After months worth of hype and countless reports of behind-the-scenes drama, Fox finally debuted the American version of the hit international show The X Factor last night. Despite endless amounts of promotion of the debut, which featured the much anticipated reunion of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, the show started off modestly in the ratings. 12.1 million viewers tuned in last night, which is a far cry from American Idol‘s 2011 premiere numbers (21.6MM viewers). Simon has stated all along that his primary goal for the show is for it to beat American Idol and, well, it just might end up doing that over time. It certainly worked very hard last night to differentiate itself from the 800 lb. gorilla of the reality singing competition genre. Here are the Five Ways That Make X-Factor Better Than American Idol:
1) Simon Vs. L.A. Reid Is The New Simon Vs. Paula
With its original, three-person panel of judges, American Idol got a lot of mileage from—and won themselves a lot of fans by—focusing on the tense relationship between Simon and Paula. Like many great television couples of the past, the two bickered constantly, but over time, their relationship evolved from an antagonistic one into a more of a brother/sister dynamic. However, now that Simon has got a true titan of the music industry like L.A. Reid sitting opposite him at the judge’s table, there are bound to be some testosterone-laden, mano y mano flareups. Last night’s ep featured one such moment, where the two went toe-to-toe over a young black woman named Simone Battle who had the body of a Pussycat Doll and, well, the voice of a Pussycat Doll (which is to say, not much of a voice at all). Simon thought she had the talent (meaning: body) to become a “star,” while L.A. Reid—who famously told P!nk, “You’ll be a pop star, All you have to change is everything you are”—didn’t think she had the pipes to move along in the competition. Simon came out on top of that battle, but who will win the war?
When NBC’s a capella singing competition The Sing-Off returns this fall, there will be some changes to the judging panel since the series last aired. With Nicole Scherzinger departing for a spot on Simon Cowell’s X-Factor panel, the Peacock Network made the wise decision that longtime VH1 fave Sara Bareilles was the perfect person to join Ben Folds and Boyz II Men‘s Shawn Stockman on the judging panel. Once we heard the news, we decided to give Sara a ring to congratulate her. We caught up with her by phone this afternoon while she was in Missoula, Montana, preparing for a sold-out show this evening. Sara spoke to us about whether her judging style on The Sing-Off will lean more towards Simon or Paula, her new “old soul/kind of Motown feeling” EP that she’s about to record with Ben Folds in the fall, and what director Jonah Hill brought to the next video she’s going to make for her single, “Gonna Get Over You.” (Hint: It may have a “kind of a ’50s greaser vibe.”)
VH1: When did you first hear that becoming a judge on The Sing-Off might be a possibility, and what was it about the project that appealed to you?
Sara Bareilles: I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning, so it was really exciting to me to have the opportunity to even be considered as a potential judge. A couple of weeks ago, my manager came to me to gauge my interest in doing it. And I was like, “Oh my God, yes, of course.” Then I had a meeting with the executive producers, who are super sweet, and it felt like I was a really good fit for the show. Because I have a background in a capella, it just felt like a very organic, natural, worlds colliding kind of thing. It’s very exciting.
Did you ever harbor any desire to be on television in any capacity other than as a performer?
It didn’t really cross my mind until this show. This is the only way I would sort of consider it, because I can bring something to the show in terms of a level of expertise with a capella performing. I get a little nervous about being put in the position of having to judge people, but I know from experience that we can always improve in our craft. I really love getting constructive criticism from people I respect when it’s put in a good way. To me, it’s all about how you phrase things and how you deliver your opinions. It’s something that I’m going to have to feel out and test the waters a little bit, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The best part is that I still get to watch the show, but now I get to watch it closer.
If you were to describe your judging style, would you say you’re more of a Simon or a Paula?
Early on during last night’s MLB All-Star Game on Fox, the network took advantage of the number of eyeballs watching the game to debut their very first promo spot for The X-Factor, their new singing competition debuting this fall. And if there were any doubts before last night as to how Simon Cowell’s new show would attempt to differentiate itself from the newly nice —some would say toothless— American Idol and NBC’s ultra-positive show The Voice, they were eradicated approximately one-minute and seventeen seconds into this two-and-a-half minute long promo.
The promo begins in a hazy, fog-like state, with The X Factor judges Cowell, Paula Abdul (who, btw, is Botoxed to the gills), L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger presiding over a parade of terrible singers. If things don’t seem quite right, it’s because they aren’t: No, the X-Factor contestants aren’t going to be horrible, and no, Simon Cowell hasn’t traded in his trademark skintight crewneck tees for a cabled pink sweater because this is all a nightmare! By now, the spot intimates that we should know that Cowell would NEVER be seen driving a wussy, electric Chevy Volt (Side note: weirdest product placement in a long time, right?); rather, he’s the kind of guy who rolls around downtown L.A. with X-FACTOR vanity plates on his $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron EB. And while he’s working, he’s not here to make friends; instead, he’s here to roll his eyes condescendingly at Paula Abdul! In short, he’s still the same A-hole S.O.B. he’s always been (which is something that Cheryl Cole would certainly confirm).
