Reality Check: We Tell American Idol How to Fix Its Farewell Season! Plus: The Voice Winner Spoiled Already?

American Idol, we have a problem. Actually, make that two (OK, three) problems.

There are several genuinely talented vocalists left in the show’s Farewell Season, but producers are structuring weekly results announcements in a way that creates unnecessary anxiety and hampers the quality of performances. At least that’s what my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I argue on this week’s episode of Reality Check. Oh, and did I mention our resident Idol grad has a perfectly elegant solution to the situation?

As for the ghastly theme of this Thursday’s episode — Most-Performed Songs from Past Seasons — um… is it too late to call an audible?

All that, plus heated debates about Trent Harmon and La’Porhsa Renae’s latest performances, the possible rebirth of Tristan McIntosh and the sudden slide of Dalton Rapattoni.

Melinda and I also dive into the opening week of The Voice‘s tenth cycle — and wonder if the show buried any sense of suspense by putting the absolutely fabulous Alisan Porter in its premiere.

Press PLAY above for Part 1 of this week’s Reality Check, and below for Part 2 — then hit the comments with your thoughts on the week in reality singing competitions!

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. Rob says:

    When Idol ends can we still have a weekly talk show where Slezak and Melinda just talk about things?

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank u jesus for two parts of this show. Please continue forever.

    • cat says:

      seriously, just continue to talk…and the cliips….just keep making us worship and rejoice at the altar of michael and melinda…..

  3. Rob says:

    I also love the Allison Iraheta love because on both Olivia’s “Trouble” and Mackenzie’s “I Want To Dance With Somebody” I kept saying that I just want to hear Allison do a solo single of these songs. Her voice is honestly the gift that keeps on giving on Idol, she instantly elevates every song she sings backup on, and they really need to utilize her more.

  4. John says:

    Almost spot on from beginning to end (I agree with Michael on LaPorsha, and Melinda on Trent). As I was almost done with the second video, I thought to myself “I’m really going to miss these recaps.” I also want a recap somewhere before the end all done by the editor through clips. That could be AMAZING. But I second Rob on giving Michael and Melinda their own talk show. Maybe EW Radio on SiriusXM?

  5. Chris Tilburg says:

    From now on you will be known as Heffer.

  6. JMay says:

    Michael, as long as you’re giving shout-outs to former idols, how about a little love to Jax and La La Land

  7. Preach about Allison Iraheta and Alisan Porter and La’Porsha Renae. #Winners

  8. Extraberry says:

    Nail on the head in part 1! I don’t understand telling the singers that they are safe before they go on, we need them all to sing for their lives. And these themes are going to give me heart attack! I agree new and fresh is the way to go! What do you guys think about Dalton, because I am not a fan at all?! He’s so 2007 and pop-punk its just annoying and even though he switches up the songs they are done in the same style each time. I guess he reqlly has the teen girl demographic, which I guess is a big one for American Idol. I hope he’s in the bottom three this week (Lee, Dalton and Sonika(there was just no feeling in her song) are my choices).

    • Scout says:

      If those 3 are in the bottom, the judges will save Dalton. My problem with him is his voice. If it were better, I think I would care more. Oh well.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I agree with what’s been posted here. I think Dalton is surviving because of his look, however dated some might think it might be. Honestly, he reminds me of Rod Stewart and I am really showing my age with THAT comment.
      Dalton’s voice is just average but some of his performances have at least been entertaining. Back in (I think) either season 9 or 10 there was a guy that made it to Hollywood week that was super entertaining. He didn’t have Dalton’s look – he was kind of geeky looking and his voice was average, but I recall thinking I would hire him if I booked entertainers for cruise ships. That’s kind of how I feel about Dalton at this point.

    • Lking says:

      Personally I think Dalton is the only one in this group who has any chance at a career in music. Can’t imagine going to a concert for any of the others.

