'The X Factor' Roundup: What Needs to Change
With the first season behind us, we rundown what to change and what to keep for Season 2
By Meghan Carlson
As "The X Factor" wrapped up its first season (still a ways off from Simon Cowell's 20-million viewer prediction), here are seven things he should think about changing for next season and seven things that should stay exactly the same:
Change: The Balance of What We See From the Auditions
Almost all of the auditions to which we were made witness fell into two categories: those who stunk so badly that they had no business coming before the judges and were clearly just there for comic relief and those who were so amazingly talented that they made it all the way to Judges' Homes. So, when the judges made their first few cuts, there was no suspense: The acts who we knew would make it, did. And the ones we never met were the ones who got cut. Where's the suspense in that?
Keep: Casting Rappers
Astro is the first rapper to excel on a mainstream, singing-talent competition. And I hope he's not the last. His music made the performance episodes more interesting, and his presence in general made the show more exciting and in tune with the music industry as a whole. Rappers sell records and sell out concerts, too. Shouldn't they get the chance to be discovered on TV like the rest of the musical dreamers?
Change: The Way the Groups Are Chosen and Cast
The groups had a hard time connecting with America this season. Part of that is just the nature of the industry right now: Individual acts are en vogue, and successful groups are few and far between. Add to that the way in which, to bring in votes, the performers need to pull on heart strings and have instant name/face recognition, and the groups are at a huge disadvantage. But the show handicapped the groups even further this season by choosing to create two entirely new groups out of kids who auditioned individually. And so, InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne lived up to their names -- in that they were terrible. Next season, the show needs to bring in more real, practiced, together-for-a-reason groups, or not even bother.
Keep: The Judges' Homes Special Guests
I'm still retroactively cursing Hurricane Irene for the way she deprived us of Mariah Carey's visit to Simon Cowell's French villa. But the other famous guests -- Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias and Pharrell -- added excitement and substantive discussion to the otherwise filler-heavy Judges' Homes episodes.
Change: The Convoluted Voting Process
America votes for which acts to keep, but those votes only determine the Bottom Two. Then the Bottom Two sing "Save Me" songs, and then the judges -- the biased, too-involved judges -- vote. Unless they feel too sad to vote, in which case they can abstain and send it to "deadlock," and then America's votes decide who leaves. Except on the weeks when America's votes decide who's eliminated straight away. Or the weeks when one act is eliminated by America and another is eliminated by the judges. Honestly, "X Factor," we get enough democratic waffling from our actual government. Just pick lane.
Keep: The Judges' Bickering (But Keep It Civil)
Simon thinks we can't tell when he's attacking one of his fellow judges just to rattle their cages or make the show (he thinks) more entertaining. We can tell. I'd much rather see his real debates with L.A. Reid about what would sell, and with Paula about whether a production or arrangement is too over-the-top, than watch him snipe at Nicole because she's an easy target. A rivalry between people who mutually respect each other can be interesting. One between a bully and a stooge is annoying.
Change: The Constantly Moving Schedule
Tuesdays. Wednesdays. Thursdays. Once on Sunday. One-hour episodes. One-and-a-half hour episodes. Two-hour episodes. One three-hour episode. This season, "The X Factor" jerked around and shrunk and expanded more than a blowfish on meth. FOX, take pity upon those who watch your show live (aren't they the ones you cherish most?) and stick to a more consistent schedule next time.
Keep: Reading Our Tweets Live
But only if there're more Tweets like, "Sometimes the judges spew out random drivel just because they have to say something." If they're going to keep doing it, we should be able to keep calling them on it ... live!
Change: All the Over-Production
Sometimes, it seems like it's a contest to see which act can fit the most backup dancers, glowing pillars, laser-light shows and dump truck's worth of confetti into their number. It's good to see which singers can keep up with a production, but this isn't Vegas. Let them sing! And don't let us get seizures by watching them sing.
Keep: The Rowdy Audience
The show encourages its in-house audience to scream, cheer, whistle and boo whenever and however loud they want. Now that's a real concert experience. Even if they make it more difficult for us at home to hear the judges ... maybe it's better that way.
Change: Judge Nicole Scherzinger
Again, I balk: This is who you chose to replace Cheryl Cole? Nicole is too cheesy, too weepy, too self-involved and too slow. Her feedback lacks substance, and often it even lacks coherence. And sometimes she refuses to judge at all! To her credit, Nicole is nice to look at, and I do get a slightly perverse amusement out of watching Simon try to mask his genuine disdain for her. But it's painfully clear that she's outmatched by her fellow judges, and she's too annoying to keep for the entertainment factor alone.
Keep: Host Steve Jones
He may be stiff, and his jokes may be stilted, but there's something so backwardly entertaining about Steve. The show tries so hard to be cool and hip and slick ... but every week, there's Steve, calling someone "smashing" in his quaint Welsh accent or woodenly folding his arm around a contestant like he's made of starch and awkwardness. Sometimes, he's the only thing that gets a genuine laugh out of me. Granted, it's usually at his expense, but that's not the point. The point is keep Steve.
