The X Factor Shakeup: 5 Ways -- and 3 Cast Changes -- to Save the Show in Season 2

The news that X Factor host Steve Jones and judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Sherbetflavors won’t be returning for Season 2 was as brutal as it was predictable. After all, producer/judge Simon Cowell had told People after the Season 1 finale to expect a “bloodbath” in the wake of the show’s decent ratings failing to live up to its megasized hype.

And yet while I applaud Cowell for attempting to reboot a show that was on many levels a creative disaster, I’m concerned by this tidbit from a Hollywood Reporter story on the shakeup: “Cowell has decided that the show needs a bigger celebrity on the panel next season.” If Cowell thinks that Mariah Carey — whose pregnancy kept her from having a role in Season 1 — can singlehandedly bail out his leaky ocean liner, then the show is headed for a disaster of Titanic proportions.

To that end, here’s my five-step plan for salvaging Season 2:

This isn’t high school: Popular girls don’t all have to be cheerleaders | During X Factor‘s first season, Scherzinger and Abdul all too often fell back on the outdated, completely depressing philosophy that female reality-show judges have to be nurturing, new-age softies, instead of smart, incisive cookies. What’s more, neither woman gave off much authority in the role of mentor: Scherzinger’s overreliance on silly dancers and laser shows were like 20-lb weights attached to the legs of her best contestant, Josh Krajcik, while Abdul spent too much time trying to dress her groups in seasonal colors instead of concocting daring, unexpected musical numbers. If I were Cowell, I’d pursue power producer Linda Perry — the woman behind hits for Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani — as a mentor who could bring more creativity and edginess to the show’s sometimes stale arrangements. (If not her, then how about Sheryl Crow?) And I’m totally OK with the outspoken Carey assuming the Paula Abdul Memorial Chair: The woman co-wrote “We Belong Together,”  and she’s not afraid to bring the diva bitchery to live television.

Robots can outperform humans in many areas, but not when it comes to hosting reality-compeition programming | Pity poor Steve Jones, who brought tall, chiseled good looks and magnificent hair to the X Factor stage, but not an ounce of actual personality. Sure, as an X Factor recapper, I’ll miss having Steve as an easy punch line generator, but as a viewer, I crave the easy way Ryan Seacrest keeps Idol in motion — without ever making me feel stressed out — not to mention the genuine empathy Cat Deeley shows to her contestants on So You Think You Can Dance. This might be a left-field choice, but how about Queen Latifah, a warm, funny presence who once hosted her own daytime talk show, and who, as a performer herself, would be able to relate to the highs and lows experienced by the show’s contestants? Plus, it’s doubtful that the Oscar nominee and woman behind “U.N.I.T.Y” would get intimidated by Simon and L.A. Reid.

The X Factor should never be confused with scripted television | One of the most grating aspects of The X Factor‘s first season was the trumped-up drama among the judges. Indeed, Simon and L.A. may know a lot about the music business, but they’re never going to steal an Emmy nod away from Jon Hamm or Hugh Laurie. Instead of wasting viewers’ time with five minutes of faux arguing at the end of every performance, why not give us a look behind the scenes at the show’s A-list mentors interacting with their charges. If Cowell can’t find juicy, organic drama as contestants and their advisors debate song choices and arrangements, choose their costumes, and stage their performances, then he has no business producing a TV show in the first place. Plus, what better way to differentiate the show from Idol?

Don’t be so beholden to pre-set categories | The rigid construct of four categories — Girls, Boys, Over-30s, and Groups — made little sense when fantastic female soloists like Jazzlyn Little, Caitlin Koch, and Elaine Gibbs were cut at the Judges’ Houses round, in favor of hopeless groups like Intensity and Lakoda Rayne. Here’s a novel idea: Let each of the four judges choose his or her eight favorite acts from Boot Camp — in any combination of Girls, Boys, Over 30s, and Groups — and advance the four strongest to the live shows. It might not result in demographic or gender parity among the 16 finalists, but it should make for a kick-ass competition once the live rounds begin.

Turn down the volume | Cowell needs to remember that you can’t create a star overnight — that it takes at least a couple of months. Which is why it felt so jarring in the first few weeks of live shows to see young, inexperienced performers overwhelmed by dozens of dancers, armies of backing vocalists, aggressive lighting, ominous set pieces, and blasting tracks. (Tiah Tolliver never stood a chance!) Cowell needs to rein in his “more! bigger! louder! faster!” instincts, and give his contestants room to grow. After all, you can’t defeat the competiton by simply trying to drown them out, but you can certainly give your audience a headache in the process.

