X Factor: Judging the Judges

One of television’s great teams has been reunited after a rocky few years for both—Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul join forces again on The X Factor. Simon has the uncanny ability to give a spot-on critique wrapped in deadpan metaphors that dismays contestants but delights audiences. His caustic critiques are given in such a skilled way it doesn’t come off as mean or snide, but honest. U.S. audiences found Simon’s stodgy British frankness a refreshing change to the American mantra “every one is so great” permeating our underperforming youth.

But Simon’s quips were dampened by the departure of Paula Abdul, never having the same gusto as when his cuckoo crazy cohort was by his side. Somehow Paula’s wacky charm pulled the best out of Simon. The affable banter and the lover-like squabbles between the two couldn’t be reproduced no matter whom they sat by Simon’s side.

Paula also had a very rough go of it without her onair nemesis. After Paula parted ways with Simon she headed up her own talent search show, Live to Dance, which was an abysmal bomb. Without Simon by her side, Paula gave clear, concise and coherent critiques to these budding young modern day Fred Astaires—exactly the side of Paula audiences didn’t want to see. America loves a slightly off balance Paula, who will give the occasional incoherent response, cry at the drop of a hat and salivate over the nubile young male contestants like a cougar in heat.

Besides Paula’s lovable wackiness, she contributes to the heart of the show with her believable compassion and sincerity that tampers the cold hard reality of telling people “they’re not good enough.” In the premier week, 16-year-old Caitlynne Curtis just wasn’t good enough to get through to the next round and all the judges respectfully let her down. After absorbing the dismal news, Caitlynne broke down on stage mumbling, “please don’t say no.” Paula jumped up on the stage to hold her–it was quite touching.

The first night of Paula and Simon’s reunion didn’t go over so well as it was unexpectedly bland. Not until the second night did we see the old Paula and Simon come back with their classic squabbles and Paula’s crazy began to percolate. In consummate Paula fashion she was able to empathize with a contestant over her abilities to see dead people, admitting she also had the same gift. Now that’s the old Paula we love.

What caused the seismic shift in night two compared to the first night–Paula’s proximity to Simon. For the majority of the first night, the new host, Nicole Scherzinger, was seated between Simon and Paula acting as a complete buzz kill the entire evening. Once the two moved together on the second night, the chemistry was reignited. Phew! Back to the Paula and Simon we love.

Simon vs. L.A Reid

Along with Nicole Scherzinger, L.A. Reid rounds out the judging cast. L.A. is the head of Epic Records who has a long track record of signing major talent such as, Mariah Carey, Pink, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Kanye West. L.A.’s track record is quite impressive, but he cut one very huge talent from his label (I’m sure he deeply regrets) – Lady Gaga. Regardless of L.A.’s slip up he has a much better record at discovering talent than Simon, whose only “big” names are Leona Lewis and Il Divo. I see L.A. being quite a foe to Simon possibly knocking Simon down a notch or two especially when Simon lets his little head get the best of him.

During the first night of auditions it was evident that Simon wasn’t using his hearing abilities when he let Simone Battle sail through to the next round over L.A.’s objections. Simone’s X factor didn’t lie with her voice, but more her flawless body, satin disco shorts and exposed cleavage. As the weeks go on, audiences will see L.A. was right and Simon was wrong.

How will such little miss steps affect Simon’s absolute power? In the past no one really cared what the other judges said because if you got Simon’s blessing you were golden. Will the addition of L.A. steal Simon’s thunder or at least dampen it a bit? We will have to see how the season unfolds, but it should make for interesting television.

Unfortunately Simon’s little head also guides his personal decisions too. That’s good news for Nicole Scherzinger who will probably want to get on her knees and thank Simon’s little head every chance she gets. Nicole Scherzinger was part of the manufactured girl group Pussy Cat Dolls. Nicole’s job in the PCD was to look hot and to lay down the tracks; the produces worked out every other creative element for the group.

