Between viewer disappointment in Britney Spears as a judge, Khloe Kardashian Odom as a host, and distaste of the extravagant stage performances, The X Factor US has taken a hit to the ratings this year. The most recent episode that aired on Nov. 1 had 6.24 million viewers, almost half of what the show averaged during its first season. The decline in ratings and disgruntled fans are making FOX executives wary enough that they are beginning to question their decision to renew X Factor for a third season.
This is my first time watching The X Factor US and despite these troubles, I think it’s a fun show to watch. Besides, the executives’ concerns may soon be a thing of the past since popular boyband and X Factor UK alums, One Direction, are scheduled to play the results show tomorrow night. Personally, I hope FOX brings Simon Cowell and the gang back for another year, but until that decision is made, here is why I’m loving this season of X Factor.
I think it’s appropriate to start this list off with the reason I began watching The X Factor US in the first place: the queen of pop herself, Britney Spears. After week one of auditions, I began seeing quotes online from Spears about some of the contestant auditions and they were Sassy (yes, with a capital ‘s’.) Like many, I have loved Spears since “… Baby One More Time” first debuted; her first CD, also titled …Baby One More Time, was the first CD I owned. So I thought I’d give this X Factor thing a shot because I’ve missed seeing my favorite pop star on my television.
I was surprised to see that she was one of the harsher judges on the panel this season, sometimes out-shining Simon Cowell, and I loved it. When the X Factor live shows premiered on Oct 31., Spears was criticized for praising all 16 acts that performed. I was a little disappointed with her lack of sass as well, but I have confidence that she’ll bring it back. Or maybe it’s just blind faith because I’ve been a fan of Ms. Spears for more than half my life. Either way, I look forward to seeing her on the panel every week.
“Real” Reality Television
We all know by now that reality television is not necessarily synonymous with real television. Some of the tension between contestants behind the scenes during auditions especially seemed a little too good to be real. Although sometimes this works: Cece Frey going around playing mind games with other auditioning acts was funny enough that I didn’t care if it was scripted. But now that we’re into the live shows, there is certainly an element of mystery as to what will happen next.
During the first live show there was an awkwardly funny moment when Demi Lovato refused to answer one of Khloe Kardashian Odom’s questions, but the host kept pushing it until Lovato finally snapped and unwillingly answered. This kind of interaction between a judge and host isn’t good for a show in the long run, but it’s some unscripted drama. Moments like this are why live reality shows are exciting as well as why I’m excited to see what will happen tonight.
Even though Britney Spears may have been off her judging game last week, the other judges were in rare form. Rounding out the judging table this season is L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, and of course Simon Cowell. When I began watching The X Factor US I didn’t expect to like the judges as much as I do now. Although I disagree with many of Reid’s opinions, he is a fun judge to watch, especially the way he bobs his head along to the music during performances. I’ve watched Cowell on reality shows before and I remember him being much more mean. Although I’m probably remembering wrong (or I’ve learned the difference between cruelty and constructive criticism), I’ve enjoyed seeing the different sides to him while he jokes with fellow judges or mentors the contestants.
However, Demi Lovato has proved to be one of my favorite judges, possibly because we are close in age (two years difference) or because she comes off as a genuine and caring person. During auditions she went up on stage to hug a crying contestant and after their first live performance told the boys of Emblem3 that they make her swoon. It also helps that I tend to agree with most of Lovato’s opinions.
But my favorite thing about the judges this season has got to be the banter between Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato. For me, the interactions when he’s telling her to settle down or when she’s gloating about the contestants she mentors are some of the highlights of the show. Although it may have been a demotion for Britney Spears when she was moved away from Cowell, I’m excited to see more funny moments from Cowell and Lovato during the rest of the live shows.
One or more (I’m betting on more) of these acts are going to make it big. The winner that is chosen by the fans gets the $5 million recording contract with Sony. However, as we saw with One Direction, who came in third place on The X Factor UK, the winner does not necessarily become the biggest star of the bunch. This season of The X Factor US has a lot of talented contestants. Carly Rose Sonenclar wowed the judges and viewers alike during her audition. Other big voices this season belong to Jason Brock, Paige Thomas and Cece Frey who have impressed many fans.
All of the contestants this year are exceptionally talented but I’ve got my favorites. I vaguely remember the auditions for Lyric da Queen and ONE4FIVE but when they became Lyric145 and performed at Judge’s Houses I really loved their energy and spirit. I’m also a huge fan of Beatrice Miller because she reminds me of myself at her age (minus the fantastic voice) and Jennel Garcia because I think the raspy quality of her voice is beautiful. I would be happy if any of these acts win the $5 million contract, but there is one act that I think is going to make it big no matter if they win or not:
“Should I tank it, bro?” were the first words when I knew I liked these guys—Wesley Stromberg, Keaton Stromberg and Drew Chadwick—but when they auditioned for The X Factor US with their original song “Sunset Boulevard,” I fell in love with Emblem3. The trio is from Huntington Beach, California and has grown so popular during their run on X Factor that people have started to compare them to One Direction. However, the boys would like to stay away from that comparison because they play their own instruments, write their own songs, and are adamant that they are NOT a boy band. Which is fair. While One Direction is popular amongst the crowd with puppies and kittens decorating their bedroom walls, Emblem3 is more for the crowd that can appreciate a guy who takes his shirt off all the time.
Whether Emblem3 wins the Sony recording contract or if they go the route of One Direction, I’m sure the X Factor won’t be the last time we see them. I’m especially excited for them to produce new music since I’ve been rocking out to “Sunset Boulevard” for the past two months. Although if they win, I can say “I told you so” since they’re my pick in the X Factor Verizon Fantasy Challenge.
What’s your favorite thing about this season of The X Factor US? Who’s your favorite act? Or what would you do to make the show better?