’s Judges from worst to best?

  28. CK says:

    This is off-topic, but I appreciated the Drag Race reference. You really should start recapping it here, Michael.

  29. Lee says:

    Enjoy these two savvy commentators very much – always look forward to the discussion. However, they, like others, overuse the word “iconic” when speaking of performances they like. Qualification needed – they may be “Iconic” for Idol – but that’s about it..

    • Mark says:


      1. of, relating to, or of the nature of an icon; 2. any performance on American Idol by season 10 contestant Haley Reinhart; 3. any sound, word, thought or image related to Haley Reinhart.

      Sorry to disagree, Lee, but I think Michael’s use of “iconic” is spot on.

  30. Tahoe Mike says:

    I knew Ben was going to get crushed when he chose that song.

  31. GuitarBlue says:

    Pretty big shake-up last week.

    Ben’s followers that decide to keep voting, will likely move more toward Dexter, CJ and maybe Jessica if she does a good Country friendly song. ……

  32. Becky says:

    Those Alabama contestants aren’t going anywhere soon. Alabama takes this idol journey very serious as does NC.

  33. GG says:

    CJ as the final two….go CJ and Jena!!!!

  34. GG says:

    oops I meant to write CJ and Jena as the final two….go CJ and Jena!!!!

    PS Ben did not sound that bad to me

  35. John Anthony says:

    The ratings for this season’s Idol are correct. There’s not one performer who deserves to be on the show. They all gave terrible performances at one time or another if not more. What viewing audience is left must suffer through to the end and see another average performer receive a crown. If Idol survives such poor rating again they can start repairing the damage these awful performers will leave behind. Again, no Carrie, Kelly, or Phillip in this bunch. The Idol does have a rich history. They deserve another try to find that next super star.

    • Jerry says:

      Yes I agree. Most winners (except maybe for Lee) have at least a baseline standard about how terrible they can sound, or how unmoving their performances can be. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood also gave some underwhelming performances during their seasons, especially Carrie Underwood who seemed like a real amateur during her Idol performances, besides maybe Alone or Independence Day and Angels brought me here. But their worst performances still showed clear star potential compared to this year’s batch.

  36. darcy the slutty twin says:

    Caleb is a douchebag. I hope he goes next week. So obnoxious and full of himself.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Sorry, sister, but I find him one of the more interesting contestants this year. I would describe him as “confident”.

  37. Loved the shout-out to Jebidiah Atkinson! Next! Great to see the two of you actually in the same room at the same time. Perfect chemistry.

  38. volcfom says:

    Haley fans! Go support her newest venture: she has an Indiegogo campaign for a new music video.

    As for this season of Idol, Ben was one of my favorites. I gave him 50 votes even though I know he wasn’t that good this week. Really bummed he didn’t make the tour and agree with Michael that Dexter should’ve been in his place.

  39. Elizabeth says:

    It seems to me that most of the people complaining about this season’s lack of talent are also lamenting people that were cut right before the Top 13. I do wonder if part of Idol’s big drop in ratings is due to the fact that the viewers felt betrayed by the way the top 13 were chosen. We thought we’d get to have more of a choice, and watching people that I felt somewhat invested in get cut without even a chance to sing felt almost as bad as watching Idol make fun of handicapped contestants in the audition videos. Idol got off to a terrific start this year by making changes that its loyal viewers had been wanting for years (new judges, fewer joke auditions, better voting system), but then blew it by insulting its viewers with the cruel way the top 13 were selected. Yes, it’s true that Season 12 was lackluster. And yes, it’s true that the Voice is pulling away viewers. And it’s also undeniably true that the way people watch television has changed fundamentally (and that Nielson hasn’t caught up), which harms viewership for all shows. But it’s also true that the Idol producers seriously miscalculated their technique in choosing the top singers. I can’t help but think that the current crop would be performing with more poise had they not been yanked around by the producers in the early rounds.

    • Mark says:

      I also thought the selection of the final 13 was done in a ham-handed way that betrayed the goodwill the other changes garnered. But I don’t believe that travesty accounts for the drop in ratings. In my opinion the biggest problem is that The Voice is simply a better show. Making things worse is the lack of a break out star on AI. I don’t believe that this cast is historically weak–despite two bad live shows to start the season–rather, I think there is just no star in this group. There is no one who is “must see” TV. Sure all 11 of these kids have their fan bases, but there isn’t anyone who a casual viewer of the show is seeing and thinking “damn, I have to clear my schedule on Wednesday so I can watch so-and-so.” From two to thirteen they’re as good or better than most previous seasons, but the lack of a transcendent talent at the top is a shortcoming.

      • Mary says:

        The voice does not produce break out stars, so I guess I am a little confuse on your post. They have professionals coming back to try and make it but to be honest they get the 15 minutes of fame and that is it. The show helps the judges career not so much the contestants. Yes Cassandra is doing okay but she already had her fans from previous band. Where is last year’s winner of the voice? I think there are a couple of Talents in this group, star maybe not, but AI is a stepping stone not the end all.

