'The X Factor': Is it refreshing or is it way too much?

SImon-Cowell-x-Factor

Image Credit: Fox

Last night’s two-and-a-half-hour X Factor — a.k.a. American Idol on Steroids, a.k.a. Simon Cowell Must Think We’re REALLY Stupid — was a big ol’ trainwreck full of flashy lights, over-produced backing tracks, faux-bickering by the judges, rushed eliminations, and the list goes on. Reading over the comments on my recap of the telecast and Adam B. Vary’s hilarious on-the-scene report, it seems people are torn between liking the rawther British, unsentimental, over-the-top gaudiness of the show, and loathing it.

I can see both sides, and in my recap I said that The X Factor‘s quick pace and unsentimental approach was a refreshing change from American Idol. I miss Idol too, but this is a different show. Simon is clearly aiming for pure spectacle here, and if the U.S. X Factor is supposed to be as campy-bordering-on-idiotic as the British version or something like America’s Got Talent, then mission accomplished. But if it’s supposed to be a singing competition, it’s largely a joke. The question is, are we willing to let it be what it is and have some escapist fun, or does Simon’s idea of fun make us want to throw ourselves off a cliff?

Let’s break down some elements of the show you could either love or loathe…

THE HOST
Love: Steve Jones is cute, keeps things moving. He’s so tall!
Loathe: Steve Jones showed little personality and needs to find suits that fit him. He’s so tall!

THE BACKUP DANCERS
Love: Um, they’re hilarious?
Loathe: They completely distract from whatever vocal talent we’re supposed to extract from the contestants.

THE JUDGES’ FAUX-BICKERING
Love: I suppose if I’d followed the British version, I’d understand and respect that this is an integral part of the series, since it is in part a competition among the judges. It’s clearly important to Simon.
Loathe: It’s so clearly over-the-top and orchestrated that it just seems like a waste of time, and it suggests the judges are the main characters here instead of the talent. Nicole Scherzinger’s phoniness in particular is just awful.

THE XANADOME SET
Love: The faces on the jumbotrons are funny, especially when Paula happens to be talking. Don’t take everything so seriously. Light up your life.
Loathe: The terrifying laser fields during performances are ridiculous. Isn’t this supposed to be loosely based on singing? I HAVE A HEADACHE.

THE TALENT
Love: “Acts” like Drew, Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro, and LeRoy Bell delivered pared-down, inspiring performances that would be deservedly praised on any other singing competition show.
Loathe: That the contestants are referred to as “acts” in general. “Astro” is obnoxious. Overwhelming backing tracks drown out singers like Stacy Francis and render groups like Lakoda Rayne or InTENsity nearly impossible to hear.

Are you willing to sit back and let Simon Cowell take you on wild laser ride, or have you had it with The X Factor‘s over-the-top vibe already?



Read more:
‘The X Factor recap': ¬†The Fakers’ Dozen
‘X Factor’ ratings jump for first live show
‘The X Factor': Simon Cowell on ‘my big mouth,’ and all four judges on their on-screen bickering

Comments (98 total) Add your comment
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  • Chelsea

    I think for me, anything is better than what IDOL has become.

    • jacksonsmoviereviews

      THANK YOU

    • Jack

      I watched for the first time last night.. X-Factor would be better than Idol, except the talent is just not there. The judges get sooo excited over people I’m bored at watching.
      For example that four-girl group.. they basically sang in unison and looked so fake the entire time, pawing at each other like they love each other. Please.

      • kate middleton

        I definitely agree with you on the 4 girls (Lakoda Rayne – hate the name too). I think a lot of the talent is really good (Drew, Josh, Stacy, LeRoy, Melanie, Stereo Hoggz) – but there are some that I don’t understand the judges love for.

      • ET

        I think there is some awesome talent…. Josh, Drew, LeRoy, and a few others. But I can do without “Intensity” and “Dakota Lame” (aka Wilson Phillips Lite), and “Astro”; I hope all those get eliminated ASAP!!!!

      • jennrae

        I thought the all-girl group was called “Decoder Ring” until it was spelled out on screen. WTH kind of name is Lakoda Raine or whatever?

      • Tori

        I like Lakoda Rayne. Pretty girls, sing pretty, and have a pretty name.

      • Hmmmmm

        please indeed

        Who *doesn’t* want to see cute girls pawing over each other?? And don’t forget, they really can sing pretty well (there can be something to be said for mixing 4 solo singers together rather than one singer and four pure backers) and have come together pretty well considering no experience being in a group and little time. I’d take them any day over all the boy bands of the 90s.

