Steve Tilley, QMI Agency
, Last Updated: 3:25 PM ET
In a contest between the contests, who sings the loudest?
As reality shows The Voice and The X Factor warble their way towards their respective season finales next month - NBC's The Voice wraps Dec. 18 while Fox's The X Factor names its winner on Dec. 20 - we wonder which of these rival talent competitions has managed to resonate the best with fans. Here's the (musical) score sheet so far.
Ever hear of a little band called One Direction? If not for The X Factor, the Brit pop princes might never have made it big. But wait... that's the U.K. version of X Factor. Last year's debut season of the U.S. iteration of the show gave us Melanie Ann Amaro, who is currently working on her debut album for release next month, and whose name I had to Google because I had no clue who she was (Then again, the same could be said for Javier Colon, winner of Season 1 of The Voice. Is he even still alive?).
I guess when it comes to which one you'd rather be caught talking about around the water cooler, The Voice generally seems to be the less guilty of the two pleasures, if only because it could also be referred to as The One Not With Britney Spears.
Although the judges - sorry, coaches - on The Voice are sometimes accused of trying too hard to manufacture chemistry and competition, they're nothing if not a varied group of individuals: Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, country singer Blake Shelton, Crazy crooner Cee Lo Green and needs-no-introduction Christina Aguilera, whose magnificently expanding derriere may eventually force The Voice's producers to custom-make a new spinning chair for her. It's generally kind of fun to listen to them banter, bicker and take friendly swipes at each other.
The current season of the American version of The X Factor, meanwhile, boasts former American Idol grouch Simon Cowell, record company exec L.A. Reid, and two new additions for this season: Twenty-year-old pop princess Demi Lovato and one Britney Spears, who is still trying to recapture the relevance she enjoyed 10 years ago. They've definitely got the current and former tween girl demographic cornered, and a world without Simon Cowell's crustiness is a world hardly worth living in, but X Factor's crew live in the shadow of both American Idol's panel (before everyone left and it started to suck) and The Voice's bizarre but entertaining little family. Sorry, Simon.
Here, the contest is no contest at all. In a calculated head-to-head battle in September that saw NBC air a third night of The Voice to counter Britney Spears' debut on The X Factor, The Voice drew 10.7 million viewers in the U.S. to X Factor's 8.5 million (X Factor's ratings spiked more than 40% in the show's second hour, after The Voice was over).
The trouncing was even more severe earlier this month, when Wednesday night head-to-head broadcasts saw The Voice top out at 10.7 million viewers to X Factor's anemic 7.1 million.
THE OTHER SHOW
Once the curtain falls on The X Factor and The Voice for the season, the big dog of singing shows returns in mid-January. American Idol's ratings are in a serious slump heading into its 12th season, but it still easily crushes all comers in numbers and mindshare. And with the latest departures leading to an almost all-new, all-star, potentially breathtaking train wreck of a judges' table (Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and veteran Idol judge Randy Jackson), it's almost enough to make us stop missing Simon. Almost.