        • Mark says:

          My point is that while the two are in the same genre, they are not the same show. The Voice is doing what it does at a more consistently high level than AI. The Voice depends upon the camaraderie and likeability of the judging/couching panel to a much greater extent than AI, and they consistently deliver. They also rely on a smaller pool of more experienced and talented contestants than AI, who produce more minutes of good musical performance, on average, than AI does in a two hour period–especially in the early rounds.
          Before the talent pool was picked over, AI had the legacy of producing genuine stars. Viewers tuned into AI to see who had the best shot of becoming a legitimate hit maker. In truth, AI only produced two transcendent stars (and a stream of semi-successful performers), but the early success of Kelly Clarkson, followed a few years later by Carrie Underwood made it appear that winning AI was a ticket to stardom. Every season a clear frontrunner emerged whose performances were so galvanizing that stardom seemed inevitable. The frontrunner did not always win, but the presence of one made it seem that we were witnessing the birth of the next star. This season lacks that type of performer. There is no one in this cast who casual fans of the show are talking about. It’s not a bad cast. At worst, I would rate it middle of the pack, but I honestly feel it is in the upper quarter. There is no Sanjaya, or Lazaro, or anyone who doesn’t belong. There might be some who were slightly less deserving than others who were left behind in the top 30 week massacre, but overall this cast is talented. It just isn’t top heavy. And that’s why I think the ratings are suffering.

          • syb says:

            The Voice is now more popular A) Because it’s the shiny new toy and B) because of its celebrity “coaches.” Otherwise, it’s a fairly gimmicky and overtly manipulated contest–when the novelty of spinning chairs and musical boxing matches wears off, I don’t see it having the staying power of Idol.
            I say that while acknowledging that the superiority of the singers on The Voice as compared to Idol. That is in part because The Voice producers are less concerned with a contestants’ existing contracts, age and appearance, genre diversity, contestants’ previous professional experience, and even likeablility or charisma of their singing talent. The Voice is primarily centered on the coaches, and the contestants are supporting cast.
            The Voice certainly has not and never will achieve the ratings dominance that Idol did, probably because of the saturation of talent shows–a factor I believe is doing both Idol and the Voice in as they slowly leak viewership.

          • Name This Tune says:

            syb, The Voice is on Season 6. But this does not mean 6 years. It is more like 3.
            That said, it’s more like a game show than a singing contest. It offers artists of different genres and ages some exposure they would have trouble finding somewhere else. It is not promising the moon and the stars. But it’s also highly entertaining.
            It’s possible to enjoy both but Idol has to up its game. I used to look forward to it. Now I watch it in the most minimal way. I am not entertained and I am not excited to see it. But I do enjoy The Voice. It just wants to be fun.

          • Mark says:

            I agree 100% with sybs’ last paragraph. The days of musical talent shows dominating the ratings is definitely over. AI had a nice run when it was the only game in town, but the market has changed. Over-saturation is part of the problem; another is the overall downward trend in network viewing.
            Another problem is the music industry has changed, which supports the point made by Name This Tune. People aren’t buying CDs or downloads of complete CDs anymore. The market is now primarily aimed at selling digital singles for $1.29 per unit, rather than full albums at $11.99 per unit. But free and subscription streaming services also cut into this model. The money is now made in live performances, but how many arena-filling acts have broken out in the last three or four years? Not many.

        • Name This Tune says:

          The idea of producing a breakout star is probably something that is part of Idol’s past. Once upon a time Idol drew 37 million viewers. That’s a lot of exposure for a new artist. The odds of producing a star is simply greater.
          But as the ratings slide, fewer people will be exposed to these singers. Not many people are going to know who they are. Careers after Idol will be based on miming secondary markets.

          • Elizabeth says:

            I agree with this. There are probably dozens of Idol alums who are earning a living off of their music, but only a handful that the general population would recognize. Within each genre (country, R&B, Christian, etc.), however, some of these performers have wide recognition (think Fantasia and Ruben for gospel, Mandisa and Colton for Christian, Jordin in pop, etc.). It’s going to take a lucky break for a current Idol to gain a national audience, such as Phillip’s song being chosen for the Olympics.

            I also agree with Mark that the current crop of Idol contestants is talented. There is no one who is truly cringe-worthy, and I haven’t been able to say that for years. I love the fact that we now have a top 10 and I have absolutely no idea who’s going to win. On the other hand, that’s not great news for Idol, because as Mark said, the reason the race for the top is so interesting is that there are no stand-out performers. Caleb has been consistent, but I can’t see him with a chart topper. Jena has potential, but she’s so young that it’s hard to imagine that she’s going to have the savvy to parlay the exposure she’s gotten on Idol into a career.

            The only useful advice I have for Idol is that they change the age range and favor older contestants, who actually have a chance of knowing what to do once the show ends. Just watch Emily Piriz’s interview with Michael–her future plans consisted of going back to high school and then a vague statement about moving to LA. I wish her well, but she has no clue. I suppose Idol could also help the contestants (and their own ratings) by giving these kids access to some business managers who could help them once the tour is over. More advice just might translate into more sales, which can only help Idol’s bottom line.

