On "The X Factor," CeCe Frey and Diamond White got the heave-ho this week, while on "The Voice" Amanda Brown and Melanie Martinez were sent home. Both shows are down to the final four -- Tate Stevens, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony on "X Factor"; Nicholas David, Terry McDermott, Cassadee Pope and Trevin Hunte on "Voice".
As the final four on each show move forward, we're unveiling our "X Factor" vs. "Voice" rankings, which will take the singers from both shows and put them head to head each week. I'm choosing my top five performers from among the two shows, along with Times music writers Todd Martens and Chris Barton — and you can cast your votes too, at the bottom of this post.
Below are my picks for the week. To see what my co-judges have to say, watch their Google+ Hangout above. And to view the performances, click here.
There was something transcendent about David's take on the old "Wizard of Oz" standard "Over the Rainbow," which he made sound at once altogether fresh and as classic and warm as a scratchy vintage 45. Like everything David does, it was soulful, resonant and completely original. Plus, how cute was it that it was his mom's favorite song?
2. Amanda Brown, "The Voice"
It makes me feel like an unnaturally sad woman to see Brown head home this week after such a great run. She proved again and again, as she did on Aretha Franklin's sultry hit "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," she can do anything and look great doing it. (Her onstage moves were nearly as lithe and fluid as her voice.) Oddly enough, I suspect it was that very stylistic flexibility that did her in, confusing voters who sought to fit her cleanly into one category (soul) or another (rock). I look forward to seeing where she takes that flexible talent of hers from here.
3. Terry McDermott, "The Voice"
It's hard to decide what's most appealing about McDermott: his veteran-rocker delivery, his altar-boy smile, his dedication to his family, the way he stands on his tip-toes to reach the high notes, or his vocal clarity and control. No, it's not actually hard to decide at all. His voice takes it. With "Stay With Me," McDermott stayed right in his perfect rock spot with this Faces song, and I hope he stays with us for a long time.
4. Carly Rose Sonenclar, "The X Factor"
Every time Sonenclar walks out onto that overproduced "X Factor" stage and stands before rudely squabbling judges, unappealing hosts and an audience the show seems to regard with derision, she serves as a corrective. She is a real, remarkably supple-voiced talent on a show that places its ultimate value on marketability. Singing "As Long As You Love Me," she proved she can even bring depth and nuance to Justin Bieber. No wonder the judges keep calling her an alien.
5. Melanie Martinez, "The Voice"
No, Martinez's pitch was not perfect on the Gnarls Barkley song "Crazy," but – call me crazy -- I found her performance compelling. Plus, she gets bonus credit for tinkling out a few notes on her tiny pink piano and switching up the blonde side of her head to blue. Now that this 17-year-old quirkster has been eliminated, I'll miss her eccentric vision, her Peter Pan collars and her cherry-lipped, gap-toothed smile. Not her hair bows, though. Those actually kind of bugged me.