Reality Check: Are Idol's Judges Anti-Jessica? And Who Stumbled Harder -- Alex or Jena? Plus: Josh Rocks While Judges Go Mad on The Voice!

Brace yourselves: “It’s the most wrong episode of Reality Check ever!” Yep, that’s a direct quote from our producer Jason Averett, as my co-host Melinda Doolittle and I tackle Top 6 week of American Idol and the Top 12 performances on The Voice.

What, exactly, has us going off the rails (and howling with laughter while doing so)?

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* The Idol judges’ continued viciousness toward Jessica Meuse — no matter how well she performs. (Warning: Grumpy Cat could be harmed by Idol‘s Powers That Be if America doesn’t turn against the pink-haired rocker from Slapout, AL.)

* The insistence that teenager Sam Woolf grab the title of Season 13 heartthrob — even if every fiber of his being tells us it’s not something he wants.

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* The Voice coaches’ baffling, baffling song choices for a variety of contestants — which bring out the heretofore unseen conspiracy theorist in Melinda.

We tackle all these subjects and more, with a little help from our favorite Veep, Hannibal and Orphan Black characters. There’s even a suggested J.Lo song title, a Tyra Banks appreciation and one of Adam Levine’s most scathing critiques of all-time ever.

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!

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  1. Kim says:

    I love Jessica, but the judges are RIGHT about her. She lacks fire in her performances. She’s getting better (slowly) but still needs some oomph! Check out how Kat performs on The Voice. If Jess could perform with just a fraction of that energy, she’d be great.

    • Steve says:

      They might be right but why arent Alex/Sam getting the same Critique ? which is what Michael’s main point was if Jess is gettin the lacks fire in her performances then so do Alex/Sam

      • deedee says:

        Yes, that is the point. Jessica does deserve the critiques, but if they’re gonna sling them at her, then they’d also better hurl them at Sam and Alex, who both are going through this competition like they’re trying to disprove the old adage, “no man is an island”.

        • Teena says:

          I seriously wonder if it has anything to do with playing the guitar. Learning new songs every week to play along with has to add to it for some performers. At least Jessica and Sam seem a bit more relaxed in their bodies as they play. Alex, while I like his voice, has always reminded me of Tiny Tim hunched over his ukulele.

          • deedee says:

            Haha, yes, there is some Tiny Timmishness in Alex’s presentation. His body language is too uptight for me to fully enjoy what he’s singing. It sometimes looks as though – if he could collapse himself into a tightly wound little ball, he would do it. I find myself almost tensing up when watching him, which is a big reason why I never look forward to his performances. Jessica and Sam are also tense and uptight, but for some reason I don’t have the same reaction with them as I do with Alex.

      • syb says:

        Agreed. If they were consistent with the critiques, then they would seem to have more merit. I’d add that they are not nearly as effusive when they compliment her as they are for fairly middling or flawed performances from others. I am personally not a big fan of the tone of Jess’s voice, and am not always sold on her song choices. But she’s certainly as effective as guys like Sam, and whether I like her vocal tone or not, she’s certainly a strong vocalist by objective measure.

      • karen says:

        Uh, Sam has been getting brutal critiques all season about “not connecting.” Alex is the one who doesn’t get constructive critiques, especially when it comes to body movement…

      • Ben says:

        Alex connects. Jess doesn’t. Neither does Sam, but he has been called out on it as often as Jess has. What I really don’t understand, though, is why people felt like the judges were still on Jess’s back this week when they told her she finally connected and that her performances were really good.

      • Temperance says:

        Alex has all the fire that’s warranted. If you want to say they both need to emote more with their faces… sure. But Alex is doing a fantastic job in ever other way.

      • Clara Turner says:

        The judges called her voice magnificent and fantastic so I don’t know why these people think she’s being victimised and singled out. Sam has been getting an earful all season on connecting, etc. It’s Alex who’s supposedly “so good most of the time” he deserves a “free pass.” Yuck.

        • AlyB says:

          Any compliment to Jess is given as an afterthought to whatever scathing criticism they dish out. It’s the exact opposite for both Sam and Alex. Any critique is cloaked to the point of suffocation in effusive praise.

      • Jill Moya says:

        Reason: Sam and Alex don’t have horrible personalities and miserable dispositions with phoney smiles!!

        • Paris says:

          No, but you do. Compared to you, Jessica is sweetness and light.

          • Jill Moya says:

            WHATEVER! THE TRUTH HURTS. I speak the truth about THE ODD COUPLE.

          • Jill Moya says:

            Sorry. I meant I speak the truth about Jess. The Odd Couple is Jess and Alex. I’m not a fan of Alex either, but at least he isn’t a phoney like Jess, who has the personality of a turtle!

        • Renina says:

          lol I was wondering if I was really the only person who got this.

          • Shari Wessels says:

            HMMM? Jess has the personality of a turtle? Personally, I like turtles a lot! Cutest and most talented Turtle I’ve ever seen on TV! and………she isn’t a slow turtle……….moving up them charts pretty fast, if you ask me! Go JESSICA MEUSE!

    • Marcie says:

      Totally agree, don’t know what everyone is going on about. Tired of the whining.

    • Marcie says:

      Also, quite frankly, I’d like to never hear Jolene again. That song is annoying.

      • lori says:

        Thank you!

      • Caleb says:

        I love the song and for me “Jolene” is the best performance of the season so far. Loved the vocals, the arrangement and she had the PERFECT emotion on her face for the song!

        • Jill Moya says:

          Best performance of the season????????? Are you listening?????? Listen to Miley Cyrus singing with Dolly Parton on You Tube. Her Backyard and unplugged versions are great as well. Jess flutters and looking at that face adds to the horrible performance. What are people listening to. Jolene is an annoying song, but I have to give Miley credit….She is good!

          • tealeaves says:

            I’m sorry I wasted my time listening to that Miley version after reading about 6 different posts from you about how good it is. It sounds like someone took an existing recording and played it on a higher speed. It is not good at all.
            The vocals and music for Jessica’s version are rich and gorgeous.