  9. HAP says:

    What I just don’t get is with such an incredible voice, why did Alisan Porter not become a star years ago. I know she has two kids, but they are very young. So what happened for almost 20 years? Ah, but talented as she is, The Voice has, in all these years, not produced a star. Go figure.

    • Timmah says:

      Alisan’s audition wasn’t bad (though I think somewhat overrated). What concerns me more is that her back story reeked of entitlement.

    • Kate says:

      She said she had a problem with addiction and that she’d only been sober for 9 years….I know she was in the Broadway revival of a chorus line 2002….so I think that completely adds up. There are more important things than becoming a star…having a happy, healthy life for one…

    • Smokey says:

      While we could agree she’s not a big star/household name —- Danielle Bradbery from “the voice” has had 6 songs break-into the Billboard Hot 100 since her voice appearance and is very well-known in the Country genre.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      The Voice has always been more about the competition between the judges than the contestants, which is one reason I prefer Idol (although arguably in recent years Idol has veered into “It’s all about the judges” territory to a degree). Now The Voice has the Blake Shelton/Gwen Stefani drama on top of everything else that’s wrong with that program. Thank goodness Gwen isn’t on there right now. Maybe Blake will move on to someone else before she’s back on there again.
      I am sure someone is going to jump in and say the talent on The Voice is better than Idol’s. Yes, it might be, but I prefer the Idol format.
      And Idol, in my opinion, has wasted a lot of talent. Why they don’t promote their winners and even finalists more is beyond me.

      • Smokey says:

        Yes, sometimes the Judges, who are very wealthy and connected, will fawn over some contestant (such as Joshua Ledet as one of the greatest singers of all-time),,……………

        and then they and TPTB of the show, won’t spend a dime on helping them get into the business in a good way.

      • Smokey says:

        The Voice has really evolved into a much better “entertainment” type of talent show than it was in the first few seasons. Most every performance is at least well-done, that we see anyway…………….the back-drops are not filled with distracting, seizure producing, spinning objects, pumped with fog or images that make you feel like you are caught in a runaway subway train…………

        The level of the band and music support is very, very good on the voice,,,, quick to learn and arrange songs well, and can and will do almost anything in any genre —- rather than work-off a short list of 20 approved songs for the week.

        I like Idol for what it is, a shot for young artists to get discovered, and the winner will make good money with the automatic record contract and have a good financial benefit from the show. The past 3 winners, however, are not making any big splash in the business yet.

  10. JMay says:

    So you’re judging based on Trent based solely on Joshua’s performance? I didn’t hear you judge Elise’s version of Whole Lotta Love based on Adam’s performance. You even said back then that you didn’t have to love one and not the other. In other words you judged it based on its own merits. I thought Trent was awesome and definitely better than a c+. By the way, as long as you’re giving shout-outs to former idols, how about some love for Jax and her song/video “La La Land”.

    • Rob says:

      Jax’s song and video are a desperate cry for attention, twitter followers, and likes on Facebook and Instagram. It proves what many had seen during her season on Idol, which is that she was put on that season and told she was the frontrunner, she would win hands down, and nobody could get in her way. What they didn’t account for was her petulant attitude that practically bled through the screen. That song and that video was all about biting the hand that fed her, and basically proves that she has a lot of growing up to do before she’s ready for this industry.

      • JMay says:

        This “biting the hand that fed…” moralistic BS should be done away with. American Idol has its own agenda and it isn’t always on the side of the contestants. The way they eliminated her was inexcusable and I think both Michael and Melinda (and many others) would agree. The song and video are both very good and are expressions of her experience and her truth. Deal with it.

        • Smokey says:

          Hey————– I just checked-out Jax’s “La La Land video ” on MJ’s Blog ……….

          and I see cameos on the video from her fellow season 14 contestants, Daniel Seavey, Michael Simeon, Adam Ezegelian, Rayvon Owen and season 9’s Didi Benami……………

          Somebody made a lot of phone calls and arrangements to put this video together..