After the PCD broke up, Nicole started her own solo career that fell flat. It just might be that Nicole doesn’t have The X Factor. Based on her merits alone she doesn’t have the résumé to qualify her to pick the next super star.

Ok ok ok…it’s not necessarily the résumé that makes a great judge—it could be the ability to deliver a caustic but fair critique, a cuckoo crazy personality or someone at a minimum who can avoid being annoying. Nicole fails at all three.

Nichole’s befuddled stare coupled with the breathy inflections of her voice make every statement she makes sound like a question. You get the sense she doesn’t even know if the person is good or bad. It’s compounded by the fact that Nichole’s opinions are led by majority rule, only taking a negative tone if all the judges are doing so.

At one point L.A. was clearly upset with Nicole’s ineptness prompting him to say, after 16-year-old Caitlynne Curtis sang poorly, “Nicole you like everything, I want to hear what you say,” Nichole under pressure to say something bad ekes out the wish-washy response, “she needs improvement.”

Simon is clearly enamored with Nicole to the point of utter astonishment over the fact that she picked up a southern accent when the auditions hit Texas. The accent only consisted of one phrase—Y’all. But that didn’t stop Simon for carrying on about Nicole’s accent for what seemed like forever.

Simon compared Jonny Rogers, a cute blond 17-year-old boy, to a Justin Bieber doll produced in a Chinese factory where the production went kinda wrong. Nichole Scherzinger reminds me of a Jennifer Lopez doll produced in the same factory where the production went very wrong.

must watch clip Jonny Rogers

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3 thoughts on “X Factor: Judging the Judges

  1. A

    Actually, having gone to the LA audition the day Simone Battle sang…I can say that she won the crowd over when she sang an original song. The crowd LOVED her because of that song. At first she was definitely very “meh” with her wannabe Nicole Scherzinger stressing on the ends of the words she was singing and that stupid hand thing Nicole does. But the show cut out her original song “He Likes Boys” (lol) and that part was pretty funny. I really want to say that L.A. actually ended up saying yes to her too (based on that part of the audition) but I can’t say for 100% certain. Maybe he did say no and the other three said yes. I can’t even remember now….but I WANT to say he said yes in the end.

    But…they seriously cut out the BEST part of her entire audition. I was pissed, actually. ‘Cause I was far away from the stage and was looking forward to seeing that part on TV. But alas, no luck. Which I don’t really understand, btw. She was one of the most memorable parts of the entire audition process that I saw. You’d think they’d want to show entertaining stuff on television.

    Don’t even get me started on Nicole as a judge, though. She is complete rubbish. Not only does she not know what the fuck she’s talking about…she’s got that whole cute, fake niceness thing going on. I HATE THAT. She’s nice on camera and she’s nice in front of an audience but at least to me you can tell that it is F A K E. Drives me up the wall. If you’re a bitch then OWN IT. And quit with the LA baby voice. Nails on a chalkboard!

    Cheryl was better, let’s be honest.

    1. MarkatLarge Post author

      I agree with you. Nicole comes off very bitchy. I based the blog on the first week, last night Nicole was very mean to Tiah. People say Simon is mean, he is far from it. The meanest person of the night was by far Nicole. She was a complete bitch to Tiah. Nicole is a perfect example of someone that can sing great, but doesn’t have the X factor–People just don’t like her. She came off phone the first week and a bitch the second.

  2. Jo

    The buzzkill sitting between Simon and Paula in the first episode was Cheryl Cole. Things actually picked up when Nicole joined, in my opinion. I’m not saying she’s great, but I don’t think she takes anything away from the show, and she and Paula were actually 100% right about Tiah. She couldn’t sing on key at all and I’m surprised Simon was so adamant about keeping her. Actually the worst thing Nicole did was giving into his demands in the end. She needs to learn to stick to her choice or there’s no point for her being there.

    But like I said, I think the fourth judge is just surpluss anyway. Simon, Paula and LA seem to be the backbone of the panel and I don’t think it needs another big personality like Mariah. It’d just mess things up.


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