The X Factor USA: Things We’d Like to See in Season 2
Since the inaugural season of The X Factor USA has come to a close, we have a few questions about where the show is headed next season. Considering the "Groups" category underperformed compared to the UK series, Steve Jones didn't quite deliver the same charm as, say, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, and Nicole Scherzinger was almost as intolerable as the time Carmen Electra guest-judged So You Think You Can Dance, the American transplantation of the show can use some tweaks.
So here are a few kinks we hope get worked out before Season 2 kicks off next fall:
The Host. Speculations are flying about whether host Steve Jones will be replaced or joined by a co-host next season. Whether because his Welsh sensibilities aren't gelling with American audiences or because he simply isn't used to the enormous American platform The X Factor has constructed, he isn't quite fitting the bill as well as we'd hoped. "Impersonal" and "charmless" are a few select words used by critics. We'd hazard to use "awkward."
The Judges. Okay, but "the judges," we really just mean Nicole. To be fair, the producers set her at a distinct disadvantage, giving the youngest and least experienced (at least on the production side of music) judge the Over 30 category to mentor. We hate to go down the conspiracy theory road, but dare we suggest the producers did this on purpose so she'd fail and they could replace her? Remember, she was originally supposed to co-host with Steve before Cheryl Cole got the boot from the judging panel, at which point Nicole was promoted to her seat amongst the judges. Just saying...
The Groups Category. We are 100% positive that if the The Brewer Boys hadn't been eliminated before America began voting in favor of Lakoda Rayne making it through, Groups may not have had the terrible run they did. Also, we're inclined to agree with Simon that Paula Abdul made a mistake letting InTENsity go. The pool of talent aside, we just don't think Groups has marketability in the current industry climate. With the exception of the Black Eyed Peas, musical "groups" who aren't bands aren't really a thing anymore. The '90s are over and so are the days of uber-produced and tightly synchronized boy bands, R&B groups, and country gal quartets.
Judge mentoring. Sure, it was great to see the judges invested in the contestants from a production standpoint. And, yes, the judges making the final decision about who goes home during the results show ultimately derailed teen fangirls from saturating the voting lines and kicking off everyone who didn't have Bieber hair. But it also resulted in favoritism and the judges simply standing by their acts week after week instead of making the tough calls. And by "tough calls" we mean kicking off Lakoda Rayne for garsh's sake, Paula.
(Over-)Production. We get it. The X Factor has the largest production value of any reality show in history. Did every single performance really require 42 backup dancers, 10 projector screens, a 100-piece band, and a laser show? No. So, thanks, Simon, for giving us the few "unplugged" performances we desperately needed to break up the sensory overload that was The X Factor. Seriously, though. Way, way, way overproduced. At first, we were blown away. By the end, we were actually, literally, physically blown away, and could only watch with the volume turned way down and the brightness on our TVs adjusted accordingly. Maybe let's take it down a notch next season.