Now that it’s cancelled, ten takeaways from the US “X Factor” experience

In a decision that seemed to shock no one and barely popped in the the weekend television news cycle, the United States version of The X Factor will not be returning for a fourth season.  Such a cancellation would have been on the cover of Variety or Entertainment Weekly just a few years ago, but the American X Factor struggled off the gate with overhype, strange host and mentor performances, and, until this fall, winning acts who were not going to translate into viable recording artists1.  Here are ten takeaways from my three seasons of devoted DVR season pass viewing:

1) Steve Jones is not Ryan Seacrest2 and maybe I was “a bit naive” to ever think so.  Let’s just say that composure was not his forté.

2) Rachel Crow was a really special talent from season 1.  She is now doing some acting work in Hollywood, so good for her to parlay her obvious talent into a little career.

3) In three seasons, there were nine different judges (if you include the hot second Cheryl Cole was around) and three different hosts.  At least Simon and his producer cohort were trying to make the show work better!

4) It was a treat to watch Simon mold and mentor his artists, especially Fifth Harmony during season 2 and Alex and Sierra during season 3.  There is a reason why Simon has been so successful in the music business beyond the entertainment value of his snarky remarks as a judge.  He is a master identifier and cultivator of talent (as we heard too many times in reference to One Direction) and Fifth Harmony and Alex and Sierra show why.  I am still amazed that he managed to see something in Emblem3.

5) Carly Rose Sonenclar should have won season 2.  This girl is really special and it is unfortunate that her forum for this kind of broad audience exposure was not an early Idol season where she could have more easily broken out.

6) The US X Factor was my introduction to Demi Lovato, who, on her best days, was a pleasure to watch judge her contestants.  Her rapport with Simon over the past two seasons was one the reasons to still watch.

7) Britney Spears thought everything was “amazing” while mentoring contestants during season 2.  The producers thought that the nonsensical murmurings of Paulina Rubio would be a better direction to take for season 3.

8) Living up to Simon’s initial ratings predictions gave The X Factor an unrealistic charge.  Had it come out of the gate as an upcoming act rather than the self-declared one to beat, it might have had an easier time catching on.  Also, the MLB Baseball Playoffs were always the enemy to X Factor momentum.  Competition reality shows cannot just take weeks off and expect to continue to build an audience.

9) My final judge/mentor rankings in order of best to worst: Simon Cowell (season 3), Demi Lovato (season 2), Simon Cowell (season 1), Kelly Rowland (season 3), Simon Cowell (season 2), LA Reid (season 1), LA Reid (season 2), Demi Lovato (season 3), Paula Abdul (season 1), Nicole Scherzinger (season 1), Paulina Rubio (season 3), Britney Spears (season 2). Not enough information: Cheryl Cole (season 1)

10) Alex and Sierra, to quote Britney, were “amazing.”

  1. Yes, we do not know how Alex and Sierra will fair off on their own, but they have the potential to be something special. It is not a coincidence that we have not heard anything from season 1 winner Melanie Amaro in quite sometime and I admittedly had to look up Tate Stevens name (and I wrote a weekly column on season 2!). 
  2. I have never appreciated Ryan Seacrest more than during the Steve Jones host experiment. 

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