  40. Trisha26 says:

    Such a fun recap this week you two! Love your personal interaction – can Melinda move to NY permanently?! Loved Caleb, Alex & mk on Idol. Haven’t read all the other posts but I think there was some talk about many of the contestants doing songs they already knew or had performed before. That might be the reason performances were better this week, but regardless of why it proved they deserved to be in the top 10 (most of them anyway.) As for The Voice, the singers on that show seem to have a better sense of who they are and bring some originality to their performances. If Randy (hahahahahaha) could make that happen with the Idol contestants the show would be much improved. Adam, Haley, Crystal, Kris, Candice and many more were unique – in voice and interpretation – just getting up there and belting or giving a note-perfect cover is not going to garner votes.

  41. Lynn says:

    As far as ratings go, Idol seems to be at least moving in a positive direction. This week, the wednesday show earned 10.27 million viewers (only a slight, roughly 3%, drop) while the Thursday show didn’t even make top 20 (fewer than 9.39 million viewers). The Voice, while making top 5, dropped more than 10% (down from 15.62 to 13.79 million). I think a lot depends on the performances Wednesday. Shud there be a repeat of earlier weeks, I think Idol will continue to shed viewers and end up dropping out of the top 20, with fewer than 9 million voters. While “theme” weeks have been lamented, 21st century music nights don’t seem to help ratings.

  42. Jac says:

    Adam won The Voice last year with a woman over 30. We’re u watching??

    • Elizabeth says:

      See, I don’t watch the Voice (nothing against it, I just have only so much time!), but this statement tells me why I stick with Idol. Adam wasn’t a contestant. I’d rather watch a show where the contestants are showcased.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I’m the same way, Elizabeth. While I love Blake Shelton the judges are already rich, famous, and have careers. I like the format on Idol better but if people prefer The Voice, so be it!

  43. darcy's evil twin says:

    Mr. Slezak and Melinda, LOVED you in the same room together. Melinda remains one of my all-time favorite contestants on “Idol”. I could listen to her sing for hours.
    I see a couple of things going on here that are interesting. One is the readers here lamenting the loss of some of the “theme weeks”. I’ve been following Mr. Slezak for years, and for years I’ve read posts by people complaining about contestants singing old, ancient music from their grandparents’ era (or worse); however, now we have contestants singing current songs, which is refreshing, but the performances are often lackluster. I’m anxious to see what happens tonight.

    I keep thinking about Big Band Week – that was a genre that separated the wheat from the chaff and that’s when Kelly Clarkson had her breakout performance with “Stuff Like That There”. “Glee” does a lot of older music and my young nieces and nephews love listenting to the music. When I’m with them they question me about the songs (they were all super-curious about Laura Branigan’s “Gloria”. They LOVED that one).
    Second, I am also curious about the complaints about the lack of talent. It’s still early in the competition, and I recall feeling the exact same way the year Carrie Underwood won. I found her generic, unremarkable, and predicted she would never have a great career. :-) I know someone that was wild about Carrie but I just didn’t get it. Even when she started performing after Idol her first few live performances were awful. Well, clearly I was wrong. Remember, Idol is about shaping talent and watching someone grow as the weeks progress. Or maybe even after the program ends.

  44. Blinged Up says:

    This Idol season is very different for me because usually by this point, I have a contestant or two that I love, and a contestant or two that I despise. While I have a few favorites, I don’t have anyone that I love, love, love, or anyone that I hate.
    I think the bottom 3 has been correct each week and I think, so far, the right ones have gone home.
    It’s an interesting season. I think the win is up for grabs for any of the Top 10 at this point.
    And I am still loving Harry. :)

  45. Blinged Up says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say — great Reality Check! It’s fun to see you two actually sit in the same room this time. :)

  46. Jim Welker says:

    Caleb is only singer who has been consistant! As a whole, this grroup of 10 are worst ever ON ANT TALENT SHOW! Shame on judges for picking this group of comedians! Briana Oakley and Melanie Porras were far better! I can think of dozens of better singers than these 10…AND I MEAN FROM THIS SEASON!

  47. Jim Welker says:


  48. Jim Welker says:

    Also, I feel Melinda Doolittle was best singer on A I EVER…ALWAYS HAVE SAID THAT! Phillips , who is ordinary sells millions of cd’s, yet Melinda only has modest success! The public is brainwashed thinking Phillips is wonderful! Fantasia sounds like an overgrown child, and look at her! She doezn’t hold a candle to Doolittle! Doolittle got robbed on season 6! Blake was horrible and Sparks average!

  49. A says:

    Okay I enjoyed last week – Caleb Jessica and Jena the most. As much as I love Majesty that was not her best – it was horrible. Hope she redeems herself this week. HATED Alex’s mixup of Falling Slowly. That is such a beautiful song – it does not need to be reworked. Didn’t like when Kris Allen reworked it either. I think it fell totally flat. This is a song that, if you are going to sing it, just sing it as it is. If they need to know how to sing it, listed to either Glen H or Steve Kazee (prefer his Broadway version) but both of those are just gorgeous. Loved the recap as always!