What do you think of The X Factor bloodbath? Who would you hire to replace Paula, Nicole, and Steve? And do any of my proposed changes make sense to you? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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80 Comments
  1. Jason says:

    Completely disagree about categories. It’s worked fine in every other version around the world. Jazzlyn could try out again if she wanted.

    • Guy says:

      I agree the show is a worldwide hit and the categories are there for a reason. Simon won’t be axing the categories that is for sure. Sleaz you have some valid points but on this one no way.

      I want Cat Deeley to host. She would be perfect but of course she has SYTYCD.

      • Joy says:

        I would *so* love it if The X Factor could get Cat Deeley, but I suspect Simon’s not going to go for another Brit. Queen Latifah is a genius idea, though! I’m also actually kind of liking the idea of losing categories, mainly because I think we’d get better mentoring if the mentors had contestants they really wanted to work with. Last season, we had LA not knowing what to do with country singers, so all the country guys got cut…Nicole not knowing what to do with an earthy blues-rocker, so she drowned him in ill-fitting staging and backup…

    • Michael Schaeffer says:

      Of course Jazz can come back. Alexandra Burke tried out for series 2 of X Factor UK didn’t make it the first time, came back and tried out for series 5, made it to the live shows, and won!

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, I agree with you guys. I’m from Denmark (the danish version of X Factor is amazing by the way) :) …I think it would kind of ruin the fun of X Factor, if the groups got cut.

      Another thing I would like to see X Factor change is the way they handle the judges house part of the competition. Why won’t they let mentors work with the contestants the way they want them to, instead of just having all of them sing in front of a pool? In the danish version (sorry for bringing it up again) each mentor do different things. One of them made them sing in a studio and make a cover of a song. Another made each contestant sing in front of the other competitors. The last one had them sing in front of a piano.

      I love how each judge has their own way of teaching their contestants and choosing who should go to the live shows, instead of all of them doing the same.

      Just a suggestion. Long message, sorry :)

  2. Toto says:

    I’m no fan of Simon. Having said that, if he is looking for a beautiful woman who can give good advice as well as constructive criticism he need look no further than Anastasia Brown, Shania Ywain, Diane Warren or Cher.

  3. As a viewer from the UK I think you have hit the nail on the head with the issues with The X Factor – Our version suffers with the same problems (although perhaps, with even more considering the producers think they can get away with it over here due to the insanely high ratings).

    I find it interesting that changes are coming to the US version following low ratings. I’m hoping that some of these changes make their way over here but I doubt it.

    However, with the US version, Cowell just needs to calm down a little bit and remember that he is not the overlord of talent show TV that he once was and that at the end of the day, what makes a great season of any of these shows is real, authentic talent.

    So with the actual singing, like you say, calm down on the dancing etc for at least the first month and allow themselves to find their edge. Plus definitely make the judges mentoring a more central aspect to the show more than for faked squabbling. On our version it feels like none of the judges actually do anything at all during the week for their acts other than give faux tears and tantrums during the live shows to create drama.

    If The X Factor US can find some great talent, and stop trying to be a parody of the show it can be, then this will become a bigger hit. If not, then it will continue to be mediocre.

    I know you get some dumb audiences but seriously, people can see right through the “IT’S THE X FACTOR JUDGES” *Add pyrotechnics* *Add classical music* *LOUDER*

    I’ve been saying this for a long time about our version and the bottom line is this – Give the viewer more credit, intelligence and thought – and just make an enjoyable show instead of a hyped up performance.

    • Eli says:

      That’s the problem though, to my knowledge in the UK there’s no serious competition for X-Factor. So not only does that make the ratings much higher than they would be otherwise, but it ensures all the real talented singers will go to the X-Factor.

      In the USA there’s not just competition, but very fierce competition even. And lets be honest, if I was a talented 17 yr old singer, I would not choose the X-Factor to apply to, I’d go to either AI or The Voice.

  4. Alicia says:

    Way to fix X Factor #6 – Hire Slezak as a judge, though I would miss his fantastic recaps.