          • HTGR says:

            I finally checked it out too. First comment, it seemed uptempo too, I thought Keith hates it uptempo since Dolly would never do it that wa…. oops. Second comment, I didn’t see that it seemed all that felt in this Miley Dolly, they were half laughing. It wasn’t any kinda performance that blew Jessica’s away at all! TBH I’m not really sure it matched Jessica’s. In fact I just checked out Jessica’s again and I like the Miley+Dolly one less. I still say that Vicci Martinez had the fairest Jolene of them all though. Check out S1 The Voice.

      • wingsstef says:

        It’s a nice enough song, but each time I hear the song, I am like, “If he would leave you for Jolene, he doesn’t sound like worthy boyfriend material.

        • Jill Moya says:

          Tealeaves….Miley was 17 on recording with Dolly. It is superior as well as all her other recordings. Jess is a big 0 compared to Miley! What are you listening to? Listen again! Miley sounds pure country singing Jolene. Jess is pure drekola! I closed my eyes and listened to Jess and Miley and Jess was terrible. Looking at the videos, Miley is 100 times better! The only waste of time is even discussing Jess! She isn’t worth it. You wanna hear a great singer…Cassandra Mae Jopp. She won the 3 biggest Karaoke contests ever, including World Championships in Ireland (Major countries had their champs and she won)! She is beautiful, stunning voice and great showmanship. She actually teaches showmanship and singing. She is a far better entertainer than Carrie Underwood. Listen to her and tell me I’m inaccurate.

      • Rachel Hill says:

        If you listen to the slowed down Mindy Smith version, you might like it.

    • Marcie says:

      Quite frankly, I think Jolene is an annoying song anyway.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Totally agree, Kim. Like Melinda said, “it stops at hers eyes.” But I will add legs. I just want her entire body to embody the song. That said, they are complete hypocrites – for not calling out Sam and Alex for the same things, especially Alex.

      • Caleb says:

        Well, my issue is that all five have issues they could improve upon, yet Jessica’s are obsessed over and issues from many of the others are conveniently overlooked. Jena’s enunciation and diction for instance are every bit as bad as Dexter’s, yet the judges harped on it in Dexter’s case to get him eliminated yet conveniently ignore it when it comes to pet Jena.

        • chris says:

          So glad someone else thinks Jena’s hard to understand. I only get the words when she sits at the piano but almost nothing when she sings standing. Why is this never mentioned by the judges?

        • Jill Moya says:

          Big difference…most of the time Dexter SLURRED THE WORDS….WHO THE HECK COULD UNDERSTAND HIM???

    • Kim R says:

      Jessica has a wonderful singing voice but her face looks pretty much the same no matter what she is singing. She looks….bored. I know she isn’t but she needs to work on her expressions. Not to look fake or like she is posing but like she means what she is saying.

    • bill says:

      if harry is on the show next year I will not be watching

      • Jill Moya says:

        I’m with you! Harry was humorous at first but his gawking over JLO, his technical nonsense and him doing crazy things to gather attention, I will not watch the show with Harry! He’s one of the reasons we have 5 sub-par performers! He was tough at first then became an idiot…a softy! Not letting Briana Oakley be a wild card (she could have won this thing ), not putting Jessica Bassett thru, putting Briston Maroney ( worst singer ever ) to the top 30 boys as well as other crazy antics, is why I’ll not watch ever again if he judges! You won’t have to worry, I doubt if Fox will renew this show after this year. Horrible ratings! I know Harry was deciding factor on things I mentioned above! No other judges would pull these stunts. Look at the top 5! I rest my case!

        • Diane says:

          Remember the first 6 seasons of American Idol. The performers all dressed alike and did dancing routine’s together. All this flash to the past about their childhood is going a bit to far. If they coach them to sing why can’t they teach them to dance {just a little bit].Jessica can sing buy she has been hated since group rounds during the audition’s. Every since last season with the coach’s the rating have drop and American Idol still hasn’t fixed it .No longer a fan but I take a peek every now and then. Wish all of them luck.

      • dwight says:

        your correct harry thinks he is smarter and more handsome than all the other male’s.he is too good to stand for anyone and is a smartass not a smart person. just another Sinatra wannabe. how dare he think he is too good to show a contestant a standing ovation. he seems interested in j.lo and I think he has a thing for caleb kiss kiss hug hug now lets cuddle and spoon each other in my room.

    • Sara says:

      Jessica came in bragging about all of her experience and she’s just too laid back in every performance. I haven’t felt an emotional connection between her and one song that she’s sung….frankly I think it’s itme fo rher to go……

  2. MAB says:

    Please Michael. There are enough people on this board who are blaming the judges for Jessica. Jessica has been in the bottom two because she is not connecting with the audience and that is on her not the judges. The judges gave negative critiques to other contestants as well. The only thing thing I am seeing is a total pimping of Jena and Caleb. They without a doubt want a Jena/Caleb finale.

  3. tealeaves says:

    This episode is hysterical! I laughed all the way thru it. Thank you!

  4. Velocisexual says:

    Just keep making ‘m longer guys! We will never get enough of Reality Check!

  5. Kelly says:

    Best Reality Check Ever.

  6. lar says:

    I, too, didn’t get the hate on Jessica this week. I thought her voice was phenomenal, and that her “performance” ability had improved tremendously. Two stellar vocals. I hope that she can just kick some serious a** this week, because the judges have been slowly, consistently, and thoroughly crafting their comments in a way that suggests she will never have the success because she doesn’t “perform”. I actually voted all ways that I could for her–even though Alex and Jena were the ones that I had favored.

  7. John says:

    I think the judges are right…Jessica’s just not connecting in a significant way, but they need to even things out because there’s a whole lot of Sam-praise that’s not deserved. And Jason? Thank you. Thank you for returning with the wit and running commentary.

