As you have probably figured out by now, if you managed to turn on a television set or check Twitter during the last week, former Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope won The Voice Season 3, and country crooner Tate Stevens won The X Factor Season 2. Congrats to them both. But I’ll be straight-up: As talented as both of those singers are, neither were my first picks for their respective shows. Particularly on “The Voice,” it’s a massive testament to the talent on that show that so many incredibly gifted singers didn’t make it to the top three – or even make it past the Battle and Knockout Rounds. On other talent shows, some of this season’s Voice also-rans could have gone all the way. And speaking of other shows, there were a few contestants on The X Factor Season 2 that I really think could have been $5 million acts, if they’d only been given the chance. So without further ado, here is my list of the most robbed contestants of both shows’ most recent seasons.
The 10 Most Robbed Contestants of The Voice Season 3:
10) Alexis Marceaux – This New Orleans indie-rocker wowed me with her Blind Audition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” – and she seemed to wow Cee Lo Green, too, when he spun his chair for her and purred, “Rocker chicks turn me on!” When the classically trained Alexis went up against unpolished Season 2 reject Daniel Rosa in the battle rounds, I thought for sure that she had the edge, but for some reason the proudly “not classically trained” Cee Lo connected more with Daniel, picking him instead. Cee Lo made some very good decisions this season, but this was not one of them.
9) Michaela Paige – This spunky Internet DJ with the Flock Of Seagulls fauxhawk and killer rock chops went farther on The Voice than I’d initially expected – she’d received little screentime early in the season, and in the top 20 week it was a surprise when her coach, Blake Shelton, picked her to be his final team member over more obvious choice Liz Davis. But alas, Michaela didn’t go far enough, as she was one of the first contestants to be voted out of the top 12.
8) Melanie Martinez – The only two reasons Melanie, my favorite female contestant of this season, didn’t make it higher on this list are a) she went pretty far, all the way to the top six, and b) she was voted off in a week when she gave one of her weaker performances and almost seemed like she wanted to leave. But I have missed her since she exited the show. From her unique look (love that Hello Kitty hair bow, those tambourine-rattling feet, that Cruella hair), to her interesting song choices, to her dreamy rasp, Melanie was unlike any contestant I’d ever seen on The Voice – or on any singing show, for that matter. Someone give this girl a record deal (if the rumor that Adam Levine’s 222 Records has signed her isn’t true) and her own photo-printed clothing line, quick.
7) Joe Kirkland – This Artist Vs. Poet frontman impressed me with his first audition of the All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell,” and I thought he had a bright future ahead when he joined the team of fellow rock frontman Adam Levine. And when he went up against Bryan Keith in the Knockout Rounds – doing a rawkin’ and altogether awesome cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean,” while Bryan did a somewhat bland rendition of the Robin Hood sapfest “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” that even Adam admitted was a disappointment – I thought he was a shoo-in for the top 20. But I thought wrong. Adam picked Bryan anyway. Talk about being mean, Adam!
6) De’Borah – This androgynous minister’s daughter, who I lovingly nicknamed “Gurkel,” was one of Season 3’s most unique and passionate performers. It still boggles my mind that when her coach, Christina Aguilera, had to pick a final teammate to bring to the top 12 rounds, Christina went with cookie-cutter pop singer Adriana Louise instead. Adriana was voted off the very next week; I think De’Borah probably would have lasted longer. Letting De’Borah go was just one of many bad decisions that Christina – who eventually lost her entire team, three weeks before the finale – made this season.
5) Caitlin Michele – This was another one of my beloved quirky girls who left the show way too early. Poor Caitlin never really had a support system on The Voice – her original coach, Adam, ditched her in the Battle Rounds for Melanie Martinez, and then the coach that stole her away, Cee Lo, ditched her for Diego Val in the Knockout Rounds. I don’t feel like this powerhouse ever got a chance to really show her true power.
4) Amanda Brown – Amanda got to the top six, so I can’t say she was totally robbed . . . but man, she really should have made it all the way to the top three. A bad-ass rocker that sometimes came across like the New Tina Turner, she was one of the best vocalists in the top 20 (maybe even THE best), and her “Dream On” tour de force still stands as the finest performance of the entire season. Someone please sign her, because she can’t go back to being a backup singer. Amanda Brown deserves to be centerstage.
3) MacKenzie Bourg – The first time I saw Mac, with his cute face and cute hair and cute voice and cute guitar, audition with “Pumped Up Kicks,” I predicted that he would win the entire show. And if this had been American Idol, on which cute WGWGs always reign supreme, I would have been correct. I still can’t believe this kid didn’t get enough votes to make it into the top 12. I hope Mac auditions for “The Glee Project 3” next. He’s too adorable – and too talented – to stay off TV for good.
2) Cody Belew – Cody was the consummate entertainer, switching things up between the sublimely ridiculous (his “Crazy in Love” leatherman spectacle) to just plain sublime (his wonderful vocals on “Jolene” and “One More Try”). America never seemed to really “get” Cody, but even his detractors must admit by now that there was a lot less bam-bam on The Voice after this season’s most charismatic showman exited during top eight week.
1) Suzanna Choffel – This Austin music teacher was one of my favorite contestants of the season. How come I never had teachers this cool when I was a kid? My music teachers taught my class how to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder; Suzanna, on the other hand, auditioned with an ethereal cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” one of my all-time favorite ballads, and actually did it justice. Her Knockout Rounds performance was also superb – she came out in a Studio 54 onesie looking like Alison Goldfrapp (i.e., like a goddess) and poured her heart into Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved.” But of course, she was eliminated by Blake in favor of Chosen One (and future winner) Cassadee Pope. I’m still a tiny bit angry about this, and I still think it should have been Suzanna in the finale instead.
