As the winner of Season 2 of "The Voice" is crowned, with a man, Jermaine Paul, triumphing once more over a woman competitor, Juliet Sims, the question arises: Can a woman win a singing competition show that depends on viewer votes?
In the final few minutes of the season finale, host Carson Daly counted down the Top 4 in reverse order, revealing that Chris Mann had placed fourth and then that Tony Lucca had placed third. This left Sims and Paul in the top two, and tears streamed down Sims' face as she and Paul awaited the results.
Regular viewers had reason to believe that Sims might win. After all, her version of "Roxanne" was one of the highlights of the season. Not only that, but Paul had been placed in the unenviable position of performing first in the finals lineup, with Sims not only closing the show but getting plenty of help with dramatic staging that included a wind machine sweeping her loose, red robe up in a virtual fiery tornado as she sang "Free Bird," her final number.
But Paul overcame those disadvantages and edged out Sims with Daly revealing that only 4 percent separated the votes.
The previous season, winner Javier Colon was crowned over three female finalists, including runner-up Dia Frampton. His victory was no doubt aided by the sales of his single in the finale, "Stitch by Stitch," which according to the Billboard Hot 100 charts, sold 145,000 copies, placing No. 6 on the charts, while Frampton's "Inventing Shadows" sold 137,000, placing No. 7 on the charts. Single sales, along with votes, factor into results for "The Voice," according to math that is not explicitly defined.
Is it simply a matter of charting a more popular single? Or did Sims accidentally hit on something when she performed the James Brown single earlier this season, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"? Looking at the winners for the last several seasons of "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent" doesn't provide much hope for those with two X chromosomes.
The last four winners of "American Idol" -- David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and Scott McCreery -- have all outlasted talented female vocalists, including Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox and Season 10 runner-up Laura Alaina. The trend has become so pronounced that "Idol" fans have coined the term WGWG -- White Guy With Guitar -- to predict which finalist has the best chance of winning. This year, that metric favors Top 4 finalist Phillip Phillips, who despite some uneven performances has never appeared in the bottom three.
Even though "America's Got Talent" is technically a variety show competition, singers have won every season except for Season 2, when ventriloquist Terry Fator took the title. In five out of the six seasons to date (including Fator), the winner has been a male. The Season 6 winner, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., beat the runners-up, a dance group called The Silhouettes, which featured many girls and women. Season 7 will begin on May 14.
The one bright spot for female singers is the fact that Melanie Amaro won the first season of the U.S. version of "The X Factor," receiving a $5 million recording contract from Sony. Not only did she win, but she beat out two male singers: Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene.
Every once in a while, it seems, voters remember the full message behind the Godfather of Soul's lyrics: "This is a man's world, this is a man's world / But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl."
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