  5. Rock Golf says:

    1. Add Cyndi Lauper as a judge/mentor. She mentored for a week on Canadian Idol and upped the game of every performer.
    2. Change the categories to honest names: Babes who look awesome but can’t sing, Hunks who look handsome but can’t sing, Hard Luck Stories and Actually Talented.
    3. Then get rid of the first 3 groups.
    4. Enough with themes! Look, you want to get a real superstar, they’re not going to be good in every genre. It’s idiotic to expect a country act to perform rap or a soul diva to perform ABBA. People don’t buy albums where acts dabble a little in every style of music. (Well, people don’t buy albums at all anymore, but that’s not my point.)
    5. More original music by the acts. Have them team with a big songwriter and create a new song once every two weeks instead of rehashing the same damn songs we’ve heard a hundred time on Idol, The Voice, whatever. When was the last time a remake of a hit made the top ten? Not since the Glee Cast covered Don’t Stop Believing.

  6. Forgot to add, as for the categories, keep them, it sets the show apart from many others. However, there is no reason why the categories can’t be chosen once the final acts have been chosen so there can be more of a balance for talent. If they can see more talent in younger people then make the categories girls and boys up to the age of 22, then an over 23s category and keep the groups.
    A real plus on The X Factor would be if they allowed bands in instead of groups too. I’m not talking your run of the mill indie rock band. I’m talking ones that come through the door that set themselves apart. You know the type. Create a diverse mix of contestants.

  7. bob says:

    Those are all good suggestions. The problem with the show is Simon himself. His talent is spotting undiscovered talent with pop potential. Unfortunately, nurturing that talent is not in his skill set. Neither is producing well made talent shows. America’s Got Talent survives in spite of its production values. Howie Mandel and Jerry Springer made that show watchable.

    Simon seems to want specific types of talent to fit certain pre-cast molds of what talent should be like. If they don’t fit, he doesn’t want them. He doesn’t explore uncharted territory. He’s looking for the next ________. Fill in the blank with the most recent pop sensation. He’s never going to get rid of his age or sex categories because he doesn’t think outside the box. Rather, he says to himself, “Here’s the box. What talent can I find to fill it?” Had he still been on American Idol, he would have never gotten behind Haley Reinhart because she doesn’t fit into an easily defined category. Had he been around 50 years ago, he would have passed on Bob Dylan.

    • shelbybb says:

      Love your comment. You’re dead on.

      Also I’m not sure Simon or LA could handle strong women next to them. They like those uncomfortable moments where they belittle the female judge to much, even though it doesn’t play well for the viewer. The show was just too loud and overproduced. I lost the artist among the 30 flashing, twirling dancers each week. Without MAJOR changes I wouldn’t come back next season for another try!
      (Still haven’t gotten over that snotty little astro guy – yuk)

  8. connie says:

    I would like if Mariah Carey came as judge.And her husband Nick would be a really good host.

    • Sash says:

      I’m okay with Mariah as a judge but HELL NO to Nick as host.

      So freaking annoying

    • buffy522 says:

      I think Mariah would be a great mentor, but her judging would be as sappy as the ladies she would replace. Most of the women on these shows don’t want to be seen as mean and they aren’t. But we need someone to be REAL about the judging.

  9. Erin says:

    I LOVE the suggestion of Linda Perry. My dream would have Cat Deeley hosting and Linda Perry & Cheryl Cole filling Nicole & Paula’s shoes. Anyone who watched the first two seasons of The Sing Off or the first nine seasons of Idol should have known what a bad idea it was for Nicole & Paula to be judges on X-Factor. Nicole continued to be the blubbering idiot we’d all known her to be on NBC and Paula just does not have the chops to mentor people to becoming major stars. I honestly wouldn’t have been disappointed if LA had been given the boot, too, given the hypocrisy we all saw from him all season. He needs to learn to take criticism and stop telling people to diversify their song choices when he’s mentoring a contest like Astro (who I LOVED), who has absolutely no diversity in their choices. By the end of the season, Simon was the only one I could stomach. I still think Drew deserved to win and will be a more relevant and current artist than Melanie.

    • Dat.Darn.Kat4855 says:

      I’m loving the idea of Linda Perry and Cheryl Cole as judges!!
      Cheryl was awesome on X-Factor UK.

