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Judge the judges

The Voice judges: Would your trust these lot?

The Voice is positioning itself as a serious singing competition - as opposed to The X Factor? The judges are so focused on the voice that they have their backs turned when they first hear the contestants and only spin around when that voice cuts the mustard. Serious stuff indeed.

But who are they to judge? Do The Voice's arbiters of vocal excellence have the credentials for the job? And what about The X Factor judges? And the Must Be The Music panel? Let's check their qualifications.

The belters

The Voice's big draw is Jessie J. With two number one singles in the last 12 months, Jessie is one of the UK's leading pop stars and a real coup for The Voice. She has an almighty set of pipes too and can boast songwriting credits for the likes of Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown. Jessie J has a lot to shout about and usually does.

Watch Domino by Jessie J




But even Jessie isn't the the biggest bellower on The Voice's panel: the Welsh windsock Sir Tom Jones has a holler that can part the Severn, and with 50 years in the business he's worth listening to. As long as you're wearing ear defenders.

On The X Factor, last year saw the emergence of Kelly Rowland, a singer who can blow a hole in your TV and has years of experience in Destiny's Child, one of the biggest girl groups of all time. You'll pay attention when she talks, y'all, even if you don't always understand what she's saying.

Watch Commander by Kelly Rowland




Seen it, done it

But it's not always been about the technically gifted singers on The X Factor. They've tended towards the industry moguls, the producers and Louis Walsh. But increasingly they've brought in the big stars - Cheryl Cole might not have a voice in the Shirley Bassey class but she knows the fame game inside out, a crucial quality for a mentor.

Watch The Flood by Cheryl Cole




It's the same for Gary Barlow, whose voice would've sounded reedy in any band that didn't contain Mark Owen, but he has the pop chops to rival anyone. Sure, he might have lost out last year to Tulisa - another not exactly startling vocalist - but everyone sat up and took notice when he spoke. You can't buy the experience of being in Britain's top boyband, two times over.

The Voice has its own star/not-fab-singer in will.i.am, a man who can't even rap particularly well. The thing is he's led the Black Eyed Peas for a couple of decades, a band that overcame serious limitations to become - arguably - the biggest draw in the world. Seriously, they've been No.1 in the States for about five years. He may well be a pop alchemist.

The glamorous touch

Sometimes it's best to dazzle 'em with A-List style. When Dannii Minogue was pregnant for the 2010 X Factor auditions, the producers went all-out for column inches with glam pop wonders like Katy Perry, Nicole Scherzinger and, um, Geri Halliwell standing in as guest judges.

Watch Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) by Katy Perry




Perry and Scherzinger might rack up the hits across the globe, but their voices aren't the loveliest instruments in music. They're there to bring saccharine 'sincerity' to the panel and keep the cameras flashing. Still, Perry did manage to put One Direction's Niall through and Scherzinger was instrumental in the formation of the boyband itself - so dubious thanks are due there.

Why are they here?

And what of the also-rans? It's a puzzle to see The Script's Danny O'Donoghue in a Voice chair - he's neither got the charismatic voice nor the, er, charisma.

Mind you, Sky1's 2010 talent show Must Be The Music was one big "Eh?". With Jamie Cullum and Dizzee Rascal on the panel, they sure had the jazz munchkin and grime rapper requirements covered but only Sharleen Spiteri took care of the actual singing angle. Yes, the show was designed to embrace all kinds of singers and musicians - it just ended up a dog's dinner. Maybe it's not about how amazing a singer you are, maybe the blend is all.

Watch Black Eyed Boy by Texas




What do you think of The Voice's judges? Does it matter how well a judge can sing? Let us know what you think on Twitter @MusicOnVM

Check out our Judge the judges playlist here.

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16-03-2012