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I was never a fan of Jax but I would agree the manner in which she was eliminated was dreadful.

          • Rob says:

            That we can all agree on. It was horrible and Idol should 100% be ashamed of themselves for how they handled that.

        • Rob says:

          I 100% agree that the way Jax was eliminated was horrendous. There’s no excuse for that, nobody deserves that. However, it’s up to her how she responds to it. She can act like a pro (like Haley Reinhart, for example) and just use it as motivation, or she can act like a baby. In my opinion, she is acting like a baby. And unfortunately for her, she is trying to break into an industry that is very inbred and interconnected. Because of this, “biting the hand that feeds” is a huge factor in one’s success. I’m not saying she won’t be successful. I’m just saying that she has now stacked the cards against herself because it taints her public image and makes her look like a diva, crybaby, who didn’t get her way. That’s just a fact. I am in the music industry, I know many people who have met her and tried to work with her both before and after her Idol experience. Many record labels don’t want to get into bed with her due to her lack of professionalism in her post-Idol career. Finally, you seem like you took this very personally, and I’m sorry for that. I hope this answer satisfies your question.

        • Smokey says:

          Just seen the Jax video “La La Land” ,,, also noticed cameos from her fellow season 14 contestants, Daniel Seavey, Michael Simeon, Adam Ezegelian, Rayvon Owen and season 9’s Didi Benami.

    • Tahoe Mike says:

      Because whether you compare it to Joshua Ledet, Percy Sledge, or any other version of that song, that was the most soulless, sexless, emasculated version ever.

    • Timmah says:

      I actually preferred Trent’s version to Joshua’s. Screaming and oversinging is not the only way to communicate emotion.

  11. Timmah says:

    For them to come up with a better format would require first that they actually gave a crap about the contestants.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Hmmm…let me mull that over. Good point, Timmah. Perhaps if they gave a crap about the contestants this program would be better and not going off the air. There’s a lot of truth in your comment.

  12. marie says:

    Ah, Melinda, thank you for setting the record straight on La’Porsha and Trent! :-)

    • Ben says:

      +1. ’cause i was really disappointed with Trent grade, his effort to improve pay the last week and deserve recognition (he was at least a B-).

      I just miss a few words about the real bottom… Demi & Harry Connick Jr… :P

  13. Timmah says:

    I’m not getting the same kind of “instant winner” vibes with Curly Sue that I did with Jordan and some of the others from the past. My gut feeling is that she’s peaked already and that she’s going to crash and burn.

    • Smokey says:

      from what I have seen so far, there are a number of very good, powerful, performance skilled– lady singers on the voice this year —————

      so curly sue will have some very stiff competition getting through to the top levels this season. It’s true that some contestants become a favorite based on one or two songs early,,, in their specialty songs/wheelhouse, ……but begin to fade against the stiff competition later…………….

      . Her back-story and all the publicity even on MSN showing her performance will be a big help though, on popularity.

  14. Tahoe Mike says:


  15. Peb says:

    Michael, want to take time to thank you for all your reviews over the years! You are the best at what you do. I’ve been meaning to tell you you are absolutely right with your Haley Reinhart obsession. A couple years ago I did an iTunes search of “American Idol Performances”, which brings up all the recordings from the show itself. Next I clicked so the most popular recordings came up in order. Haley Reinhart had 8 of the top 10 selling recordings. Today, she still has 4 of the top 10…and that’s out of all the Idol recordings ever. Like Kelly Clarkson, Haley can sing pop, rock, country, standards, jazz and more. Her YouTube videos (especially with Postmodern Jukebox) are extremely popular. The quality of your interview with Haley is the reason it was TV Line’s most commented about article ever! Thank you for all of your Idol interviews!

  16. .I love that you are calling out the producers and JLo…. keep it coming. I hope you do an extended 15 season wrap u at the end.