    • Joy says:

      Erin, I think you’re right about LA. Honestly, I think a lot of viewers would have given Astro’s music (whether or not they liked him personally) much more of a chance if the double standard there hadn’t been so blatant — the judges’ behavior, and especially LA’s, only helped to reinforce the idea that rappers and singers didn’t belong in the same competition, and encouraged fans of other contestants to resent the kid-glove treatment he was getting.
      .
      On the other hand, I wound up being no fan of Simon either. I blame him for Drew’s departure, after he wouldn’t let her show the creative range that it turned out both she and the audience were pushing for — and even though he admitted his mistake there, he didn’t recognize that he was making the same mistake in not listening to Rachel, just trying to shoehorn her into “perky kid” performances that fit her personality but undersold her vocals. He’s too fixated on manufacturing products to fit narrow pre-specified molds instead of nurturing the talents and creativity that the artists themselves are bringing to the table. As long as that’s his approach, I don’t think it matters who he hires; the show’s going to be what he makes it.
      .
      But I would still *love* for Linda Perry to come on board and prove me wrong…

  10. PutAforkINit says:

    bottom line — viewer exhaustion with these types of shows

    ratings down for IDOL, SYTYCD

    we have AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, now THE VOICE, etc.

    it was not surprising to see ratings just OK for X-FACTOR

    the genre is getting overdone, while the talent pool is drying up

    no change in hosts or judges will really affect ratings

  11. Tammy says:

    My problem with the show is the over production of the performances. I don’t want the lights, the dancers, the video screens, etc. Too much hype. We want to hear the performers sing…. period. About the only thing I liked about the show as the auditions, having audience feedback was a good twist. Gives the judges some instant feedback in case they aren’t hearing what the general public is hearing.

    I watched two of the shows once they got their Top 12…. I hated it. It’s like they wanted you to believe they all were stars already. The one thing I love about Idol is you see the performer grow. You see them get better week to week. You want to root for the underdog, you want to see the so called “American Dream”.

    You would think by now Simon should know…. just because it worked every where else… doesn’t mean it will work here. Keep it simple Simon.

  12. David says:

    No rappers. EVER!

  13. Dee says:

    They should get judges that can ACTUALLY sing and have had numerous hits on the charts.Someone that can give advice and back it up.

  14. Lauren says:

    I would love to see Sheryl Crow or Shania Twain judge a competition show! They have been great guests on Idol. But now Slezak has got me thinking about Linda Perry. She would be awesome. And definitely not a softy! She’s tough and critical and I think she could really get the best out of the competitors.

  15. raftrap says:

    I say Cheryl Cole, because what many forget about these shows is that while having talented-proven-successes judges might seem good on paper, they also need to be able to be fun to watch on TV, Cheryl just oozes likability, so I nominate her to return. On the host side I’ll take Ellen, great for live TV. And sure the fourth can be Mariah, Why not?

    • shelbybb says:

      Love, love Cheryl. I was so disappointed when she didn’t join the judges here last season! Not so sure Mariah could put away her bigger-then-life-diva-act long enough to be helpful to someone else?

  16. Jasonbres says:

    It’s funny, I was actually thinking about MALE hosts who could replace Jones, but then I thought your idea about Queen Latifah hosting was actually INSPIRING! I love it!!

  17. Eric says:

    The #1 thing that needed to change was the ouster of Steve Jones and I’m so grateful that happened. I cringed every time he jammed a mic in a contestant’s face and demanded to know how they’re feeling. Quick reference guide: if they got through, they feel great; if they got kicked off, they felt lousy.

    Plus, he had such a limited repertoire: “in no particular order”! “we must move on!”; “nichole, i need an answer”!

    So glad he’s gone…if he weren’t, I don’t think I could watch again.

    As for these suggestions – they are awesome!

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Just wonderin’ — did anyone “jam an mic” in his face right after he’d received the news of his ouster?

  18. Michael Schaeffer says:

    Cheryl Cole must return! I second that nomination. Also, if you are on Twitter, please tweet the trend #CherylColeforXFactorUSA!!

  19. Jerry says:

    Can we keep Paula and get rid of LA? I honestly didn’t mind Paula on the X Factor, she kept it sober and calm (most of the time). Sure her groups were the first to go, but I think America just has a problem with groups.

    LA on the other hand, his attitude is one reason I won’t be tuning in again next season.

    • Grace says:

      THANK YOU! I completely agree, and let’s not all rewrite history here – Paula’s acts were the first to go not because of poor mentorship on her part but because they were TERRIBLE! From what little I saw, I was more impressed with her as a mentor than anyone else. I know that those who watched Idol are quick to throw her in the “idiot” box with Nicole, but the reality is that LA was at least as useless if not more so than Paula, he just hid his idiocy behind a facade of obnoxious cockiness, which makes it even more offensive. I prefer Paula to LA any day of the week!