And that, Fox is betting, will be enough to get people to tune-in when The X-Factor debuts on Wednesday, September 21. Will they be right? Well, we’ll have to see now, won’t we?
Since we just did you guys a solid, maybe now you can do us one in return? Check out our brand new Pop Up Video Facebook page and, if you like what you see, feel free to “Like” us! Also, we’ll be using our Facebook presence as a way to get valuable (and, hopefully, hilarious!) content from you guys, the viewers, that we may end up including in the show itself. Just yesterday, we began working on our treatment for Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends” by asking our fans “If the world ended tomorrow, I would _________ [fill in the blank].” Leave a comment and your reply just might end up on TV!
Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood is reporting that former American Idol mainstay Simon Cowell has chosen his fellow judges for the United States launch of the British musical competition The X Factor: Paula Abdul, music exec L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole.
So, you’re probably asking yourself, just who the heck is Cheryl Cole, anyway?
Poor Paula. We told you she’s a little nutso. She got a bit confused giving notes on last night’s Idoland critiqued Jason Castro on two songs, even though he had only sung one. Awkward! Did Paula just have a little brain fart, or did she accidentally read notes that some had given her a little early? Either way, it’s a classically crazy Paula moment that you’ll want to watch over and over again.
VH1.com caught up with pop legend and American Idoljudge Paula Abdul to speak about her new song and video (see it here), “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” off of Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1 We’ll be breaking down Abdul’s comments over the next week in a variety posts. In today’s installment, she talks about her plane crash, injuries and the painful road to recovery.
Paula Abdul on her long absence from the music industry:
I wish theyhad [a way for me to show what was going on] behind the scenes. Because when [I was at my peak in the '90s], I had a plane crash. That’s something I quietly made go away — no paparazzi or tabloid stuff. I took care of that. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or to count me out. The truth of the matter is that when I got into a plane crash, it was on my birthday. [I was flying from] St. Louis to Denver. I had a day off in Denver.
VH1.com caught up with pop legend and American Idoljudge Paula Abdul to speak about her new song and video (see it here), “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” off of Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1 The pop number is Abdul’s first in almost 12 years, and it placed her solidly back on the charts. We’ll be breaking down Abdul’s comments over the next week in a variety posts. In today’s installment, she discusses how the new song came to be, and how she knows longstanding Idol co-host Randy Jackson. She also talks about why you should never let Michael Bolton babysit your kids.
Paula Abdul on how she came to record “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow”:
I’ll tell you how it all started. For the past six seasons [on American Idol], Randy and I toyed with the idea of collaborating. One of the guys will be singing a song, and [Randy and I] will look at each other and go, “God, that would be a great cover.” But to focus Randy Jackson is like trying to catch a kid who’s at an amusement park and focused on getting cotton candy. It’s like, “Randy! Yo, Randy! Come on, Randy!” He’s a total politician. He’s always like, “Yo, we love this! We’re going to do this! We’re going to win! It’s great!” It goes on and on. I know he’s like this, so I’m always like, “Stop toying with my emotions.”
Tommy Lee got up to a different kind of mischief in the skies recently. Undoubtedly already a member of the Mile High Club, Mr. Lee commissioned the first ever tattoo administered at a high altitude. The Motley Crue drummer had a peacock tattooed on his thigh for the entirety of a five hour flight. Ouch.
With this, and the recent news that Fall Out Boy were attempting to play a concert on every continent to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, it got us thinking about some of the other records that celebs have already set, whether Guinness acknowledges them or not.
Mariah Carey — Shortest Skirts Worn on Stage
Paula Abdul — Most Unintelligible Sentences Strung Together During a Live Television Broadcast
Britney Spears — Most Hours Spent Driving Around In A Car (officials have to check, but Spears is suspected to have logged the circumference of the earth three times in mileage)
Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt — Most Shameless and Exploitive Usage of Children, Animals and Holidays for Self-Promotion
We all know that Ms. Abdul doesn’t need much help being thrown off her game. But what is it that Simon‘s whispering in her ear during all those episodes of American Idol? He can’t be coming up with stuff like “the moth that finds a melon ball in a wonton will win” every night. Last night she told David Letterman how Cowell tries to mess with her head. See what she has to say about “Dude Dawg Dude” (Randy), and check her spin on Simon’s sneering laugh.