  17. David says:

    This season’s so hard to watch; the only consistent singer is LaPorsha, and I’m not even a fan of her ‘watch how many runs I can do’ style of singing. Yeah I agree Tristan was better this week (which is not saying much), but I still found her to be incredibly flat during the performance.I haven’t liked Trent since hollywood, and there is something about Dalton that seems incredibly outdated…

    • Smokey says:

      True, if you select youtube videos of the top 200 billboard songs ,, watch and listen,, Dalton would not fit-in anywhere among what’s selling today. The whole Idol crew and stage managers are still rolling in the past on the distracting backdrops, smoke/fog, etc. –and, to make a record that would sell to the teen and college group —-you also have to have a very good or unique or specialty type of voice.

      • Puchinsmom says:

        I’m not an expert on the music and loves of current teen and college groups. I am a grandma who mainly listens to the oldies stations. But….I think Avalon fits your ” very good or unique or specialty voice.” I can see her being a young person, with a good voice, and a strong sense of who she is. I’m not really into her genre of music, but I like her just the same. I hope she lasts awhile.

  18. S. says:

    Both videos are giving me an ‘error setting up player: invalid license key’ message. Got it in Chrome and IE.

  19. S. says:

    If anybody else is having an issue with the embedded video not working, the TVLine Youtube channel has the 2 part Reality Check right as their latest videos.

  20. Cassie Hicks says:

    OK, Mr. Slezak, if you and Ms. Doolittle want to tell the farewell season of “American Idol” to fix things, then, let’s see if the producers do listen to you guys, the way that they tried to listen to me. Furthermore, I hope they do.:)

  21. Becky says:

    Dear Michael and Melinda,
    The star of the show this week was Avalon: best performance of the night and she sat on a stool.she was hot and cool at the same time. No matter what the outcome is…she will have a recording contract. She is relevant.
    La’Porsha can sing but her look and vibe are out of date. Diamonds was amazing…but she is 22 not 60. I could not sit thru that last performance because of the outfit and the wings. I worry that she is going to have the same problem the first winner of X-Factor had. And all I remember of her is a Pepsi commercial and the first initial of her name starts with a “M”.
    Trent looked amazing. Who really knew after all the hats and clothes that did not fit him, that he is actually a good looking guy. I actually loved his version but I did not compare it to Joshua’s…his was the going to church version ( I have 3 different versions of Feeling Good saved on my IPhone. All different and I enjoy them all. Sometimes I like one over the other depending on my mood. )
    Tristan listened and had her best performance since the audition.
    And I never want to see Demi Lovato perform again. Where are the former idols? That is who I am a fan of, not the Disney Channel kids that grew up and now have record deals.

    • Cassie Hicks says:

      Thank you, Becky, for the commendation for Ms. Young. now, let’s see if the producers of “American Idol” really can agree with you.:)

  22. Kate says:

    Two parts. I could not love you guys more.

  23. I remember Allison Iraheta. Wasn’t she on the same season as Syesha Mercada? I bought Allison’s first album and thought it was really good. I had no idea she was doing backup on AI now. Was it announced that she was there? I am still waiting on Syesha’s first album, though she had a single with Boney James. I did, btw, immediately go to I-Tunes and bought the stuff Halo Circus had. I also have your your album “Coming Back To You” Ms. Doolottle.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Syesha Mercado was on during Season 7. She finished third to David Cook.
      Allison Iraheta finished fourth on Season 8.
      I am going off of memory but if I am wrong I am sure someone will jump in and straighten me out. :-)

  24. Stephanie O'Daniel says:

    I don’t like Laporsha and that tumble weed wig she wears I also don’t feel she is good Sonika is 1000 times better

  25. Stephanie O'Daniel says:

    I hope laporsha gets booted off the show and Sonika wins

  26. Mary says:

    Sorry Melinda but I am with Micheal on the grades, in fact I thought he was generous on a couple. I will miss the banter between you two.