    • Barb says:

      I second that. How sad I am that Paula got the boot!! Actually, I thought Paula and Nicole made the show better and kinder. Nicole needed another season to show her abilities AND she should have been given the younger group. I got tired of L.A. and Simon fighting. I believe the actual format of the show needs to change. Once they sing at the judges home and return to the stage, let America decide and keep the judges out of the voting. The judges coul more time truly mentoring. Why not have five judges? Bring in the Cheryl Cole and keep Nicole and Paula. I am so upset about their leaving X Factor. I for one happened to love Marcus, so why was eveyrone so down on Nicole for sending Rachel home,(who is still very young) who America really was the “one” who sent Rachel home? America where is your common sense?

  20. Kyle says:

    Jenna Maroney would make an excellent judge! Her work on “America’s Next Kid Got Talent” (or whatever that fictitious show was called) was awesome, the way she trashed all those kids was remarkable.

  21. Michael Schaeffer says:

    I agree that the lights need to be turned down a lot! And the backing vocalists too!

  22. Tracy says:

    Getting rid of Nicole and Steve was the right call but ditching Paula is a mistake. Paula is likeable and X-Factor is seriously lacking in likeability these days. Plus, you need one soft judge on these shows and no one does supportive better than Paula. Simon’s mistake was in pairing her with new age, support persona wannabe Nicole.

    Keeping the categories is fine but the judges need to alternate mentoring different groups each week or they end up simply voting for their own people when it comes down to eliminations and in doing so they destroy any credibility they or the show may have.

    I think Mariah will be a failure as a judge so I don’t know why Simon is bothering with her. She’ll want to make the show about her and the audience wants it to be about the contestants.

    I don’t like the way LA interacts with the singers or the audience but I think the biggest problem is Simon. He’s tried to be softer and more professional and it doesn’t work for him. People want to see the pitbull we saw on Idol but on X-Factor he was more of a chihuahua. Simon seemed smaller, yappier and much harder to take seriously.

    X-Factor needs fixing but Simon isn’t fixing the right things.

  23. Maureen says:

    Bring back Paula! Fire LA Reid!

    HIRE CHRIS DAUGHTRY!

  24. Sarah says:

    Getting rid of Paula can go either way, bad or good. It honestly depends on who he gets to replace her. I wish he would get rid of LA Reid, you can definitely find someone else to take his place, maybe someone with less attitude. Definitely didn’t like him.

    As much as i would love to see Cheryl Cole come back, i don’t think she would, because of how he got rid of her last time. I like the idea of Linda Perry, or some other powerful woman who wouldn’t be so conventional. I would love to see Jessie J or someone like her come and be a mentor. She would be amazing!

    And definitely Cat Deeley for host, i mean, they already got rid of the SYTYCD results show…

  25. Amanda says:

    I love the suggestion of showing more backstage drama of contestants picking their songs, staging, outfits, etc. So glad Steve Jones is gone–they need a host with some personality. My vote would be Carson Kressley!

  26. MK says:

    I have a better way to fix this show. Send Simon and the show back to Jolly Old. I got all the trumped up drama, the Nigel and Ken fixes etc. since Season 2 and while I continued to watch, I loathed Simon, disliked Randy and could take or leave Paula. By Season 9 when what is now known in Idol Land as “Paulagate” occurred, I could have cared less whether or not she stayed.

    I did not watch X Factor, nor did I have any desire to. So to be honest, and I apologize to all you Simon?Paula lovers and X Factor groupies…but I could care less what happens on that show.

    It’s just more publicity for Simon and personally, I think he basks in the attention. So ta ta and cheerio Simon. I have one word for you…

    WHATEVER!

  27. Loni says:

    I totally agree with your five things. The X-Factor was just too much craziness. I’ll give it one more chance, but then I’m done if ends up being overly hyped insanity again.

  28. MK says:

    Oops…typing fast and must make some edits. Should say Paulagate was Season 7 and got disgusted with Simon and company on Season 2 of American Idol.

  29. Musica1 says:

    I think Linda Perry would be an excellent judge, and I would like to throw in the name of Deborah Gibson, former teen idol, broadway star and very articulate and smart woman. Mariah Cary is all about Mariah Cary, so she won’t add much in the way of constructive criticism. And my last suggestion is for Cowell to fire himself. He hasn’t given a decent critique in years.

  30. Abe Froman says:

    Do we really need another singing competition show???

  31. Leila says:

    The worst thing in this show is that the production is heavy handed on the drama. Soundtrack is as melodramatic as the sob stories and fakeness of the judges. Candidates weren’t that appealing. I thought the show was unwatchable, didn’t even care to see the final.

