A summary: X Factor has no upper age limit, and kids as young as 14 are eligible. Groups are also eligible. Contestants are put into groups: Girls, Boys, Over 25 and Groups. Each group is assigned to a judge who mentors them. The judges decide who goes home between the bottom 2 vote getters, who sing for their lives on results day. There’s a recording contract, cash and prizes for the winner. Often, non-winners are signed anyway. Leona Lewis (“Bleeding Love”) is the most successful X Factor winner.
I watched the most recent season of X Factor that wrapped up a little before Christmas. But I only started tuning in seriously beginning with the Top 12.
A few things that struck me watching X Factor (Or why I prefer Idol to X Factor)
- The talent on Idol is better. Although you could blame the smaller talent in pool in the tiny-by-comparison UK, I don’t think it matters. The emphasis on personalities and backstory, an integral part of Idol, is even more pronounced on X Factor.
- The judges mentor the contestants, and typically make their song selections. There is also a fierce competition between the judges, and a ton of manipulation. Simon isn’t always honest. I mean, he’s not always truthful on Idol either. But, it was amazing to watch Simon, on X Factor, give standing O’s to performances he would have called rubbish on Idol.
- The competition between the judges is a major component of the show. In other words, X Factor is definitely not all about the kids.
- The auditions happen in a very staged environment–in front of a huge, primed audience with auditioners singing to backing tracks. A far cry from the intimate a’cappella auditions we get on Idol.
- X Factor is way cheesier than Idol. Performances are often huge, staged affairs with background dancers and jazz hands. I mean, I love my cheesy shows, but it’s a bit much.
- The singer with the big voice is valued over the musician. Idol in the past couple of years has become a showcase for musician/arrangers like Blake Lewis, David Cook and Kris Allen. The ability to re-arrange songs is not a valued talent on X Factor.
- X Factor does 2 things better than Idol: Vote totals for the entire season are published after the finale. Performances, included judges remarks are posted to You Tube with hours of the telecast. Watch some X Factor HERE.