  27. darcy's evil twin says:

    Thanks Mr. Slezak and Melinda for your wonderful commentary. I will miss you SO much when Idol ends.
    Speaking of which – there have been some comments here that made me contemplate the question “Why is Idol ending”? Why is a show that was once a powerhouse fading into obscurity?
    One was Timmah’s comment about the show/producers not giving a crap about the contestants (paraphrased). Melinda hit it on the head in the video – make them sing like they are singing for their lives every week. Far too much focus on judges and not enough on the contestants has been a killer. The judges should not be the center of attention.
    Other people here posted comments about Dalton’s look being outdated. What’s odd is no one accused Adam Lambert of being “outdated” although arguably Adam would change his “look” to suit the song. Who can forget him singing the acoustic version of “Tracks of My Tears”, sitting on a stool, with hair slicked back?
    Anyway, this brings me to my point about why Idol is going the way of the dinosarus. Music was once a T-Rex or a velociraptor. It was big; it was bold; it was bad. It had killer electric guitars and John Bonham pounding on the drums. It had pounding bass. It had Eddie VanHalen riffs like nobody’s business. It had powerhouse voices – Ann Wilson, Janis Joplin, Sammy Hagar, the list is endless. There was smoke. There was fog. There were flames. There was KISS rising out of the stage on platforms. There was Prince in all his purpleness. There were fireworks (okay, they sometimes set nightclubs on fire)
    Gone are those days. The T-Rex and the velociraptor have evolved into a cute, fuzzy bird. We have cute guys with guitars sitting on stool, singing whiny folk music. Bruno Mars is the only male performer out there that actually puts on a SHOW. The female performers are dreadful, other than Adele (and look at HER popularity). Actually, Meghan Trainor isn’t bad and Rhianna’s music is okay with anyone singing it except Rhinna. But here’s the bottom line – Today’s music and Idol are not compatible. Today’s music is dull, dull, dull. I hate to sound like an old fogey but it’s a snoozefest. I am old enough I recall when folk music was popular the first time around and I didn’t like it then. My husband had a boss that had every recording Joni Mitchell ever made and I dreaded going to his house.
    The same goes for groups like America and Pink Floyd. They would never translate well on “Idol”. The other day a song came on the radio and my husband was singing along. I asked my husband “Who is that”? – he replied it was Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Good grief, no wonder I didn’t know who it was. I never liked them but my husband LOVED them. Again, their music would not translate well on Idol. you just don’t hear many contestants covering Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, Jimmie Spheeris, Emerson Lake and Palmer, America, etc. because it is good music but it is BORING music. Some music is fine to listen to but not fine for pure performance entertainment value.
    It’s not that I don’t care for current music. I do, and I listen to current music. But it’s just not compatible with Idol. I think one of the biggest mistakes they made was doing away with traditional “themes” (Disco Week, Big Band Week, Broadway, etc.) because that truly showed the versatility of contestants and separated the wheat from the chaff. It gave us Chris Allen flipping songs on their heads with creative arrangements. We have had more current songs on the show but ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz….okay, I have droned on long enough.

  28. Hmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    Laporsha is beast. she deserved an A- the least. Sure Trent wasnt emotionally perfect, but boy gave us an AMAZING vocal night without faces. He was def. up in his head that night but man. he was good. but Michael… you put him in the same range as Lee and Gianna. Melinda grades too easy, sure, but you grade nonsense! (kidding lol) Dalton has been inconsistent. If anyone needs to bring next level anything, it’s him. Tristan sounded beautiful but im ready for her to go. Lee shouldve left right after his audition. Avalon is the odd one out and the show could use her. she has an innate ability to entertain, which is great. Mackenzie is my top 3. vocally weaker, but he knows how to use it efficiently. he needs a bit of a tune up and he’s gold. Olivia shouldve made it over Lee. And finally, Gianna is gone. She needs a few more years to mature up vocally. Her voice has moments where it sounds great, then you hear her, in the words of JLO, 15ness popping up everywhere. Remember Jessica Sanchez was only 16, Kelly was 19, Fantasia was 19, Jordin was 17, Allison was 16. So many greats has graced the idol stage and all under 20. It isnt always about age. Young contestants can be great and amazing too, but it has to be that level of talent, which Gianna doesnt have.