  32. akdar says:

    I used to be a fan of Simon when he was on American Idol, but I didn’t like him on X-factor at all. He was _bad_ as a mentor and also combining the roles of judges and mentors is not a good idea. Judges defending their own contestants and attacking others sound petty, awkward, and childish. He wants to listen to that. Give us neutral judges who can provide some real, constructive feedback. With the current system the contestants are used as mere puppets in the battle of judges’ egos. The contestant suffer and there’s no guarantee that the best one will win.

  33. Elaine says:

    Excellent suggestions as usual Michael S.
    Linda Perry and Cheryl Cole would be excellent additions to the show and frankly, it would make Simon look like a a smart businessman and a “big man” in bringing Cheryl back after getting nrid of her. From the few clips I’ve seen us UK XF, the woman is smart, funny and and really knows what she’s talking about …. nurturing..but gets rid of them if they need to go.

    I still say that having the judges mentor is a big mistake. We saw the lopsided comments from judges who were pushing their own contestants last season and it was irritating and frustrating. The judges are understandably unable to honestly judge when it cometo their own contestants. Watching the damn voting because of this was really maddening.

    Finally, I’d like to see them tone down the audience. The best thing about the auditions was the audience resposnded spontaneously. It was great to see them cheer wonderful performances and boo the bad ones. Why not let the audiences do that after top12? Workikng the damn audience into a a frenzy every week so that all they do is constantly screwam and clap and cheer for EVERYONE is so dishonest. QUICKWORKING THEM INTO A FRENZY. LET THEM DO WHAT THEY DO NATURALLY. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    Would approve of LA being gone. Those arguments were irritating.

    And please please please STOP THE OVERPRODUCTION. i WANT TO HEAR THE CONTESTANTS. They are why I watch, not to see blinding light shows, a stage full of backup sigers and dancers. It disctracts, not adds, to the performance.

    And I’m proud that I kept to my promise of not watdching Idol this season. I really wanted to, but everytime I thought of how those idiots threw you-know-who under the bus, I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I knew I’d throw up if I heard “beautiful” and “baby” ever again.

    Nuff said.

    • Nat says:

      Haley was at the bottom 2 twice at the beginning of the season. So it was a shock when she survived against stronger contestants. With time she grew and believe me, if America did not consider her as underdog, she would h ave been gone way before she did. The judges were different then Simon so we became like abused kids. We got lost from not being told what to do like Simon like to dictate. But looking at it now, as a Pia fan, I think JLO and Tyler are great judges. They pick who they think are the top 24. Then from there let us make our own opinion. When they don’t sway us, we call them soft. When they choose who they liked, we are mad at them for not being fair. I think the way they started should stay the same. Mentor the contestants backstage, on the live show, let America decide. Do not sway the voters one way or another. Let each contestants build their own fan base thru Twitter, thru their singing, by showing their personality. And may the most liked win. It might not be the best voice, but to become an Idol. It takes more than just voices. I hated X factor cause there was too much Simon for my liking. He thinks he is the lord of talents. Look at Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Adele, they don’t fit a profile. They just have that IT factor. Let the one buying the albums decide who they want to hear.

  34. Gorm says:

    The core problem of the show is that Simon Cowell isnt an interesting figure anymore. Even at his most genuine, he is very predictable. His former headline grabbing “Mr Mean” perfomances from a decade ago are now the very definition of old hat. He, as the focus & face of the show is not at all compelling television. You cant carry 10 million viewers much longer on the back of:

    “Listen, I downt cahre, the singing wasnt good, you are dressed up in a bizzar coss-toom, it wasnt brilliant”

    Its just dull television that they knew about and filled in the gaps with rediculous over production while outright copying Idol’s format at every possible turn. XFactor dosent present a single uniquie idea aside from having 3 finalists, which is a mistake as its not as compelling as having two, since you lose an entire dramatic elimination that would generate positive buzz about the show. They did just enough to keep the folks around here that would watch a test pattern happy, but in terms of getting the sort of viewers you have to work a little to get & keep, XFactor failed big time. Nobody was talking about it anywhere aside from TVline, MJ’s & EW since it contains nothing special, just a huge spoonful of Simon and side dish of dishonesty (Stereo Hogz: Best band in the world, right Simon?) that isnt palateable to anyone with that likes their TV to have some dignity about it.

    Also, having Simon’s face in half of the commercials just adds to the beating a dead horse theme that the show puts out. “Its Simon, Hes a monotone Rich Guy in a gross v-neck, but he dosent care that his brush cut is ugly, because he is mean”. Big deal, its 2012 everyone is weary of his routine.