        And when they have sung in a more country style, I actually didn’t mind at all and normally I mind country hah.

        How is that the act you single out as needing to go?

        As for what kind of name I think it’s supposed to be vaguely Native American (i.e. Lakota, etc.), only with variant spelling and the meanings taken from those long ascribed to them by westerners but not really all that accurately.

        Yeah Drew has amazing tone and control, although she does eventually need to go a little more with it for at least part of some song.

        Stacy in some ways has an amazing voice but she has a bad habit of always hitting certain notes way off key and the ones it happens on are not ones that goes over well with.

        Astro certainly has some talent and quite a quick memory to rap out so much, often new stuff, so quickly without mistake but sometimes he doesn’t have enough kinda power behind it like Eminem for one and I’m a little worried that his attitude might make him utterly over-bearing and troublesome eventually, not quite sure yet though.

        anyway tired of typing

    • Mel

      Agreed. At least until they let Derek, Tiah and Astro through.

      • Squishmar

        Who is Derek?

    • Alan

      I agree. Idol= too much country, too many contestants the same age (16-20), too much Randy Dawg Jackson, too much retro Beatles and Elvis theme nights, too much same sets, same songs, too much teary back stories, too much Seacrest. I like X Factor’s refreshing new take on things. It’s different.

    • brandy

      Meh. Idol still wins, in my book. I’m enjoying X Factor, but the obnoxious aspects are already making me excited for Idol’s return in a few months.

    • Steve

      +1

      the whole trashing down of their best singer last season, in pathetic, phony, sad, misguided fashion, was really the last straw (for first time ever the final two didn’t bump how it should have over the final three, so at least a few caught on)

  • Osbored

    Thankfully I have managed to avoid anything X Factor related on TV (in fact I even turned down tickets to see the live taping – twice) and I have no plans to start now. From what I’ve read it sounds like an over-produced nightmare and sorry, anything with Paula Abdul AND Nicole Whats-her-name in it can’t be good for your brain or for society in general.

    • Squishmar

      God forbid you should actually watch and judge for yourself. Although it sounds as if you have so many pre-conceived notions about it that it would be impossible for you to watch it objectively now anyway.

    • Josh

      I agree with Squishmar you should have at least went in and judge for yourself. Don’t let other people’s opinions do that for you. And Paula Abdul surprisingly out of all the judges, actually played her cards right if not only the best.

      • Steve

        yeah, surprisingly, in many ways, Paula has been the most sensible of the four all the way so far and you have to give her props for really putting herself into it 100%

  • Esox

    Last night’s show FINALLY explained to me how and why it’s different than Idol. That being said, I have more respect for it now. It’s a bit more than Idol with old people.

    • SaraS

      I agree, I finally understood the process last night. It looks like I still hate the bad auditions. Why can’t it be like The Sing-Off and just showcase amazing talent?
      Also I really despise Nicole as a judge.. no one was a fan of her before, why did they pick her? A pretty face? And her fake accent that comes out is so lame.
      I’m not watching this season b/c none of the top 12 entice me enough to sit through 2 hours. Drew – pretty voice but predictable, as most of the top 12 are.

  • Judy

    Yep, nothing worse than “old people”..who are still human beings and you’ll find out when you are one of those dreaded “old people” that you’re still a person too and feel pretty much like you now inside.
    There are very talented people at all ages. If you reach 30 or 40 doesn’t mean suddenly you don’t have the talent you always had.

    • kate middleton

      Relax. No one is insulting old people – Esox was just pointing out the differences. I think the Over 30s are by far the most talented category.

    • Febryan

      Drew, if you should ever alctauly read this;ignore the few personal and rude comments appearing here. The people who made them are stupid, thoughtless and ignorant. Your family is clearly a close and loving one.Your performance was truly wonderful! You took a pacey pop song and turned it into a beautiful ballad; excellently, accurately, movingly sung! Courageous and daring!You look lovely and you have killer legs, kiddo!All good luck for a future career, you have such enormous potential!!

  • jonni

    For some reason, I could never take interest in American Idol. X Factor however, has my heart and soul. The singers are so good and I love the older group. I like the judges and the host, too!

    • Annie_says_so

      I love The X Factor! Its one of those things if you watch from the start, you just get hooked. Well, anyway, I like it! :-) And Simon too :-)

  • Melissa in CA

    Apparently I’m in the minority, but I do not understand the fascination with singing competitions! I don’t watch any of them. IMO, they’re why people call reality TV crap, even though not all of it is.

