'Idol' vs. 'The Voice' vs. 'X Factor' vs. 'Sing-Off': Which singing show has the best judges' panel?

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Image Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Sure, it’s exciting to watch new talent emerge from the bevy of singing competitions. After all, we could be watching the next Carrie Underwood or Leona Lewis or Taylor Hicks (wait…) rise to fame right before our very eyes. But, let’s face it, a good number of us tune in is to watch the judges on said shows say crazy things, wear shiny clothes, and bicker with one another. When it was announced yesterday that Paula Abdul would be joining her old friend/foe/flirt Simon Cowell at the judges’ table (alongside L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole) for X Factor, it was official: The Voice and Idol had some real competition.

While Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine have all but made The Voice a runaway hit, can it compare to the nuttery that is the Paula and Simon dynamic? When Paula parted with Idol, it all but sent the show into a tailspin for one season. Though, against all odds, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have made it work with Randy Jackson on Idol. But which one of these series has the very best judges’ line-up? X Factor has familiarity (with Cowell and Abdul) and cred (L.A. Reid knows the music business), The Voice’s panel is fun and fresh (who knew we, as a nation, would all really, really love Blake Shelton?), and Idol is putting a new spin on an old favorite.

And lest we forget about The Sing-Off, which not only had Shawn Stockman and X Factor host Nicole Scherzinger, but also managed to turn Ben Folds from indie rock god to bona fide reality judge heavyweight.

So, let us know PopWatchers, which singing competition judging panel has your vote for the best? Vote in the poll below!


Read more:
Official: Paula Abdul joins Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’
On the scene at the first ‘X Factor’ taping: Paul and Simon reunite, while the crowd battles L.A. Reid

Comments (60 total) Add your comment
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  • Yermama

    I like a smart, fearless, harsh judge. Someone who knows what they’re talking about and isn’t afraid to say it straight. I do not like clapping seals, people who hug contestants ‘just ’cause’. I do not like judges who love the sound of their own voices or refuse to tell the truth.
    So, I’ll pick a judge like Simon any day over all the rest, no matter how much more talented they are than Simon. If he’s interested in the talent (and he sure wasn’t on the his last season of AI), he’s great.
    But TV requires that you’re charming and the kind of person the audience wants to spend time with from week to week. Getting someone watchable, charming and somenone who’s a good, fair and an unflinching judge of talent is really hard. I’m not sure if anyone other than Simon pulls it off. (And I’m not that fond of the man.)

  • kt

    Ben Folds is by far the best reality show judge out there. He gives informed and technical critiques with his brand of quirky humor. I love it!

    • RyMickey

      I agree that Ben Folds is a great judge on The Sing Off. However, Nicole Scherzinger was a big weak link on that show. I can’t imagine with her hosting X-Factor that she’d still be on the judging panel for Sing Off. Here’s hoping her replacement brings a little more to the table beyond ogling the college frat boys.

      • CB

        Put Ben Folds on all of the panels!

      • Suzy

        I agree. Nicole completely ‘unfolds’ (pun intended) the goodwill generated by Ben and Shawn. She completely drags down the legitimacy of the judging panel as a whole. Not to say she doesn’t have the same breadth of music knowledge as the other two, but she certainly doesn’t know how to articulate it in the same way Ben and Shawn do. Complete mis-match!

    • Delon

      100% agree.

      • Megan

        With Sarah instead of Nicole the show can’t be beat. These judges know their stuff and the contestants actually have talent.

  • mark

    Pretty easy decision on this one, The Voice. They have four legitimate judges, I dont know what the sing off is but American Idol has the worst, they are weighed down by Randy Jackson , but interestingly I do like J Lo and Steven Tyler.

    Simon is the best individual judge but then again he just hired Paula Abdul.

    • ATLgroove

      Agreed on all accounts. I can’t lie though, half of the fun of American Idols past was how coherent Paula was and what she might say.

      • OMGq

        I disagree – I couldn’t stand Paula and would just fast forward through her “you look great” ramblings. I have tickets to the X-Factor taping today in LA and my whole group decided not to go because none of us wanted to sit through 6 hours of Paula.

    • Well

      Lame poll because The Voice doesn’t have judges, it has coaches. Totally different. And totally lame.

      • um

        um… so does x-factor

  • Jerome

    The judges on The Voice are awful, especially Snooki Aguilera and Fake Shelton. The beautiful J Lo and crazy as a loon Steven Tyler get my vote.

    • Katie

      Those seem like insults just to be cute and nothing actually based in reality. But keep trying.

      • Hedda Lettuce

        Cee Lo Queen and Adam Leave-Out!

    • CandaceTX

      Jerome. Go Home.

  • Jase

    I like the American Idol judges, but my vote goes to The Voice.

  • Sia

    X factor – just for Cheryl Cole

    • 30Rocker

      Agreed with Sia, watching for Cheryl Cole! She’s so sweet (but has more substance to her than Paula, normally) and I love the accent!

  • Craig S

    I think each group has a judge or two that brings the others down. I voted Sing-Off because of Ben Folds, and Shawn Stockman is enthusiastic. But Nicole Scherzinger is awful, and I fast forward through her after each performance.

    • T

      Yes…she is useless. Maybe with this new gig they will replace her with someone that’s actually coherent.

    • Gata

      I agree 100% – I absolutely hated her, and would FF through her part – she reminded me of a “Paula wannabe”

  • Rebekah

    I actually think each show has the perfect panel of judges tailored to fit their audiences and formats. Although, I agree that Idol is weighed down by Randy. However, I really do enjoy the dynamic between Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina and Blake, so I voted for The Voice. And while I am excited to see Simon on TV again, I’m actually underwhelmed by his decision to repeat history (by hiring Paula).

  • brandinb

    I love the Sing-Off judges panel, especially Ben Folds and Shawn Stockton so they got my vote. But, with that said I am really enjoying the Voice’s judges panel so far. I don’t like Idol and don’t plan to watch X Factor.

    • anonymous

      Unforch….Nicole ruins it for them. I really like both of them and they really know their stuff but Nicole is like nails on a chalkboard.

  • FS

    Hands down, The Voice!

  • Carly Maguire

    Simon Cowell sure knows how to pick Brits with extra thick accents – Cheryl Cole (Geordie) and Steve Jones (Welsh).
    I can’t wait to see the public’s response to this when the X Factor first season begins.
    It would be good if they include guest judges on the panel from the UK X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent such Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh and Amanda Holden.

  • Ana

    The Voice has the best panel so it wins!

    • CandaceTX

      not to mention the eye-candy of Blake and Adam. (yay)

  • alice

    The Voice cuz it’s really entertaining and the coaches panel is STAR QUALITY

  • k

    It’s not even close. The Voice wins hands down. They actually got talented and relevant people to run the show unlike the other programs, although I do like Steven Tyler. The X-Factor lineup however, is kinda embarrassing. They should have done more to separate themselves from American Idol. Now, especially after The Voice, they just look like yesterday’s news. The Voice took the medium forward. The X-Factor took it a few steps back.

  • ERS

    Easily the voice. Those judges are actually great singers with real star power. The contestants are better off with people who have actually gone through what they’re dreaming to achieve. Being harsh for the sake of just being harsh or just to entertain people can get lame pretty fast. I’d rather take a knowledgable critique from someone who is respected as an artist over anyone else. So the voice wins with no contest.

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