    • karen says:

      Sam has not been getting praise from the judges the entire season. They tell him the same thing, that he’s not connecting. I don’t know what show you people are watching, but Sam has been picked on all season by the judges

      • Ben says:

        So true. Sam got a save, yes (I think Jess would have at the same juncture). But until last week, every performance of Sam’s got the same critique – as did every performance of CJs re his pitch, and every song of Dexter’s re his lack of doing anything at all interesting.

        The problem some people have is that Alex is apparently not being called out. Well, Alex connects to the songs. Very very very very well. A lot of people don’t like Alex’s styling? Fine. But he connects to the songs. He is completely at one with them. Potentially so at one with them that he forgets he is performing to an audience. Jess doesn’t feel at one with the songs. She feels like she is in a complete other place.

        This is not about how well they sing. Jess does sing well. So does Alex. But the complaints are about CONNECTION. This does not equal extroversion.

        • WAJ53 says:

          Wow, soooo true. I definitely feel like Alex is connecting. Maybe I feel it because I am a fellow introvert, ha! But it’s obvious to me that he is feeling every word of his songs and every note he plays.

        • JM says:

          Agree. I really felt his emotion on ‘Always on My Mind’.

        • Marcie says:

          You said it exactly. I also think they’re bringing up the emotion issue to Jess because she needs it for her style of music and they also believe(or hope) that she can bring it. Her eyes(& body) just don’t engage. Alex’s style is totally different and doesn’t require the same connection. They are trying to get Sam to connect and have called him on it but either have given up or are trying something different. He has improved somewhat.

        • MamaLis says:

          Ben, I couldn’t possibly agree with you more.
          Well stated.

    • johnnie says:

      I agree no matter what Jessica dose they wont give her a chance she’s good at least she dont’n scream her words she is great love her voice go Jessica go
      is she to go on stage and shake every thing she got

  8. Betty says:

    I like watching Michael and Melinda more than American Idol. I really missed you last week. And I SO agree with you. On everything. I am over, completely over, those judges on AI. I have to DVR it and ff past those yahoos. And Melinda, you are so right on Voice song choices.

  9. Stefanie says:

    The judges are hypocritical puppets. The script/producers say Jessica needs to go next so they are hell bent on getting her out regardless. She could stand up there and flatten everyone next week and they’d still be like “well you really should move” on stage. They’re past the point where they’re willing to give honest critiques and they’re just there to spew whatever will help eliminate/advance the “correct” contestants. Idiots and/or robots. Slezak makes an excellent point, if they really felt that strongly about movement and connection they would be making a point to tell Sam and Alex the same thing. Sam is way worse than Jessica in that department but they don’t bother. The worst thing about the judging on Idol has always been when the judges/TPTB decide they hate someone and they become enemy of the state and everything they do is a natural disaster worthy of vitriol. Gross.

    • Ben says:

      OK, except last week what did Harry say? He said ‘when I told you to dance in the mirror, I did NOT mean you need to move about the stage’.

      They have never told Jessica she needs to move around the stage. They have said, when she has chosen to move around the stage, that she doesn’t do it convincingly. They have said, when she stands still, that she doesn’t do it convincingly.

      Anyone who thinks the judges have been hypocritical has, frankly, decided to not listen to what the judges are actually saying but interpret it in a particular way.

      • chris says:

        I honestly don’t know what you mean that she doesn’t stand still convincingly. That really doesn’t make sense. I didn’t get what Harry meant when he told her that looking in the mirror while listening to music would help her rhythmically since she has no problem singing the melody of the song correctly and I’m pretty sure Jessica was confused as well. His clarification that he wasn’t talking about movement didn’t help. It just sounded to me like he didn’t have anything real to criticize so he made something up. He certainly hadn’t noticed that problem before that week.

        • MAB says:

          I totally understand what Harry was saying. He was telling her to allow the music to enter her and feel it. It makes perfect sense because that is where she is lacking. I see it with Alex but Sam is a lot like Jessica.. If Jessica could learn to do that she would be unstoppable. She is very hard to watch because it is the same as watching a doll sing. Her eyes are so empty and blank.

    • Jill Moya says:

      If they wanted her gone, group week was the time….she stank! She’s in the top 5 and you say they want her to go???????????????

  10. pmet says:

    Welcome back, Michael and Melinda. What a great Reality Check. The two of you had me laughing throughout and nodding my head in agreement at the same time. The two of you are magic together!

    • Eric D says:

      It was great because Michael and Melinda were on fire. I love when they crack each other up. But whoever has been editing the video for the last few weeks please pull your head out of your ass and knock it off with the random cutaways. Are you trying to be Family Guy? Did you hear Michael in this episode complaining about the AI producers cutting away to girls in the audience and JLo? That is exactly what you are doing.

      • duranmom says:

        Do not blame the editor (still Jason Averett?) for illustrating through video what Michael and Melinda are saying. It’s a Reality Check tradition.

        • JM says:

          Absolutely! And I love it!

        • Eric D says:

          A tradition since when? I don’t remember any of them from last season, or even from this season till two or three episodes ago. Maybe they were there but just less obtrusive. If I counted right there were seventeen of them in this fifteen minute episode. Two or three might be okay but seventeen? It’s like they just want to pad the episode to add run time. If so I’d rather just see a minute or two of Michael and Melinda quietly enjoying a plate of shawarma at the end.

          • HTGR says:

            He had been cutting those in for years, at least since S10 when I first bothered to look at on-line commentary regarding these shows. I’ve heard that he didn’t get to add them to some of this season’s videos, but that is about it.

  11. The captions are the best thing about this week. OMG I scared my cat laughing out loud a couple of times.

    • Eric D says:

      completely agree about the captions. hate, hate, hate the random video cutaways.

      • HTGR says:

        Those are not random video cutaways. Those are genius editing video cutaways (and the shows the clips are from are often great). :)

        • Emma says:

          Except when it’s cutaways to J-Ho and that dreadful song she “sang”. Please, please, please, some of us are trying to erase that abomination from our memories, for the luh of God, stop reminding us!

