Melissa Etheridge on Why Gay Contestants Fare Better on 'The Voice' Than 'American Idol'

7:07 PM PST 09/15/2011 by Jethro Nededog, Shirley Halperin
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"You start to see it's very clear how much we judge," the singer tells THR.

As Fox’s The X Factor prepares to join what some feel is an already crowded field of reality talent competitions, veteran songstress Melissa Etheridge says she understands the appeal of such shows for viewers.

“I'm not surprised that there are hit television shows based on talent shows and the judging of it,” Etheridge, who’s getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sept. 27, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We like to judge.”

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“Do I hear about them? Yes, because people love to tell me who sang what,” she goes on to say. “And I love it when they sing my songs. I'm ever so grateful when they sing my songs. But no, I'm not surprised that we have all those shows. It’s like a sport.”

We asked the famously out lesbian about how she felt about Adam Levine’s statements regarding the lack of gay representation on American Idol’s 10 seasons compared to one season of The Voice. She says she can see why out gay performers fare better with the NBC show’s blind auditions.

“That's what The Voice is about. You hear the voice first before you make the judgment,” she says. “I love that with the Beverly [McClellan] girl… a bald, pierced, tattoo, kilt-wearing dyke. And she's got this great voice, and you hear the voice first and then your eyes make the judgment.”

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“You start to see, it's very clear how much we judge,” she continues. “I talked to Beverly actually on my radio show and she said that's one of the reasons she did the show, because she knew they had to judge her before they saw her.”

McClellan, who was one of The Voice’s four finalists, performed Etheridge’s “I’m The Only One” on Season 1’s first live show.

Revisit McClellan's performance below.

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