    • Annie_says_so

      No. stupid shows like Teen Mom or Sixteen and Pregnant or Jersey or whatever else that is following an aimless life for us to vicariously live through are why reality shows are crap.” Talent” reality shows on the other hand display competition. Unlike most reality shows It doesnt take talent to be pregnant, or spoiled, or a trouble maker, or dramatic…the list goes on. Now that’s crap ;-)

      • Squishmar

        I totally agree with you. The other shows I watch are “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Project Runway.” You can’t fake it with those…. you either can do it or you can’t and I can’t imagine doing what the contestants do on those shows. I don’t watch any of the “real life” reality shows like you mentioned or the “Real Housewives of Timbuktu” or wherever. “Big Brother” even “Survivor” hold no appeal for me and I have no interest in any of them… but I do enjoy watching (mostly) talented people display and show-off their talent.

      • umbrella

        @Squishmar
        apparently you can win Project Runway even if you CAN’T SEW

      • Squishmar

        LOL. Yeah. Well. ;) It is America’s best *designer* though… not seamstress. I can’t sew a button so I’m easily impressed.

    • Ames

      I watch some other competition shows, but never was able to make it through a whole hour of a signing show either. To my mind, you see and hear better signers hanging out at your local karaoke bar for an evening. Plus there, no one is forcing me to be “inspired”. But I get a kick at reading the comments online, for some reason.

  • Anth

    I think Annie hit the nail on the head–I love that it was pretty fast-paced and even though it was 2.5 hours, it didn’t feel like they were stretching to fill time. (That said, Steve Jones needs to work on the balance between moving the show along and cutting people off.) But the emphasis on performance over singing led to disasters like Tiah’s zombie-fied acid trip “Sweet Dreams”; Philip Lomax losing all his charm and being overshadowed by the over-the-top “I’m a Believer” production; and most egregiously, the very existence of Astro. What self-respecting hip-hop fan would even consider buying a CD from this kid? He looks like Milhouse from The Simpsons.
    The other real complaint I had was how the critiques were focused entirely on the mentors, as though the performers themselves played absolutely no role in the success or failure of what they did.
    And Nicole drives me crazy, and not in an entertaining way like Paula. I really wish they’d stuck with Cheryl Cole (who was so much more fun and so much more attractive).

    • lesfull

      You stated precisely what my main complaint was about last night: When they talked about the performances, they praised the judges/mentors instead of the people actually performing. Like they somehow had no talent before Nicole Scherzinger told them to “soar” or whatever.

  • Anastasia

    I haven’t watched X-Factor and don’t plan to, but what bugs me is that it’s showing instead of Rasing Hope! We had two or three new RH’s and then X-Factor came along and bumped it – BOOO!!!!!

    • Annie_says_so

      Aww…you should give it a chance. I dare yiu to love it! :-)

  • gleeh8r

    GEEZ. 2 1/2 HOURS…. IF IT WASN’T FOR ALL THE “ACTING” IT WOULD HAVE BEEN OVER IN 20 MINUTES. GET ON WITH IT ALREADY.

  • Richard

    I only watch the acts -I fast forward through everything else – the backstories, the judges’ comments, etc. All of that is irrelivant as to whether or not I find their voices appealing. Actually, I don’t even watch, I listen and do other things, and if I hear something I like, I’ll stop what I’m doing and watch. That doesn’t happen very often.

  • Jeremy Rynek

    it’s the same show with different judges and a different name.THAT’S IT!!!! I LOATHE IT IN CASE YOU COULDN’T TELL. If this show wasn’t gonna be on they might have renewed Lie to me, The Chicago Code or Human Target. But no, this had to take up a chuck of the schedule. So really why wouldn’t I loathe it?

  • poughkeepsiejohn

    I’ve got just four words for “The X Factor”: “Killing In The Name”!

  • DavidJ

    I caught a couple minutes of it while flipping channels, and found it obnoxious as hell.

    • D

      This sums me up. It seemed like time had stood still–with Simon and Paula back to their old (boring) tricks. I watched for all of 5 minutes and then moved on.

  • Jenny

    It totally is American Idol on Steroids. I had a headache from all the flashing lights and lasers as I watched at home. Then you couldn’t see anything because of all the lights/lasers. Way too overproduced and put together like we have the attention span of gnats. I like the idea of not having an age limit and the idea of groups. But it is just too over the top on everything else. I am going to stick it through the rest of the season, but don’t know if I am going to watch a season 2.

  • Lauren

    The sound bothered me all night. The mixing was terrible and I could barely hear some of the singers. That, and the over the top props/dancers were too much for me.

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