          • HTGR says:

            He did it the JLo stuff to make a point, but yeah, you have an ever better point. Once was more than enough of that.

  12. Kiki says:

    I think what Melinda was going to say before she got distracted was that two of the three songs she most wanted to buy weren’t available. Each contestant only recorded one song this week, so Caleb and Alex’s second songs (which were on her top three list, and mine) weren’t available! Frowny frowny sad pouty moping… :-(

    • Blinged Up says:

      I was terribly disappointed when I went to iTunes to purchase Always On My MInd. :(

    • syb says:

      I guess they don’t have the ability to predict which songs are going to strike the fans fancy, but for me it was the wrong one of the two for almost all of them. I too would have downloaded Always on My Mind in a hot second.

  13. Blinged Up says:

    I’m hoping for an Alex/Jessica finale. Don’t expect to get it, but a gal can hope (and vote accordingly.)

    Soooooo agree with Michael that I’m tired of seeing J Lo make the stank face and flip her hair around when I would MUCH prefer to see the contestants singing.

    • Jill Moya says:

      SPARE US PAAAAAAAAAAALEEEEEEEEESE! Those two are dead showmanship wise and have creepy looks and can’t sing as well!

  14. Marcie says:

    Hilarious video, really enjoyed it.

  15. Mary says:

    Michael just because Keith doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean he sold out. He likes Dolly version better, nothing wrong with that. I love Jessica voice but I agree with the judges her movements don’t match the voice. I don’t know how someone can be so still on song with a beat. I vote for her because of her voice but she needs a lot of work on stage presence. As far as showing the judges during the performances the only entertaining ones are Jena and Caleb. The others are dull to watch, I am at the point of just listening. I will say thanks both of you for a laugh I couldn’t stop.

    • sheba says:

      Here’s my problem with what Keith said; I just can’t believe Keith isn’t familiar with the White Stripes cover of Jolene. I don’t so much have a problem with him preferring Dolly’s version as not giving Jess any credit for blending the two in her arrangement to make something new that’s all her own. Isn’t that what these contestants are supposed to be doing: showing us who they are as artists? Instead, by saying he hated the arrangement without acknowledging that there are other famous versions of the song that Jess might have drawn from he makes the audience think that she ruined the song out of ignorance or lack of musicality.

      • Mark says:

        Here’s my problem with what Keith said: Dolly’s version is insipid drivel. Jessica’s version was interesting. It’s a dreadful song and for 2 minutes it was interesting. That’s pretty amazing. Dolly’s version was amazing exactly no times ever.

      • Mary says:

        I believe he said her voice was there but he hated the arrangements. I guess I didn’t think it was bad because I hated Alex version of the Police song so therefore I hated the song. Different taste
        I guess. As far as the audience goes, I really think at this stage of the program we all form our on opinions and what the judges say does not influence it. I don’t think AI has that many casual voters. To clarify I actually liked Jessica this week but I do think she could give us more.

      • Ben says:

        “Makes the audience think that she ruined the song our of ignorance or lack of musicality” – really? Are we supposed to also take that from JLo’s criticism of Alex when he did No Doubt and when he did the Police? That Alex lacks musicality or is ignorant? (and, given the argument seems to go that Jess is getting slammed while Alex is not…)

        Plus, all three judges said Jess sounded awesome on that song.

        When a judge says they don’t like the arrangement, the only thing a reasonable person can take out of that comment is that a judge didn’t like the arrangement – not that the arrangement lacked musicality or involved ignorance. I’m not even sure where you are coming from. The judges have repeatedly said throughout the show that they should be taken musical risks – and that its ok if they don’t pay off, because showing you are willing to take the risk is more important. If you mess with an arrangement, there are always going to be some people who don’t like it.

        • Ben says:

          Also, forget whether they are ‘familiar with’ covers of songs. They know full well that contestants don’t have time to actually create a new arranagement. David Cook didn’t create new arrangements, he found other artists who had covered it in a way he liked. It didn’t take away from the fact his takes were fresh. It was appropriate that Jess’s decision to take a different arrangement from Dolly’s was treated as its own indepedent creative decision, because thats what it was, even if it was derived from a White Stripes version.

          • tealeaves says:

            Um, David Cook and many others did create arrangements. Cook created the arrangements for Always Be My Baby and Dream Big and probably others like All I Really Need is You and Little Sparrow. In other instances he drew from rearrangements from other artists and/or combined elements from different versions of the song. But your point is well taken that the contestants don’t have a lot of time to rearrange songs during the course of the competition.

          • Furbie says:

            Actually Jessica’s arrangement of Jolene isn’t much like The White Stripes version either. :)

      • kcostell says:

        Throughout the whole second half of the show people were either singing a country song straight and doing a bad job of it (CJ, Sam) or drastically changing up a country song and doing much better with it (Alex, Caleb, Jessica).

        You could tell throughout the episode that Keith’s frustrations with this were growing with each performance. First he snarked after Caleb’s performance that “I can’t wait to hear what country song you do later”. Then he mentioned Alex’s arrangement not letting the heartbreak through. By the time he got to complaining about Jessica’s arragement too, it felt more like a “last straw” situation than anything else.

    • Furbie says:

      Didn’t Keith also say he liked Jena’s disastrous arrangement of I Love Rock N Roll? Enough said right there! He is clearly saying whatever the producers tell him say like a good little obedient mouthpiece.

      • Mary says:

        That or he did actually liked it. It is getting tiresome that if a contestant isn’t this board choice it is always the judges are following TPTB. Maybe I am naive but not everything is a conspiracy. This is the 13th season of AI at this stage whoever is left watching should know to vote whom they like, I personally don’t think TPTB or the judges have that much power. The fact is as lovely as Jessica voice is she is not prompting the audience to vote for her.

    • chris says:

      I think what Michael means is that the comment seemed unusually harsh for Keith and wasn’t consistent with other times he’s told someone he didn’t like the arrangement. He usually gives the singer credit for trying something different even if he didn’t like it. This is like last year when he inexplicably didn’t put Candice in his top three. It didn’t ring true and appeared to be something he was ordered to say rather than something he actually felt.