    XFactor is the John Stevens’ Crocadile Rock performance of television, hollow, unimpressive and ill-timed.

  35. Steve says:

    A lot of valid points, both in Michael’s original article and in the comments. I would add:

    1. Better camerawork & direction — I got incredibly tired of that wide angle shot of the entire stage that we were supposed to be impressed with. We get it, you spent a ton of money on the stage and set. Now give us some closeups of what’s happening ON that stage. It’s like tuning into a football game and having them show the action by filming the Jumbotron.

    2. Stop hyping the “prizes” so much — we don’t care. We’re supposed to believe that these singers have honed their craft for years in the hopes of being in a Pepsi commercial? I get that the show needs to work in the sponsor somehow, but stop beating us over the head with it. And don’t get me started on how vague the promise of “a $5 million dollar recording contract” is — to me, that just means that whoever wins, the powers that be are going to spend so much money trying to make the record a hit that we’re all going to get pretty sick of the winner. Winning the show should be the focus, not the prize package.

    3. Raise the age limit. Making little kids cry on live TV is not what most of us want out of a glorified talent show.

    • Eric says:

      Excellent point about the prizes. It was impossible to beleive that anyone joined this show to be in a freaking carbonated-high-fructose-corn-syrup commercial!

  36. JJ says:

    I applaud Cowell for acknowledging it’s broke and it needs to be fixed.

    Things were visibly off with this show when abruptly cut Cheryl Cole because other than Simon she was the only mentor who had experience in how to work the show and work with the contestants. The addition of Sherzinger who was known already as a boring judge on The Sing Off was a transparent “Oh crap, we need to fill Cheryl’s spot now! Quick, add Nicole, we don’t need her to host!”. It was a disaster.

    Abdul’s addition basically cast a large “This Is An American Idol Rip-Off” over the show and kept viewers away under the “been there, seen that” belief. Also, this mythical Simon+Paula Chemistry is almost a decade old and faded while still on American Idol. The idea that show will fail because of Paula’s fan is as credible as the idea that her dance show on CBS was going to be a success. Paula will NOT bring in the viewers.

    What the show needs to do is to stop drowning out the singers with pre-recorded backing tracks and creating a confusing stage spectacle. The US was soooooo over the top compared to other versions of the show it was just more annoying that interesting.

    Bringing back Cheryl Cole would be a VERY shrewd move as she knows how to do the job and she’s a fresh face. I do have to agree with Slezak about not needing the lovey dovey squishy emotiony female judges as they’re capable of that but so much more.

    Hopefully X-Factor makes some smart choices and get the phenomenon other countries experience going here in the US version.

  37. fullyCOOKed says:

    Cancel the show, get rid of the Dawg on Idol and bring Simon back

  38. Eurydice says:

    So basically you’re saying, scrap everything and start over. I’d scrap the starting over part, too.

  39. Jason says:

    They should hire Katy Perry (arguably the biggest female in music right now, I know Lady Gaga but I believe Katy’s Teenage Dream album outdid “Born This Way” album). Katy proved on Idol when she was a guest judge that she wasn’t there to sugar coat it. And wasn’t afraid to stand up to other judges. Plus she’s funny.

    My second hire would be Courtney Love. Just try it for one season. The girl knows music. It would lend the show some rock edge. Which it was sadly needed in the first season. Plus if they could keep her sober she would be water cooler entertainment.

    As for host they should get Dave Navarro. He was pretty good on Rock Star:Inxs. ANd has a sexy edge for you ladies.

    • Joy says:

      The problem with someone as successful as Katy Perry is that she has better things to do than take a job as Simon Cowell’s sidekick. But Courtney Love would be *really* interesting to watch, and she definitely doesn’t have the problem of being afraid to offend people. :-) Add that to Michael’s suggestions of bringing on Linda Perry and Queen Latifah, and the guys wouldn’t even know what hit them!

  40. Christina says:

    A large problem with this show was that it had no heart. It was big, sterile, and had an ego. That’s its problem. No one wants to watch Simon sailing in his yacht on the Mediterranean , listen to the bickering between Simon and LA, be blinded by thousands of studio lights.

    My suggestions are:
    - Scrap the current stage, make it more intimate, and get rid of the light shows
    - Find a host with a personality
    - Get rid of the dancers, and get the backup singers off or to the back of the stage, and limit them to 3, not 6.
    - Find a female judge who can make a decision.
    - Get rid of the gladiator entrance music and announcer

    • GeeGee says:

      Nice description of the announcer – we refer him as the “Monster Truck rally” guy. I’d like to see him go away – between that and the the endless photo montages, they could trim the show by a half hour.