Change: All the Bizarre Pepsi-Pushing
Pepsi, I accept that. As the sponsor of the show, you expect a certain amount of brand representation. Cups, commercials, mentions of how "brilliant!" you are by Steve Jones -- those make sense. But the "Pepsi Choice" ensemble number, which forced the Top 9 to dress like circus freaks and stand on a rotating stage behind a laser-light show while singing that overplayed P!nk song, was a hellish, burlesque nightmare. And the "Pepsi Challenge" songs chosen for the final four were just plain stupid. As such, the "Pepsi" prefix on the show has come to be synonymous with "This is going to be tasteless and terrible." Probably not the marketing strategy you were going for. Right, Pepsi?! So stop it!
Keep: Encouraging Original Songs and Lyrics
There's a reason that Chris Rene is in the final three. And that reason is his songwriting. His original song, "Where Do We Go From Here?" was his best performance of the season (thus far). If he wins, it will be because America already got a taste of what his album would sound like, and they want that album. Covers have their place, but leaving room for original work keeps the show -- and its contestants -- fresher and more engaging.
What would you change and keep about "The X Factor" next season?
Two things I would change...get rid of Paula...no substance and has her nose up Simons @$$ too far. Michele is good to look at so I would keep her around for that fact alone. LA Reid is a keeper..stands up to Simon.
The host sucks...way too stiff and does not connect with the viewers or the contestants, he must be related to Simon in some way.
I disagree with the leaving in the audience noise. Half the time those of us at home can't hear the contestant singing and I would think that this is this audience that the sponsor wants to entice. Tone down the screaming audience or turn up the volume on the artist's mike. This is turning me off to the X-Factor.
I don't like the judges sniping at each other either because it does not seem in good humor, just snipes. Shouldn't there be friendly competition between judges? It makes the show looked rigged.
I have a few comments....
* Get rid of the Host...not good
* Keep the Audience quiet
* The background light shows are too much
* Judges should not mentor as they are not then judges
* Thank God for DVR's so I can skip all the above.
Here is a suggestion, if the judges need to have a vote, they should do it like survivor, where they have a secret vote.
That would stop the waffling of having to do it face to face.
Steve...I can do with or without.
Nicole can GOOOOOOOOOO.
L.A. Reid is quick to point out someone else singing the same style music ....
UNLESS...you're a RAPPER. Then you're great & original & all that. LOL
L.A. needs to go start his own show & "LET THAT BE A RAP" for him & Rap on this show. They may be both classified as music...but in NO WAY should ever be competing with each other.
Rap is way different than any other kind of music genre. I personally don't like it as when I hear rap my mind envisions teenage punk hoodlums selling drugs on the corner, ****in & killin innocent 4 & 5 year olds in drive-by's, Jerks pimpin out your daughters while they live in fear & can't tell anyone. I'm sorry.....but rap just doesn't represent anything good in life to me & represents all the things Good Americans despise.
Rap needs it's own show.....plain & simple. Go L.A. Go !!!
Make the judging fair. "Garth Brooks / Country Judge...Axel Rose / Rock Judge....L.A. Ried / Wrap /Soul Judge....Simon / Pop judge
Paula for a tie breaker judge...Hmmmm...not too sure about that one.
I know I got real disappointed with the judges several times. Damned near had to take ANGER MNGTMT over it...lol.
Overall I thought Josh, Rachel & Melanie were the best 3. I'm glad 2 of the 3 made it to the end.
Keep waiting to hear if anyone signed rachel for anything.
I say get rid of Steve and get a host that is comfortable and smooth. He is so stiff and "formal" he really ruins the show. If he stays tell him to stop screaming everything! Need someone like Ryan
Get rid of that stupid deadlock and make judges vote and if there is a tie just go right to the peoples choice.
The best idea is to add an independent 5th judge so there can't be a tie.
Change: If they are going to have a 'Sing Off', make it count. One contestant clearly out sang the other in the 'Save Me" song more than once, but then the judges (Paula and Nicole) still couldn't make a rational decision. Marcus Canty was handsome, sweet and charming, but he stayed on that show way too long because the judges who were paid to 'judge' could not do the job they were paid millions of dollars to do.
Change: Don't let Simon or any other judge go back and add an odd number person to the competition. How was that fair to the other mentors? He had a higher chance of winning because he had more contestants in the competition. She should not have won. It makes the contest look rigged. It is like some US presidential elections..why bother to vote when they are going to put who they want in there anyway.
Just for the record I think the voting is one of the best things about this shoe. Of course if Nicole had a pair it would have been better.
I thought the X Factor judges did a great job. They have so much fun making the show, but it seems too serious and I would like to see more interaction with the judges and contestants. Once they've made it this far, we know they all have talent, and now it's time to find out who they really are while enjoying their talents. The judges really got it right with the final three. I couldn't agree more. The final show was awesome. It makes you wonder how good each episode could have been if they treated every episode as if it were the final. The judges and the contestants have way more talent than they let on, but you wouldn't have known if you missed the final episode.