  16. Tom22 says:

    Ok.. need to write something now.. I wrote a long one again and i’m going to wait till it appears on page two of the comments. Melinda had some good points I’ll elaborate on.

  17. K in Newark says:

    This was the funniest Reality Check I’ve seen! I’m still laughing! Michael and Melinda deserve a tv show………………..maybe to replace the worst season of American Idol ever. I’ve stopped watching the results show, just checking the internet to see who got booted. Jessica may not be the best contestant but she is definitely getting jobbed by the judges. Glad to see CJ was finally voted off, something I’ve been expecting in every one of the votes, all the way back to Top 13. IMO Jena and Alex are the top 2 but I would not be surprised if the judges manage to pimp Sam and Caleb in to the finals (not that Caleb would be undeserving). Still waiting for some arrangement originality on the level of David Cook, Kris Allen or Adam Lambert……………….. and get Randy Jackson off this show!

  18. Julie Anderson says:

    Alex has gotten several critiques about not moving and on being inward…too coffeehouse, not conveying feelings enough…being a performer, but not an entertainer.

    Jessica has also gotten praise. I think there is a lot of selective memory and choosing to focus on data that fits a hypothesis going on.

    With both the judges are responding to something that is true and I think are legitimate critiques for the two contestants to work on if they want to have even greater appeal.

    I do think the producers are hoping for a Jena/Caleb finale. They need to be careful they don’t create a backlash against Jena.

    My personal fav. Is Alex, but I do wish his eyes would show the deep feelings I know he has.

  19. Suzie says:

    Hysterical. Wish these were more than one time a week. Funny funny funny!

  20. Amy says:

    You’re right Michael, it is a “singing competition.” It’s why Sam is still there. The people that vote “best voices” are keeping him there…and some of those girls too. And I have no problem with it. I mean only one thing you say can be true…either the girls are all “put up to it” to scream and hold signs and really don’t care…or…the girls are the ones voting him through just cause “he’s cute”..which is it??
    The producers have done Sam a disservice by pimping him in an inauthentic way as a “heartthrob” (kiss of death on this blog, for starters.) All that “how cute is heeeee?!”, forcing him to “touch hands”, focusing on making him seem like a ladies man. He can really sing, he apparently has a good musical ear, is on pitch all the time, and a beautiful tone. Keith actually (whether he’s sold out in other ways or not) had it right with Sam this week after his first song…and Melinda touched on it about the “anger”…he has “stuff” in him that hits his buttons and allows him to emote in authentic ways, Keith was telling him to tap into that more. He probably has ore hurt and anger in him than apparently warm fuzzies. They should have spent the season as they started it…respecting his musical ability, and mentoring him in ways that might have tapped into his real emotions and not distracting him and the audience with all the girl-crazy BS, nobody buys or likes. All that said…I’m glad he’s still there…I won’t have a problem if he stays longer than this week either.
    Where I do agree with you…I hate hate hate all the camera editing this year, where we’ve got choppy performances, with WAY TOO MANY cutaways to J.LO and girls with signs. I started with high hopes for this production team, but this is the first year we’ve had more focus away from the performances than on them…you can’t connect to anyone that way. I wanted to see the Caleb/mic shot too! Btw…that performance and his singing on “Sting Me” was great! Didn’t like Undo It though. Nothing special, just sang it straight, and not a great song anyway. I think Keith’s “dig” afterward about “can’t wait to see what country song he does” might have been because that dumb song sounds anything but country. It’s just a bad pop tune, to me.

    • Clara Turner says:

      You’re right Michael, it is a “singing competition.” It’s why Sam is still there. The people that vote “best voices” are keeping him there…

      Let’s vote for Sam, America! We want the entire package and that’s Sam.

  21. PK says:

    I brought pen and paper to last week’s live show so I could tally exactly how much face time the judges were taking during each of the contestants’ performances. Even though it seemed the judges got less airtime (still too much), I was not deterred. Here is the final tally:

    Jennifer in the lead with 9 cutaways total;
    Keith not far behind with 7;
    Harry, the forgotten judge, lags with only 4; and
    there were 30 cutaways that showed all three of the judges at the same time.

    So we have a combined total of 50 times where the judges were featured instead of the performing contestant. This number does not include cutaways to band members (would have rather seen Caleb chasing the microphone than the drummer), back up singers,or the audience. If I was more obsessive, I would time the cutaways to get a percentage of airtime the contestants lose to the judges (aka Jennifer and Keith), but I’m sure someone’s manager already could provide us with those numbers.

    Anyway, I thought Ms. L toned down her “let’s get Jessica” rhetoric while Harry revved his up. What is wrong with him? Is he really a jerk disguised behind good hair and an accent? I’m starting to think so. Of the three, Harry is definitely my favorite and I hope he comes back next season and chalks up the bad press he got a couple of weeks ago to a learning experience.

    I also hope Alabama gets behind Jessica like they did Taylor Hicks. Even though Jena’s music is more to my liking, I am rooting for Jessica because it seems like the judges always come down harder on the older contestants. While I don’t think she will win (my prediction is Jena), she deserves a third spot. Actually, any combination of Jena, Alex, Caleb, or Jessica would be a respectable final two. At least as long as one of the two is Jena. :)

    • karenb says:

      Thanks for adding all of that up! It’s plain crazy the amount of time the cameras aren’t on the contestants. The camera shots from way back in the audience-you can hardly see who’s performing for Pete’s sake. Annoying to say the least.

  22. Amy says:

    oops that was “more” hurt and anger.

  23. Melissa says:

    Maybe Jessica should bang on her head like JLo when she performs and then she might get a good critique ;). Apparently THAT is the mark of a good entertainer.

  24. grandma Jane says:

    Who cares! That was hysterical. My husband just had to check and make sure I was ok, I was laughing so hard. I’m glad Michael and Melinda are back. Missed ’em last week.