      Can we add to the list, find a sound guy who can mix levels so we can hear the singers and stop encouraging eye splitting screaming in the audience.

  41. Michael says:

    More behind the scenes/mentoring rehearsal clips. And DEFINITELY KEEP THE CATEGORIES. Makes it different than Idol.

  42. jess says:

    I so wanted to love the X factor, but every time I turn on the tv and see a thumping techno/laser show so full of backup dancers that I can barely find the singer, I just press switch immediately in order to preserve my sanity. Seriously, Simon, chill out on the full production and give us some poignant solos, please!

  43. Rodh says:

    I was reading your article with an open mind and curiosity until I hit Queen Latifah, what is it that some people are seeing in her that I and so many others are missing?

  44. Stella says:

    I love Paula and I don’t want her go go!

  45. Stella says:

    I have to admit that many times I couldn’t stand the thought of putting on the show because of the noise and lights and moronic fights between the men judges and Nicole was just plain nuts and I hated the enlessly long commercials, so sometimes, instead of watching the show, I would go to mjsbigblog or rickey’s blog and listen to the songs and watch the videos there. So I guess that’s the problem with the show. Not Paula.

  46. CJ says:

    Another THANK YOU! here from me. I absolutely can not stand LA Reid. I wanted to turn off the show so many times because of him but didn’t because of Paula and Simon. P&S are proven from Idol so it was stupid to let her go. She should have been the first judge chosen when the show was announced. LA is just a name dropper and was relevant like 20 years ago. The suggestions are fine and all but we already have that show and it’s called The Voice.

    • Joy says:

      I think even after accounting for Michael’s suggestions, there are still *big* differences between The X Factor and The Voice — most notably, the fact that The X Factor has so many more weeks of live rounds and audience voting (by the end, the winner is someone who’s done live solo performances and been voted through for them at least ten times, not just three or four), and has all the contestants going head-to-head instead of just competing against other members of their own teams (which means a lot more uncertainty about who will go home/go through in any given week). There’s a lot I like about The Voice, but it didn’t give people a chance to really get caught up in the competition, or attached to the competitors (which probably has something to do with the fact that album sales were so poor, too). The X Factor had a chance to be the perfect middle ground between that format and Idol’s format, if only the mentoring and staging hadn’t been such a disaster.

      • ejones says:

        AIs extra weeks forces a lot more diversity of material for the singers, although Scotty managed to win without any. The short and sweet XF means that you can get away with very few songs, even the finals night seemed more like a repeat.

  47. G-Mom says:

    I loved all your suggestions, Michael! However, it really doesn’t matter to me because I didn’t like it AT ALL. I only watched it a hand full of times. I think they should have fired L.A. Reid, too. And I’m not real crazy about Simon either.

    And don’t even THINK about taking Cat Deeley from SYTYCD!!! (My favorite show) She is awesome and too nice, funny, etc. to even be on X-Factor. American Idol and even The Voice is MUCH better! Actually, The Sing-Off, with judges Shawn Stockman, Ben Folds, and Sara Bareilles, is my favorite music talent show. With a capella, you don’t need all the backup singers, dancers, and laser show! All you need are their voices. Check out this year’s winners, Pentatonix, on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

  48. Ella says:

    They should get Ant and Dec to host it next year. Everybody loves them in the UK, can’t see how they’d not be lovable in the US – they have a lot of personality and are lovely and hilarious.

  49. RM says:

    Paula made the show look like an American Idol knockoff. Simon does needs find some serious star power. He has to get someone young and relevant for the American market. Nicole was really pretty, but she didn’t have Xtina’s level of popularity. The show tried to mask a cadre of really boring contestants with over the top back stories. There was the crack baby, the abused mom, the homeless guy, the burrito maker, the old guy who looked young, the mommy’s boy who needed permission to keep singing, the mouthy rapper kid,… Is anyone really going to sell music? Compared to the contestants, Lana del Rey is like Whitney Houston.

  50. stella says:

    michael – i actually suggested to you awhile back that the judges should be forced to pick their choices as early as possible. that would put their ass on the line in 2 ways: can they spot a diamond in the rough before anyone else, and then, can they polish that diamond into a jewel?

    and yes, the overblown production numbers have got to stop. if the contestants have star power, they shouldn’t need 100,000 watts to prove it.

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