The 10 Most Robbed Contestants Of The X Factor Season 2:
10) Daryl Black – I thought this smooth soul crooner, one of the show’s purest voices, was a shoo-in to make L.A. Reid’s Over-25s team. He seemed to have all the makings of a champion: he was charismatic, original, a good guy (a married father of five!), and he could really, really sing. Simon even compared him to Nat King Cole. But I suppose Daryl was more the type who goes far on The Voice, not The X Factor. L.A., in the first of his many bad decisions of Season 2, sadly eliminated Daryl during the Judges’ Houses rounds.
9) Jeffrey Gutt – This 36-year-old single-dad-with-a-dream had everything going for him, as far as shows like this are concerned. Handsome rocker-dude looks? Check. Relatable backstory? Check. Adorable four-year-old son? Check. Fantastic voice? Spectacular audition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”? Double-check. I was shocked when Jeffrey was cut in Boot Camp, and so was he. “It’s their loss; I could have won the show,” Jeffrey grumbled. He had a point.
8) Beatrice Miller – Beatrice was my favorite Teens team contestant going into the live shows. But she never had a chance of escaping from the bottom rungs of the leaderboard with a “mentor” like Britney Spears, who gave her boring man-ballads by Jason Mraz and the Goo Goo Dolls and dressed her in hobo rags that looked like hand-me-downs from Emblem3’s Huntington Beach garage sale. What made Beatrice’s elimination even sadder was the fact that it took place on THANKSGIVING, which will now be forever known to the Miller family as “Black Thursday.” Happy holidays, everyone.
7) Vino Alan – Until top eight week, Vino was one of the show’s frontrunners, consistently placing in the top three. But that all changed when his “mentor” L.A. inexplicably switched his song at the last minute; gave him a song that absolutely did not suit him, and then sat by while Vino floundered onstage and the other judges tore him to shreds. Vino subsequently plummeted to the bottom of the rankings, and he was cut from the show. Seriously, Vino was so thrown under the bus that week, he may as well tattoo some tire marks on his face now.
6) Panda Ross – During Season 2’s X Factor auditions, this lovable lady with the marquee-worthy name captured America’s hearts – and seemingly the heart of her longtime crush, Simon – with her huge personality and huge voice. “You sound like a legend,” Simon told Panda, before he and his fellow judges unanimously decided to advance her to the Boot Camp rounds. And then . . . Panda was never heard nor seen on TV again. Panda’s “Fandas” never got another chance to see Panda perform, and they never found out why she didn’t make it to the top 24. Panda, it is time to find yourself another boo!
5) David Correy – David, the youngest of the Over-25 contestants (at age 26) and probably the hippest, seemed to have more commercial potential than anyone else on L.A.’s team besides country-crooning everyman Tate Stevens. His haunting, slowed-to-a-crawl, near-a cappella version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” on the first live episode was FANTASTIC, and I was shocked that L.A. let him go. I think under different circumstances, David could have been one of the top three contestants competing in this season’s finale.
4) Jillian Jensen – Jillian was the bullying victim/Demi Lovato fangirl with the “Stay Strong” tattoo who sobbed throughout her emotional audition of Jessie J’s empowerment anthem “Who You Are” –the most memorable audition of The X Factor‘s Season 2 premiere, and probably the most memorable (and definitely the most-tweeted-about) audition of the whole season. Back then, a sobbing Demi rushed onstage to embrace Jillian, while even Simon observed the scene through uncharacteristically misty eyes. But later on, Demi and Jillian were crying for a very different reason, when Jillian was cut at the Judges’ Houses. And sadly, due to a baseball-related scheduling snafu, very few viewers even saw Jillian’s final goodbye.
3) Jason Brock – Jason – an out-and-proud contestant who had been nicknamed “Mr. Entertainment,” had performed on the show amid glitter explosions, and had even dared to pinch hunky host Mario Lopez’s rear end on one live broadcas – -was the first contestant to be voted off the show by America. But he went out in his usual fabulous style, as only he could, memorably and triumphantly declaring, “I did it for the gays and Japan!” (a slogan that he really needs to print on T-shirts and sell on the X Factor website). He’s been missed ever since.
2) Jennel Garcia – I am still shocked that this dynamite rocker-girl-next-door, one of the best vocalists and most vivacious performers of Season 2 and one of the contestants with the most raw promise, went home in 11th place. ELEVENTH!!! And the fact that three of the judges (everyone except, it should be noted, Jennel’s own coach, Demi) voted to send her home instead of Paige Thomas makes me want to make a Britney stankface like THIS. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
1) Lyric 145 – Remember the horrible night on American Idol Season 9 when Alex Lambert, Lilly Scott, Katelyn Epperly, and Todrick Hall all went home? Well, I got flashbacks to those icky feelings when Lyric 145 and Jennel were cut on the same night of The X Factor. Hip-hop trio Lyric 145 always brought theater and pure show(wo)manship to the X Factor stage, and their delightfully bizarre “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” tour de force on Movie Night remains my favorite performance of the entire season. I only wish there’d been more moments like that in Season 2, but Lyric 145 were robbed of that chance – and X Factor viewers were robbed of a lot of awesome entertainment.
Which talent shows contestants do you think got robbed this fall? Let me know.