  25. Bonnie A. says:

    Michael, Melinda and JASON outdid themselves ! I was laughing so hard, just sitting here by myself! I am not quite as excited about Jessica as Michael but she sang very well this week. Caleb was my favorite this week.

  26. Amie says:

    More Rock of Ages than rock ‘n’ roll is the best summary of Caleb ever. Not so sure about the cheese. More like meatloaf. Or Meat Loaf. I mostly hate all these songs, anyway, like Barracuda. Ugh. Always on My Mind. Ugh. American Woman. Double UGH., Meanwhile, I like Jolene and I love Dolly and I thought Jessica really did it justice. She was tops of the week for me by far. Whatever it means to connect, she connected with me with both songs.

  27. karenb says:

    Hysterical episode! Had me howling!

  28. Clara Turner says:

    “Alex was not okay”? Why can’t you say Alex was TERRIBLE on his first song? Because he was. He was off key, it was not rock at all, he looked repulsive. Look who’s showing blatant favoritism.

    All you do is diss Sam. But he has the best pitch and tone on Idol. He is also the most marketable. He’s the entire package. If he goes home this week, it’s thanks to people like you who can’t appreciate his talent and all he has to offer.

    Wake up! Jessica’s tone is irritating. She sounds like a cat wailing most of the time. To be fair, she did ok last week. But your overpraise of her is as misplaced as the judges’ so-called over criticism.

    As for the Caleb and Jena show, enjoy it now because their chances of making it big outside Idol are zero.

    • karen says:

      Agree with you about Sam. I don’t get the Alex love. He’s good, but a little goes a long way. I see him as a coffee house singer. His version of Always On My Mind was lightweight. I didn’t care for it at all.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Sam has the best tone on Idol? That’s the nastiest statement I’ve heard about this season yet. His tone is about as vanilla as it gets. Most marketable? To whom?
      I don’t love Jessica, but to say she sounds like a cat wailing most of the time is ludicrous.
      And Caleb and Jena have zero chance of making it outside of Idol? i don’t actually disagree with you there, but I’m curious why you would think Sam does when Caleb and Jena are exponentially better singers.
      This whole post makes no sense.
      [finished with extrication]

      • Clara Turner says:

        Sam has already been gaining a following internationally, not just here in the US. Social media adores him for the most part adores him. He’s the only one who consistently sells on iTunes. This may not be the best indicator, but at least he has somewhat shown there is a demand for him.

        Sam’s not a belter like Caleb and Jena, but vocal range doesn’t necessarily translate to “exponentially better.” Have you listened to Jena’s lower notes?

        The music industry accommodates a lot of singers like Sam who aren’t belters and screamers, particularly in pop.

  29. Amy says:

    Alex/Caleb/Jena/Jessica FINAL 4! Please MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

    • Amy says:

      That’s not me…that’s other Amy. Haha. Possibly the one who didn’t like Phil Phillips either?
      I like Sam. Some things don’t change.

  30. LibbyxD says:

    I don’t think any of the contestants are connecting this season at all. I guess I’ll take Sam’s “anger” since that is the only emotion I’ve seen this year. I just wished I was rooting for someone. Or hating someone. I just feel nothing! Here’s hoping next season’s cast will be a bit better.

  31. steve says:

    More Reality Check. please.

  32. Name That Tune says:

    So what’s gonna happen on Reality Check next week after Jessica is eliminated. There’s only 4 seats left on the American Idol bus this week and one of them is reserved for Sam.

  33. guest says:

    Excellent…Orphan Black, Hannibal and Veep!!!

  34. Adam Fachry says:

    I’m trying to appreciate Sam’s voice and listened to his performance instead of watching it, but I stil couldn’t get his appeal. Even contestants like Kris Allen or Lee Dewyze or this season’s Alex Preston could still make me consider them a pleasant singer, but I found Sam’s tone grating. I also can’t believe that no one has pointed out how accurate HCJ’s critique towards his Still the One performance in which he said Sam should learn more about dynamics, because he does lack in.

    On a different note, as someone whose ultimate guilty pleasure is ANTM, thank you for referencing Tyra’s antics here! Lol, I wish TVline covered this show as well. Anyone here a user on RTVG a.k.a. the site filled with ANTM’s most obsessive fans?

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I don’t find Sam’s tone grating. I find it just “ok” or “whatever.” He’s not bad, but the appeal is beyond my scope of comprehension. And the hearth throb thing is kind of funny. He has this look on his face of “get me the [bleep] out of here” every time they bring it up.
      I used to LOVE america’s next top model until it got stupid. The social media correspondent needs to die. The smizing thing always cracked me up. Or how these girls would whine about how difficult it is to walk. Or how they’d have random photoshoots with half their faces under water or with exploding cars behind them or in a bikini in -10 degree weather.

      • Adam Fachry says:

        The social media thing bugs the hell out of me too because ever since its inception, the winners have been the same physically. Lol yes, the more gimmicky the photoshoots are, the more enjoyable I found the show to be. Don’t forget the catfights too! As someone who follows fashion and modeling, I always consider the show nothing but an unintentional parody of the modeling world (except for cycle 15 and 16 where they decided to be slightly more fashion-oriented due to the prizes), because the majority of the contestants would have no chance competing in the high fashion and even to a lesser extent, commercial market.