  29. Idolhead Ed says:

    You guys forgot about Mary Sarah. To me she is as good as Curly Sue. In fact I suspect it will come down to those two in the end. I am done with blinds, ready for the battle rounds now. But for the first time ever I will closely watch the voice. It is odd that those two singers were on the first show removing some suspense. The same thing happened on X Factor this year when 4th Impact, Lauren Murray, and Louisa Jonson were all on the same audition show. The good thing is I will certainly be watching every week.

    For me Idol is just blah in a season that should’ve been its best. For whatever reason Slezak and I always have the favorites every season. I still can’t figure out why Jessica Cabral is not singing on the big stage and the likes of Lee and Gianna are (were). And now the only one I really look forward to is Avalon. When the singing gets weak on Idol this year at least I have the voice with Mary sarah and Curly sue.

  30. Terry says:

    I agree with Melinda, if they all get to sing anyway then don’t reveal the bottom 3 until after everyone has sung. My guess for the bottom 3 this week is Avalon (I think the way they displayed her voting numbers at the end of the show got lost in the shuffle), Lee and Sonika. I don’t think the judges would save Avalon twice in a row so I think she’s gone, I’m not sure who they would save out of Lee and Sonika, probably Lee.

    • Smokey says:

      Agree they will not save Avalon twice — that could cause a real twitter avalanche against the show, from fans of the other contestants and those who don’t support Avalon anyway. And yes, they might save Lee or Tristan. I doubt that Sonika will be in the bottom 3 this week..

    • judgingidol says:

      I agree they likely wouldn’t save Avalon again. I think they’d save Sonika over Lee – so it won’t look like only the girls are being picked off.

  31. marie says:

    This Thursday’s theme is both ridiculous and infuriating. I feel like it’s an intentional slap in the face to long-time loyal viewers. Really, WHO thought that would be a good idea?!?!?!?!?!!!!

  32. zaialuna says:

    Started to lose interest in American Idol after Melinda lost. Still my favorite performer to come out of that show.

  33. Dianne VV says:

    I love that you gave props to Allison Iraheta!

  34. Cassie Hicks says:

    Oh, Mr. Slezak, I can’t wait to hear what you’re recommending to the producers of “American Idol”-even though it’s the middle of the farewell season. Does it have anything to do with you showing the REAL poll you have to the folks of American Idol Net, even though they may not agree with you?

  35. La Porsha (or whatever) not my cup of tea

  36. Lking says:

    Except for Dalton, I just don’t feel anything for the guys. I cannot watch Trent who looks like he’s passing a stone when he sings. I also think Yristan has a chance at stardom. No one else stands out to me, not even LaPorsha.

  37. mercedes says:

    I am just returning to American Idol after not watching the show for many years. I see three contestants who, in my opinion, are real contenders for the title. LaPorsha, Trent, and Avalon all seem to be very capable singers with pleasant voices. I am of the generation where it all comes down to how does a person sound on a recording or over the radio. LaPosha works hard to deliver on every performance. Trent is surprisingly good in his delivery, and Avalon demonstrates a certain kind of poise and confidence coupled with a good voice. The best singers are not assured of winning. It still comes down to who can garner the most support through votes and that seems to be dependent on other factors as well.

  38. Carolyn says:

    I love you guys. Enjoy your commentary plus it lets us get to see Melinda!

    And Allison. I’ve been tweeting and posting please let her sing! She, Kelly and yes, Melinda are my all time favorites!