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'The X Factor' Series Premiere: What Do the Critics Think?

by Catherine Lawson, posted Sep 22nd 2011 8:15AM
'The X Factor'Simon Cowell's much-hyped latest show 'The X Factor' finally launched stateside last night. It's sure to have done well in the ratings, but was it any good?

Following the same format as its British predecessor, 'The X Factor' showcased the tried and tested mix of producers' auditions and live performances in front of the judges and a live audience.

There were some inspirational tales, some great singers and some well, pretty bad performances.

Critics have praised the slick production values, but many feel we've been here before. 'New York' magazine described it as "'American Idol' meets a more lucrative contract for Simon Cowell."

The judges -- especially Nicole Scherzinger -- have been criticized for their contributions (or lack thereof). And some critics have questioned the possible exploitation of poor contestants.

The Wrap pointed to the fact that most contestants named money as a motivation in trying out for the show, and said it was "great, if you like watching desperate people play the lottery."

A case in point was 13-year old Rachel Crow, who belted out a powerful rendition of Duffy's hit 'Mercy.' When Cowell asked her what she'd do with the $5 million prize, she replied "My family has, like, no money. We live in a two-bedroom house, and I have six people in my family. ... I'm a girl. I need my own bathroom."

The U.K. 'X Factor' has already been accused of exploiting vulnerable contestants to boost ratings. Mental health campaigners point to middle-aged woman Ceri Rees who, despite having basically no singing talent, has been put through to the bootcamp stage on four separate seasons since 2005.

Final performer -- and recovering addict -- Chris Rene last night blew the judges away with 'Young Homey,' an original song detailing his very recent return to sobriety. He said he's been sober for 70 days after trying to run his life around for his young son. The judges advised to stay on the straight and narrow, and Rene's journey seems likely to feature heavily in 'The X Factor' debut season.

The off-screen drama surrounding the judging panel grabbed headlines all summer. Singer -- and reality show winner -- Cheryl Cole was imported from the U.K. show only to be unceremoniously booted a few weeks later. Meanwhile, 'American Idol' vet Paula Abdul publicly vacillated, only signing on at the very last minute.

Cole was given a decent amount of screen time in last night's premiere and, despite Cowell's assertions that she was axed for being "bewildered" and "uncomfortable," her Geordie accent seems to have charmed many critics.

The Wrap deemed her "the most authentic panelist," and 'The Chicago Tribune' said "She seemed perfectly at ease with the other judges -- and perfectly easy to understand."

'The Los Angeles Times' says "on a first impression, she is much more interesting than Scherzinger," and then describes the former Pussycat Doll as seemingly "more interested in tearing up and out-glamming 'Idol's Jennifer Lopez than bringing much to the commentary."

Other critics have also pointed to Scherzinger's lack of contributions. 'The New York Times' referred to her as "a pretty face but, judicially speaking, not much more than a seat warmer." TVLine mentioned the numerous close-ups of her "quivering/immaculately glossed lower lip," and 'Entertainment Weekly' poked fun at her odd use of grammar.

Fellow judge L.A. Reid is generally deemed to have acquitted himself well, but 'The Washington Post' describes him as having "that P Puff Diddy Daddy air of stiffness that apparently connotes executive success in the music industry."

Lastly, spare a though for host Steve Jones. The Welsh former model must have thought he'd avoided the curse of Brian Dunkleman after co-host Scherzinger was upped to the judges' table, but after last night the New York Times branded him "totally irrelevant," and most critics failed to mention him at all.

'The X Factor' airs Wednesday and Thursdays, 8PM ET on Fox.

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Even the Judge's table was cheesy. I think Simon Cowell wants to see if we will bow to any crap he gives us. Stacy Francis? Please. Sure Simon already has her under contract.

It's all so contrived. Watch the scenes and the camera shots. It's another non-reality reality show.

September 23 2011 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

F O R G E T T A B L E ! ! !

September 23 2011 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why 4 Judges (especially No Nothing Nicole Scherzinger) and What the F has happened to Simon Cowell's Face?!
I watched tonites 2 hour Show and for 2 hours I kept Switching channels. I couldn't take it anymore. Finally and Mercifully it was Over!!
The Family, Friends and "Sob Stories" are just Too Much! It's Nauseating!
I'm am Glad as Hell Simon Gave "What For" to that Disrespectful Flaming Queen who was Last on the Show. I Clapped and Laughed when He got the Boot! Dumb Ass!

September 23 2011 at 2:07 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I must say that I was hoping the show would do well. There were far too many commercials & way too little singing. Too many back-stories & too much of the camera following singers around. And the guy who dropped trou should have been removed from the stage immediately. I am really surprised they even aired it. It just gives the guy what he hoped for, his 15 minutes.

September 23 2011 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Have been watching the British X Factor for a few years now and the American Version does not even come close - Fox did not like Cheryl Cole? What a shame, she was great on X Factor in Britian. The new girl that replaced her is ok, but does not even measure up to Cheryl. Simon needs to read some of the remarks about the new show here in American - how sad ....


September 23 2011 at 1:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have watched all The American Idols and last night watched the X Factor. I feel for the first round, it was too far advanced for the singers. It for sure exploited certain singers and ethnice backgrounds. The mix and order of the singers could have been improved. I feel the show is starting at level 5 when it should be starting at level 1. Why 4 judges three were just fine. WAY too many commercials!! How much does the time costs on Fox? I will withhold final analysis until I view several more shows.

September 23 2011 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good Job Simon.....Keep it coming.

September 22 2011 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was counting on the X Factor having some class, avoiding the usual disgusting "Prop" contestants for humor but alas, the show didn't deliver. Not only in the talent end but Simon, my reason for thinking Class might come into it, showed his Low side by smoking and putting down an Idol winner. This was a one time only shot for me. I'll take a PASS...
Kay S.

September 22 2011 at 11:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jack Hampus

Show omre contestances and less of where people live who are losers as that old couple. I thought the show was very slow and not real entertaining.

September 22 2011 at 11:09 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Well I missed the premier, fortunately I don't care. I did watch some of the show tonight just to see how it measures up to the hype. I must say I thought it was to much crap. By that I mean, the crap they subjected us to with the attempts at drama and humor and banter between the judges and the little theatrics. It was a complete load of crap. I turned it, I got tired of the show constantly being interrupted by the horse play and stupidness between the judges and the editing tricks to make everything more dramatic, the lame attempts at dramatic build ups to have a contestant come out and suck. If you removed all the crap from the show and played it back with just auditions I would have to say there was roughly 20minutes of audition in the entire two hour episode the involved some sort of singing or stage act. Everything else was the contestants bitching or the judge being complete tools for TV.

September 22 2011 at 11:04 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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