        Back to Sam, I agree with you that grating might have not been the right word to describe it. I think several posts above, you hit the nail on the head: his tone is severely vanilla. So vanilla, I find it rather tiring to listen to. This is why I failed to see anything unique about his tone because compared to tons of singers whose style he resembles, there’s a striking tonality to their voice. No matter how off-kilter they sound, you always find yourself digging deeper, appreciating the beauty beyond the grotesqueness. Your aural experience becomes rewarding. But then again, these kinds of singers often focus on their songwriting instead of vocal craftsmanship, though I tried to imagine Sam singing songs from today’s or past great singer-songwriters/bands–whether they’re indie or adult-contemporary–and I couldn’t help but get suspicious about the possibility of him nailing it.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          Two of my friends from college were runway models in Europe / US, and I used to compare notes with the two of them about the reality of this “reality tv.” Apparently almost none of it is real. Apparently most of them have the wrong height and body type and facial features to be models. Oddly enough, both of these friends kind of look like aliens but in a good way; I guess that’s a prerequisite? The other thing they found ridiculous is that the show glamorizes the industry when in fact it’s about as awful as it gets. But as entertainment, the show is pretty hilarious. Both of them say The Face is a lot more realistic because many of them are working models, even if the challenges might be somewhat ridiculous.
          Yeah, Sam just doesn’t have it. He’s an ok singer, but nothing special. I don’t think he understands the lyrics 98% of the time, and when he does, you can’t hear it in his lyric delivery. He reminds me a bit of Amber Holcomb from last season where he’s delivering random phonetic and tonal sounds as opposed to communicating an idea or a feeling. The obvious difference being Amber could sing her face off and had so many different colors to her tone and tricks in her bag.

          • Adam Fachry says:

            Alien-like features are not a-must, and even if one has them, their face still needs to be symmetrical. One also has to take into account their proportion. You can’t just be tall, you have to be tall and proportionally correct (long torso and short legs are definitely a no-no).

            The Face is good but I wouldn’t say that they got all the girls right either. However, if you wanna see how models work in the real world (like how to deal with client’s brief), it is a pretty accurate show (aside from some challenges where the models have to style themselves. All stylists would be out of job and the clothes would look so unappetizing, the sales would tank if that happened). Naomi’s rage is also fun to watch lol.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Aliens in the sense that they’re not Hollywood hot. Quirky beauty seems to be more the norm in modeling. You look at someone like Lydia Hearst and she’s not what I would think to be “hot.” She’s kind of alienesque herself despite looking a hell of a lot shorter than most models. Claudia Schiffer is another good example. She’s gorgeous but she doesn’t quite look human. And it’s crazy how what we would view as skin and bones actually looks amazing in pictures. My friend was a very tiny size 4 and looked voluptuously perfect in all her photos. I guess that was too large for some designers, but the ones who liked size 4’s were all over her.

          • HTGR says:

            Nah I wouldn’t put Claudia in that group. She was considered to be hot hot buy guys whereas some models aren’t necessarily though of as hot hot by guys necessarily.

          • Adam Fachry says:

            Size 4 could still work for commercial and high-end commercial to a lesser extent. A lot of those who work in High Fashion have to be 0 or 2 if they were established (no wonder the modeling industry is obsessed with youth, as in those from age 15-18). I get what you mean, but with the modeling world, there’s always a trend, just like pop music only that it changes a lot more quickly. For instance, these two seasons, classical beauty like Gisele or Erin Wasson would dominate runways and campaigns, next season would be the more outre ones. Or if were to talk specifics, these seasons could be all about girls with gothic-like presence, next few seasons could be those that look like Daenerys’ sisters. If you think Lydia Hearst is quirky, you’d be surprised to know those who are quirkier. Look up Jamie Bochert and Edie Campbell.

          • darcy the slutty twin says:

            Angie, you can’t be serious! My idea of “not looking quite human,” is Bruce Jenner!

      • JM says:

        Oh, I hate that social media correspondent as well!! Also, don’t like the format of people voting before the show has even aired.

        • Adam Fachry says:

          Yes, that was just the worst! I didn’t care for Facebook that much to log on and vote every week. And the fact that they had to make the contestants stay until the end of the season so they can be red herring at every photoshoot was just ridiculous. Especially after the comeback one has been announced.

  35. karen says:

    Prediction: Sam will come in third. Alex and Jessica will be eliminated before Sam. You heard it here first.

  36. R. Martin says:

    Jessica may not “connect” as well as some of the others but she has a strong, unique voice and could definitely be a viable recording artist. Her performance chops will come. As for Sam….the judges made the fatal mistake of saving him early on and now have to justify that move. He’s an amateur with a passable voice but the judges have convinced the girls to embrace him and that’s where his votes come from.

    On another note…I find Harry Connick to be an incredible bore, full of himself, going on and on in his dogmatic, self-aggrandizing, professorial way. Never stands or applauds for a contestant as Keith and J-Lo do. He just goes on and on displaying his self-importance.

  37. karen says:

    Michael, you need to watch Miley Cyrus’s version of Jolene, since you’ve “never heard Jolene sung that way.” Jessica’s version was a take on Miley’s.

  38. Lindsay says:

    I don’t get the whole connection thing with Jessica. She connects with me just fine. Her voice is just so gorgeous, pure, nuanced and expressive I cannot help but to love her the most! She is quite subtle in her approach though (ditto for Alex) and that probably doesn’t translate all that well to some viewers. Caleb and Jena are more theatrical and showy, but Jessica and Alex do more for me on a different and deeper level!

  39. ady says:

    while i agree that Caleb gave 2 knockout numbers last week i was hoping m&m would mention the fact that all of his performances are starting to blend together, we pretty much know what he’s gonna do every week and I’m getting bored with it.
    i can’t for the life of me name the songs he did the first couple of weeks
    of course he’s not the only one who can be blamed for predictability, they pretty much all are, the only one i can rely on to surprise me is Jena.

  40. ronnie says:

    Best Reality Check ever! I have not laughed this hard in a while. so on point about so much. And yes Melinda, you can play “that card” whenever you feel it’s true. And I think there is a C-O-N-Spiracy to sabatoge certain performers.

  41. Davey says:

    Michael is a wonderful chronicler of Idol but his ridiculous love for Jolene and the arrangement is delusional. I don’t know why he can’t accept that Jessica is not that great.

    • Kelsey says:

      I just think some of you Jena fans are butthurt Jessica is getting some praise and princess Jena is not. Jessica’s performances both sounded excellent this past week.

      • Mary says:

        I actually like both and I would be the first to admit Jena second performance was not that good.
        Jessica sang both songs well but to be honest I liked the first one better, might be due to the fact that I really don’t care for Jolene. If Jessica had some stage presence I would probably give her performances a A but although her voice is there, she really needs to step it up with the other.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      The Jolene love is absurd. I understand that it hasn’t been a great season and that that’s one of the better performances, but c’mon! I’d have already forgotten about it if I hadn’t happened to see this page this morning. It really wasn’t that spectacular.

    • Lynn says:

      He can’t accept the idea that Jessica isn’t all that great because there’s nothing else to talk about.What else is there left to say about the show? That Sam can’t connect? That Alex has a similar issue? Thank God CJ went home? When all people talk about is J-Lo being on camera all the time, or Harry’s ridiculous antics, the show is struggling.

    • Jill Moya says:

      THANK YOU! She isn’t good……PERIOD!

  42. megs says:

    Yay you’re back!!! And in rare form! I haven’t watched AI in a couple years, but I still enjoy you guys talking about it SO MUCH.
    The clips are also perfect as always, Jason. JLD for the win every dang time.

    Still think you should double the length and talk more Voice, but I’m just selfish that way. ;-)

  43. Davey says:

    Melinda had me cracking up in the last section of Reality Check. If only Idol were half as entertaining.

    And Jessica is gone this week.

  44. Furbie says:

    You guys are hilarious! I loved both Caleb and Jessica this week. By far the #1 and #2 of the week. It is too bad the producers will never let poor Jessica anywhere near the finale. I feel bad for her because she’s made huge strides in improving her stage presence and her vocals are almost always right on point. For The Voice, I am all in for Josh Kaufman. He’s amazing!

  45. GuitarBlue says:

    We are now ready for a good show, as the Top 5 are all good in one way or another……..
    There is no one left that can’t sing. All 5 have their strengths in either creativity, voice or good performance skills.

    This will be the first time this season that it is a real competition between some of the better hitters in this years game………………………………………………………………………………………………

    This week will be a contest between Sam and Jessica – to see which one can draw best among the voters who are not already committed to the top 3. That is the battle-round for the new or not-so-sure-yet voter.

    • Jill Moya says:

      There isn’t any of these 5 singers that CAN sing! Terrible talent! Can you imagine Alex or Jess winning this with their faces! I can only imagine the faces Alex will make if he wins or the sour puss looks Jess will make, should she win. Those two are Mr. and Mrs. Personality! Alex destroys his song’s arrangements and Jessica butchers her songs with her high pitched, squeaky, fluttering, unattractive voice! America, spare us and discharge Jessica and Alex in that order. They just don’t have the showmanship or voices. Mark my words, they’ll need their parents to buy their records, if they ever do record. I doubt it. They could both go on a nationwide tour selling cd’s out of their car trunks! I can’t believe people think these two are good. Top 5…..Ridiculous!

  46. Angie_Overrated says:

    That splice of Hugh Dancy was genius. Anna Chlumsky’s in the beginning was awesome too. And Orphan Black? Seriously, those are my 3 favorite shows all right there!
    And on the singers, with Idol I’m just happy it’s almost over cuz I don’t want to think about most of these kids. The Voice looks like it’ll be team Adam versus team Blake. As long as it’s not that corn fed cowboy who can’t sing in tune, I’ll be happy with any outcome.

  47. Becky says:

    Hysterical Reality Check
    I do agree that Keith has sold out. It was about this time last year when he turned on Kree and Candace and was Angie’s biggest fan.
    I thought Jena was so so on her second song and he just loved it. I thought Alex was brilliant on Always on My Mind but for Keith it did not have enough heartbreak. Jess out sung Dolly’s version of Jolene and he trashed the arrangement. Sam is a shy guy. Just wants to jam and they want him to be a babe magnet. Kind of insulting to not mention his voice.
    We do deserve to see the performAnce not the judges who are all very photogenic or the audience. Can you imagine Clay aikens “solitaire” if we got to see Randy and Paula all the time.

    • tealeaves says:


    • Jill Moya says:

      Jess sounded terrible on Jolene and Sam sings in monotone, never singing a high note (he may have hit one semi-high note total in all his performances)! These 5, I feel, have the worst talent in AL history and are all overrated. Personally, they are a group that are going nowhere.

  48. christopher bee says:

    Sorry Michael and Melinda, Jena´s second song was brilliant and soulfull. But congrats to this edition of Reality Check, comedy at its best.

  49. Eva Lettieri says:

    Everyone refuses to talk about the elephant in the room. That is that Sam seems to sell better on I-tunes consistently than any other contestant. Is it any wonder they try to pimp him the way they do? Business 101…make as much money off of these kids as possible. Of course, Idol wants Sam as long as possible.

    • Julie Anderson says:

      Sorry, but it has been Alex that has been the most successful on iTunes with the exception of Creep. If Always on My Mind were a recording, it also would have charted well.

  50. greysfan says:

    Loved this weeks reality check. Probably one of the best ever but would really like more than 3-4 minutes of The Voice. The judges on Idol though have fallen to a whole new low. Its no wonder that people are not watching it anymore. I do agree with Jessica though, she nailed it and they dissed her. Thats what happened. Can’t believe Aussie Keith has fallen to the devil that is FOX or 19. He was so good on The Voice Australia but on Idol he isn’t himself.

    • Jill Moya says:

      Jessica NAILED.nothing! She looks lost, no showmanship and terrible voice. She screwed up group week and shouldn’t even be here. I liked 1 of her performaces. On that one, she didn’t have her usual high pitched fluttering creepy voice! Can’t remember when it was. Again, lidten to Milry Cyrus sing JOLENE with Dolly Parton on You Tube, or listen to any of her You Tube Jolene Performances. You will agree that Jess is sub-par. I am not a Syrus fan but she is certainly better than the OVERRATED Jessica Meuse. The judges are accurate and they should be even more critical on her as they have hardly scratched the surface on this horrible performer.